There’s palpable new energy underpinning the latest edition of Social Media Week LA, a massive and almost entirely free September 24-28 event featuring 100+ panels, meet-ups, parties and such. Most of the credit for this goes to tubefilter.com and Streamy Awards creator Drew Baldwin, on board this year as the event’s executive director.
“Tubefilter has been covering the online video industry before it was really an industry,” Baldwin (pictured) tells FishbowlLA via telephone, ahead of the arrival from New York of Tubefilter co-founder and fellow SMWLA mastermind Joshua Cohen. “We identified what we thought was sort of the professional cross-section of online video. Not the cat videos, but people who are really trying to put something out there intentionally. We pulled together a community of online video producers in LA and New York and from that, built out a major monthly events component.”
Baldwin is currently working with Dick Clark Productions on the next edition of the Streamy Awards, set for February 2013. The launch of Tubefilter in 2008 and the Streamys in 2009 has positioned him as the perfect person to take Social Media Week LA to the next level. He was on the Board of Advisors last year and cleverly, for 2012, has deliberately located the bulk of SMWLA events within the boundaries of Hollywood proper. (io/LA and The Egyptian Theater are two event hubs, for example.)
“We’ve really focused on both the programmatic and geographic elements of entertainment in Hollywood,” Baldwin explains. “As a result, we’ve gotten a lot more traction.” He says they got yes’s from the first 25 people they approached to be a part of SMWLA’s first annual list of “Social 25” digital influencers. The inaugural group will be feted on opening night and includes everyone from Jeff Berman (NFL) and Kevin Smith (SmodCo) to Ryan Seacrest and Zooey Deschanel (for her website Hello Giggles).
“We wanted with the Social 25 to draw attention to the flavor of LA, which is very different from that of northern California,” Baldwin explains. “If you create a paint brush, you need an artist to create a masterpiece. I think that’s what LA’s role is in this, and everyone is starting to understand this. More companies are moving here, a lot more VCs are investing here.”
“I would say the next killer app is talent,” he continues. “Silicon Valley has engineered some beautiful machinery, but now it’s time to hand the keys over to the talent.”
The SWMLA program includes a Monday morning conversation with Nate Redmond, partner with VC firm Rustic Canyon. FishbowlLA recently touched on a Redmond essay that explained why and how LA was able to snatch back from New England the U.S. digital hub #2 honors. When we asked Baldwin if he had read that particular August Forbes blog, he confirmed the piece is what led him to contact Redmond to participate at SMWLA. The title of Redmond’s speech is “Why LA?”
“Forget the garage,” Baldwin proclaims. “The whole garage start-up paradigm is dead. These days, you need to be working with – and connecting to – people as you build the product.”