This is an article that appeared today in Wired Italy. It was written by Staff Editor, Maurizio Pesce, and was published in Italian. The English translation is below. You can see the original story here.
The first night of the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, I was thinking about how to show the story of the Opening Ceremony in a different way: not the usual gallery to go to during or after, nor the usual embedded live stream. There were not a lot of alternatives around.
Until I remembered Banjo.
If you’re not familiar with it, Banjo is an app that aggregates content by topic based on location: every day, an editorial team selects the most important events to follow and displays them on the homepage. As I write, for example, I might choose to scroll through all the content related to football friendlies, the Rio Carnival, the protests in Kiev or the situation in Crimea (two different feeds, not a single disorganized fray), but also concerts like the Dropkick Murphys in Birmingham, Queens of the Stone Age in Sydney and so on. And if I want to see something different, I can always do a search for other events or places to see what people in that location are tweeting. For example, I usually go to see what they are sharing in Genoa, for the sake of keeping in touch with my city.
Some time ago I had the pleasure of meeting the CEO, Damien Patton, in person. At Mobile World Congress last year, we had a nice chat and since then we have kept in touch. Banjo is much more than a second-screen app: “You can’t see everything using only the TV, and sometimes the event that you want to follow isn’t on TV,” he told me. “And you can not grasp everything on social networks, because they do not take you to the location, and because even if you know what to look for, there are simply too many things – and I do not even want to talk about hashtags: every event has 50 different hashtags and you never know which will be the best to follow. How do you put together all the information that is shared online in real time, then? You can’t. ” And you never will. Here is where Banjo and its magic come into play.
Let’s go back to last month.
I was saying I remembered Banjo. My idea was to ask them to collect all the real-time content, in order for us to be able to offer a live feed of the event through photos and videos posted on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine by those who were actually at the stadium. The feed streaming on my smartphone could be shared on social networks with a link: so perhaps an embeddable link could also be created. So I opened Facebook chat to ask where I could find that code. I was thinking about something similar to what Banjo did on NBC, but that would be inserted directly into an article for Wired.it.
Damien is a direct and accessible person and is completely different from what you would expect from the boss of a company that is growing fast, pulling in millions of dollars in funding, and being approached by Google today and by Twitter tomorrow. You may also have heard him tell the story of Banjo at Wired Next Fest, if you happened to be in Milan a year ago. So I write to him on Facebook: “Can I embed a feed of Banjo in a WordPress page?”.
In less than a minute, I received a response.
Technically, he explained, it was possible, but it was a feature that had not yet been developed. They had thought about it, but it was not yet ready, and they were thinking of launching it later. But you know what? The Winter Olympics on Wired.it could be a great experiment. From Facebook we switched to Skype, chatting with one of his programmers (hi, Corey). Less than an hour passed from the beginning of the chat to the creation of the html code designed to embed the live broadcast of the opening ceremony.
Lo and behold, I had never seen such a fast reaction to a request. Dreamed of it, yes, but seen it, no.
Everything wasn’t perfect, but the result was exactly as we had thought: a live feed of content by those who were at the stadium. And it took us to a new Skype chat with Corey – who meanwhile was at the airport on his laptop, ready for the weekend – to fix the automatic refresh of the feed, which wasn’t working.
The result was here, on the homepage the next day.
And the story ends here. It can be an anecdote or a inspiration for anyone who has an idea and wants to achieve it: the world of technology moves fast, so you need the ability to adapt quickly, to keep up with the challenges, to seize the opportunities. We use the tools we have available to stay in touch, to look for knowledgeable people who can help us: some would say, “networking facilitates the movement of ideas (and runs the economy).” You may as well “network” and win it all.
Thanks Team Banjo, mission accomplished.
We here at Team Banjo are more than a little excited that SXSW Interactive is just around the corner. In an effort to make you as excited – and prepared! – as we are, here are some helpful tips from our SXSW veterans.
If you’re a newbie, you should try to do as much as possible – but instead of fully immersing yourself in every panel, meetup, and party, you should take everything in small bites. Try to get a little taste of everything. It will give you a better sense of SXSW as a whole, and what you want to focus on in future visits. Use SXsocial or Sched to keep track of what’s happening, when, and where.
If you haven’t already, start by checking this year’s forecast. Forgetting a good coat for the inevitably chilly nights, wearing a heavy outfit when the sun magically comes out, or sporting uncomfortable shoes is sure to make your SXSW experience a bummer. So wear or bring layers, and stick to a practical pair of shoes.
The shuttle service is great in theory, but if it’s anything like last year, it may show up to your hotel already filled to capacity – if it shows up at all. The influx of over 72,000 people causes expected delays when it comes to getting a cab. And if the rainy forecast is correct? Count on twice as many difficulties and delays. Your best bet may be renting a car. Just be sure to leave yourself more than enough time to get from A to B.
Yes, there is a ton of awesome advice given out at panels and keynotes – some of which you’d be silly to miss. But the real gold of South By is found in the mingling and networking that takes place in between and after the sessions. If you’re not sure where to start, a meetup or session that you’re interested in is the perfect place to find individuals with similar passions.
Advil. Emergen-C. Energy Drinks. Snacks, if you get hangry like me. The aforementioned umbrella. And perhaps most importantly: a phone charger. Last year, Mophie offered great discounts to SXSW attendees at their booth inside the convention center. Hopefully we’ll see them again.
With your phone dying at an alarming pace, and fierce competition for the nearest cell tower’s attention, it’s an obsession you may have to live without. So print out your schedule, a map (if you even know how to read one anymore…) and your important colleagues’ phone numbers just in case. Maybe you’ll find a payphone and take the most perfect high-tech/low-tech juxtaposed Instagram we see on Banjo all day.
Austin is buzzing with excitement, and the best things are often unplanned. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – whether it’s directions, a session recommendation, or where to find the best margarita this side of the border. Remember that SXSW is not just at the convention center; it’s all over Downtown Austin, and even beyond.
The big-name parties are usually overcrowded and loud, so chances are you won’t meet a lot of people. Attending smaller meetups and get-togethers is a better way to meet and network than a loud party. If you’re in it for the networking and business opportunities, that’s the way to go.
SXSW is overwhelming, but in a good way, and it’s best to take it all at your own pace. So just try to enjoy it all for what it is, experience it in the moment, and relax.
What, you really thought we’d write a whole SXSW blog without a little shameless plug? But seriously – Banjo will be the best way to experience ALL of SXSW without a time machine or a clone of yourself. See what people are live-tweeting from inside the keynote you accidentally missed because the shuttle was late. Catch the clever Instagrams you’d never see unless you followed 72,000 people. Get a head’s up on which parties aren’t worth the line, and which meetups are too interesting to miss. Your social circle just got a lot bigger. You’re welcome.
If your schedule is not yet filled to the brim, we’d love to see you at some of the events Banjo is sponsoring this year. We’re hosting a meetup about Big Data and Privacy, as well as an awesome fireside chat about Mobile Advertising.
Getting inside the Olympics isn’t exactly easy – especially when they’re halfway around the world, like the Sochi Winter Games. With that time difference, even watching them can be tough. But there’s a reason they call Banjo your “all-access pass” – our very first Winter Olympic coverage had all the can’t-miss moments.
From the stunning Ceremonies to the gold-medal moments – and every ski, slide, and skate in-between – we caught every social post coming out of the Olympic Village, just for you.
Our special section devoted completely to Sochi gave you the easiest access to social content coming out of the Olympic Village all month long. And of course, we let you experience them in real-time, no matter where in the world you were. Connecting you to the things that matter… it’s kind of our thing.
Whether you were glued to your TV and keeping up with medal counts on mobile, or couldn’t find the time to savor Sochi, every event is stored in the Banjo archives forever, so you can re-live them again and again. Whew!
So without further ado, here are the most popular events on Banjo from Sochi 2014. Click on any photo to re-live the event now, or use your Banjo app to get the full experience.
Coincidentally, our very lucky CEO, Damien, got to meet the Gold Medal winner in Snowboard Halfpipe, Kaitlyn Farrington. They were both at the Daytona 500 last weekend and Damien couldn’t resist getting a photo.
Banjo is known for moving at a breakneck speed, and these days, our team’s growth is no exception. Across our two offices we’ve brought on a small herd of new employees, who have seriously impressed us with their ability to hit the ground
running sprinting. And while growth is something we are ecstatic about and always pushing for, we know that companies tend to change as they grow, and that evolving quickly in a positive way takes a little finessing.
So what is the most rockstar, fast-paced tech company this side of the Mississippi to do in the face of it’s imminent branching out? Throw a party, duh.
This past weekend, Banjo flew the entire Redwood City team down to Las Vegas for a glorious, magical, and only marginally exhausting all-hands weekend we dubbed BANJOPALOOZA. As soon as they landed, the RC team was whisked (or was it whiskeyed…) to the Vegas office, where Damien, our CEO, introduced everyone and gave us a rundown on the future of Banjo (spoiler alert: it’s only getting bigger and better!). From there, we headed to Damien’s favorite Irish pub to mingle over some Irish nachos and Snakebites. After naps and dinner, Team Vegas took the Redwood City gang to some of their favorite haunts Downtown, where everyone bonded over their awesome dance moves and terrible karaoke voices.
On Saturday, the whole posse headed to an indoor gun range for some unconventional (and a slightly terrifying) bonding time. We each got to shoot an MP5, an UZI, a SAW, and a 9mm Handgun, which we, too, had to Google. The main takeaway is that it was awesome and everyone looked totally badass shooting a machine gun.
Later that night, we all met up at Mandalay Bay for drinks at Mixx, which has the best view of the Vegas from anywhere on the Strip, hands down. Dinner followed at StripSteak and the team was collectively stuffed after what felt like fifty incredible courses. And yet we resisted the power of the food coma, venturing on to LIGHT for some dancing and purely PG-rated fun. The biggest surprise of the weekend, though, came when Team Vegas had all disappeared from the party by 5 a.m., and Team RWC managed to stay up until their pre-flight breakfast at 6:30 a.m. – and still made their bright and early flights.
Despite the ballin’ nature of the weekend, the point of it wasn’t to show off how much we’re thriving or to be extravagant. It was actually two-fold: first, to thank the incredible team members who dedicate so much to the Banjo vision; and second, to bring our incredibly diverse, but inherently interdependent team together for some serious bonding. I think we’d all say it was a success on both fronts, and a truly effective way to reinforce Banjo’s culture as we continue to expand. It’s a culture that is incredibly driven, fearless, collaborative, inspired, and frankly – pretty badass.
Which reminds us… We’re still in need of some awesome people to help us reach the lofty goals on our agenda. If you’re interested, check out our careers page.