Top Social Scene Moments – PubCon 2007
Though on the whole, I found PubCon to be a bit repetitive of many of the presentations I’d seen at other conferences I’d been to this year (SMX Seattle, SES San Jose, SEOmoz Seminar), the social scene in Vegas left nothing to be desired.
I arrived in Vegas Monday afternoon, and after wandering around the north end of The Strip for an hour or so, headed to the Hilton for a quick drink with “Dr Pete” Meyers, a Chicago-based usability expert. By the time we were finished with our drink and subsequent walk over to The Wynn, it was dinner time. We caught up with the SEOmozzers and headed to the Monte Carlo brewpub for some ridiculously oversized and odd-shaped pitchers of Hefeweizen. It was great fun to hang out with old friends Scott Willoughby, Jeff Pollard, Rebecca Kelley, Jason Arango, Jane Copland, and Matt Inman, and to meet newbies Mel Gray and Sarah Bird.
After an exhausting weekend finishing client work so that I could attend PubCon, I was in no mood to party Monday night, so I went back to my room and crashed, leaving Natasha Robinson to fend for herself at “The Planet.”
The conference got off to an inauspicious start, as I wandered around the unimaginably huge Las Vegas Convention Center looking for the PubCon registration area. As fate would have it we were in a subset of the main building called the South Halls, which took about half an hour to find. Along the way I bumped into Wes Cox and Eric Bramlett, and we talked design & local SEO while we were waiting to register.
As the morning sessions wound down, I ran into my current friend Bob Charlton and met a new friend: Todd Mintz of SEMpdx. We sat down with Jon Kelly of the insurance ad network SureHits, SEOcial Butterfly Jane, and assorted other talented SEOs to enjoy our box lunch in the concert hall.
That evening, following what would be the first of many visits to The Wynn’s ParasolUp Bar, I headed to Mandalay Bay’s RumJungle with Google gadget and Facebook application consultant Pat Sexton and the male contingent of the SEOmoz crew. Pat had what some would consider a better-than-average day at the gaming tables & generously bought us all dinner.
We returned to ParasolUp later that night for drinks with Ciaran Norris, Stephen Pavlovich, and Gareth Davies. After mingling with Social Media maven Tamar Weinberg, linkbuilding expert Roger Montti, and one of the founders of the best online directory for SEOs, Greg Hartnett, I also met legendary Orange County SEO consultant CK Chung and Social Media Marketing experts Chris and Danielle Winfield.
Wednesday necessitated a brief nap mid-afternoon, not entirely due to the morning sessions, but more because of the late hour of the previous night and the events of the night to come.
I started with drinks and dinner at the Wynn with the usual suspects before eschewing the their Werewolf contest in favor of a trip to see Penn & Teller organized by Social Media guru Todd Malicoat. I bumped into Chuck Price of WeBuildPages, search engine patent expert Bill Slawski, Dallas-based PPC and SEM expert Christine Churchill at the supposed meeting place: The Rio’s Chippendales bar. (I still say you were playing an evil joke on us, Todd! :D) After finally finding our way to the Penn & Teller theatre, I met Olga of Avenue A, as well as the founders of BuddyTV and ICanHasCheezburger, better known for their LOLCats. Prior to the show, Cameron and I discussed his new Social Media consulting company, Factive Media. Brent Csutoras and his “better half” Annie showed up as well. P&T put on a terrific show, and I was particularly blown away by their Magic Bullet finale.
The night was made even more exciting by Syracuse’s win over Virginia, Wazzu’s defeat of Gonzaga, North Texas’ admirable showing against the Longhorns, and Pacific’s drubbing of USF, most of which occurred during the P&T show. (I’ll leave it to your imagination as to why these particular events pleased me so much.)
We all made our way back to the Wynn afterwards for the Yahoo party, during which we were all treated to a bizarre light show on the Wynn’s north pond.
At the Y! party, I met Brian Gil, product manager for Yahoo Local, and hung out with Rand, Laura Lippay, and Mr. Laura Lippay (Chris _?_) . I also met Dick Masterson, a hilarious chauvinist who’s got a new book coming out and a series of appearances on Dr. Phil. After the Yahoo party wound down, it was back to ParasolUp yet again.
The rest of the night is hazy but may have involved playing some roulette with the hottest gambler on the Strip (in SO many ways), Pat Sexton.
The conference sessions lacked punch on Thursday, which was fairly predictable for the last day of the conference. But a trip to In-Out Burger with the ‘moz/0at/SEOish crew re-energized us for the awesome MSN party at The Palms’ Ghost Bar.
Then came the poker tournament, where Neil and I did a little trash-talking beforehand. Shockingly I was NOT the first person ousted. In fact, there were two other people at my table who lost before I did! I managed a terrific hand against Portland web hosting expert Scott Hendison, knocking him out after a wonderful Ace-7 draw. Soon thereafter, card sharks including Jake Baillie showed up and took all my money, so Scott and I just chatted about some of his upcoming projects & life in Portland.
What happened next was without a doubt the highlight of my entire trip: we were all frozen by a chilling rendition of “I Will Survive” by Tony Clifton himself. Sadly in an occurrence that is all too familiar, The Venetian’s pit boss took Tony’s microphone away just a minute into the song. But as always he exited the poker room to thunderous applause, with a beautiful lady on each arm.
There was still plenty of fun to be had after Tony’s performance, though, hanging out with Jared and Greg of Best of the Web, Chris, linkbuilding guru Greg Boser, and the loveliest wife in the SEO industry.
To cheer up after our losses at the Poker Table, and after being robbed of the aural pleasure of Tony’s “melodic” ballad, several of us including Ciaran, Jane, UK SEO Consultant Lisa Ditlefsen, and Chris Cotton headed over to a bar at Treasure Island, where Stephen hastened the end of my PubCon 2007 with a shot of Jagermeister.
Whew! What an exhausting week!
But it sure was fun… thanks to everyone who indulged me a few moments of their time, and even more thanks to the ones who bought me free food and alcohol! Be sure to give me a ping if you’re heading to SMXW in Santa Clara next year if you want to hang out again.