drew olanoff

Drew Olanoff

Head of Communications, River Studios

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 23, 2016

Discussion

Hi, I'm Drew Olanoff. I've been a geek my entire life, have written for The Next Web and TechCrunch, done communications at Yahoo, EyeEm, and now at a virtual reality studio River Studios. VR is something very personal for me, and I truly believe that it's our next big platform.
let's do this, happy #NationalPuppyDay!
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@drew 🐶
Russ Smith
Russ Smith@russ_sm · Product Dude @ Codeq ᕕ( ᐕ )ᕗ
What are your views on the ethical problems of Oculus being run by an ad company and how do you see ads shaping the medium?
@russ_sm super great question. i see the oculus/facebook tieup as a good thing. facebook really does, for better or for worse, want to connect the world. VR is a powerful connecting medium, or will be. Ads will have to evolve. You'll see pieces as ads (ala McDonalds) so I think it'll be a situation where you know what you're getting into. Also, like games, there's in-experience advertising opportunities. if i see a damn popup in vr, someone is getting yelled at lol.
Laura Barganier
Laura Barganier@laura_barganier · PR and more at Day One Agency
Hey Drew! Two qs: 1) What's the best piece of advice you've ever received? 2) Outside of the tech world, what are some of your favorite resources for inspiration?
@laurakb that's tough, but my dad once told me "fuck it, be happy." so i do that. i really enjoy hanging out with kids and animals, i feel like they're the closest source of truth we have as beings on this planet.
Laura Barganier
Laura Barganier@laura_barganier · PR and more at Day One Agency
@drew "fuck it, be happy" is EXCELLENT advice. I was reading this Motto story today that shared something similar <3 " Like my son tells his toddler sister when she escapes with the entire bag of Doritos, 'Go! Live your best life!'" http://motto.time.com/4259180/or...
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What was the most mind blowing VR experience you've had?
@andrewett when I was in my hospital room i tried eden river on gear vr. it a) got me "out" of the hospital, if only for a little bit and b) told me what i wanted to do for the foreseeable future career wise.
Blake Robbins
Blake Robbins@blakeir · VC at Ludlow Ventures
What apps are on your homescreen? P.S. Keep kicking ass, happy to hear you're in full remission! Truly inspirational.
@blakeir thanks for the support! slack, river studios app, spotify, 2do, instagram, facebook, snapchat, TWITTER, hangouts, chrome, waze
@blakeir and postmates of course ;)
Alex
Alex @alex · Writer, TechCrunch
Real talk: What has been the most interesting part about being married. I know it's only bee a bit, but am curious as a currently-not, but hopefully future-married person.
@alex being lucky enough to call someone my wife, because my entire life i was told that it'd never happen. i'm too difficult, or i'm too this or that...or feeling down on myself like i couldn't be that big a part of someones life.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
April Conyers
April Conyers@april_conyers · Director of Communications, Postmates
Alex
Alex @alex · Writer, TechCrunch
@drew Love you like sunshine.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What's the biggest misconception about VR?
@andrewett that it's an "isolating technology." i've experienced the exact opposite. Also, any bar you enter you see 5 people sitting in a group on their phones. VR is an extension, not a replacement.
Dan Flanegan
Dan Flanegan@dflanegan · Co-Founder, Butter
What's the one thing in VR that no one is doing yet someone should be doing?
@dflanegan doing as many demos as you can and gathering as much feedback as possible. there is a bit of brain trickery going on and none of us really have a full understanding of the impact that immersion into these types of worlds have. just gather info, share, create. repeat.
Andrew Machado
Andrew Machado@machado · Director, ESPN
How is your health?
@machado thank you for asking sir! i'm happy to announce that i had a full body PT scan 2 weeks ago and i'm in full remission. the other day was my one year anniversary of the stem cell transplant. it worked and UCSF is amazing.
Andrew Machado
Andrew Machado@machado · Director, ESPN
@drew Awesome news.
@machado really appreciate you asking
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What's the last rule you broke?
@jacqvon i tend to jaywalk.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What other industries are you interested in other than VR?
@bentossell healthcare. so many opportunities to make people's lives better. insurance, hospitals, etc need to get on the same damn page and put the patients first.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What's one piece of advice you constantly find yourself giving?
@jacqvon listen first, react second.
Sean
Sean@shamel15
Why are you an Eagles fan, that seems like a poor life choice?
@shamel15 Sean. LOL. My dad told me when I was small that the second I became a rabid fan of any sports team outside of Philadelphia, he would disown me. Plus, I really am a glutton for punishment.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
@jacqvon tough one. i really really really want to go to zihuatanejo mexico because of the movie the shawshank redemption. it's a life goal.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you were locked in a room with no windows and you couldnt get out, what song would you have on repeat?
@bentossell sail away by enya. it calms me down.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@drew omg this is the BEST answer ever... @ayrtonbe see this is why I played it in the office
Jeff Needles
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
Hi @drew! If you could be "in" one movie via VR... which would it be? why?
@jsneedles shawshank redpemption. escaping unfair/unjust situations is what i was built for.
Amol Sharma
Amol Sharma@amol_sharma · Founder, Connect It
I see suddenly lot of VC interest in chatbots. Do you use any? Your favourite?
@amol_sharma funny story, i actually built chatbots similar to aol's smarter child in my teens and early twenties. seeing it come back is nice. AI is interesting from an assistance standpoint. don't want to see it replace real life though, that's bullshit.
Michelle Bixler
Michelle Bixler@shellers2
Start With Why...excellent book!
ALASKANJACKSON
ALASKANJACKSON@alaskanjackson · Nobody of Consequence
I view oculus as the Betamax of vr. That is timing is everything. When do you think VR will be a true mass market product? Will the winners be companies providing the "guts"/support (cloud) vs the hardware manufacturers? (Spent much of my life working with/for physicians - Healthcare is such an opportunity)
@alaskanjackson it's way way too early to call for winners or losers. i mean, pepsi/coke. android/apple, lyft/uber etc etc etc. Google/HTC/Sony/Oculus/Samsung/Apple? are all pushing boundaries. Having that many talented folks on one platform, VR, is unheard of. Literally unheard of.
Alex
Alex @alex · Writer, TechCrunch
Drew, which did you enjoy more: Your first or second stint at TechCrunch?
@alex second, because you were there Alex.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Which industries do you think VR will make the biggest impact?
@bentossell Gaming will definitely be the jumping off point for VR, but there are so many other areas and industries that will benefit. There's tremendous room for social impact, so connecting with people, places, and things that you couldn't have done otherwise, is ripe for VR. Social good and real estate personally excite me.
Frank Nolan
Frank Nolan@frank_j_nolan
@drew @bentossell I agree gaming is big with VR
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What are your favourite questions to ask founders?
@bentossell I am always about the "why?" I've heard everything from founders working on projects that they just want to see live in the world to "someone told me this space was hot so I didn't want to miss out on it." The latter usually doesn't work out.
Brett Petersel
Brett Petersel@brett · Founder of AlleyWatch, Clientl, TTLTTR
What are Yoda's thoughts on VR? Does he bless its future with the Force, or no?
@brett "Much force VR does have, yessssss" - Yoda
Cherie Hu
Cherie Hu@cherie_hu
Do you think the boundaries between business and journalism are blurring?
@cherie_hu Nope. Not at all. The great journalists have their northstar of telling stories. Businesses have to tell their own, but one does not dictate the other, nor should it.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Are there potential health risks of VR that we haven't yet thought about? For example, eye safety.
@andrewett Great question. I think a lot of that is being monitored. Smart companies don't just do demos and walk away. They ask questions. Everyone is different, tolerance is different, but personally I have had no issues. Definitely no more issues than staring at a computer screen or a phone all day.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What would you do with a billion dollars?
@bentossell find a billion ways to split it up to help organizations or people as quickly as possible.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What advice would you give to your 25 year old self?
@bentossell do what you do for you. period, end of story. change is hard, but you can ease into things by trying hard. staying true to who you are will get you far and fast in life.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Drew thanks for being here today! In your days at TechCrunch and The Next Web, what were some of the strangest ways people would try and pitch you? Did the weird pitches ever work?
@ems_hodge i had a company literally barge into the techcrunch office to confront me about an article i had written a half hour earlier. it was weird. as far as cold pitching? tweets, ads on facebook, coming up to me at a bar. honestly, if it's interesting, i listen.
April Conyers
April Conyers@april_conyers · Director of Communications, Postmates
Can you share why you feel VR has the potential to be such a powerful platform?
@april_conyers because it freaks my wife out ;) nah, i mean, it's truly about teleporting your mind and body into another place. that's the dream right? we all want to go to mars, but while elon figures it out, we can go there now, so to speak.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What are the best ways for founders to pitch journalists in your experience?
@ems_hodge be honest, be humble. don't think you're better than anyone else. plus, there's only so many ideas, focus on the twist that makes you different. writers are people too. would you write about you? if not, go back to the factory.
Jim
Jim@jimkirks
How long before everyone in the world is plugged into the VR world?
@jimkirks it's not for everyone, just like some people still have flip phones. I do believe VR is something that will come down in size as far as form factor, so that'll help with adoption.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Drew! VR is predicted to dramatically change many industries, from ecommerce to traveling. How will VR change peoples lives in ways many don't expect in the next decade?
@rrhoover socially. without a doubt. how many people in your life do you not get to see as much as you want to? a lot i bet. now let's get in the same room whenever you want.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@drew I do agree, VR has the potential to dramatically change the way we communicate, meet people, and live. Are you concerned that people will live the majority of their life within the virtual world? Is that even a bad thing?
@rrhoover VR is not and shouldn't be a replacement. Just like Reddit shouldn't be, or Twitter, or Facebook, or anything on our mobile phones. It's "virtual reality" not "reality reality" ;) I hope it stays that way. I don't see us all locked in a chair Matrix style.
Amol Sharma
Amol Sharma@amol_sharma · Founder, Connect It
Have you seen any interesting demo of E-Commerce product/platform for VR?
@amol_sharma yeah, i think the lowe's/hololens tieup shows that there's a need for this. also, everyone wants to "see" or "Try" before they buy. Amazon should put you in a room with products so you can get a sense of scale. That would bend everything.
Frank Nolan
Frank Nolan@frank_j_nolan
Is VR going to revolutionize our future of gaming with both pc's and consoles especially since their are devices like Oculus Rift and HaloLens?
@frank_j_nolan i think it's the promise of where gaming is going. every hot game wants to put you into the action, they want to make you feel like you are part of the game. the presence that the rift, and other VR devices give you, swims perfectly with that mission. i mean, who the hell doesn't want to BE mario?
Frank Nolan
Frank Nolan@frank_j_nolan
@drew Oh Mario is definetly one of my favorite games.
@frank_j_nolan right? I WANT TO BE IN THE GAME!!!!
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you had to have your body (and mind) but the head of an animal, what animal would you choose?
@bentossell holy crap, best question ever. i think i would be a monkey. they can do things similar to a human, plus i think they're pretty smart.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
How have you found making the switch from tech journalist to in house communications? What has been the biggest transition for you?
@ems_hodge i've gone back and forth and i really love both. the biggest transition is that when you're not a journalist, you see the news pour in and you have to think about what you say first. for example, i'm not really a fan of microsoft and how they do business, but ya know...they're in the VR/AR space so i do respect that. I have to be a bit more nuanced in an in-house role.
Alina Jaworska
Alina Jaworska@alinajawa · Head of Business Development, BIVROST
Hi Drew! In your opinion, what television will look like in 2035, in the context of VR and 360video?
@alinajawa there will be no TV screens, you will be a part of the story, along with whomever is around you physically or otherwise.
Michelle Bixler
Michelle Bixler@shellers2
@drew @alinajawa That would make an excellent screenplay.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you could only use one social network, what one would you choose?
@bentossell twitter. it's a lifeline, it's a land of friendships and conversation, and it has truly shifted my view of the world. it's like having binoculars on the rest of the world.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@drew same
Amol Sharma
Amol Sharma@amol_sharma · Founder, Connect It
VR adoption seems to be slow. What trigger point you think will suddenly accelerate the VR industry (like Iphone and app store launch by apple in 2007)
@amol_sharma early adopters are pushing boundaries. the ecosystem is healthy. there's good money coming into the space with the hope of pushing it forward. Facebook's acquisition of Oculus was a massive massive trigger point. 2 years ago to now has been lightspeed for VR. the next thing? "More than games"
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What do you want to be remembered for? / what do you want on your tombstone? 💀
@jacqvon "He came, He saw, He tweeted."
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Whats the craziest story you can tell us about thats happened while working in the tech industry?
@bentossell oh man. yeah. i've had startups invite me for drinks and then all of a sudden i'm surrounded and getting pitched. its offputting and kind of made me nervous. also, i've written some really dumb shit that didn't come to fruition, but not that much luckily.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What has been your stand out favorite story that you've ever covered? What story has most surprised you?
@ems_hodge by far it was covering google's street view and learning about its evolution. it's basically teleportation, which is why i love vr: http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/08... i was surprised by how many different vehicles they had strapped with these cameras mapping the world in an immersive way.
Amol Sharma
Amol Sharma@amol_sharma · Founder, Connect It
have you tried Magicleap and Meta AR headset yet? How was your experience?
@amol_sharma no and no. i've heard good things about both, some of which i can't share ;) looking forward to it.
Michelle Bixler
Michelle Bixler@shellers2
My Why - to change the way people communicate globally. #vision #peoplebeforeprofit
@shellers2 i think this is right. 100%
Michelle Bixler
Michelle Bixler@shellers2
@drew Thank you. If, I'm not making something to help 👫 or the 🌎, we better make sure we are a social good, forward thinking company. #onlywaytobe
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What does the landscape for VR investing look like at the moment?
@bentossell so you have folks working on hardware, working on software and working on content. we're all getting there together, which is a sign of future success. there needs to be deeper relationships between the three, but working together will help. we are an ecosystem at an early stage, but hot damn it's interesting and fast.
DJ Anderson
DJ Anderson@coachdja
Hi Drew, your experience with VR inspires me. Do you think VR companies would be willing to provide VR experiences to hospitals? What would have to happen to make this possible?
@coachdja <3 lots has to happen. hospitals have #1 directive, to take care of their patients. if we show that VR can help in a therapeutic way, which i have witnessed first hand, it will be huge huge huge.
DJ Anderson
DJ Anderson@coachdja
@drew I hope that day comes soon for folks in need!
Frank Nolan
Frank Nolan@frank_j_nolan
Will VR allow us to travel the world without leaving our homes or has that already began?
@frank_j_nolan already begun. check out https://pencilsofpromise.org/, they'll take you to a school in Ghana. it's real. and it's impactful. plus kids are using cardboard in school to explore the places they're learning about.
Frank Nolan
Frank Nolan@frank_j_nolan
@drew Oh cool, thats very educationally beneficial :-)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
In you career to date - what one moment stands out as career changing? Was there a moment when you felt, yep - this will all work out. - Secondly, how would you advise someone just starting our in either journalism or communications, to get stuck in?
@ems_hodge when i took my first "job" at AOL when i was 16 i knew that computers were my thing. but more importantly, the human side. for someone starting out, it's like dating. finding places and people you just jive with takes time. you can do lots of great work, learn a lot and move on and have it be a good thing.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@drew on your career journey - do you have any regrets or anything your would do differently?
@ems_hodge i've made bets that didn't turn out. some of them because of me, some of them them. no fit is no fit, no sense in dwelling. i never want to burn bridges. i've lived in seattle, sf, los angeles, new york, philly and texas. i've learned that SF is where i want to be.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Whats the worst piece of advice you've ever been given?
@bentossell "time heals all wounds." it's not true. people heal all wounds.
Anis Souames
Anis Souames@anis_souames
Hey Drew, Do You Think that VR will kill TVs,Consol and PCs in the future ? since it's a lot more interactive
@anis_souames i don't like to think of things in that way, but it will replace a lot of the entertainment screens we have. i love movies, so big screens in a theater will always have a place in my opinion, but watching a tv show or movie on a 50 inch+ screen or playing games will go away. VR/AR will help with productivity, so being surrounded by 5 monitors will also go away.
Frank Nolan
Frank Nolan@frank_j_nolan
@drew @anis_souames I would think that VR has the potential to enhance our future watching or gaming experience with smart tv's and blu-ray, similar to going to a movie theater with 3D goggles; right?
Anis Souames
Anis Souames@anis_souames
@drew especially for productivity, I think it will be a huge boost, I have a second question : What's the most important advice you give for a very new launched product ?
@anis_souames keep iterating. never rest. ship ship ship.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What is your favourite: - Drink - Snack - Country - Mode of Transport - Movie - Startup - Journalist - Publication - Blog - Website
@bentossell - Drink (Tang) - Snack (Goldfish) - Country (USA) - Mode of Transport (Train) - Movie (Rocky 1) - Startup (Slack) - Journalist (Matthew Panzarino) - Publication (WIRED) - Blog (UploadVR these days) - Website (BleacherReport.com)
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@drew rocky 1 is a crazy shout
Jonas Almut
Jonas Almut@jonasalmut · Maker, Designer & Traveller.
Do you think we'll all be like those people in wall-e when vr takes off?
@jonasalmut NO!!!!!!!!!!!! Form factor will change. Just like you look at your phone screen for bitesize niblets of stuff, you'll reach for a pair of glasses to check something out in VR. I believe that truly. VR enhances, not replaces.
Hey Drew! What do you think differentiates VR from, say, 3D? I remember people telling us 3D would be the next big thing but it never really came to be.
@holgr wasn't immersive enough, fell short of "presence."
thank you for your time everyone, really enjoyed chatting with you. i'm always around to chat, and of course to show you how rad VR is. hit me up!
Thank you to the amazing Product Hunt team. This is a great platform to democratize the channels in which our work makes it to the rest of the world and I think Ryan is a swell guy with an amazing team.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@drew you're the amazing one!! Thanks so much for spending time out with us today 🙌