It’s that time of the year when the eyes of every music, film and tech fan turn to Austin Texas to keep on top of all the latest news from the annual South by Southwest festival. Previous years have seen the launches of Foursquare and the first real push of Twitter, as well as talks from the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams.
This year’s keynote speaker was Seth Priebatsch, creator of SCVNGR and LevelUp, which are both social gaming sites. Priebatsch went out with the intention of showing how his vision of the next generation of the web can also be applied to in the physical world to create the “game layer” with location based services like Foursquare or SCVNGR.
22 year old Princeton drop-out Priebatsch explained how the last decade belonged to ‘social’, with the domination of Facebook. SCVNGR on the other hand is bringing this “game level” to the world by allowing brands to build challenges, and then offer those who complete them points and ultimately rewards. But on a bigger, more idealized scale Priebatsch also put forward the notion that this could also evolve to help get people involved in issues like global warming, although concedes that this would simply make the problem more manageable, as opposed to a solution.
The crux of Priebatsch’s ideas are to evolve on what services like Groupon have started, but to change this brand and consumer interaction from a one-off into an engagement. There is no doubting his ambition, and to hold the attention of the 4,000 strong audience of experts at sxsw for an hour speaks volumes for his expertise. Will he succeed? In February this year SCVNGR reached the one million members mark and is valued at $100 million, and with his ambition under his belt you wouldn’t put it past him to take on the big guns.
Credit to MrFlip for the top image