My POV on MWC: Lots A-OK and a bit WTF

Once again, Mobile World Congress (MWC) was a very productive and enjoyable week. If you like to geek out on what’s next, like VR, drones, or IOT, it’s the place to be (even more so than CES). 

Beyond the networking opportunities, it’s the relationships you can build at MWC that are priceless. Add-in a beautiful city, tapas and some great wine and MWC is a 10 out of 10 in my book.

Here’s my light-hearted take on the event (I’m not the guy to write about new technology; save that for the reporters). My goal here is to provide fun facts about MWC from my own POV.

  1. As my friend, Ari Paparo, said over dinner: “Chris we don’t belong here.” It’s funny how people in advertising and consumer techs push our way into every conference in the world, right alongside the multi-billion dollar companies such as IBM, Huawei and Samsung. It doesn’t matter the event, us tech and consumer businesses take over like cockroaches and make it our own. Just look at what we’ve already been able to do at Cannes and Art Basel.
  2. Sure, AdTech companies are getting acquired, but their position at MWC has declined in a disproportionately massive way over the last two or three years. Even the big public companies who’ve had the prominent booths, epic locations and tons of staff at MWC are getting overshadowed by young upstarts fronted by little more than colorful drones surrounded by massive nets.
  3. A friend asked me prior to my flying-out to MWC if you needed a pass or badge to just hang out -- pretty funny really. Just getting into the Fira (the location of MWC) is tougher than clearing customs at JFK. There’s multiple gates to pass, passport checks and all kinds of security delivered (thankfully) by some of the most attractive people you have ever seen.
  4. It’s actually easier to get a meeting with someone in Barcelona than with someone on your own block in NYC. Everyone there is happy to meet you, in a good mood, and keen to do business. In a lovely Spanish twist, conversations tend to happen over Sangria instead of Starbucks (Europeans so get it). Sangria related heads-up: After a couple, it's hard to know what’s a toilet and what’s a bidet; they look identical.
  5. Booking early morning meetings is a mistake. Don’t do it. Dinner may not start until 11 p.m. or midnight the night before. In Spain, or maybe just at MWC, people just don't seem to take their alarm clock very seriously. Don’t book your first meet until at least 11 a.m. (happily, around the time the tapas and Sangria tends to get freshened-up).
  6. The old no tipping rule in the EU would seemingly make hospitality, restaurants and bars easier to navigate but the truth is no tipping means service struggles. I love most things about Europe over how America works, but a little extra monetary motivation could do wonders for the service industry there.
  7. Founders and startups are very active at MWC. Publishers and agencies treat it like a holiday in the Maldives. 
  8. People, take it easy with your out of office time. I see you heading to MWC 3 days before the conference starts and leaving two 2 days after it ends. I get the desire to live a little (hey, it’s Barcelona) but a little work wouldn’t kill you, either.

OK friends, that’s the stuff you aren’t going to read anywhere else about MWC. Have a happy weekend to all!