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Monday 27 February 2012: #CCinSF - Day 1

I hope it won't surprise you to learn that I didn't come all the way to San Francisco just to eat and shop. I'm really here for the culmination of Cross Creative - a programme I've been enjoying back in Scotland over the last nine months.

Nine of us have flown in for three jam-packed days visiting companies in the city and the valley, soaking up a little of what makes this place the global epicentre of just about everything new and cool.

Things kicked off properly today, with a visit to Telltale Games - a unique developer producing 'episodic' games with well known brands like Jurassic Park, Back To The Future and Wallace and Gromit. They have a fascinating model, which sees customers subscribing in advance to new chunks - or 'episodes' - of game content over several months, rather than buying it upfront all in one go. Their games are all based around strong stories and lend themselves well to this approach, but in that industry it's brave to sell something you haven't quite built yet.

YouTube were meant to be next on the list, but disappointingly they were forced to pull out at the last minute. So, after a leisurely lunch in Palo Alto, we dropped in on a very young startup called Boxfish.

They've been in stealth mode for the last six months, quietly developing their product for a beta launch this year and it's almost impossible to find anything out about them. But they let us in on their secret, and it really is quite incredible.

Boxfish gathers every word spoken on television in the USA, UK and Ireland, and makes it searchable in real time - just like Twitter. Bonkers, but unfathomably useful (and arguably more so that Twitter because you're searching edited content from professionals rather than waffle from individuals). It's the brainchild of two guys from Ireland, who uprooted and moved here because it's the only place in the world they wanted to make it happen.

Maybe it's just because it's home to so much of the stuff which dominates my life, but the energy in Palo Alto is palpable.

Tomorrow: Google, Nokia R&D, and IDEO...

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