Pandora TechCrunch Seattle

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/06/01

Dropped in on a couple of very cool back to back geek events in Seattle last night. First was a Pandora town hall at the EMP — hosted by Pandora founder Tim Westergren.

Met my friend Steve Kaiser from QPass at the EMP and we enjoyed a nice 2 hour forum with Tim as he told the story of Pandora’s start and path toward innovation along the way.

Didn’t realize how lo-fi their engine really is — they use much less ‘wisdom of crowds’ data than I would have suspected — most of the genome is a strict taxonomy of 400 musical traits that trained musicians fill out for each song — at about 20 minutes per song.

Other interesting thing was the feature request QA with 150 very passionate users — lots of feature set requests that only a geek would love — all seemed to center around ‘I want to know why you recommended that song to me’ — which, is kinda their trade secret — interesting.

Definitely left with even more respect for their product than I had before — hard to imagine, but true.

Tim is really personable and has a compelling vision for using Pandora’s technology to create a “musician middle class” to help more folks make a living wage as musicians.

Also didn’t realize that their project is over 6 years old — he had some very seasoned startup stories.

At 9, we headed over to the Seattle TechCrunch meetup — what a blast.

Ran into a bunch of geek friends from around town —

Keith Robinson and Brian Fling from Blue Flavor both used to work at Children’s Hospital in Seattle (my old stomping ground) — was good to hear about their design firm taking off — sounds like lots of interesting work is in the que.

Then chatted with Brian Dorsey of Vulcan who I knew indirectly from Seattle Mind Camp — was great to get to know him a bit better (never had time at Mind Camp) — he ran sets of 5 minute lightning rounds as a session at Mind Camp 2.0 that was similar to the session Scott Berkun and I facilitated — both were really well received in the camp debriefs

Brian introduced me to Lars Liden of TeachTown — they make software that helps kids with autism (and similar special needs) – it connects kids, their families, and their doctors with one another — touches on everything from teaching to data collection for treatment and research — very cool.

Finally got to meet the legendary Ryan Stewart (now blogging on Flex and RIA for ZDnet) — we missed each other at Mind Camp 2.0 but got connected last night — talked Flex, flash, and Seattle tech with him and Hans Omli (who recently evoked a “one-click” response out of non-other than Tim O’Reilly himself on the whole ‘Web 2.0’ is mine fiasco) – great conversation

Last, but not least, I got to catch up with Stuart Maxwell of the Seattle Podcasting Network (yes, another Mind camp connection — can you sense a theme — he’s one of the Mind Camp organizers).

Stuart was grabbing audio interviews all night for a podcast of the event.

We ended up in a cool conversation about shared interest in getting blog/screencast/podcast types of projects going inside the firewall of non-tech centric companies — ways to champion the cause, etc. — lots of fun.

Here’s a photo of my namebadge (on my Hawaiian shirt, thank you very much)


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