Techweek Day 2: When Humor is a Serious Business

This was an interview session with Dick Glover, President & CEO, Funny or Die, which launched 6 years ago. User generated content was the future. It started with a question. Why is there not a ‘Hot or Not?’ for YouTube?

Instead of following a Hollywood model, they did a Silicon Valley model. They made Will Farrell and Adam McKay an equity partner in the business. They didn’t get money unless the company was successful.

There was no budget. Go find friends and cameras, and do stuff. This led to the creation of “The Landlord”.

After that viral success, there were other videos, shortly followed by the 2008 market crash and then the emergence of social. They focused on combining A-list talent with social media. Though anyone can contribute videos, most of their popular content features professional talent.

Chicago Tech Events

chicagotechevents-logo-180Throughout the past year, I have been keeping a running list of cool local Chicago tech events and sharing it with friends and the people at work. I’ve decided to make it into a thing and put it out there. So I present to you…

I managed to have some fun building it too. It was my first time using Twig templates, and really liked it. I expect I’m going to be using that on a lot of things in the future. Also, I am trying out a couple AWS products. I built the backend on DynamoDB because why not. I made a simple admin page for adding the events to DynamoDB. Every day, a CRON job runs that goes through the events and makes a JSON file with all the data, and puts it onto S3. When you go to, it is loading that JSON file and smushing it together with a Twig template. Nice and simple.

I am also using Amazon SES for the first time for sending out the email newsletter, because the price was right and integration was easy (so far).

More Chicago Digital Events

I’ve already posted some great Chicago digital and tech events happening over the next few months. Here are some more:

Thursday, April 11, 6-8pm
Emporium Arcade and Bar
1366 N Milwaukee

Free tech happy hour hosted by Singly Appfabric.

Monday, April 15, 7pm
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

A high-energy evening of five minute presentations by people who have an idea (and the guts) to get onstage and share it with all of us.

Chicago Open Coffee
Tuesday, April 16, 8-9am
Dollop Coffee Shop,
345 E Ohio

Coffee with entrepreneurs, makers, developers and creatives. Hear announcements on upcoming startup and creative events, and talk about startup and tech news.

Built in Chicago Launch
Wednesday, April 17, 6-9 pm
Rockit Bar & Grill
22 W Hubbard

Built In Chicago Launch gives recently launched startups the opportunity to present their companies in front of 350 investors, fellow entrepreneurs, and startup enthusiasts.

Social Media Masters Summit
Wednesday, May 1, 9am
200 E Randolph St

A power packed day of best practice Social Media case studies that go beyond typical tactics, paving the way for a new way of thinking.

Google I/O Extended at Maria’s
Wednesday, May 15, 3pm
Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar
960 W 31st

Watch sessions from the big Google I/O event live and connect with other developers.

Big Data & Analytics for Retail
Thursday, June 20 and Friday, June 21
Westin Chicago River North
320 N Dearborn

Big Data & Analytics for Retail Summit brings together analytics executives and data scientists working in retail, eCommerce and consumer goods.

Upcoming Chicago Digital Events

I’ve put together a list of cool digital/tech events happening right here in my own backyard, the City of Chicago. My sources for these were mostly, lanyrd and eventbrite.

Update: I’ve added some more in a new post.

Built in Chicago Launch
Monday, March 18, 6-9 p.m.
Rockit Bar & Grill
22 W. Hubbard

Built In Chicago Launch gives recently launched startups the opportunity to present their companies in front of 350 investors, fellow entrepreneurs, and startup enthusiasts.

Girl Develop It Launch Party
Tuesday, March 19, 6-8pm
Rockit Bar & Grill
22 W. Hubbard

Girl Develop It is an organization dedicated to empowering women of diverse backgrounds from around the world to learn how to develop software. Come celebrate their arrival in Chicago.

Technori Pitch
Tuesday, March 26, 6:30p-8pm
Chase Auditorium
10 South Dearborn

Chicago’s monthly tech showcase, where geeks, veeps, and everyone in between meets.

Refresh Chicago – 10 Lessons Learned from Obama for America 2012: Real-Time Design
Wednesday, March 27 at 6:30pm
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

Jason Kunesh, UX Director at Obama For America will speak about best practices and methods that helped Obama for America build winning social, mobile, e-commerce and in person experiences for as many people as possible. Tall tales, examples & plenty of QA to go around.

Tech Cocktail Mixer & Startup Showcase
April 3, 6 – 9:30pm
July 25, 6 – 9:30pm
September 26, 6 – 9:30pm
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

A delicious blend between a network event, startup showcase, and a party. We bring together Chicago’s hottest startups, most passionate technophiles, job seekers, investors, entrepreneurs, and those simply looking for a fun atmosphere to get to know your neighbors.

HTML5 User Group: Tools and Workflow for Front End Dev
Thursday, April 11, 6pm
HY Connect
142 E Ontario

Google Developer Jeremy Khan comes to Chicago to lead a discussion about tools and methods for producing solid code.

Mobile Camp Chicago
Saturday, April 20
Harrington College of Design
200 W Madison

Mobile Camp Chicago dedicates a full day to bring together Designers, Developers, and anyone else who is interested in leveling-up their mobile skills.

Saturday, April 27
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

A day–long crash course on the business side of design and technology.

Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire
Saturday May 18, 10am – 4pm
Carl Schurz High School
3601 N Milwaukee

A family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.

Context Conference
Tuesday, June 11 to Thursday, June 13
McCormick Place West

Ready or not, the age of the multi-screen, mobile-first consumer has officially arrived. And with it comes a mind-blowing variety of ways for them to connect with your brand.

Techweek Chicago
Thursday, June 27 to Saturday, June 29
The Merchandise Mart

With over 200 speakers and 70 sessions from the most innovative technology leaders and companies around the world, Techweek is Chicago’s biggest tech conference. For everyone from Fortune 500 companies to startups, Techweek’s conferences, exhibitions, workshops, and parties come together to create one unforgettable week.

Succeed Faster
Friday July 19 to Sunday July 21
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

An exclusive, invite only, premiere career acceleration conference for young professionals to the next level.

An Event Apart
Monday – Wednesday, August 26–28
Westin Chicago River North

An Event Apart Chicago is an intensely educational learning session for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. The people who are literally writing the books on web design and development come to share their knowledge.

Ready to Inspire
October 1st to 3rd
Location TBD

Ideas Week
October 14 – 20
Various locations

Chicago Ideas Week brings together hundreds of the world’s brightest thought leaders to inspire, connect and activate the city of Chicago and the world.