Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Meeting up and Hanging Out - São Paulo

Meeting up at Google Brazil Headquarters

Yesterday evening, a friend and I went to a sales event at Google Brasil headquarters. Billed as the first Google Women [sic] Meetup, it was marketed as a meeting to learn about tools that online entrepreneurs could use to monetize their sites or market their products online. While I don't personally do any of those things, I thought it a good way to see the possibilities. And see how Google would present their now-large-corporate model to us, the small business market (as they say here: the PMEs or Pequena e Media Empresas).

Getting there was, as always, an adventure. A 5:30 pm start time meant that we drove through the beginnings of the evening commute. And one point we found ourselves in the far left turn lane and realized we needed to be two lanes over. My friend rolled down the window and in best Brazilian lady style, fluttered her fingertips at the driver of the enormous bus next to us and asked him sweetly if we could cut in front of him. Smiles and thumbs-up! One illegal u-turn through a parking lot later, and we pulled up in front of the mammoth black tower that houses Google and many others. We left my car with a valet that later charged us $43 reais (around US$21) for three hours. Up a black escalater, across a black marble floor past enormous black urns filled with enormous fake black flowers (there IS such a thing as too much black) and a stop at the reception desk with a line of ladies.  We have to show our IDs: in any office building in São Paulo you have to show an ID and take a picture. Always.

Another line at the google offices on the 18th floor to get our sticker name tags. I realize I am old when I have to squint at the 12-point font to see if it is really me. What can I say about Google HQ? It makes me feel old. I missed most of the internet start-up craziness of 1999-2001 when I was working for one of the world's biggest companies (well, it was then--144,000 worked there. Now I think it is a quarter of that size after being absorbed by a Frenchie company). Open spaces, pool tables, a giant screen of google earth to play with and check what your mom is doing (hi mom!!!). Free drinks! Our happy hour break involved fresh orange juice, cold hamburgers and brownies. When we left they were setting up the caipirinha bar--do you think that happens every day? What a company! But I digress...

After a short line to get doodads, giveaways and pens from the summer intern (I assume--she seemed rather overwhelmed. But since every employee is apparently teen-aged, she might have been the president), we sit down in the front row. Because we are front-row people. We are on time and ready to go. 

Google is not. Tatiana, the runner-of-the-show, is waging a battle with the technology that will bring us two screens, a videoconference with the tech guys in the back room (or so it seems) and laptops-a- go-go. Every speaker brings her own. However, there is no slide changing remote so all these executive women were squishing past the screens back behind the podium to hit "FWD" on their slides. No, they did not help each other out by running each others' slides. This I noticed.

Twenty minutes later we are ready to go. The products discussed are Google+, AdSense, AdMob, Conecte-Se, Hangouts and I'm not going to talk about any of them. They would have to give me 45% of my profits for that (okay, so 45% of my current online profit would be zero, but you get the point). That is their take on any video you post on YouTube--if you run ads off of it. 

All of the presenters are women. Maybe they have men in similar roles but because the Meetup is for Women (Big "W" intended), perhaps they wanted to show off they have lots. All I know is that they sure can talk fast. Is that a Generation C thing? See how much I learned yesterday? The generation 15 years old to 25 years old is called Generation C. Generation Connected. Generation Collaborator. Generation my-smartphone-is-more-interesting-than-you.

But what I most notice is the silliness of English words when spoken with a Brazilian accent. A Meetup becomes a "Meet-uppie". A hangout becomes a "hang-outtie" and YouTube is "YouTube-eeee". When AdMob becomes "Adgee-Mobbeee", I decide that it is a good thing that Al Capone didn't have to deal with southern hemisphere employees--if anyone had called his mob the "Mobbeee" he might have offed them just for making fun of the word. 

More and more English technology words are used. They are all Brazilianized. After three hours in my hard wooden chair (Google apparently makes hard chairs to make sure no one sits around in chairs all day--it's time to play billiards!), I'm just about ready to go. But then I hear possibly the worst Brazilianization of a word: Flagear (pronounced "Flag-eee-arr"). What is "flagear" you ask? (or you've long stopped reading in which case I will write this only for me). Well, that's when google looks at something you've posted and flags it as inappropriate. "Flagear" does not exist in Portuguese. Or it didn't until last night.  "Marcar" exists. Flagear does not. 

Bottom line: if I were an internet site creator, I would make my way to Brazil stat.  Of the 6 million PMEs in Brazil, 70% have online access (by the way, that is pronounced "on-liney"). But 73% of those with internet access do not have a site. Not wise when 7 out of 10 people with online access research products online before buying (source is Google on these numbers).

Time to get cracking, Brazil. Flagear this post and get going!

The view from Google Brasil HQ's veranda

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