Visiting Twitter headquarters in San Francisco with Valiant Entertainment staff and creators, as well as some fellow journalists, was such an interesting experience that it seems to call for a less formal account and some more photos of our adventure alongside the Liveblog I posted and the many announcement pieces we ran on Bleeding Cool.
Basically, at Twitter headquarters, there are frequently lunch time presentations that staff can take advantage of to learn about new media and concepts, and this emerged as an excellent opportunity for Valiant, especially when paired with the Periscope app's ability to live stream internationally. Periscope is owned by Twitter, and is a relatively new and emerging resource for social media which generally live-streams video from a location to an account that can be viewed by the public, where it is saved only for a short time afterwards for further viewing, however Periscope has added the facility of downloading the video for archiving elsewhere more recently. Steve Coates was instrumental in arranging all this, and was our guide for the day.
Twitter and Valiant Entertainment arranged the Valiant Summit based around this new technology, and Valiant decided to use this opportunity to make their big announcements tied to San Diego Comic-Con, 5 in total. Dinesh Shamdasani (CEO & Chief Creative Officer), Warren Simons (EIC), Robert Venditti (writer on X-0 Manowar), Jen Van Meter (writer on The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage), Josh Johns (Digital Sales and Special Project Manager), and Hunter Gorinson (Director of Marketing, Communications & Digital Media), were all present for the event, as were myself on behalf of Bleeding Cool, Andrew Steinbeiser on behalf of Comicbook.com and George Marston on behalf of Newsarama.
When we arrived at Twitter headquarters on Tuesday ahead of the presentation, we checked in and given guest lanyards. Our host, Z, kept us up to speed on what areas allowed photographs and on what we were viewing as we moved through different areas of the building. We were taken to "cabin" areas where wooden-walled (like log cabin) quiet seating areas surrounded a coffee shop and chilled out with some coffee for awhile. The interior of the otherwise heavily art nouveau style building is quite modern, with plenty of glass, hashtag based signage, many a secure area, and some art fixtures. There was no mistaking the number of features catering toward employee comfort, from snack and water areas to the much larger cafeteria with its rooftop access that we visited later on.
Gathering in our room for the presentation, we were joined by employees who were using their lunch period to take in the talk, and so in keeping with this degree of access, and the fact that the presentation was going to be streamed internationally, Valiant used about the first 1/3 of the talk to give general introductions to their characters and the way that they interact within their universe. The current crossover event, The Book of Death, which reached 70,000 copies for its first issue, received plenty of attention, but the other announcements being made at the Valiant Summit were also significant.
They included the rise of a new cache of 8 one dollar priced first issues to keep new readers ready to explore the Valiant Universe or explore other areas of the universe beyond the books they have already tried, the upcoming return of an Eternal Warrior series, teases for the 50th issue of X-O Manowar, the announcement that Doctor Mirage will be returning in a second series written by Van Meter, titled "Second Lives".
Questions from the audience and from social media were pretty specific and motivated, from learning more from Venditti and Van Meter about how they write their comics to wondering about the different forms of media the Valiant characters may take. The event was high-energy, and also showed off very well the kind of proficient ease Valiant have gained in public speaking and interacting with fans through their relentless con representation since their 2013 incarnation began. Periscope turned out to be a very natural venue for them to use to reach fans and having the live audience also contributed to the sense of interacting with readers.
After the presentation, which certainly succeeded in trending on Twitter, we visited the Twitter cafeteria and rooftop dining area.
Unfortunately, there was a fire drill in the middle of lunch which resulted in evacuation and standing around in stairwells, but our lunch was still there when we returned. There were tales of beer pong in the cafeteria, book clubs that meet there, and a general sense that social life is kind of built into the life of working in the headquarters building. That's certainly an interesting way of approaching a workplace dynamic.
It would have been interesting to be present in person to hear Valiant's big announcements anyway, but the added bonus of visiting the headquarters of a company that shapes so much of what online news sites do and how we reach our readers was particularly relevant for me, and no doubt for the other bloggers present. Thanks to Valiant and Twitter for the experience.