Thoughts on Design Driven NYC #27

Design Driven NYC is a monthly event aimed at designers and product people. Design-related speakers share projects, ideas and knowledge in a 3-hour event organized by FirstMark, an early stage venture capital firm with a portfolio of companies that include Airbnb, Shopify or Pinterest (to name a few of the ones I’m familiar with).

Design Driven NYC #27 took place this week at the BuzzFeed offices. From their 13th floor you get a stunning view of New York’s Gramercy neighborhood. I generally feel very lucky to be spending part of my sabbatical in NYC, but I felt specially lucky from the moment I started driving my bicycle down 5th Ave, then 1st Ave, to finally park in front of BuzzFeed’s offices. When the talks started, the feeling was amplified.

Sharing the talent

New York is full of talent. But what’s greater is that the talent is often shared for free. There’s obviously always a reason why, an objective of awareness or traffic or conversion by the sponsors, but the fact is that is very easy to get exposed to valuable experiences for no money at all.

Design Driven NYC #27’s line-up was full of those valuable experiences:

Jonathan Smiley, Product Design at Facebook (he used to have the @smiley Twitter handle, then gave it away, now he kind of regrets it but he works for Facebook so he doesn’t really need it, right?)

Bradford Shellhammer, Head of Personalization & Engagement at eBay (he is “personalization and engagement” in the form of a speaker)

Deepa Subramaniam, VP of Product at Kickstarter (she worked on Adobe Cloud and Charity: Water before Kickstarter, but shared another very interesting experience: creating apps and services for the #HillaryforAmerica campaign)

Vítor Lourenço, Partner at Expa and first designer at Twitter (you can tell he worked for Twitter because he has one of those exclusive two-letter handles)

I’ll sum up their talks using UGC from the event (mostly mine because I was super inspired and turned into a very prolific content creator on Twitter).

Jonathan Smiley on whether designers should compromise or not.

From “Never compromise” to “Compromise sometimes” to “Always compromise”: the journey of a designer on a quest for product excellence.

Bradford Shellhammer on turning eBay into a cooler company, through their homepage.

Bradford’s team redesigned eBay’s homepage to provide users with a better experience through personalization, inspiration and discovery.

Deepa Subramaniam on building products at the #HillaryforAmerica campaign.

As Director of Product at #HillaryforAmerica, Deepa hired and managed a diverse team that created 50+ products (apps and services) like the quick donor flow and content segmentation strategies based on behavioral data.

Vítor Lourenço on startup studios and why working for one rocks.

Working for a startup studio is like kind of like working for an agency, because you are exposed to different problems and challenges – but also like working for a client, because you are able to see the product grow and evolve.

Thanks FirstMark for making Design Driven NYC happen, see you next month!