Block Or Not?

Loeb NYC background image lilac

As marketers, we’re constantly being inundated with the next big marketing tactic. We’re lured in by the promise of reach, potential, relevance and the ever-elusive “cool factor” to capture the slippery attention of our evolving audience. We are duped into believing that without the latest technology or platform, our products will lack impact and lose importance. Our entire careers are now determined by our ability to leverage bleeding edge tactics (and often times, gimmicks) so that we can sell our brands, and keep our jobs. Of course, none of this is mandated.

loeb nyc quote marketing tactics

Marketing Tactics That Work

I hear my dad, Michael Loeb, say all the time that the same marketing tactics that worked in the Mad Men era still work today, it’s just the format that marketers need to adjust to. Meaning, the conversations, the segmentation, the communication has not changed, and never will. What will change is where those conversations take place, how we segment users, how the communication looks. The advent of data and technology has spurred this pivot, but any good marketer will be experienced enough not to panic in the face of these changes – rather, keen to learn how they could benefit from them.

This is a fine line that only few can tread. Marketers are destined to the overwhelming fate of sifting through too-many flashy options and having others tell them what is right for their own brands, making it impossible to distinguish the real from the fluff. Which is why Loeb NYC paired up with our partner and friend Bonin Bough to offer a course-correction opportunity through our event series, The Or Not Experience.

The Or Not Experience

The series is designed to focus on the trendiest marketing tactics, the ones shrouded in pomp and frill, in order to demystify them for brand marketers, creating a safe space where they can ask the questions they may have been too intimidated to ask in a formal setting. This year’s subject: Blockchain. The title? Block Or Not.

The audience was split between Brand Marketers and crypto pioneers – two groups who have rarely ever overlapped, now together bonding under one roof. The idea was to bring together these two dichotomous camps to have conversations about how one can benefit from the other and more importantly introduce themselves and their missions in a setting where they can let down their guard.loeb nyc quote block or not marketing experience We expected a few connections to be made. We thought a couple of follow up meetings would be scheduled. But in reality, we were stunned by the results. We saw meaningful relationships form and deals born. I’ve even watched partnerships germinate between entities in our own portfolio and some of the blockchain networks we met. Collaborations and new career paths were forged that day – all out of the simple necessity for honest and accurate information.

For that reason, The Or Not Experience is becoming a staple event marketing brand between Loeb NYC and Bonin ventures. Each year, we plan to host dinners and activations at major conferences like SXSW and CES, and of course, our curate our own flagship event in Southampton, NY. And while each year the theme will change, the requirement for empowerment via information will never change. As we’ve already seen, the juice is worth the squeeze.

What Did The Experts Say About Blockchain?

Babs Rangaiah, Exec. Partner, Global Marketing, IBM:

“Blockchain is going to be a truly transformative technology. In fact, our CEO [Ginni Rometty] said that blockchain will do for transactions what the internet did for communications. Think about how big of a statement that is.”

Ryan Singer, Co-Founder, President Chia Network Inc.:

“I’ve been surprised by the utopianism” around blockchain technology. They’re taking a technology that very much was broken in a different industry and pretending it can fix the things that are broken in their industry, just because they’re looking for an opportunity to change.”

Douglas Rushkoff, Media Theorist:

“My main message is the blockchain a lot of them are wishing on, it’s not only that it’s a pyramid scheme that is going to crash for 99% of the people who are involved in it, it’s not just that. I would say 0.1% of the applications that people are envisioning for blockchain could actually work.”

Sam Cassatt, Chief Strategy Officer, Consensys:

“What is really is, is a new type of trusted database technology, that can allow parties that don’t trust each other to share the same source of information.”

“This is like a global computer that’s trustable because no one owns it.”

Does Blockchain Technology Fit with Your Brand and Marketing?

Shelly Palmer, CEO Palmer Group:

“Blockchain technology is open source and free to use by any developer who is competent. What is not in any way commoditized is domain expertise. That’s what you bring to any project.”

Bob Lord, Chief Digital Officer, IBM:

“My objective was to have them specifically understand that blockchain can be a tool for marketers to use. But more importantly, how do you use blockchain technology to enhance your brand?” 

“With a trusted transaction system, I can create a value exchange with a customer in ways I’ve never been able to do before. I can get it down to their mobile devices, I can have it that one to one exchange which we all have been dreaming about.”

Loeb NYC Takes Cannes, 2018

This has been a year of many “firsts” for Loeb NYC. We hosted our first activation at SXSW, our first #BlockOrNot Experience in Southampton, and for the first time, Michael Loeb, Katie Loeb and Bonin Bough are attending Cannes Lions to represent Loeb NYC. Michael Loeb is speaking at a Brand Innovators event on Monday, June 18 (details below) and will be sharing ideas with the world’s best advertisers, innovators, and thinkers in the glamorous setting of the French Riviera.

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cannes, people walking and luxury cars in front of hotel intercontinental carlton
Cannes Carlton Hotel

What Happens in Cannes (Doesn’t Stay in Cannes)

June 18 – 22nd, 2018 marks the 65th Cannes Lions “International Festival of Creativity”. To win a prestigious Lion award is a feat coveted by elite agencies and the major players in “creative and marketing communications, entertainment, tech and design industries” the world over. To take home a Lion is a sign of greatness that resonates and creates ripples through various ad/tech echelons.

loeb nyc quote to take home a cannes lion is a sign of greatness

To give you an idea of the scope and grandeur of Cannes Lions, consider the numbers. This year, 16,000 attendees (28% of them members of the C-suite) from over 4,700 companies will converge on the pristine city to network, demonstrate their creative advancements and, essentially, show off their talents. The festival attracted 40,000+ entries in categories such as “health”, “reach”, “experience”, “craft” and importantly, “good” – as well as many others.

Legacy Cannes Lions participants admit that the event is not without its criticisms and issues (Too much peacocking! Too expensive!). However, despite facing critique, skepticism and philosophical questioning as to value and ROI, the festival has still seen an 22% increase in work submitted by in-house marketing teams over last year. Cannes still has the potential to elevate brands and generate powerful introductions.

Why is Loeb NYC Going to Cannes?

Many of the reasons why Loeb NYC decided to attend Cannes this year are elucidated in an insightful article by SummitSync (a Loeb NYC portfolio company), “Changing Tides: The Rise of Brands at Cannes.” As an aside, SummitSync’s razor-sharp platform “enables your team to shake more of the right hands to hit your meeting goals”. In other words, to get the most out of events and maximize lead generation.

Katie Loeb explains the benefits of participating in Cannes festival like this; “Cannes offers a style and propensity for deal flow in a way that other conferences are not able to. For us, it beautifully balances the business with the fun. We’re so excited about some of the connections we made and how they will affect our portfolio in the future.”

Loeb NYC is making moves this year and has planted its flag. Michael Loeb and Rich Vogel embarked on a decades-long, proverbial journey of one thousand miles, to conceive of and execute a company factory that grows businesses from idea, to seed, to growth-hacked company to market and potential exit. Loeb explains, “Our model – a self-funded Company Factory is unique. It’s what my partner, Rich Vogel, and I envisioned a decade ago when we concluded that for us Synapse was not the last chapter but the opportunity for a bold new one. What was then a germ of an idea is now burgeoning into full flower.”

 

Loeb NYC and Michael Loeb at Cannes Lions
Bonin Bough, Brand Innovator co-founder – Marc Sternberg and Michael Loeb

 

Our full-flower, unique, marketing and startup engine is ready for the big leagues. Not only that – we have some inspiration and inventive ideas of our own to demonstrate to the world. Does this sound like hype? You don’t have to take us at our word. Witness the Loeb effect in person.

Michael Loeb’s Speaking Engagements at Cannes

There is still time to register for the Brand Innovators event (Monday, June 18th), where Michael Loeb will be speaking. Details on the event can be found here.

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SummitSync has compiled a useful list of parties and events at Cannes Lions to get the most out of your time there (or to find out about what you might be missing).

If you are not going to be anywhere near France this weekend but would still like to hear a sample of what you can expect, watch this video of Michael Loeb and Bonin Bough at SXSW.

Loeb NYC Plants its Flag at SXSW

I was sitting on the stairs of a packed house in the middle of downtown Austin. The room filled with people, many of them the brightest minds at South by Southwest (SXSW). Brand marketers and influencers mingled with investors, founders, artists and everyone in between. Yet everyone’s attention was fixed on the front of the room, where entrepreneur and a good friend to Loeb NYC, Bonin Bough was moderating a fireside chat, between Gary Vaynerchuk (of Vayner Media) and my boss, Michael Loeb.

The discourse ricocheted between topics like the state of entrepreneurship, the blessing of “micro failures”, parenting techniques, and tombstone carvings. Prominently marked on banners throughout the room was the unmistakable logo of “Loeb NYC”, proudly displayed our brand to the world. Michael was captivating the audience,

“I want to prove Keats wrong. Keats said, our ‘names are writ on water’…The legacy I want to have is going to be enduring. I want somebody to point to me and say I learned something from that guy, or he built something for me, or he changed something, or he made things better.”

Loeb NYC quote I want to prove Keats wrong. Keats said, our ‘names are writ on water’…The legacy I want to have is going to be enduring
Michael Loeb on “Legacy”

Select founders and operators of Loeb NYC investment portfolio companies were dotted throughout the room, as were members of the Loeb NYC team itself. Given the size of the crowd, the room was remarkably silent. There was a palpable, powerful energy and excitement that manifested in an unmistakable buzz. It was at this very moment—when the nucleus of SXSW seemed to have converged within the “Loeb House”—that I realized I was witnessing a defining moment in the life-cycle of Loeb NYC. At this moment it became undeniably clear that we, Loeb NYC, had planted a flag and boldly announced to the world, “We are here. We’re here to play. And we’re here to stay.”

Loeb Enterprises has been operating for roughly ten years, and in that span has produced results many accelerators and incubators only dream of. Three companies, most notably, sit perched within the “trophy case”: Synapse Group, Priceline, and Script Relief, each of which have achieved storied status within its industry. Additionally, as of today, upwards of 15 companies operate within the greater Loeb NYC portfolio. So why did SXSW feel like a watershed moment for Loeb NYC? What had changed? Why did this moment, in the illustrious history of the company, feel different?

loeb nyc quote we are here we are here to play and we're here to stay

To answer those questions, let’s consider that simply put, the dynamics of media and consumer attention are going through tectonic shifts in style and technique. Past operating styles and methodologies will not cut it for firms that want to survive and thrive in 2018 and beyond. Those who want to be in the game and, more importantly, win are required to take a new tack, if prominence and reputation are at all important to them. For Loeb NYC, these things matter, not only for legacy, but for efficacy.

We believe that what we do day in and day out is special. There’s a magic inside the walls of Loeb HQ that allows us to view the world with optimism and the future with possibility. In the words of Katie Loeb, Director of Innovation at Loeb NYC and the mastermind behind our Austin event, our program at SXSW was an activation, a deliberate statement to the world of our presence and vision.  

The better one gets to know the man in charge, Michael Loeb, the clearer it is that his vision and ambition for Loeb NYC is massive.  In the words of Mr. Loeb himself, the vision for Loeb NYC is “What my partner, Rich Vogel, and I envisioned a decade ago when we concluded that for us Synapse was not the last chapter, but the opportunity for a bold new one.”

Bonin Bough, Michael Loeb and Gary Vaynerchuk at Loeb NYC's SXSW activation.
Bonin Bough, Michael Loeb and Gary Vaynerchuk at Loeb NYC’s SXSW activation.

This vision is clear and enticing. A company factory: vertically integrated company-building from an idea, to execution, to exit. The nomenclature is simple, it more or less describes the lifecycle of almost any successful startup investment. But in the case of Loeb NYC company-building, both the theory and practice are very different. Traditional venture capital firms and accelerators generally think of themselves as hotbeds for successful market disruptors and innovations. As places where exciting early-stage ventures blossom into unicorn companies with regularity. The reality is that it’s difficult to build a company – read Michael Loeb’s post, “The Entrepreneurs’ Gene” to see the proof from a man who has done it many times over. Most early-stage companies will fail, plain and simple.

So, how does one create a closed-ecosystem with better odds and better pathways to success for early-stage companies, at scale? From my perspective, the model at Loeb NYC achieves this by removing the constraint of constant-capital raising from founders and CEOs, so they can focus on running their companies. Providing back-office support and advice to the early-stage companies so that the headaches of administrative work are largely mitigated. We challenge the odds by offering portfolio companies access to expert teams of marketers so that they can quickly augment a small marketing with a larger, advisory one. A real sense of community means that companies can leverage each other’s networks and speedily earn credibility and connections with customers. Place this in a beautiful working space that can compete to attract talent with the best of ‘em. Add outstanding talent, commitment, and creativity to that mix and you have something special. We have this. We have it now. And at SXSW, we told the world.

magic inside walls at loeb nyc

Loeb NYC is a place where true talent can thrive and where meritocracy is honored and respected. Above all else, it is a place deeply passionate and committed to building successful enterprises across multiple industries. That is our foundation and inspiration. Walk around our offices at 712 Fifth Avenue and a clear sensation is realized of the kinetic energy and momentum present in this environment. Startups pack the floor, each targeting a different industry with intensity and drive. One common thread emerges; an undying commitment to results and growth. The aforementioned confluence of success-factors cannot be created overnight. It is possible through years of focus, merged with a willingness to test, experiment and iterate. You can feel it the moment you step off the elevator.

Mike Provance, the CEO of 3×3 Insights describes his company’s relationship with Loeb NYC in terms of a streamlined symbiosis:

“Our company is housed inside Loeb NYC, and we can’t go a day without spending time talking to Michael about what we’re doing. He’s very hands-on in the way that he engages with his portfolio companies and is constantly thinking of ideas that help us better execute on what we are trying to do, whether it’s sending emails any time of the day, or wandering through the Loeb NYC incubator, Michael is always available to us, as are his team of experts in various areas of marketing, of product development, direct mail, about anything you can think of he’s got some sort of experts who can support the efforts you’re trying to do.”

Personally, I have been in the Loeb orbit for the past three years or so. In that time I’ve seen expansion into two new floors in our midtown Manhattan headquarters, and a threefold growth in the size of our portfolio. Sitting on the stairs in that Austin house at SXSW, it’s apparent that the last ten years of innovation, company-building, and pure hard work have been leading up to this moment: a powerful declaration of our identity and intentions.

Our efforts at SXSW excited and encouraged me about what’s still to come. As the team returned home and settled back into our rhythm of operating and building, one resounding statement from our time at SXSW remained fixed at the front of my mind: We are just getting started.

Loeb NYC Brings Inclusivity to SxSW

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While Loeb NYC has historically participated in various conferences as attendees, in March, 2018, we hosted our first activation at SxSW in Austin, Texas. With Bonin Ventures, we hosted two days of content with some rockstar panelists, including Gary Vaynerchuk (CEO of Vayner Media), Swan Sit (VP of Global Digital @ Nike) and Kris Skrinak (Machine Learning Architect @ Amazon) — not to mention our inspiring leader, Michael Loeb.

In addition to a lively conversation between Michael Loeb and Gary Vaynerchuk, moderated by Bonin Bough (you can find the video here), we also hosted the Real Inclusivity panel. Some pretty badass women discuss how to generate cultures in which all voices are heard:

At SxSW we also promoted the second annual “___OrNot” conference to be hosted in Southampton, NY (at “the Billions house”) on May 18th, 2018. The Or Not conference aims to help brand marketers separate marketing hype cycles from the real opportunities that are appropriate for their brands. Visit the OrNotExperience.com for more information.

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Loeb NYC Inclusivity Panel at SXSW