SBD/January 22, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business With Warriors VP/Digital & Marketing Kenny Lauer

Lauer is known to don a Hawaiian shirt on Fridays, with a lei around his neck
Warriors VP/Digital & Marketing KENNY LAUER seems to be living in the perfect part of the country for a tech junkie. "In Oakland, we're situated in a geographically desirable place," he said. "There's all types of innovation, whether it's start-ups, incubators or venture capitalists. We're also 15 miles from the largest social media companies in the world." Lauer oversees the Warriors' digital components, as well as the day-to-day management of marketing, game operations and retail. He will also have a significant hand in developing the team's new S.F. arena. Lauer spoke recently with THE DAILY about the Warriors' tech innovations, how starting his career with Apple has influenced his retail strategies, and why his office may feel like a luau on Friday afternoons.

A day in the life...
JOE LACOB primarily focuses on the basketball where PETER GUBER really comes from the entertainment world, so he understands and believes in storytelling, experience creation, narratives. And that’s what he focuses on. I get the benefit of both worlds. We’re the first NBA team to create an app that works in Google Glass so that a fan can actually get information that’s relevant to the experience while they’re watching the game. Some of the things we’re looking at is how to use inaudible tones delivered through speakers to activate engagement. We're also innovating with Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter in different ways. We’re working with Twitter to figure out how it generates conversation during TV broadcasts.

Apple culture...
The real takeaway for me from my time with Apple was two things: what a real fan base was like, and what innovation really looks like. The way they've created the Apple Store, and that opportunity to encourage testing and touching, and tactile and sensation is really intriguing to us. But we're also taking what Microsoft is doing in terms of how to enhance retail. We've spent a lot of time in innovation centers, in companies around the Bay area on how they’re using technology to innovate. We also look at eBay and Amazon, and all of those.

Best advice...
A boss of mine at KPMG, ROD MCGEARY, his advice to me was never believe that business isn’t personal. At that moment, I don’t think I fully appreciated it. But now I get it. This excuse that, “It’s just business, it’s not personal,” that’s not true. I don’t care what it is, ultimately it comes down to relationships you have with people.

Media mainstays...
I always read the local papers -- the S.F. Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune -- because you have to know what’s going on in your local world. I love nothing more than a cup of coffee and the tactile sensation of a newspaper in my hand. Also, I have a blog aggregator, with key blogs from technology to sports and standard news. I probably have five or six that are listed as a must read. The three print publications I read each week are SBJ, then both Ad Age and Adweek.

Tweet tweet...
I have a huge screen in my office where I’m constantly running Tweetdeck. I probably have about 30 of the top social media tech guys that I follow and then I have every one of our players as well as the owners. MICHAEL WU, he’s a chief scientist at company called Lithium. He provides such a unique perspective on the web, behavior and analytics. I also follow CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA, he’s one of our minority owners and has started a bunch of companies and always has a lot of interesting perspectives.

Ways to unwind...
I’m a big road biker. We have the benefit of being able to ride up the hills and feeling like you escape the entire city in a matter of minutes. Two things, one is hopping on my bike early in the morning and riding by myself and escaping up the mountains and then the second is an escapist book and a cup of Peet's coffee.

Life on the island...
I love JOURNEY. Like old traditional rock. That’s just what I love. Journey, ELO, FOREIGNER, those are still the ones I come back to. I also listen to Hawaiian music, there’s a guy named ISRAEL KAMAKAWIWO`OLE. It’s incredible Hawaiian music, my wife’s family is from there. In fact, every Friday is Aloha Friday in my office at the Warriors, so every Friday I am in aloha gear. I have Hawaiian leis with Hawaiian music playing that slowly penetrates through the office.

The envelope, please...
I’m kind of a TV binge watcher. "ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK," I love, and "MODERN FAMILY" is one of my all-time favorites. I love the acting on "PARENTHOOD." I’m on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences board, so I judge Emmys. I get to see a lot of what is happening. When I can sit back and watch one of these shows, see the pomp and circumstance, see how the technology is, look at the second-screen capabilities, I love it.
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