Doug Garland, General Manager, Technology and Stadium Experience, San Francisco 49ers, Jed York, CEO, San Francisco 49ers and Gideon Yu, President, San Francisco 49ers joined Fortune’s Brian O’Keefe at Brainstorm Tech.
Below is an unedited transcript:
BRIAN O’KEEFE: So welcome everybody. Let’s get a quick show of hands how many people here are football fans? (Show of hands.) I figured we were all football fans here. How many people here are 49ers fans? (Show of hands.) 49ers fans are here. So you get some intimate feedback from your fan base.
JED YORK: I’m the only one with 49ers colors on, I think. Close, red and gold.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: His wife wouldn’t let him wear the 49ers shirt.
All right. So when we talk about innovation in the NFL, we don’t typically ‑‑ it’s typically about on field innovation, like new types of blitz packages, or the pistol formation, which the 49ers know a little bit about. The fan experience really hasn’t evolved that much over time. In fact, when you talk about technology and the fan experience, if you go to a football game, you’re lucky if you can get service on your cell phone, or even send a text or anything.
So into this environment, now we have the 49ers building a new stadium, really the City of Santa Clara is building a new stadium with a lot of input from the 49ers, who are going to be the main tenant of that stadium. A $1.2 billion stadium that is going to, if they can deliver it, transform the fan experience for people at football games, 49ers fans.
And to talk about this we have Jed York, who is the CEO of the 49ers, and his family has owned the team for decades now. We have Gideon Yu, who is the president of the 49ers, and formerly CFO of Facebook and YouTube. And Doug Garland, who is the General Manager of Stadium Experience and Technology, and has a long career in tech coming out of mobile phone technology and Yahoo! and Shazam.
So let me start with you, Jed, your family and the franchise has been working on building a new stadium for many, many years now. And you told me that when you came to work with the team in 2005, you had two main goals. One was winning another Super Bow, which you were very close to doing last year, just a few yards away, and getting this new stadium built that you’ve been trying to do for a long time, and the idea for along time was to do it close to your old stadium, Candlestick, and now it’s going to move to Santa Clara.
Maybe you could just explain to us, as you were thinking about building a new stadium, why should it be a leap forward in technology? Just what was your vision for the stadium, if you’re not only going to get it built, but have these audacious goals for what to do with the stadium?
JED YORK: Any time you’re spending $1.2 billion on something, you want to make sure that it lasts. I think that’s what I’ve seen with a lot of stadiums that have been built. They haven’t taken into account what’s coming forward, and when we’ve done our research and going around to see anything that’s being built, baseball, basketball, arenas, soccer stadiums, there was an example of a stadium in the mid to late ’90s that decided that the last minute they needed to run cable throughout so you can plug in your laptop anywhere in the stadium. And you look at those types of things, and that’s just not the right answer.
We sat down with a group from Silicon Valley very early on, and nobody can really identify like this is the one thing that you need to do, this is the type of technology that you need to build out, or this is the hardware that you need. The only thing that was unanimous was that you can’t have enough Wi-Fi capabilities. And I think building off the last panel, listening to Philippe, it’s not about hardware. I don’t really care what hardware people use. I want to make sure that the content in the stadium is what you want it to be.
And when you have 70,000 people coming to a venue, you don’t want to have one great experience for 70,000 people, you want to have 70,000 unique experiences in one venue. And I think that’s what we’re trying to build out, because right now the couch is such a great option, you need to be able to bring people to the stadium, and give them an experience inside of a stadium that they can’t get anywhere else in the world. And that was really the goal.
GIDEON YU: One thing I would add to this, I think I recognize a lot of guys in the audience. In order to do something that seems impossible, if not very difficult in the industry that you’re in, you need really strong vision. You need somebody who has an unyielding vision. You need somebody who makes bold decisions. And what I’ll tell you is that I’ve gotten lucky enough to be around some of the greats in Silicon Valley. I’ve worked fro Zuckerberg, I’ve worked for Chad Hurley, Steve Chen. I would say that as far as taking this hill and going up against some really difficult problems, and almost an industry that is not built to solve this problem, you really need to have a great visionary. I would say that not many people in Silicon Valley see sports as a bastion of innovation, but this team being led by Jed is really one of those bastions.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: So you’ve buttered up the boss now a little bit.
GIDEON YU: I’m good at that.
JED YORK: Just so you know, he doesn’t even have an employment contract. He refuses to sign it. He’s still trying.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: Gideon, I was going to ask you, and this is actually a good transition because you have worked with these teams, and for these kinds of people, and I think people would like to hear how you came from that world, those jobs to the 49ers, what was appealing about this project for you? And then you’re hardly the only Silicon Valley veteran at the organization now. You’ve helped put together this team. So what was exciting to you about coming in? And when you were coming in and Jed was working on doing the financing to try to make this a reality, what was the vision that you saw from Jed, and then what did you want to build?
GIDEON YU: First, maximum props to Daniel Lurie who Jed and I are both on his charity board at Tipping Points, and he introduced the two of us. What I’ll tell you is that the short, flip answer for me is that it was kind of an early midlife crisis. I’ve had a good run in technology, a good run working in my career. But for me, I grew up in Tennessee, and to me it was all about football, and even within football it was all about the 49ers.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: And we’ve talked about this as the terrible accident of your birth that you grew up in Tennessee instead of Alabama.
GIDEON YU: Instead of Alabama, but the UCC rivalries will come out to Aspen as well, I guess. Although it’s not a rivalry anymore between us and you guys.
But what I’ll tell you is that the longer answer is I feel like my entire career, especially the stuff I’ve been doing in Silicon Valley leads up to this. This is, at its core, not a stadium project, this is not a financial issue, this is not a real estate issue, although it is at some level all of these. What this is is taking a blank piece of paper and trying to think through how do you fundamentally rethink the user experience.
And that’s a uniquely Silicon Valley problem. If you think about it over the past five years versus the five years before that, it used to be all about the great engineering. Now it’s all about the great user experience, the great user interface. The designers are now the ones that are in big demand. So for me that’s why I came over here.
This is a problem that is super difficult, but not impossible. And that gets me super excited, especially given that I think that I’m fan number one. I get to build an experience in this new stadium, this $1.2 billion stadium, for myself. And hopefully that extends to everybody else, and you guys have a good time with it as well, but as a consumer and a huge fan of football and live sports in general, what an incredible opportunity that is.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: Doug, when we were talking the other day, you said that this was the most interesting project you’ve ever worked on in technology.
DOUG GARLAND: Yes.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: Echoing what Gideon was just saying. And you were telling me about your experience at Shazam sort of in a weird way prepared you for this, or was a precursor to this challenge. I just thought that was interesting, and you might want to share that with people. In a minute, we’re going to look at some more pretty pictures of the stadium, and talk about some of the specific technology that they’re working on.
DOUG GARLAND: Absolutely. When I got the call from Gideon, who is a wonderful man and a great boss.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: Anybody that knows Gideon knows that he’s full of it right now.
DOUG GARLAND: He told me about what they wanted to do in the stadium. And we’ve talked about it at a high level. We’ll talk about it in a little bit more detail. But basically redefine the fan experience. And at the time I was with Shazam. Hopefully most of you in the audience have used Shazam. We’re very popular ‑‑ they are a very popular mobile app where you can identify music playing on a radio. And it’s become one of the top most downloaded apps of all time. We worked heavily at Shazam, we did work heavily at Shazam with the music industry.
And one of the things that I would find often coming up with musical acts, and tour promoters, was well this is great that you’re working with us on the radio, but for us we want to engage fans during concerts as well. So what can we do that’s creative together? How can somebody Shazam us during a concert and get an experience that’s unique to the live performance? And, oh by the way, and not coincidentally, also allow us to monetize those fans by selling more merchandise, which is very important, or doing other creative things. And we would come up with really interesting experiences that we might do, but we could never find a venue that was suitable.
And so typically it starts with the fundamentals, which is, and everybody knows this, Wi-Fi coverage despite many teams best efforts or stadiums just is not enough. And we need to be connected. And so without connectivity it began to fail from there. But, I heard from these entertainers that they wanted to do something. And so when Gideon called and said we want to do this in sports, it was interestingly ‑‑ I mean it was immediately appealing, because of what I had heard at Shazam and also as a fan it’s just something I wanted, as well.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: Yes. I mean I think it’s important to emphasize how much of a failure most stadiums are at providing this service. I think maybe the Super Bowl ‑‑
DOUG GARLAND: They’re not even trying to provide the service.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: And a lot of people have just assumed that you can’t do it. So let’s take a break and we’ll kind of scoot to the side here a little bit and I guess we need to get up and just move the chair. And let’s maybe just kind of ‑‑
DOUG GARLAND: I don’t think that moves. I think it’s taped, or something.
GIDEON YU: Okay. So that’s good in case of an earthquake.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: So why don’t we just kind of walk through these slides and you can tell us quickly, this is obviously a rendering of what the stadium is going to look like in all its glory. But, maybe sort of talk about the general design of the stadium and some of how you’re implementing the technology and then we’ll talk about what that technology is going to enable.
DOUG GARLAND: So what we wanted to do is just give you a little bit more of a feeling for what we’re trying to do in the stadium. And so Jed and Gideon are really the experts on the physical plant. We’ve got something here from a technology standpoint. But, the first thing you notice, obviously, about the stadium, an open fan experience, very airy, very inviting to fans. And of course, for those of you from the Silicon Valley area, you can see we’re located right in the heart. Go to the next slide.
Jed, Gideon, I don’t know if you want to talk about some of the background.
JED YORK: I think the key was when you look at this structure you have the majority of your suites built in one area of the stadium, that’s not typical. Usually you build suites in two rings all the way around. You have a mezzanine level for your club seats. Those are the most expensive seats in the house. And they’re not right on the field. They’re one or two levels removed and they have special access to better food and you pay 5X the price for that seat. And it just didn’t seem to make sense to us that the people that aren’t sitting closest to the field should be paying the most amount of money just because you have a micro-brew and a gourmet hotdog instead of just your regular hotdog.
So what we wanted to do is say let’s put the majority of our people in this suite tower, bring the upper deck over here, lower and closer to the field, take the mezzanine out and put your club seats closer to the field where the best seats in the house are. It just seems reasonable and rational that you’d want the best seats to actually be the best seats and the most expensive seats.
So when you look at the fan experience you’ve got two thirds of your bowl, of the lower bowl, of the people in the lower bowl, which brings people lower and closer to the field. That’s about the most dynamic thing that people have done in sports by actually bringing people that are paying more money lower and closer to the field. And that seemed like a pretty low bar for us to step over. So what we wanted to do from there was say, okay, how do we get more tech-friendly, how do we get more green, how do we make sure that it’s functional and not just for tech or green’s sake? So you can see the solar panels on the roof. You can see the green roof here. Because of the way we’ve designed the building, we’ll actually be net neutral to the grid for our 10 home games. And no other stadium in North America can say that. There’s only one stadium in the world, and I believe it’s in China, that can do that right now.
And then really the next step is how do you connect to your fans, especially in Northern California, where technology is just ‑‑ it’s commonplace. Everybody is familiar with technology. It’s probably the most adopted use of smart phones, of tablets, et cetera. So if that’s the case and Gideon is fan number one, I don’t know where that puts me, but apparently Gideon is fan number one, what we wanted to do is say, how do we make sure that everybody can connect? How do you order a hotdog in your seat, a beer, a soda, things that are normal?
Again, you’re thinking about competing with a couch. You’re listening to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman when you’re at home. How do you connect to that while you’re actually at the game? And that’s really where Doug comes in, because of this stadium ‑‑ I mean the same number of seats as Candlestick, about two-and-a-half times the size of Candlestick. So you have a lot of space and you have a lot of ways to connect from a fan’s standpoint, but it’s really the next step. How do you make that easier and do it in a way that’s not beating you over the head with technology, but it’s something that you can opt into and that’s really what the next step is.
GIDEON YU: I want to quickly point out that that roof is green, because it’s got grass on it.
DOUG GARLAND: It does.
Well, on that note, thank you, Jed. Just going to the next slide, we’re going to have the grand concourse area. And as Jed was just talking about this is how most of the fans order today. Now you can see that we don’t show many lines here, but despite the best efforts by everybody in professional sports, we all know you get in a line, you have to decide at what point in the game do I want to go down to the concourse and have to miss something. And I missed Barry Bond’s 700th home run that way, as a matter of fact, being the guy who drew the short straw and I got beers for everybody. I watched it on TV from the stadium.
So we’ve got great concourses and great physical spaces, but still we could do better. Go to the next slide, obviously luxury areas. Next slide, and Brian on the rooftop terrace, because I know that’s where you’re going to hang out. We’ve got a rooftop terrace, great physical plan. But, if you take a step back and think about it, as Jed was saying, as Gideon was saying, when you look at a stadium there’s a different view you can take. Do you want to go the next slide?
So a cut out of the stadium, really, what’s behind a lot of the stadium are a myriad of unconnected, often archaic software systems. So first item, access and ticketing, we all know about going paperless with ticketing. What makes all that happen? Software systems, by the way, which typically are siloed. Next. Point of sale systems, you buy something at a concession stand or a merchandise stand, we all know we probably have been to sessions here about mobile payments and all that great stuff, these are software systems, often developed, by the way, by partners of ours and we’ll continue to partner, but they weren’t thinking about that in-seat fan experience, software.
Next, people make a lot about displays. We put them everywhere we can. We put up TVs and a lot of people think that’s advanced tech. Well we’re going to have that. They’re all programmable. You can do things like change menus on a concession stand, or keep up to date on the game. They’re software driven, as are the big boards that you’re going to see. We’ve got a big board like everybody else.
JED YORK: Not like everybody else, this is going to be the biggest outdoor ‑‑
DOUG GARLAND: That’s what I meant, sorry.
Did I tell you how great Jed is?
And, by the way, something that not everybody has is we’re going to have a content production, a studio, right there producing content. Again, all driven by lots of different software systems, but the problem with all of these is when you look at it this is how they operate today, silos, not connected. So we’re going to change that. And that’s going to allow us to do some interesting things. Next item.
First of all, we’re going to be distributing that video through a sophisticated content distribution system, and of course to do that, next item, we’re building a network all around the stadium, high bandwidth network all around the stadium that’s going to connect all these systems. That’s going to make it interesting, because now what we can do is we can put together, and I don’t have a visual representation of this, but a backend software stack that taps into all of these systems, the point of sale where you’re ordering a hotdog, or maybe buying a 49er jersey, the video displays, the content that’s being produced here where the video replays get cut.
So we’re going to have a backend software stack that integrates with all those and we’re working with all our various partners in these areas, quite frankly, trying to bring them into the new millennium when it comes to APIs, because these guys weren’t thinking about that. And what that will do, once we’ve got it connected and we’ve got a backend software stack, is you can begin to connect to mobile devices. Of course, if you’re paying attention, as you know, there’s one thing we also need, a little Wi-Fi coverage.
So we’re very fortunate to come along now, because as we all know Wi-Fi now is so much better than it was three, four, five years ago. We’re using the five-gigahertz band, not just the 2.4. And these access points are becoming so sophisticated they remind me of the cellular systems that I helped build in the ’90s. They’re that sophisticated and we’re lucky. And that allows us to put density, a high-density Wi-Fi in that is unparalleled in the industry. And once we have that in there you can connect. And what can you do? Next item, you can connect to your mobile device. And we can do a lot of interesting things.
You’re accustomed to seeing video footage on your mobile device, what you’re not accustomed to is being able to see replays on demand from your seat in the stadium. You hope maybe it goes up on the big board. It might, or it might not. And by the way, if it goes up on the big board you can watch it once, but not two or three times, like you might want to do.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: And not from different angles.
DOUG GARLAND: Right.
JED YORK: And that’s the key when you’re talking about content, you want different camera angles. You have 16 camera angles for just any normal NFL game. We’ll have other cameras. We’ll be able to have field cameras. We’ll be able to have field content. So you’re going to have a better content situation for a 49ers game here than watching on your screen that’s this large at home, and watching Monday Night Football, or watching Sunday Night Football, or watching the best broadcast that you can possibly have.
DOUG GARLAND: And so you’ll be able to do that, because that’s ‑‑ you’ve talked to fans, it’s like oh man I hate giving up the replay. By the way, the other thing that fans might hate giving up is that commentary that you do get, whether it’s on radio or broadcast. We’re going to bring that in as well. So you’ll be able to listen to it in your seat. That’s just for in game.
Back to hotdogs, so we’ve got this great game content experience, and there’s much more we’re doing there. But what we’re going to allow every fan to do from their seat is order the food they want and have it delivered to you in seat. As I was talking to somebody at lunch, we’re going to be the Uber of hotdogs, I guess. So you’ll be able to get that to your seat. And that way you won’t have to miss that game. By the way, if you want to order express pickup because you want to get up and walk around, you can do that, too, and we’ll let you do that.
Needless to say, Colin Kaepernick runs a touchdown, you get excited about this guy, you want to learn more about him, boom, you push right there, we’ll tell you more about him, probably give you an opportunity to buy his jersey, too, and have that delivered to your seat or express pickup, too.
So we’ll be able to do that and other things that I’m not going to show you here, including wave finding around the stadium, and a lot of other cool things that once you’ve gotten these systems talking to a backend so that you can integrate, and a sophisticated set of APIs the way your developers would do it now, you can do all these things.
One other very important point, and then we’ll kind of leave the slides alone, is once we’re bringing all that together, not only can we present it to consumers, enterprises. So as Jed and Gideon have told me, the state of the art in managing teams, or quite frankly managing the customer base in a programmatic way, is like dark ages. And that’s because you didn’t really have access to this information. That’s what we’re going to be able to do. So teams are really going to be able to up their game in terms of relating to customers and managing the team.
GIDEON YU: One thing I would add here, though, is that my guess is that given the audience, usually when you talk to sports audiences this gets gasps, this gets like high fives, everybody in this audience is like, well, of course, you need to have a platform that talks to everything. But what I’ll tell you though is that as we were building this out, as we were trying to envision how to do this, things as basic as having your CRM system interact with your payment system, ticketing system, these are revolutionary concepts in sports. More importantly, they’re revolutionary in terms of when it comes to the hundreds of software systems that are going on in the system.
So if you think about it from enterprise software parlance, this is a fundamentally different ERP solution that has 70,000 concurrent users, each with their own different and unique user experience. And so to do that that ranks up there with the multi-million dollar ERP Oracle, PeopleSoft, whatever deployments that you see out there. And what we’re trying to do is this, if we build that, it makes it much more efficient for them to talk to each other.
Todd, it’s just similar to when you were at FEDEX, when FEDEX was envisioned, they needed to crate the entire thing, the entire backbone, the entire infrastructure before they sent their first package. This is the same way here. You can’t have a situation where I know you, Jeff, are a fan of this, that, and the other. You order this kind of food, and you want to have it delivered to your seats. I can’t do that without having a backend system that has ERP, CRM, all the other acronyms all tied together in a way.
Also, to then take it forward, whatever the next new thing is, whether that be a new payment system or whether that be a new type of interaction socially, whether that be the new Twitter, or whatever else like that, you can’t add new modules on in the future, or we can’t open this up to developers to innovate in the future without having this platform approach. And, again, platform approaches are basic. They’re almost in the water in Silicon Valley. And the great thing for us is we’re the team of Silicon Valley. So we brought in the best and brightest, people like Doug, other engineers that we’ve brought in to build this platform approach. And if we do it correctly, for he entrepreneurs in the room, if we do it correctly, this is something that should and hopefully will be explored and sold to other stadiums.
JED YORK: It’s like anything else in Silicon Valley, though, that’s where most things are innovated in our country and in the world. And our fans are going to be the first adopters of anything like this. And if it works, it will certainly export to other stadiums and other experiences in this country and around the world.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: You were talking about the connectivity you need to make this happen, but to be able to deliver a hotdog to anybody in the stadium, it’s not just got to have the Wi-Fi connection, you’ve got to have people organized.
Can you walk us through, when you start with the blank piece of paper and you have pie-in-the-sky, yes, everybody ought to be able to order anything from anywhere, then how daunting is it when you start getting, there’s this detail. How are you tackling that?
JED YORK: You have beer vendors. You have guys that walk up and down the rows. And it’s do you want a hotdog, do you want a beer. I’ll pass you this down, and you can pass me over $20 though six people. Do I get to keep the change or not, a five. You have people that are already there, they’re just not working as efficiently as they can be. And I think that’s where you need to work with the entire system of the building and figure out, okay, how do we get thee people that are walking up and down, I don’t know if you want a beer or if you want a beer, but I’ve got a bunch of beers right now. If now know this is my pattern, and I’m going to go deliver beers, I’m going to go deliver hotdogs, it’s simple math to figure out how many people you need to actually deliver the amount of food, beverages, et cetera, to make all of your customers happy.
QUESTION: I hate to lose the guy who can throw the peanuts to the exact right seat, though.
JED YORK: He can still do that.
And to bring it closer to home for everybody in the room, rolling out an ERP system, rolling out CRM systems, Salesforce, Oracle, any of these kinds of systems, it’s much less about the software, it’s much more about the process engineering that you do, it’s much more about how you integrate that into your daily activities. If you don’t fully integrate that into your daily activities then what you end up having is just basically an Excel spreadsheet on steroids.
For us then it is delivery. If you think about it the technology part of that is fairly trivial. It’s not difficult at all. What it is though is how do you mobilize a force of N number of runners without that turning into Midtown Manhattan at rush hour, where there are basically just runners all over the place, and you can’t likely find your way through that. And then how do you actually then come up with some realistic times, kind of like Uber, and say, hey, I’m going to order this hotdog and this beer to my seat in the cheap seats, and then for us to be able to tell you, hey, given all the runners, and where they are, we can tell you that it will be there in 35 minutes, or 15 minutes.
These are logistical problems. These are managing hundreds of hourly wage earner problems. This is not a technology problem. But at its abstract level, this is a user experience delivery mechanism for us. And so in some case technology can help that, and we’re using that, and we’re very fortunate to be kind of part of the 49ers team here, because we can sit down with the guys who have been doing stadium operations for 20 years who know this, and they’ll be able to say yes that’s a good idea, but that is not going to work for me at this particular point. But they’re great. We sit down and figure out what the right solution is. We’ll be able to keep track of those runners, and they have brought up all these operational process issues, some of which is just going to take good management, some of which we can help with technology.
QUESTION: You mentioned what no one has is the robust Wi-Fi that really works, and that you’re fortunate that you’re building this at a time where Wi-Fi technology has progressed. But can you just kind of boil it down for somebody who doesn’t really know why that’s the case? Like why has it not worked, and why are you guys going to be able to solve that problem?
DOUG GARLAND: The way I would talk about that a little bit and this ‑‑ for those of you who are Wi-Fi experts, or hardcore doubly engineers, my apologies to you because you’ll probably say I’m not getting this exactly right. But I think it’s something along the lines of this, I’ll use an analogy to the cellular days. There were mobile phones before there were cellular phones. And typically the way it was done is somebody would put a great big antenna in the middle of a city, and there would be phones that are put in cars. And some spectrum band was used off of one antenna. And if you had 12 channels on that spectrum band, there were 12 people that could be on that phone at that time.
Where cellular came in is they started figuring out, wait a minute, we don’t have to broadcast all over the stadium, we can broadcast in a smaller geographic area if we power down the cells and we make them a little shorter.
When you started doing that, you could allow what was called frequency reuse so that you could get 12 guys on every one cell, but then you had to have some electronics in the background that would coordinate activity among the cells so you didn’t interfere with each other, do things like allow for handoffs, and you had to have sophisticated antenna design so you could know where your signal was going. So your signals weren’t stomping all over each other. And that’s where the term cellular comes from, they were cells, basically.
Kind of at a very macro level that’s kind of what’s going on in Wi-Fi today. You can be smarter about how you design Wi-Fi systems in terms of where that radio energy goes. You can be smarter about how you manage them with these increasingly sophisticated access points and, by the way, speaking of spectrum, which wireless guys talk about all the time, we’re fortunate that we’re not just in the 2.4 gigahertz band, but we’re in the 5-gig band, as well, which has a lot of channels. So some of it’s just more spectrum real estate, some of it is just getting a lot smarter about how Wi-Fi works. So my apologies to the RF designers and telecom engineers, but that’s a loose way to think about it.
DOUG GARLAND: Taking a step back here, if I may. It’s important to outline what we do, or what we intend to do and what we don’t intend to do. So I think that from the ‘9ers perspective, we’re going to do two things, and hopefully really well. One is we’re going to integrate together through the platform that we’re going to be building, disparate software systems. We’re not going to go and make those software systems. So when we talk about ERP, CRM, when we talk about Wi-Fi, we will work with the best guys out there, not reinvent those wheels. It’s the integration of all of them together that we’re going to do. Number two, integrate and innovate really on the front end user experience.
So how do all these software systems, how do all these disparate processes, how do they actually work together to fuse into the user experience in a way that it’s not tech for tech’s sake, but it’s just actually a great user experience that regardless of whether it’s technology, or software, or people, it’s all one and the same. So when we talk about Wi-Fi, it’s not that the ‘9ers are creating a new Wi-Fi system. It is that we’re working with great guys out there making sure that it solves the problems that we’re trying to achieve.
JED YORK: And that it functions to its fullest capabilities and that’s really what we want. People are here with their iPads, their smart phones, et cetera, et cetera. We just want you to be able to do the same thing that you’re doing here in a football stadium. And if you’re doing it here right now you might accept it in a football stadium that you can’t. In five years I don’t think that’s going to be the case. So Doug talked a little bit about different revenue potentials, which is great. I look at this more of a defensive play, because I don’t want people to not come to a stadium, because they’d rather be at home. And I think when you do it well then you will see revenue potential on top of that. And you’re going to see a complete shift in in-game sports and entertainment experience.
DOUG GARLAND: Look, we’re all from the Valley. If we’ve learned anything over the past five to seven years it is build a great product, a great user experience, revenues will typically follow.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: So you haven’t modeled out how much you think your revenues will increase?
DOUG GARLAND: Of course we have.
JED YORK: We have, but if you’ve read anything about our stadium, our ticket prices aren’t inexpensive. Our suite prices are not inexpensive. People expect to get the best if they’re paying a significant amount of money. So I mean at the beginning is, you want to just service your fans from the start, and the things that we’ll be able to do day one are very different than the things that we’re going to do a year, two years, three years after this is open. We want to make sure that the platform is built, and the baseline is set, and then we’re going to see where the users take everything that we’re doing.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: I want to make sure we have a chance to open it up for some questions, if there’s any season ticket holders, you didn’t get the seat you wanted, you could ask Jed. It looks like we have a few right here and then we’ll go here.
QUESTION: Hey, guys. My name is Kevin MacKenzie. I’m the Chief Digital Officer for Westfield Shopping Center. And I’ve lived in the Bay area for 40 years and I’m so excited again to be a 49er fan. So I’ll start with that. But, so we’re rolling out Wi-Fi in 105 centers around the world. And I think I’d love to get your thoughts on when you created this footprint and this technology, how have you kind of thought about the future with regards to Wi-Fi? I mean I don’t know kind of what you’re building for. You’re obviously thinking about the number of users you’re going to serve, the number of concurrent sessions you’re going to host, and the number of ‑‑
JED YORK: And the bandwidth.
QUESTION: And the bandwidth, megahertz per second you want to allocate, but what about the future? I’ve had so many carriers, and even venture capitalists, tell me Wi-Fi is going away. We’ll never see the light of day. And carriers especially are fighting hard to convince us to stop.
JED YORK: I guess it’s all about 4g, or LTE, or the next iteration?
QUESTION: Or we heard once before Wi-Max. And so I’m just curious how you guys thought about both serving when you launch, but also building an infrastructure for as far in the future as you can?
JED YORK: Yes, I’ll take it, or do you want to take it? Go ahead.
GIDEON YU: Great question. This really is the crux of why we went to building the entire tech stack instead of just connectivity, because the analogy is this. If you remember back to when you went ‑‑ that magical moment when you went from dial-up to broadband. Suddenly for a couple of days it was like the whole world has changed. You’re like, oh my gosh, I can actually get these speeds now and my life is going to be so much better. Then what you realize after a couple of days of getting used to that is, okay, now what? Now what services, what products will I actually get it to deliver to me?
And I think that in venues, especially, yours as well as ours, connectivity is something that needs to happen, but once you get that it’s then going to be how do you actually interact with the place? How do you actually have augmentation of your experience there in a way that’s really deep, and not just tech for tech’s sake?
And for us it is thinking through all the things we just talked about, whether it’s faster entry into the stadium, whether that’s in-seat delivery, whether that’s just a loyalty rewards program. If you don’t have these things then people will build that for you and at the end of the day you know your venue as well as anybody else does, if not better. It’s up to all of us to make sure that we create smart venues, where the mobile devices that are in those venues, over the Wi-Fi, actually interact with our venue and actually augment their experience. If you do that I think that, again, whatever the motive may be, whether it’s for revenue or not, that will provide some significant uplift, because you’ll have a better experience. You’ll stay there longer and you’ll want to buy more things.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: So you don’t think there’s a chance you’re betting on the wrong technology, that two years from now all this stuff that you’re building and putting together that’s really cool is going to be out of date?
GIDEON YU: The point about that, though, is that we’re not betting on technology. We’re building a platform such that we can plug anything into it.
DOUG GARLAND: Yes, and that’s the key point.
JED YORK: That’s absolutely key, because you see a lot of teams now that are saying, well, we’re just going to spend money on Wi-Fi and we’re going to get better Wi-Fi capabilities. So you can now get your mobile app here, and it’s an app solution. It’s not. When you’re in a venue, whether it’s a mall, and I’m fairly familiar with malls from my family’s background, or a football stadium, or any other stadium, it all has to be integrated, and it all has to be connected. And that’s the key.
DOUG GARLAND: And if the cellular systems get there we’re okay with customers getting bandwidth from anywhere they can. You talked about a stat about displays, and thinking about investing in displays versus leveraging consumer investment.
JED YORK: Any Cowboys fans? So Jerry Jones spent close to $70 million on his scoreboard. It’s a great scoreboard if you’ve been there. The Super Bowl there was awesome when we went. And it’s really, really cool, but it’s a very macro approach. Everybody gets to watch the scoreboard and whatever is on that. Our fans are going to spend about $1,000 every 18 months in Northern California on new technology, whether it’s a tablet, a smart phone, whatever else is coming out.
GIDEON YU: That number almost sounds low to me.
JED YORK: And it very well could be, but essentially we’re building one of Jerry’s scoreboards every 18 months, but we’re not spending the money. The capital is all being spent by our fans. And that’s really what we’re looking at, instead of putting something hardware into our building, we want to be out of hardware. We want to make sure that all the people that do hardware very, very well, and have billions and billions of dollars on their balance sheets to actually go spend on R&D, let them go discover something and let our fans purchase whatever they choose to purchase. We just want to make sure that everything functions to its fullest capabilities in the stadium.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: We had a question in the back and then we have another over here, too. Why don’t you identify yourself and go ahead.
QUESTION: Sure. I’m Amy Webb, I’m the head of Webb Media Group, we’re a digital strategy agency and I may be the only person in the room who was wearing purple last January.
JED YORK: My mom, that’s her favorite color, but that’s all right. It’s not her favorite team.
GIDEON YU: It’s good for Mardi Gras.
QUESTION: So for a lot of people the game day experience begins the moment that they get into their car, not the moment that they walk through the turnstile. So I was wondering in looking at the stadium, which looks awesome, have you thought about extending the geo-fence to outside, so that the experience doesn’t start once the consumer walks through, but maybe that ‑‑ because what we’re really talking about is a different user experience. So does the user experience that you’re taking about really happen once folks get inside, or is it going to start maybe once they get into their car, because there’s a whole bunch of stuff running up to the point where they walk through.
JED YORK: So there are two answers to that. First, absolutely, like it starts when you get into your car and you want to know where is there traffic, where is the best parking, what’s going on, where are my ticket upgrades, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So that’s absolutely going to be a part of what we’re doing. But, we can’t take any of the content that happens inside of the stadium and take it outside just based on the NFL. So I can’t rebroadcast Fox or CBS and everything that we’re doing internally and then sell that to somebody that’s not actually inside the stadium. So those are sort of two different things. But, what you’re saying is, yes, and it’s very hard for us to sell this to anybody other than the 70,000 people that are coming to a game.
QUESTION: I have an NFL question. The NFL gave you guys a large loan to help you get going with the construction. What about the other owners, what kind of feedback or input do you get from them? Are they excited that you’re building this thing and raising the bar for them, or are they a little like annoyed that now your stadium is going to make theirs look a little shabby by comparison?
JED YORK: You know, in all honesty, I don’t think anybody really ‑‑ unless you go to Silicon Valley a fair amount and understand it, people don’t really grasp it. And I think first and foremost is, we’re building a stadium that fits our unique customer set. But, again, our unique customer set is the one that’s setting the bar in everything for everyone around the world. So I don’t know that a lot of people ‑‑ I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. The Cleveland Browns or the Pittsburgh Steelers, I was right in the middle of both those fan bases. They might say, well, we don’t have the same type of mobile adoption rate as Silicon Valley, so we don’t really care, we don’t need that. In five or ten years, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. So I think Silicon Valley is a little bit farther ahead of the curve, but the curve is going to catch up. And the venues, it’s not like we’re going to be building billion dollar venues every year. I think you’re going to have to go back, and fans, and they’re going to expect it. And I don’t know that everybody really realizes that throughout all of sports.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: Is there a mike over here? We’ll go here and then over here.
QUESTION: Shane Osborne, USA. I have a question. So this device here, I’ve got it charging today. And I’ve barely used it, and last night I had to charge two people’s phones out of my bag. So I didn’t hear it addressed, but if all this media is being pumped into an iPhone, and I’ve still got to get home after the game, how am I going to keep this thing charged? Are you all going to address that issue in the stadium?
BRIAN O’KEEFE: You need to call Tim Cook. Are you going to have charging?
JED YORK: Go ahead.
GIDEON YU: We’re laughing because this is a debate internally. I think early on I was opting for putting an AC outlet behind every seat. What we found quickly was that the infrastructure to do that is 50-75-100 million. Here’s what you’ll get from us ‑‑
BRIAN O’KEEFE: What does that matter, you’re spending $1.2 billion, what’s another ‑‑
JED YORK: But then the functionality of that is usually an AC adapter in an airport or something like that, you don’t have guys with beers dumping them. So I don’t know how functional it’s going to be. You have to find ways throughout the entire building to be able to plug in, to be able to do things. And also bet on batteries being better in the future.
GIDEON YU: What you get from us on day one is this, we’ve all been in airports where we see those charging stations. We’ll have a lot of those all throughout the concourse. And they’ll be in places where if you get a beer or you get some hotdogs or whatever, you can stand there, watch a screen, and charge your phone. Also, we’ll have whatever the technology of that day is, whatever they may be, we’ll have those for purchase or for rent for all of our folks.
And then, over time, if we get to the point where these solutions aren’t adequate, and you end up sacrificing the consumption of our products, then more drastic measures may be taken. But I think that that for now will cover it.
DOUG GARLAND: The key point is betting on technology, though. That’s a big thing that I think we’re doing. And certainly from my experience at Google when I was there, that was something that we would repeat to ourselves, where do we think technology is going to go and lets bet on that trend. I bet battery life is going to get longer.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: Let’s try to squeeze in one last question. We’re running out of time.
QUESTION: Hank Adams from Sport Vision. Jed, you talked about competing with the living room to get fans out to the stadium, which I know is a concern for every team in the league, and that you’re building a production facility, and you’re going to give a lot of highlights. But can you talk little bit more bout how you’re going to compete with the production values of a national broadcast provider, advanced stats, and all these projects coming down the pike that are going to lead to a lot of potential content. How are you guys going to build the content out?
JED YORK: I think, first, you’re using the content that’s already being created in your venue. So you have all the content that’s available to the networks off the bat. So if you want to watch any of those 16 cameras, we’ll be able to feed any of those cameras. So that’s the basic point.
The person that we’ve hired to run production was at NFL Films. He’s run production at several NFL teams. And he’s very good at building that out. And it’s really figuring out, it’s almost like the Olympics type approach, where when you’re watching the Olympics, you’re watching not just because it’s your countryman, you’re watching the entire story. You’re watching the skier that broke his back five years ago. He’s back on the slopes. You know his family. You know his story. And you kind of forget what country he’s from, but you just love the story.
We have guys that are so just charismatic, and I’ll give you one example, Vernon Davis, Vernon Davis grew up with his grandmother in Washington, D.C. Not a very good area, very tough upbringing, and he’s a Pro Bowl tight end in the National Football League. That in itself is amazing. He’s also an artist. He’s also an entrepreneur. So starting to build out that content and that technology that we can build 365 days a year, we’ll be able to work on all of that.
So that when you come in, Vernon catches a touchdown, not only can you just order a Vernon jersey, but if you’re there with four different people, I’m guessing that your wife and your son and your daughter probably have a different thing pop into their head when they think of Vernon Davis. We want to make sure that we can satisfy anything that comes to your mind, and show you content from all of those things. And we’ll be able to build that out throughout 365 days. And I think that you see that there’s going to be a ton of content available beyond just what’s already there that’s already being broadcast that you see one-sixteenth of when you’re watching a game at home.
So we’ll absolutely do everything outside of game day. But inside of game day, if you just want to watch Vernon, we can have a camera that’s just on Vernon. If you want to teach your son or daughter, this is the right blocking technique for the offensive line, here’s the offensive line cam. If you just want to watch Colin Kaepernick, I don’t think the technology is good enough right now, but I think you’ll get to a point where you have a helmet cam. So if you want to watch Colin drop back and watch his progression, I’m betting that Fox and CBS and NBC and ESPN are working on that right now. We’ll be able to have that inside of our app and everything that we’re doing. So it’s really building out all of that together, and letting you choose your content not us choose it for you or a network choose it for you.
BRIAN O’KEEFE: All right. You can see the passion of the owner, which is great. But we’re going to have to wrap it up, because not only are we out of time, but they have to get back to building this technology platform because they only have a little over a year before they’re ready to kick it off in the new stadium.
Join me in thanking Jed and Gideon and Doug. (Applause.) Thanks for coming.