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What Magento Imagine 2014 Meant to Us

July 24, 2014

Image Courtesy of Magento

Image Courtesy of Magento – All Rights Reserved

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. The impressions though travel far. Insights from Magento Imagine 2014 lodged themselves in our minds and returned cross-country with us to New York City. In fact, we’re still uncovering interesting things from our notebooks weeks later!

This year’s conference theme was “transformation”. It resonated with us as we are working hard on transforming an important and fast-growing part of e-commerce: gifting. For anyone who wasn’t there, it is hard to visualize the sheer scope and scale of the event. Here are some of our personal takeaways from e-commerce’s preeminent event.

Pulling Out All The Stops

First: the glitz and glamour. Staying true to form for Vegas events, the production was brilliant and theatrical. There is something magical happening when more than 2,000 people collaborate and share ideas about something they’re passionate about. For three days, the Hard Rock Hotel was transformed into a Magento community hive… buzzing with all things e-commerce, tech, design, business and leadership. From branded sweets to elevator skins, no detail was overlooked, no amenity spared.

Vegas bills itself as the entertainment capital of the world, and the legendary evening event certainly delivered on that reputation. From DJs and dancers to acrobats and performers, it was a magnificent party. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, here’s a novel for your eyes to feast upon.

Industry News & Keynote Takeaways

Entertainment aside, Imagine was a feast of fantastic keynote speakers, valuable breakout sessions and brought some industry news.

Perhaps the biggest piece of community news broke a couple of weeks before the start of Imagine and came from no other than Roy Rubin himself, Magento’s co-founder, COO and undisputed community leader. He announced his stepping down from the business on Magento’s blog.

The other big news was that Mark Lavelle, SVP of Product & Strategy at eBay Enterprise, announced the release and immediate availability of Magento Community 1.9 and Magento Enterprise 1.14. Highlights of the latest releases include:

– Responsive themes

– BillMeLater integrated into checkouts

– PayPal Express integrated into checkouts

– Solr indexing

Also announced was that Magento 2 will finally be released in beta in December of this year followed by a full release in March 2015, after 3 years of development and various earlier release announcements.

The amazing lineup of keynote speakers was informing, educating and highly entertaining. Here are a few that tantalized our senses:

Carey Lohrenz, F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot, U.S. Navy. Carey, a mother of four, is the U.S. Navy’s first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot. She delivered a powerful and inspiring message about leadership, high performing teams and winning under pressure. Carey spoke right to our hearts and those of the many entrepreneurs and business owners in the audience. Some of our favorite quotes: “If you lose sight, you lose the fight”, “Fear hates focus”, “Be committed to excellence”, “Get comfortable in being uncomfortable”, “You can survive solo, but you can only win together”, and “1 hour of effective planning saves up to 200 execution errors”. Carey’s book “Fearless Leadership” will be released on October 7th and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Malcolm Gladwell. Needing no introduction, Malcolm was a hit. He spoke extensively about the theory around his most recent book “David and Goliath”. The act of facing overwhelming odds resonated well with the crowd, many of whom are building and running online stores that must compete in the jungle of online shopping. We especially enjoyed his pithy summary of traits that he believes makes up the personality of successful entrepreneurs: creative, conscientious and disagreeable.

Finally, Jamie Clark, Extreme Adventurer and founder of LiveOutThere.com, deserves a mention. Jamie summited Mount Everest not once – but twice, and is a successful e-commerce entrepreneur in his own right. Following a presentation at last year’s Imagine, Jamie was asked by the organizers to guide the community as Master of Ceremony through this year’s event. His high-energy and hilarious intermission-fillers left no eye dry in the audience. Highlights included threatening a live lobster to be consumed on stage (the poor thing was spared) and downing a glass of red wine in front of the audience at 11am (following the legendary night in which he was seen joking with the community shortly before midnight).

Technically Speaking

Of highly practical value were the many developer and designer barcamps featuring fantastic presentations by speakers from eBay Enterprise/Magento. The developer barcamps dug deep into the details of the new version releases. The designer barcamps featured some timeless reminders worthy of sharing: “What we consider intuitive might not be to the user” and the classic Da Vinci quote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. There was also a great presentation on storytelling. At its core: “What you say + how you say it = value.” backed up by great examples like Stance Fusion’s Magento store.

Wrapping It Up

There have been many recaps about Magento Imagine 2014.The above is a selection of takeaways that have stayed with us. Imagine is a fantastic show worthy of experiencing. Above all, it is a thrilling gathering of like-minded Magento-enthusiasts interspersed with informative and inspiring content. We look forward to Magento Imagine 2015, which without a doubt, will once again top the previous event.

– Monika and Bernd

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