South by Southwest (SXSW): Commerce Goes Local, Social and Mobile

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Marie Domingo

From left, Zaarly CEO Bo Fishback, Lyft CEO Logan Green, Kleiner Perkins partner Chi-Hua Chien and TIME editor at large Harry McCracken talk about local mobile commerce at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Tex. on March 10, 2013

As usual, I've been spending most of my South by Southwest Interactive conference hanging out and chatting with interesting people. On Sunday afternoon, I did so with Chi-Hua Chien, a partner at venture-capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers; Logan Green, co-founder and CEO of ride-sharing services ZimRide and Lyft; and Bo Fishback, co-founder and CEO of local marketplace Zaarly.

And the only thing which made this engaging conversation different from any of the other ones I've had this year in Austin was that we were having it on a stage in front of a large ballroom full of conference attendees.

Our panel was titled “Mobile Disruption & the Rise of the Local Web,” and the subject was services which, like Lyft and Zaarly, involve commerce between local individuals — and which are designed primarily for phones and other mobile gadgets rather than PC browsers. (Another excellent example, which kept coming up during our discussion, is person-to-person lodging rental service Airbnb.)

We talked about how these services differ from their predecessors designed for old-school browsers; how Lyft and Zaarly are rolling, out local community by local community; and the challenges of building a business when entrenched competitors don’t like you and laws were never designed with you in mind.

I'd tell you more, but the only downside of moderating an absorbing panel is that it's, well, absorbing — and you really can't take notes to jog your memory later. So after our talk concluded and the final audience members were done peppering Chien, Green and Fishback with questions, I headed to Twitter to check out the tweets which the panel had inspired.

Here, in Storify form, are a sampling of them: