Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC and CleverTap present, ‘The Full Stack: Creating an App from Beginning to End,’ at General Assembly (902 Broadway, 4th Floor, NYC), Wednesday, May 18th, from 7-9 pm

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General Assembly Logo


Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC and CleverTap will present an all-star panel discussion, ‘The Full Stack: Creating An App From Beginning to End,’ on Wednesday, May 18th, from 7-9 pm at General Assembly, 902 Broadway, 4th Floor, NYC.


Held during the middle of Internet Week New York, ‘The Full Stack’ features Rumble Fox’s Julie L. Andrews; Al Jazeera Media Network’s Soud Hyder; Cachette Group’s Ellie Cachette, and CleverTap’s Arkady Fridman. Chris Pfaff will moderate this session.
Come enjoy a drink (or two), and have the chance to win the Rowkin Mini BlueTooth Headset, the smallest stereo headset in the world (
For the full invite, see below, or go to:
To RSVP for this free event, please go to:


Product Evangelist, CleverTap

Platform Lead, Al Jazeera Media Network

Co-Founder, Rumble Fox

CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC

Founder & CEO , Cachette Group

About This Event

The app economy now demands more attention on the part of developers to the overall media flow, experience, and appeal of the app to mobile users. Developers need to be more than agile when considering how to engage and monitor the performance of their app; they need to look at the creative application of new technologies for a more playful audience. With the rapid pace of change in the mobile landscape, the app developer community has more tools and know-how to overcome feature obsolescence, and app-a-thetic response from users who now want more than just information, but something exciting.

Join General Assembly, CleverTap & Chris Pfaff Tech Media for a night of presentations & discussions from leading developers and app experts, including:

  • Arkady Fridman – Chief Evangelist, CleverTap
  • Soud Hyder – Platform Lead, Al Jazeera Media Network
  • Julie L. Andrews – Co-Founder, Rumble Fox
  • Chris Pfaff – CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC
  • Ellie Cachette – Founder & CEO, Cachette Group

Come along for a drink (on us!) and have a chance to win a Rowkin Mini BlueTooth Headset — the smallest stereo headset in the world

About the Presenters

Product Evangelist,

Arkady is the Product Evangelist and Business Developer at CleverTap based in New York City. He performs a wide number of growth hacking activities including media buying, lead generation, educational panel discussions, customer development, content development, and travels the US spreading the word about CleverTap. He developed and launched the TappedIn:NY video series featuring East Coast disruptive app entrepreneurs and app development companies. Arkady leverages his entrepreneurial and Adtech experience to guide startups and large enterprise companies globally by helping them leverage CleverTap technology to increase ROI and user engagement.

Platform Lead,
Al Jazeera Media Network

Soud Hyder is the Platform Lead for the Al Jazeera Media Network. He is responsible for stacking up mobile and video, as well as product and developer management, and dev ops management. He has helped lead Al Jazeera’s mobile presence, including the award-winning AJ+ product. He was previously with Questek and Ubitmo.

Rumble Fox

Julie is Co-Founder of Rumble Fox, a group of thinkers and builders who help companies harness digital to accelerate and grow their businesses. A mix of consultancy, design studio, and development shop, Rumble Fox improves operational excellence, employee effectiveness, and customer experience. Our clients include Hershey, Kaplan, Gilead, several start-ups, and mid-size firms embarking on digital growth plans.

Julie has an impressive track record of eliminating roadblocks and creating award-winning, best-in-class products. She is able to construct environments that foster collaboration among clients, creatives, and developers by combining the strengths of both production and account management.

Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC

A former board delegate of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) New Media Council from 2006-2013; former PGA New Media Council vice chair, and former PGA Board of Directors delegate, Chris was one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council member in 2003-2004. He leads a consultancy – Chris Pfaff Tech/Media LLC – that represents some of the leading service providers, audio/video technology firms, networking vendors, and media companies in the world. A veteran of the start-up world, Chris helped launch more than 20 ventures from the Lucent New Ventures Group, including iBiquity Digital; Flarion; Lucent Digital Video, and GeoVideo Networks, among others. In addition, he has helped launch AT&T’s Internet strategy; the Viacom New Media division of Viacom, Inc.; Sony Electronics’ Digital Betacam format, and Sharp Electronics’ LCD product division, among others.

Founder & CEO ,
Cachette Group

Ellie Cachette is the Founder & CEO of Cachette Group, where she develops mobile applications. She was previously the vice president of product marketing for Koombea, where she developed channels for companies developing mobile products. Prior to this, she was the founder/CEO of ConsumerBell, an e-commerce SaaS start-up. She is the author of ‘Software Agreements for Dummies.

PGA event at Newseum, ‘Virtual Reality, Storytelling, and News’ Assembles an All-Star Panel of VR Producers in Journalism

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On a rainy Thursday in late-April, history was made in an institution that is dedicated to history, namely, the Five Freedoms of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The first Producers Guild of America (PGA) New Media Council East event at Newseum, entitled ‘Virtual Reality, Storytelling, and News,’ brought together the who’s who of virtual reality (VR) in the journalism industry, and sparked conversations that detailed the need for standards in virtual reality production.

Hosted at the Knight Conference Center at Newseum, with demos from the Knight Foundation; Washington Post; Associated Press, and Gannett Digital, the panel demonstrated the exceptional leadership in VR that journalists have exhibited. Knight Foundation’s Mitch Gelman; Washington Post’s Cam Blake; USA Today Networks’ Robert Padavick; Gannett Digital’s Ray Soto, and Associated Press’ Paul Cheung discussed a variety of topics, including the need to understand deadlines for VR (which, obviously, takes longer to produce); the need to understand how audiences perceive storytelling in VR, and the need to work on local levels for VR.

Watch the full video at

Moderated by Chris Pfaff, one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council, and a former vice-chairman of the PGA New Media Council, the discussion ranged from lessons learned in technology, including how to stitch images so that objects and crew members do not appear – or do appear – in the frame; what camera rigs are doing to help shape storytelling; how apps are enabling a more democratic approach to VR, and how this exploratory period of VR journalism will open up new opportunities for documentarians and reporters.

The audience of more than 80 people asked astute questions, including why Web 1.0 VR companies, and their technologies, took so long to re-enter the scene, and how the “new digital divide” might be addressed by the panel.

The event was produced by the Newseum team, including Jeffrey Herbst, Cathy Trost, John Maynard, Scott Wiliams, and Jonathan Thompson, along with the PGA’s Renee Rosenfeld and Chris Pfaff.

This will likely be the first in a series of PGA-Newseum events addressing the VR arena. Stay tuned.


2016-04-28 20.27.49

Chris Pfaff, (left), moderates the panel at Newseum


Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of Newseum, welcomes the crowd at the PGA-Newseum event.

Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of Newseum, welcomes the audience


Paul Cheung, director of interactive for Associated Press, and Jeffrey Herbst

Paul Cheung, director of interactive for Associated Press, and Jeffrey Herbst



Ray Soto, Gannett, demonstrates the Gannett AR/VR program



Jeffrey Herbst and Paul Jastrzebski, developer relations manager with Oculus


Brian Savoie, director of technology education and outreach, and David Layer, senior director, advanced engineering, NAB


The Knight Foundation’s VR demo area at the event


Jon Harmon, filmmaker, experiences VR at the event

Producers Guild of America New Media Council East event, ‘Virtual Reality for Producers: Through the Looking Glass,’ gathers the VR creative tribes at The New School

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The power of virtual reality (VR) platforms is now fully realized in the explosion of creative content that is being delivered to headsets, PCs and smartphones every day.


The producers who are delivering new experiences for VR comprise a profile that is part-pioneer, part inventor, and all storyteller. This encapsulates the panel that was convened at The New School’s Lang Auditorium on Tuesday, February 9th, as part of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) New Media Council (NMC) East salon series.


datavized’s Caitlin Burns and Deborah Anderson prepare demos for attendees


With the recent introduction of the $99.00 Samsung Gear VR headset, the announcement of the Oculus Rift CV-1 headset, and the innovative apps that are powered by low-cost (as low as $10) VR glasses and Google Cardboard, VR is creating a new market for production companies. With customized camera rigs, stereoscopic lenses, and streaming applications, producers are creating new experiences for brands (Tommy Hilfiger); news organizations (Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times), and media companies (HBO; 21st Century FOX, NBA), as audiences prepare to dive into content in ways not felt, or seen, before.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) estimates that 1.2 million VR headsets will be sold in the US in 2016, and estimates that, by 2020, the overall VR market will be somewhere between $50-150 billion. As VR content moves onto mobile devices and cost-effective headsets at an increasing pace, producers will be in greater demand for new forms of immersive storytelling.


Dennis Adamo (right), COO of, demos his virtualizer platform for an attendee


Produced and moderated by Chris Pfaff, one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council, and a former national delegate to the PGA NMC board; former delegate to the PGA National Board of Directors, and head of consultancy Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, the panel featured Caitlin Burns, COO of datavized, a VR production company that has developed new forms of WebVR content; Shazna Nessa, director of journalism for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Marco Ricci, director of EdgeDNA, and Dennis Adamo, COO of


Chris Pfaff welcomes the audience at the PGA New Media Council ‘Virtual Reality for Producers’ event at The New School



Marco Ricci, director with EdgeDNA, prior to the event

The event featured a packed house of more than 180 people, mostly PGA members and guests, as well as many stalwarts of the New York 3D, VR, and immersive industry. Demos were provided for the audience, pre-show, by datavized and

PGA VR Event at New School, Bill Platt Photo, 02.09.16

Chris Pfaff leads discussion on the VR industry


Marco Ricci, from EdgeDNA, presents


Caitlin Burns discussed the need for VR workflow and post-production protocols for VR, detailing how difficult it is to pull frames to conform to Samsung Gear VR headsets. Together with Prime Focus Technologies, she and her team have created what is one of the first VR post-production workflows in the industry.


Caitlin Burns, from datavized, presents

Dennis Adamo showcased’s virtualizer technology, which renders individual user’s smartphones as VR engines for their own content.


Dennis Adamo, from, presents


Marco Ricci gave what amounted to a tutorial on how to prepare for VR shoots, and what to expect from VR clients. The proverbial “I want the world…for $5,000” conundrum was discussed amongst the panelists.


Shazna Nessa, from the Knight Foundation, presents


Shazna Nessa gave an in-depth look at how journalists are using VR, with an overview of how the Knight Foundation has nurtured storytelling from outlets that include the Des Moines Register, among others.



Marco Ricci during the Q&A session

The Q&A session, always a staple of PGA NMC East events, included questions regarding the challenge of overcoming user nausea with VR; the New York State Start-Up New York program (from which has benfitted), and the growth of New York VR production.


The number of attendees who represent VR production companies, or are working on VR projects, comprised at least half of the audience. With the vast majority of media buyers; agencies; brands, and media outlets in New York, VR should reflect a New York attitude, if it doesn’t already.


Chris Pfaff on popular iTunes podcast, ‘Wall Street Unplugged’ with Frank Curzio – January 29, 2016

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I had the great pleasure of appearing as a guest on Frank Curzio’s ‘Wall Street Unplugged’ podcast last week. Frank’s podcast is one of the most listened-to podcasts on iTunes in the business/investing section, with more than 125,000 downloads each month.

Frank and I got into a good discussion on what was happening at CES 2016, and themes from companies including Intel and Apple, among others.

Have a listen at:

My interview starts at the 11:40 mark.

Frank Curzio is at

Chris Pfaff Tech Media at CES 2016: the 21st Century has Finally Arrived

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The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair was the touchstone of a futuristic vision that predicted videophones, connected devices, and advanced – if not flying – automobiles. It has taken, literally, 50 years for that vision to become some sort of reality. And, in very palpable terms, that is what was on display at CES 2016 in Las Vegas last week. From Samsung’s SmartThings platform – with connected refrigerators – to the Faraday Future FFZero1 concept car – 1,000 horse power electric vehicle that makes Bruce Wayne’s Batmobile look like a tricycle – the CES 2016 floor and suites gushed with technology that now begins to flesh out a picture of the 21st century as we knew it…in the 1960s.


It was a long and productive week for Chris Pfaff Tech Media at CES 2016. We arrived on Sunday, January 3rd, just in time to see Chinese New Year’s displays going up at the Bellagio. I moderated a session at Storage Visions, at the Luxor, on Monday the 4th, ‘Epic Proportions: Storage for High Resolution Content Capture and Production,’ which featured an all-star panel of industry experts (Avid’s Gary Green; DDN’s Molly Rector; EMC’s Tom Burns; Panasas’ David Sallak) discussing the need for ever-larger storage workflows for production and post-production. With 4K content the big buzz at the show, storage should have had a larger presence, but the fact is that it is now more relevant than ever. The “consumer cloud” that envelops all of us is an outcropping of the enterprise storage world that enables blockbusters such as ‘The Martian’ and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ to lock picture. I prefaced my introductions by encouraging the audience to repeat after me: ” I am. Storage Sexy.” The industry segment that has long been the grey face of progress (even though the likes of and Dropbox consume more syllables on CNBC than just about any other twosome) is now in a powerful perceptual position. I had the chance to catch up with ex-InPhase Technologies execs Will Loechl and Ken Anderson, who now lead Akonia Holographics, the descendant of the holographic company that we represented for 8 years. Akonia is moving forward with its drive and media, and should have something on the market in 2018.



The Akonia Holographics media, at Storage Visions 2016, at CES 2016, at the Luxor Hotel


It was a busy week, otherwise, with meetings all over Las Vegas, and well into the night. The best party, hands-down, was the Havas Media event at the Palazzo on Tuesday night, which featured Joe Jonas’ new band, DNCE (courtesy of Havas’ relationship with Universal Music Group), a tight quartet that blended bouncy pop-funk material with some expert covers. Havas CEO/chairman Yannick Bolloré and UMG’s Mike Tunnicliffe were emcees for the soiree.


Mike Tunnicliffe, EVP, Business Development & Partnerships, USA for Universal Music Group, and Yannick Bolloré, chairman and CEO of Havas, at the Palazzo Hotel

Joe Jonas and DNCE at Havas Media Event at CES 2016, 01.05.16

Joe Jonas, 2nd from left, and his band DNCE, at the Havas CES 2016 party at the Palazzo Hotel

For the second time, I joined the incredible (and growing) team of experts – including NBC Universal Media Labs execs – that Shelly Palmer assembled for the official CES Trendspotting tours on the CES show floors. While I covered the “Tech East” (read: Las Vegas Convention Center) arena with colleagues, another team covered the “Tech West” (read: Sands/Venetian convention centers) arena.



Chris Pfaff addresses a CES 2016 VIP Trendspotting tour in the Las Vegas Convention Center


Chris Pfaff and Fielding Kidd, manager of innovation programs at NBC Universal

This year’s mind-blowers included the amazing Intel RealSense/Curie content display with a video wall of digital “fish” that responded to Curie chip-enabled bracelets and RealSense cameras that tracked movements. “Air Instruments” of bungee chords that produced tonal music rounded out the experience. Intel made a big splash with its announcement of the $10 Curie chip – a button-sized System-on-a-Chip (SoC) that is low-power and high energy.



Intel RealSense and Curie demo at the Intel booth at CES 2016


Samsung featured a riot of new things, including a sensorround display of its Samsung Gear VR product, which had previously been released in Q4 ’15 for $99.00. But the biggest relevation was its Soundbar product, a Dolby Atmos-enabled answer to the Amazon Echo speaker. The Soundbar was featured in one of the best home theater demos I have ever seen, which paired a Samsung SUHD 4K television with the Soundbar, producing a powerful immersive cinema experience.




Samsung’s SUHD TV 4K content display at CES 2016


Internet of Things (IoT) solutions were everywhere at the show, and nowhere was this more evident than in the automotive section in the North Hall, with Toyota announcing its $1 billion Toyota Research Institute, a partnership that includes Stanford and M.I.T. Toyota also showed off its ultra-cool Kikai (which means “work” in Japanese) concept car, a Rube Goldberg-inspired vehicle.


Toyota Kikai Car at CES 2016

The Toyota Kikai concept car at CES 2016


Ford had a massive booth that showed off its LiDar-enabled concept car, and touted its partnership with Amazon’s Alexa platform. Ford’s mobile partner, Blackberry, had a presence in the North Hall with its ONX platform. Audi had the best-designed booth at the entire show, and Kia showed up for the first time.


Audi Booth at CES 2016

Audi’s booth at CES 2016 was a mechanistic orgy of chrome piping


But, the winner in the automotive sector at CES 2016 was the Faraday Future FFZero1 concept car, a 1,000 horsepower electric vehicle that is a single-occupant vehicle. Faraday Future became the first automotive company to launch a new car at CES. This is significant: car introductions are almost exclusively the province of automotive shows. Faraday Future made a secret launch in a parking lot off the Las Vegas Strip, and then assembled its booth in the North Hall in 6 hours, with the car in tow. Faraday Future is backed by the Chinese conglomerate LeTV, which announced a $1 billion factory launch in Las Vegas for its cars. Watch this company.


Faraday Future’s FFZERO1 concept car (1,000 horsepower electric vehicle) at CES 2016


Speaking of LeTV, they had a strong presence at the show, with a booth in the South Hall that displayed their power in telecom, consumer electronics, film/TV, and gaming. They are moving into the U.S. market in a big way, and will become more of a force in the coming year.


LeTV Booth at CES 2016

Panoramic shot of the LeTV booth at CES 2016


On the other end of the dial, Sony Electronics – while sporting a newly designed, and friendlier booth – looked somewhat forlorn, and we captured CEO Kazuo Hirai in a pre-show interview on the first day looking rather wan.


Sony’s CEO, Kazuo Hirai, during an interview in the Sony booth, pre-show on Day 1 of CES 2016


The Sands/Venetian halls were filled with even more wearables companies, expanding the health and sleep-tech sectors, and 3D printing was as hot as ever. But the real revelation was a vastly expanded Eureka Park start-up zone, which was located downstairs, and featured more than 500 start-ups. One of the coolest things I saw at the show was from UK firm Kino-Mo, which showed off its projectable hologram solution. This was an eye-catcher, and of real interest given that the company is now selling its solution to retailers. Other cool bits in Eureka Park included Plussh, a newly-launched mobile video platform that was part of the massive French start-up contingent at this year’s show. For the 2nd straight year, France had the largest national presence, next to the U.S., at CES (remember, people – “entrepreneur” is a French word). There were far more countries represented in Eureka Park this year, and the university accelerator section was also expanded. This is a healthy sign, indeed.


Kino-Mo shows off its holographic projection technology at Eureka Park start-up zone at CES 2016


While this year’s CES was the largest ever (more than 176,000 attendees), it has become more of an “information” show in its envelopment of the advertising and media industries. While fewer celebrities attend the show on behalf of exhibitors or studios/networks, CES is of huge interest to the advertising congloms that need to show relevance to their clients. And, of course, this enhances the overall experience for technology developers. We hope to see next year’s show increasing the media/marketing presence.


That’s a wrap from CES 2016. Now, we have to get out there and start living on the promise of that New York World’s Fair – which finally arrived, in some form, in Las Vegas this year.

Chris Pfaff at Venetian Hotel Grand Hotel, CES 2016

He who wears the most badges wins: Chris Pfaff at the Venetian Hotel Grand Canal, at the end of CES 2016


Slush Investor Ingenuity Event a Major Success; First Launchpad USA Event Features Funderbeam Co-Founder Urmas Peiker

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The Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel’s Bling Bar, in the proud century-old structure located near the Helsinki train station, was the site for the 1st Launchpad USA event, at Slush 2015. Hosted by Mike Klyszeiko, director of AmCham Finland’s Launchpad USA program, which helps prepare Nordic/Baltic ventures for the US market, and Erika Sauer, director of AmCham Finland New York, the official Slush side event, ‘Slush Investor Ingenuity,’ featured a one-on-one with Chris Pfaff and Urmas Peiker, co-founder of Funderbeam, the Estonian venture that provides a dashboard for start-up insights and a blockchain trading platform.


Watch video of the first part of the conversation at


Urmas Peiker, co-founder of Funderbeam, and Chris Pfaff, CEO/founder of Chris Pfaff Tech/Media LLC, at the Radisson Blu Plaza, Helsinki, for the Slush Investor Ingenuity event, 11.11.15

Urmas Peiker and Chris Pfaff at the Slush Investor Ingenuity event


More than 90 entrepreneurs and investors crowded the Bling Bar for food, drink, and conversation. And the conversation with Pfaff and Peiker included the following topics and threads:

  • Funderbeam, as an Estonian venture, combines the fearlessness of the “Estopreneur” with an innovative way to disrupt existing markets
  • Urmas Peiker’s background as a regulator with Estonian’s financial supervisory group helped prepare him for the creation of the 2 1/2-year-old Funderbeam
  • Funderbeam was described as “what would happen if Bloomberg Angellist and NASDAQ had a baby”
  • Urmas Peiker described the opportunity for investors to trade, using blockchain, in their start-up investments almost immediately, thereby creating a more vibrant investment ecosyst
  • Funderbeam is looking carefully at the U.S. market, and examining the vagaries of the U.S. regulatory market to try and disrupt the venture community

Pfaff gave a major shout-out to Tarmo Virki, founder and publisher of Co-Founder magazine, which had its launch at Slush 2014. The quarterly publication’s 5th issue arrived at Slush on Tuesday, and features the Slush 100 start-ups. Virki had introduced Pfaff to Peiker.


Mike Klyszeiko, director of the Launchpad USA program, and Erika Sauer, director of AmCham Finland New York/Launchpad USA, welcome the audience at the Slush Investor Ingenuity event at the Radisson Blu Plaza, Helsinki


Pfaff, who had coined the term “Finntrepreneur” in 2011 (initially to market his firm’s ex-Nokian clients who had made the plunge into forced entrepreneurship) coined the term “Estopreneur” at Garage 48 in Tallinn in 2014. Both classes of entrepreneurs are adept at creating essential start-ups with highly innovative concepts, and doing this with few resources.


Chris Pfaff and Urmas Peiker discuss Funderbeam’s forthcoming launch at the Launchpad USA event at Slush 2015



The conversation with Peiker also touched on the co-founder’s passion for extreme athletics; Peiker has competed in the Ironman triathlon competition, in Hawaii. He compared the triathlon experience with start-up experience, stating that endurance and focus is required for both pursuits.


Funderbeam ( will launch a beta soon.



The inaugural Launchpad USA event was attended by more than 90 people during Slush 2015


Chris Pfaff to host session at Slush, Slush Investor Ingenuity, on Wednesday, November 11th at Radisson Blu Plaza, Helsinki

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Chris Pfaff will host a one-on-one session, ‘Expanding EU Ventures into the US: Navigating Financial, Legal, and Intellectual Property Issues,’ with Urmas Peiker,

co-founder of Funderbeam (, at the Slush Investor Ingenuity event, held on Wednesday, November 11th, from 7-9 pm, at the Radisson Blu Plaza, Mikonkatu 23, Helsinki, during Slush 2015.

Urmas Peiker

Urmas Peiker, co-founder, Funderbeam

Produced by Launchpad USA, the Slush Investor Ingenuity event is an exclusive opportunity for Nordic companies to meet with US investors; a chance to sit down, one-on-one, and talk with the right connections about international investment possibilities that could help foster your company’s growth. If you are interested in having discussions with veterans of the global venture community about ways to scale your business, please make sure to register for the event today using the RSVP link at

For more information, see the event page at


/Radisson Blu Plaza Helsinki

Radisson Blu Plaza, Helsinki



Chris Pfaff moderates session, ‘Shooting from the Hip: Mobile Video for Producers,’ at inaugural StreamCon New York, Friday, Oct. 30th, 3:00 pm, at Javits Center

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I am producing and moderating a session at the inaugural StreamCon ( New York event, next Friday, October 30th, at 3:00 pm, at Javits Center. StreamCon, a New York version of Vidcon, features an Industry Summit on Friday, with fan days on the weekend.

Join me at my session, ‘Shooting from the Hip: Mobile Video for Producers,’ and my panelists, Gregory Strompolos (YouNow), Nick Cicero (Delmondo), Daniel Holmstrom (LiveRing), and Natan Edelsburg (Muck Rack/Shorty Awards). See more at

AmCham Finland Open House

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The AmCham Finland Open House on Friday, October 2nd, celebrated the 1st anniversary of the organization in New York. But, in every way, it celebrated the growing presence of Finnish entrepreneurs and business owners in New York. And, in one sense, it was somewhat of a homecoming.


The homecoming was evident when Poju Zabludowicz, head of the Tamares Group, which owns 1500 Broadway, the new home of AmCham Finland, appeared to give his best wishes to Erika Sauer, the head of AmCham Finland New York. A Finnish-born real estate magnate, Zabludowicz symbolizes the ultimate height of business success for someone born in a country of slightly more than 5 million people. But, as with its neighbor to the south, Estonia, Finland punches well above its weight in the business world.


Pujo Zabludowicz; Erika Sauer; Timo Soini, and Kristiina Helenius at the AmCham Finland New York Open House


The event was held in a raw space down the hall from where AmCham Finland New York will take an office, in a co-working space. But the space was the ultimate New York party scene, with partitions, dry wall, and bare floors, all with stunning north Times Square views. At the tail end of UN Week, the event was significant for the presence of Kai Sauer, the ambassador of the permanent mission of Finland to the UN, as well as the new foreign minister of Finland, Mr. Timo Soini. Soini read prepared remarks that underscored the significance of the U.S. market to Finland, now more than ever.

Me and Kai Sauer, AmCham Open House, 10.02.15

Chris Pfaff and Kai Sauer, Finland’s UN ambassador

Kristiina Helenius, the president of AmCham Finland, thanked the more than 75 people who attended, many of whom had braved strong winds and rain to make the event, and pointed out the success of the Launchpad USA program, which is opening doors for Finnish (and Estonian) ventures. Helenius had presided over a Nordic Investor Summit in New York in May; at least half of the presenting companies have already established offices in the U.S.


Kristiina Helenius, president of AmCham Finland, and Toni Toikka, CEO of Alekstra


It was an open house (avoimien oven päivä), but somewhat of a door-opener as well. At least four Finnish ventures were present at the event, all of whom had recently set up offices in New York. This is a tipping point for the Finnish venture scene; even a year ago, few if any Finnish ventures were making commitments to expand to New York – or the U.S for that matter – but the strategic vision of venture capital funds such as Inventure and Vision+ has pushed more Finns to settle in the world’s largest market and, more importantly, its largest city.

One can expect more Finnish ventures to land in the New York market, and there is every reason to believe that AmCham Finland will be part of this trend. Onnea, Suomi!


Advertising Week New York: Producers Guild of America New Media Council East panel on branded entertainment was so hot…they had to call the NY Fire Department!

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Last night, I hosted/moderated/produced a panel on branded entertainment, ‘Gaming the System: Branded Entertainment for Producers,’ at The New School that was super-hot, for two reasons. First, the session occurred during Advertising Week New York, and included a veritable all-star roster of panelists, including Ian Schafer, founder/CEO of agency Deep Focus, and founder of its recently-formed branded content studio, DFx; Will Misselbrook, head of branded entertainment Condé Nast Entertainment; Colas Overkott, CEO of multi-screen content and ad firm Sync; Luis de la Parra, senior vice president, partner solutions, Univision; Andy Oakes, managing director of the UK’s leading marketing publication, The Drum, and Warren Weideman, CEO, First Look Productions LLC.


Ian Schafer; Will Misselbrook; Andy Oakes; Colas Overkott; Warren Weideman, and Luis de la Parra.


Second, the event’s content and discussions got so hot that the NY Fire Department was called in. Yes, just as the panel discussion started, a fire alarm sounded, followed by a slightly panicked intercom message from “The Fire Captain,” beckoning us all to the street. So, an impromptu networking session, amongst 96 passionate industry professionals, convened on West 13th Street. Only in New York. Some might just call for a short networking break; they call in the fire engines with my events. That’s how we roll.



NY Fire Department fire engine and firefighters arrive at the scene, 55 West 13th Street (note: a server in a 4th-floor rack overheated, and set off a temperature alarm. Yep – we were jes too darn hot…)


Ian Schafer showed a Ruffles case study on brand engagement, and discussed his views on the shortage of good content, saying that distribution has exploded, with new platforms every week, but great content has become more of a premium. Ian founded DFx to “take back” the production control of branded entertainment.


Ian Schafer, founder/CEO of Deep Focus and DFx, discusses the new branded entertainment production paradigm

Luis de la Parra showed how T-Mobile and Univision have partnered on a Youth Awards program with a Miami event that now includes multiple platforms, and creates strong brand extensions.


Luis de la Parra presents the Univision-T-Mobile branded entertainment case study


Colas Overkott showed Sync’s revolutionary Sync2Ad product, which has enabled – for the first time – synched TV-mobile ad units for brands including Samsung, Dunlop, and Air France, among others.


Colas Overkott demonstrates Sync’s Sync2Ad product

Warren Weideman discussed the “Top 10 Things Not to Do in Branded Entertainment,” and gave great historic examples of brand integration into films. His new show on CBS, ‘The Inspectors,’ produced with Litton Entertainment, looks at postal inspectors, and includes U.S. Postal Service participation.


Warren Weideman discusses the “Top 10 Things Not to Do in Branded Entertainment”

Will Misselbrook discussed his work with luxury brand Coach, and how he essentially led branded entertainment for a company that had not developed a solid branded entertainment play. Andy Oakes discussed the differences between U.S. and UK audiences and regulators with branded entertainment, noting that the tradition of non-commercial television had limited the scope of branded entertainment, but cited the Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA) as one of the groups leading the growth of branded entertainment in the UK.


Will Misselbrook, head of branded entertainment for Condé Nast Entertainment, with Andy Oakes, managing director, The Drum


The value of branded entertainment with jaded audiences, including millennials less susceptible to traditional advertising, led to discussion of storytelling for brands. The discussion, in a room full of producers, led to numerous conversations about platform-specific stories, whether on Snapchat or YouTube, that have now created a hunger for content that is instantly shareable.


The evening was significant for myself and for the guild. It was almost 10 years to the day that the PGA-New School relationship was formalized (for the record, we did an event on podcasting that featured the likes of Robert Spier, from NPR and Peter Rojas). Sponsored by the Media Studies program at The New School, our PGA New Media Council East salon series has included a number of venues (including The Core Club; the 57th Street Screening Room), but our relationship with The New School is special. And enduring.


Paul Hardart, Director of the Media Management Program at The New School, welcomes the audience.



Colas Overkott; Chris Pfaff; Luis de la Parra; Warren Weideman; Andy Oakes, and Ian Schafer after the PGA New Media Council East panel on branded entertainment, at The New School, 09.30.15