Google Next Event: NY vs London

On June 23 I was invited to attend the Google Next Event, as a customer of Google and a potential partner.

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It was quite a shock comparing the overall tone and spirit to the same event in New York, last year.

In New York everything was oriented toward networking, and you had the feeling that anyone could be anyone, and it didn’t matter if they represented a large company or a “start-up wannabe”.

In London it felt more like a roadshow, like “let’s do this thing here so nobody this side of the pond can say we don’t care about Europe” or “let’s have a few customers and partners on stage and featured so more will sign up”. But it seemed like nobody really gave a crap about who you were or why you were there. As a matter of fact, unlike in NY, the senior execs did not seem too happy to mingle, and retreated to their offices as soon as they were done with their speech.

There were other big differences, like how good the Americans are on stage, with a mic, or how the catering in NY had a lot of vegetarian and fresh fruit options while in London there were hardly any (but there were quite a few and delicious desserts, and even candy bars).

Nothing revolutionary or exciting was announced, but overall it was a very well put together event. Thanks, Google.

Meetings and walks around London

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These past days I’ve had quite a few meetings and events around London at several lawyers (or solicitors, like they’re called here), and tax and investment advisers’ offices.

Those meetings are important for the future of my company, and I did learn quite a few things, while they help me select the “super-star team” that will allow me to take my company to the next level.

But I have also enjoyed running around London, from meeting to meeting, while keeping my eyes (and camera) up in “tourist mode”.

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I specially like my neighborhood, Southbank, next to the London Bridge, and walking west (towards The Tate Modern and Southbank Centre) and east (towards Tower Bridge).

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Because it’s never just business.

The best birthday present ever… again: Singapore to Hong Kong cruise

My wonderful wife already gave me the best birthday present ever when she invited me to stay at the Bvlgari Hotel in London and dinner at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental.

But for next year (since this year we had to cancel our Polynesian cruise) she has decided to up the ante, and has invited me to an amazing 15 day cruise in April 2016, on the Luxury Silversea Silver Shadow calling at:

  • Singapore
  • Koh Samui, Bangkok / Klong Toey (Thailand)
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Chan May, Hue/Danang, Halong Bay (Vietnam)
  • Hong Kong

Invited to the London Technology Week launch at The Shard

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This morning I was invited to the launch of London Technology Week, which was held at The Shard.

Besides your typical mix of VIPs, politicians, and media, the most outstanding thing was the view 😉

You can read the details of the press release here.

PS.- Some constructive criticism:

  • In an event like this “Technology… whatever” you need a hashtag (something like #LTW15)
  • A Technology Week is full of events, how about a MAP, CALENDAR, or an APP to show them all, and to sign up? If there is one, it’s not easy to find (no mention of it at the event, at least)

London AFF Art Show

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Today we went to the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead. With over 100 galleries, it was a real pleasure. We saw some artists that we like and have seen in quite a few shows before, and discovered many new ones that were quite interesting.

In no particular order, my non-comprehensive list would include many artists, like:

  • Adele Moreau
  • Max Naylor
  • Edvardas Racevicius
  • Andy Wilx, etc

And the whole selection of Galleries like:

  • G2 (Tokyo)
  • Richard Goodall Gallery (Manchester)
  • Galerie STP (Greifswald)
  • Curious Duke Gallery (London)
  • My Life In Art

But without a doubt, for me the true gems were Haejung Choi (explore the little squares on her website) and Damilola Odusote. I believe they have a really bright future ahead of them. It was a pleasure meeting them both in person, for I am seriously considering adding them to the international exhibition I am curating for next year (thanks for the book, Haejung!).

London New Tech meeting

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On Thursday, June 11 I attended the London New Tech Meeting at Google Campus.

It was a typical presentation format (5 companies, 5 minutes). I enjoyed some of the presentations, specially since two of the projects sounded very very promising. Unfortunately they were not even MVP with a landing page. I hope they make it so we can all benefit from their cool ideas.

Since it was a nice day, on my way back home I noticed how the typical beer-drinking crowd had multiplied by hundreds, and they were all drinking and being cheerly loud out on the streets. London does not get much sun, but when it does, everybody rushes outdoors!

Out and about in London

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My parents came to visit from Paris, so we spent a week as “tourist guides”, which is very nice because you discover or re-discover parts of the city that you do not normally go to.

With them we went to

  • Old Spitafields Market (lovely London Tea Exchange)
  • Brick Lane
  • Guildhall
  • Covent Garden Market
  • Museum of the Docklands
  • Southwark Cathedral
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Royal Courts of Justice
  • Tate Modern
  • Parliament
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Walk along the Thames South Bank

 

And ate at:

  • The George
  • Cote
  • The Hornimans
  • 1 Lombard Street (after a meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine)
  • Apero (after a meeting at the Institute of Cancer Research)
  • The Grosvenor Hotel (afternoon tea, after a quick meeting at Victoria Station)

I hope they had as much fun as we did!

Art walk

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Today I went on an “art walk”. Since the first Thursday of each month many art galleries in London remain open until late and host special events (an awesome initiative). Unfortunately I left quite late from the office, but I was working on a very special deal, so I could not leave earlier.

First I visited Boxpark Shoreditch.

“Situated in the heart of east London’s fashion and art district, two floors of sixty shipping containers began as the world’s first pop up mall. Bursting with innovative designers, authentic food shops and talented artists and performers, Boxpark Shoreditch has become ‘The home of the Pop Up’”

I was there to see their collaboration with B&B Gallery for a group exhibition (box #26), showcasing the work of some street artists and illustrators in screen-print editions and artist proofs, like Matt Sewell (UK), Nelio (FR), Tom J Newell (UK), Florence Blanchard (FR), Kid Acne (UK), Hedof (NL) and Malarky (UK). There was also a Q&A with Kid Acne and Florence Blanchard, along a DJs, and live music.

Nothing too thrilling, and a small space.

From there I went to the legendary Whitechapel Gallery.

For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Paul Noble, Thomas Struth, Sarah Lucas and Mark Wallinger.

The first thing you notice in the gallery is that it has become a completely commercial space, and not exactly a well-taken-care-of one. The next thing that I found tremendously annoying is the “no photography allowed” policy. That gets on my nerves, but I kept my cool (and for illustration purposes I will use their “official photographs”).

This time I was there to see Corin Sworn (winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women 2013-2015) installation “Silent Sticks”, which felt like it needed some structure or a curator:

Christopher Williams exhibition of photographs about photography “The Production Line of Happiness” was a big disappointment, probably the least interesting photography exhibition I have ever seen:

Finally Turner Prize nominated artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye selects from the V-A-C collection was just that, a “selection”, which goes to prove that being a “good” curator is as good and as rare as being a “good” artist:

Just when I was leaving with a big disappointment, thinking that I should have gone to SoHoCreate instead, I stumbled, around the corner, down a narrow alley next to KFC, onto Freedom Books: an awesome library and publishing house specializing in anarchism and social struggle. I had a delightful time browsing through their treasures.

The walk was also totally worth it, and allowed me to enjoy a rare nice day in London, and the ever changing light of the city, which together with the wildly contrasted modern-classic architecture made for a delightful evening.

UCL MechEng Party

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Yesterday Mykal invited me to the University College London’s Mechanical Engineering Summer Session at Student Central.

It was a blast. A geek blast. Many featured projects, such as giant drone, hydrogen racing car prototype, alternative transportation infrastructure, robotic fish, or improved artificial heart valve design, along with entertainment: giant Scalextric racing, giant jinga, FIFA 15 tournament, impact simulators, pool, and a live concert by Cable Street Collective.

[Note: Congratulations on launching the UK’s first fully Open Access university press!!]

On my way home, a nice walk (although it’s still quite cold), I took some pictures of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium bridge, and enjoyed how quiet the streets get even before sunset.