I’m leaving Rackspace to join Upload VR

The news is now out: http://venturebeat.com/2016/03/10/robert-scoble-leaving-rackspace-for-uploadvr-to-explore-augmented-and-virtual-reality/ I’m joining Upload VR, details here…

What a seven years it was working at Rackspace, much of it as its futurist.

As you know, for the last seven years you’ve seen me hop around the world visiting innovation labs, conferences, startups, and other places/companies that could tell me something about where the future is going. I’ve built relationships all over the world and brought Rackspace to many new companies and places but there are deep shifts coming in our society due to new technologies and it’s time to make a career change.

Not to mention I was one of the most recognizable faces at a multi-billion-dollar public company with 6,000 employees and successfully helped it build its brand on social media and on the world’s most important stages.

Today I’m announcing that I’m leaving Rackspace to join Upload VR http://uploadvr.com/ — a new media site covering virtual and augmented reality — as its entrepreneur in residence, where I’ll be developing new shows, events, and working with other entrepreneurs in the Upload Collective, a coworking space for virtual reality-focused startups. In particular working with Upload’s cofounders Will Mason and Taylor Freeman.

Why?

Well, two years ago, at Web Summit in Ireland, I watched many people get their first look at Oculus Rift. Nearly everyone came out of the demos with a stunned look on their face and most used expletives to describe their experiences. Me too. I’ve seen that happen dozens of times since, including last weekend in Cape Town, South Africa, where a local entrepreneur threw a VR party in my honor and many people got their first experiences with VR, which is why I posted this video as part of this post.

It is clear to me that there are new opportunities to build companies in the VR space (duh, just look at the billions of dollars of investment) and the Augmented Reality wave that will follow VR will be even bigger. I wanted to be in a place where I’d have the freedom to create businesses, or at least be part of a media team that was focused on this future.

In the past six months it’s been clearer and clearer that Rackspace was undergoing its own shifts, toward supporting more enterprise customers who were moving existing datacenters to clouds running at Amazon or Microsoft. VR and AR didn’t yet matter to them, at least not to the bottom line. At least not yet and probably won’t make a difference in the bottom line for three years.

As a media guy, though, I know that in three years the market window will have closed. If there will be new brands, and I believe there will be, or new shows, documentaries, conferences, blogs, worlds, whatever you want to call them, they will all be built in the next three years.
I just didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and Rackspace couldn’t invest in me internally to do such. That’s not how companies work.

So, today, I’m announcing that I’m leaving Rackspace to be entrepreneur in residence at a new media property that you might have heard of. Upload VR http://uploadvr.com/ is my favorite place to learn about new VR headsets, products, experiences, games, cameras, and more.

I’m writing a separate post about what Rackspace, and, in particular, my boss, Robert D. La Gesse, meant to me over the last seven years. It’s been such an honor to be a public face of a public company and, especially one that has such an important role in the tech industry with hundreds of thousands of customers.

Some QA:

Q. What does Rackspace think of this? Were your bosses disappointed?
A. Rackspace invested in me to go follow my dreams and passions. We both are friends and you may see Rackspace involved in what I do in the future. They also gave me my newsletter, content rights to use as I see fit. This move made sense for both sides. We’ve been working on this for a while and figuring out what my future might look like.

Q. How are you going to be compensated?
A. I’m in a very fortunate position because I’ve been asked to speak to corporate events all over the world. I have a new speaker management company, ODE Management, and they are quite positive that there’s enough demand out there for me as a speaker that I don’t need to worry about that short term and that I can work with Upload easily while doing so. That said, I’ll be working on making a series of businesses, including a new book, “Beyond Mobile” that I’m writing with Shel Israel, so I’ll open up new sponsorship and advertising possibilities in the future. More on those soon. I’m also open to new business opportunities, if you have one let’s talk!

Q. What does this mean for what you are doing on social media?
A. You probably won’t see many changes, at least not soon. My Facebook will keep being full of industry news and things that catch my eye. I will still visit with many entrepreneurs and others, albeit with more of a VR/AR focus now. Same on Twitter, SnapChat, LinkedIn, and Google+. They will get my newsletter, like I’ve been doing the past year. Some changes you might notice is that my blog will start up again and I’m playing with some ideas for YouTube, but more on those later in the year.
One idea that I’m noodling on is doing social media consulting, though. Dale Bracey (he worked at Rackspace on the social media team) and I are thinking that through. A lot of the world still doesn’t understand how to use social media well and Dale was amazing at doing the dirty work of what I call “defensive social media” (helping customers out on Twitter and other places) while I did the “offensive work” of building brand, and building storytelling devices for Rackspace (like I did at Microsoft too). I’m working with brands to come up with some ideas, if you have advice or need that kind of service, drop us a line at scobleizer@gmail.com

Q. What will my role as EIR at Upload entail?
A. I’ll be working with the Upload Collective team to help find other great startups to join me in the space, along with thinking through its event strategy for 2017. This is one reason why I wanted to join as an EIR, it would give me time after leaving Rackspace to have discussions with a number of companies without the constraint of worrying about appearances. Being a public representative of a public company does tend to limit the kinds of discussions one can have without causing rumors, brand destruction, or stock price consequences, so this change frees me to work with the marketplace on a number of different initiatives. Want to have a chat? Please contact me at scobleizer@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Q. What will you be doing this weekend at SXSW?
A. I’ll be attending the Upload VR Mixer on Sunday night. I’ll also be hosting a “Beyond Mobile” VIP breakfast for VIP brand representatives on Sunday morning (sorry, that’s sold out). Plus speaking at several events and doing my own reporting on how the VR/AR space is evolving here at SXSW. Am on a panel during the VR day on Thursday with several VR pioneers. Plus having a little fun at the concerts in the evenings and many dinners and parties I’ve been invited to.

Q. Will this mean you will focus exclusively on virtual reality?
A. No. I’m going to continue to cover “Beyond Mobile” technologies, including additive manufacturing, IoT, robots, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and other technologies that change our future, all hitting in the next decade. I’m especially interested, though, in VR and AR, and how our culture is deeply changing due to these new technologies. In fact, one advantage of this move is I can spend more time working with Shel Israel on our book, “Beyond Mobile,” which will ship in December. We’re still looking for more sponsors for that, by the way. We’re looking for companies who want to position themselves as leaders in the “Beyond Mobile” space.

Q. Why Upload VR?
A. While most people haven’t heard of Upload, it is my favorite site of those covering the upcoming virtual reality and augmented reality spaces. Plus they have a great office in downtown San Francisco where they are hosting several startups with more coming soon.

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Join us for the Scoble Show (music/charity event)

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Details on “Scoble Show” on Saturday.

I have 200 friends coming from around the world to Napa on Saturday to raise awareness for http://www.preventchildabuse.org/ and celebrate several birthdays. Angelica Mabray and I started this last year because our birthdays are next to each other and we wanted a way to celebrate and kick off the year properly. Last year we started the Scoble Show because it was my 50th birthday.

This year it takes on a new importance, because its been a year since I’ve been drunk on wine I had from Sarah Francis at this party last year (she was our featured entrepreneur).

This year we have a TON of music, and much more. We’re planning on live streaming it on my YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/scobleizer

We’ll also be using the shoto app to share photos with each other, as the official photo sharing app of the Scoble Show (it is sponsoring the Scoble Show). This is a great new app that lets people easily share photos at events, or moments in their lives and get the photos your friends take. It’s a lot of fun, more on Saturday.

Rackspace is another sponsor, they didn’t put any money in, but gave me the time to plan this, which is very valuable. As we further move to supporting a variety of business infrastructure, from our own OpenStack, to AWS, Azure, Magento, and other clouds, having great relationships with entrepreneurs and other key players in the ecosystem matters a lot, plus Rackspace supports employees’ charity and community building efforts in a variety of ways.

Prevent Child Abuse is an organization that means something very personally to me, since I was sexually abused when I was young. If we can help just one person avoid such this will be worth it.

Anyway, come join me at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday. I’ll post the exact URL then.

Here’s a list of the music and when they will be on stage.

Streaming will start at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time, with Roem Baur.
–>>Official Start 4:15 p.m. Introductions,
4:30 p.m. Claire Parr. She’s an amazing musician, who has built an entire career around finding the best in life, music, food, wine (she picks the music for Southwest Airlines, among many other brands).
4:40 p.m. Jillette Johnson Jillette’s voice is amazing and is getting millions of listens on Spotify.
5:30 p.m. Bebo White and The Sada Springs Jug Band (Bebo built the first Website in the US).
6:15 p.m. Teresa Valdez Klein (Tae Phoenix) and Anna Post (She played her first concert last year at my event).
7 p.m. Roem A Baur (and Philip Nelson). Roem beat 100,000 others to get onto the Voice two years ago and he’s even better now.
7:30 p.m. Peter Hollens (he has millions of views on YouTube for his unique performances where he sings all the parts).
8 p.m. Pete Stringfellow and his band (Pete will be showing us his new music video which will be shown for the first time, then performing for us with his band). Pete also helped me choose the charity and will be talking about what it means.

Thank you to:

Sasha Webber for helping me with event planning/etc.
Sachin Dev Duggal and the team at http://www.shoto.com/ for sponsoring the Scoble Show.
Eddie Codel for live streaming the event on my YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/scobleizer
Michael O’Donnell for making great photos in the studio downstairs.
Alexander Green and http://www.symmetrylabs.com/ for providing amazing LED displays upstairs.
Dominic Mendiola and his wife for the amazing Dom’s Chop Salsa – Taste the Grilled Difference. (They will be our featured entrepreneur).
Kara Keenan Goldin for the Hint Water. My new addiction.
Don Wetherell and http://www.bountyhunterwine.com/ for the amazing BBQ and other food.
Eric Mitchell for sharing his EDM documentary, which will be seen for the first time at our party (unfortunately we can’t share that publicly, but you’ll see more about it at SXSW).
Hugh MacLeod for the great poster artwork.
Tanya Denise Halepota for the flowers.
Kevin Hague and JBL for the Pulse 2 speakers.
GotLight for the AV. http://www.got-light.com/

Oh, and most importantly, Maryam Ghaemmaghami Scoble who makes it all possible and Robert D. La Gesse who continues to lead by example.

Hope you can join us for a fun time on Saturday! Thank you to everyone who has added something to this event to make it something very special.

Want to go? Tickets are sold out, but I still am holding three tickets for people who will make a great non-alcoholic drink for our guests. You game? If so, post below what it will be.