Just like everything at Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW), the SUCCESS team literally stumbled across the Yahoo Launch Alley a few blocks from the convention center. The same way we discovered Microsoft’s Windows 8 experience and Twitter’s #FEED, somewhere we’d taken a wrong turn and discovered the Yahoo pop-up showcase. Everything at SXSW “pops up,” so from wood floors and plain red brick walls come slick brand lounges complete with cool décor, grooving music and free cocktails sponsored by elite beverage labels. Yahoo was no exception but the fact that the once-sleepy email provider was there at all could be the real newsmaker.
Walking into the Brazos Hall warehouse-turned-hipster lounge, the first thing you notice is how elaborate (and purple) the setup is. In this huge industrial-chic space, look to your left to find a cocktail bar and prop-filled photo booth (with purple mustaches) to share your SXSW moment on social media. Look to your right to find a (purple) wall of electronic photo frames dedicated to Flickr, Yahoo’s oft-forgotten photo sharing site. Yahoo hadn’t yet purchased the micro-blogging site Tumblr, so instead the company was pushing Flickr’s redesign and first mobile app, which added Instagram-inspired photo filters to the site’s more traditional photo sharing and storage format.
Throughout the week, Yahoo’s SXSW headquarters hosted a parade of different Yahoo divisions, in addition to its flashy Flickr app launch. Yahoo Finance held the panel, “There is no bigger big data business than Wall Street” with IA Ventures’ Roger Ehrenberg. Yahoo News filmed its daily newscast, Trending Now. Start Up with Yahoo touted its entrepreneur program for new product startups. Yahoo Screen held a watch party for one of its new web comedy series “Ghost Ghirls” featuring Molly Shannon and Val Kilmer and produced by Jack Black. And as if their presence at SXSW could have gone unnoticed, Yahoo Music hosted a surprise performance by the classic new-wave band Depeche Mode.
This wasn’t the first time Yahoo made its presence known at the 20-year-old tech, music and film festival, but it was certainly the grandest. So, with a purple mustache, purple sunglasses and a Yahoo pin affixed to their shirts, tens of thousands of 21- to 54-year-olds had the chance to say, “Wow, this must be the new Yahoo.”