This week, Vox Media hosted its first-ever Pivot MIA event, bringing the hit, multi-platform Pivot podcast franchise from Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway to life with a new event in Miami, one of America’s most vibrant and future-forward cities. Over three days, Swisher and Galloway brought their signature rapport, dynamic discussions, and incisive observations to the stage, while in conversation with Brian Chesky, CEO and Co-founder of Airbnb, Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of WeWork, Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO of the New York Times CEO, David M. Solomon, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, and more. Other Vox Media voices, including Preet Bharara, Olivia Nuzzi and Casey Newton, also joined the stage to host interviews throughout the event.
The immersive event incited conversations on and off stage, embracing the art, culture and nightlife in Miami. Unique event experiences included 4K life-sized holographic displays, where guests could record and stream their own holograms courtesy of PORTL. Tuesday night’s festivities at the Faena forum and hotel included an art experience by Hygienic Dress League, and a free-flowing, “choose your own adventure” after party.
Sponsors included: Klaviyo, TriNet, Klarna, Salesforce, SoftBank Latin America Fund, Alto, Knight Foundation.
Highlights from Pivot MIA programming are below.
Francis Suarez, Mayor, City of Miami welcomed guests, sharing more on the recent wave of technology companies moving to the city: “Today, Miami is #1 in the nation in tech job growth.”
Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb joined Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway, sharing more on how Airbnb has adapted during the pandemic, and his choice to live in Airbnbs exclusively at the moment. “I’m 40, I live by myself in San Francisco, I’m on Zoom 16 hours a day. At some point, I’m like, I have to get out of the city for a little bit. So I’m thinking, Where do I go now? Well, actually, I guess I can go for a week here, a few weeks there. I know not everyone can do it. But even without the study, I would still do it. It’s fun. We made 150 upgrades last year, so I thought, ‘We’re perfect. This service is great.’ Then I check in, I’m like, ‘Why the hell can’t I find the Wi-Fi in the app? I think a big problem with CEOs is the bigger you get, the more your job gets abstract. You start managing your board and talking to Wall Street and dealing with reorganizations, and you just kind of forget why the hell you’re doing it. At the end of the day you’re making a thing that people have to like and to provide value. And so a lot of it is just me cutting out those layers.”
Caroline Spiegel, Founder and CEO, Quinn, an “audio porn” app geared toward women joined Kara Swisher on stage for a conversation on the launch of her app and sexual positivity. “I really feel like the trend towards sexual wellness … sex positivity, and women’s health has been super helpful for us. And, Quinn doesn’t raise the same ethical concerns as traditional erotic content,” said Spiegel.
“I started @tryquinn_ when I was 22. I was a senior in college studying computer systems. My program was super male dominated, and I felt that while the stuff I was learning was really interesting, it wasn't really that relevant to my day to day life.” — @CaroSpiegel— Pivot Podcast (@PivotPod) February 15, 2022
Vox Media co-founder, CEO and chair Jim Bankoff spoke, welcoming Scott Galloway and an afternoon of programming. “Pivot is an extraordinary franchise. It’s not only the big podcast, it’s this show, it’s on video, it’s all over,” said Bankoff before mentioning Vox Media’s upcoming acquisition of Group Nine, bringing leading multi-platform brands like Thrillist, the Dodo, NowThis, PopSugar and more to Vox Media. At deal close, Vox Media will be a top 10 media company, with nearly 50 million YouTube subscribers and 400 million social media followers. Bankoff noted: “That’s not what makes it impressive, what makes it impressive is it is comprised of areas of passion, and you in this audience represent that. … Vox [Media] has accumulated the scale by appealing to people’s passion. It’s not scale for scale’s sake, but [the] combination of quality and scale together.”
WeWork CEO, Sandeep Mathrani was interviewed by Scott Galloway, as they discussed how Mathrani is leading the company through the pandemic, since becoming CEO in February 2020. On the company becoming profitable, Mathrani said: “...in 2022, we need to do about half of what we did in 2021 to achieve profitability.”
Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO of the New York Times was interviewed by Scott Galloway, shortly after Sarah Palin’s lawsuit with the publisher was dismissed. Kopit-Levien opened by saying “It is a good day for the free press, good day for journalism. The law is clear, that journalists should be able to own and correct their mistakes.”
Happening now: @nytimes CEO @meredith_levien reacts to jury verdict in NYT v. Palin trial:— Sara Fischer (@sarafischer) February 15, 2022
— "It's a good day for journalism ... It's a good day for the free press."#pivotMIA https://t.co/vyVjHUAJ9L pic.twitter.com/ZP9k6rE7GR
Crypto was the center of many conversations on stage at Pivot MIA. Cleve Mesidor, Public Policy Advisor, Blockchain Association, joined a panel moderated by Kara Swisher, with Brandon Buchanan, Founder and Managing Partner, Meta4 Capital. On building inclusively in the crypto space, Mesidor shared: “Back in the ‘90s, when we talked about the internet, we did not talk enough about inclusion, accessibility, and education. How are we designing Web3 for non-technical users, and how are we actually making sure it’s going to help us close the digital divide?”
New York Magazine’s Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi moderated a panel with Alex Buznego, regional market manager, autonomous vehicle businesses, Ford Motor Company, Matthew Land, public policy and government relations, Eve Air Mobility and Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor, Miami-Dade County. Mayor Levine Cava shared more on her professional relationship with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis: “We have a lot of conflict between the county and the state on policy issues. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ is one of our pieces of legislation. The ‘anti-woke’ bill. A lot of legislation that tries to control content not only in schools but even in county government. What we can train or say to our workforce. We have a lot of conce
rns about the culture wars that are being waged in Florida today.”
In conversation with Kara Swisher, Jon Kelly, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Puck put his Scott Galloway hat on, and weighed in on the biggest recent media-world wins and fails. On Spotify keeping Joe Rogan on their platform, and whether Spotify is a media company, Kelly shared: “Of course they are. . . . I know some people [at Spotify] who are in powerful positions and I’m not entirely sure how they’re justifying this to themselves. These are pretty inexcusable things.”
David Soloman, CEO of Goldman Sachs spoke with Kara Swisher, discussing the company’s plan to go back to the office. “I think every organization has to do what’s right for them. We’ve generally been more forward in having people back because 50% of our organization is people in their twenties and they actually want to be in the office with other people. They want to work at Goldman Sachs for a handful of things. They want to learn. They want to build a personal network. They want to get a mentor…And that is much more effective in an environment when we come together. Now we’re not rigid. We’ve always offered lots of flexibility, pre-pandemic…You know, obviously there’s been sadness and it’s been hardship, but when we look back five or 10, I don’t think this is an event that’s fundamentally gonna change the way we as social creatures live, work, operate. Of course technology evolves. We do things slightly differently.”