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Michael Gray Topless at SMX? Live from Search Marketing Expo West, Matt Cutts Offers Michael Gray Cash to Strip on Stage, Andy Beal Vehemently Objects!

Posted on February 27, 2008 by josh

Tomorrow I'll be speaking at Search Marketing Expo West in Santa Clara. I will be discussing's development and implementation of HackerSafe along with our utilization of the HackerSafe trustmark in our comparison shopping engine feeds. My speech is during lunch in the exhibit hall, which, according to Katie Gausepohl, Third Door Media's Director of Finance, is a first for the circuit, so I hope I can provide some value to what I expect to be a semi-captive, and very hungry, lunching audience.

I've been meaning to put together some posts discussing the conference, but keep finding myself buried in prepping my speech, attending sessions, hobnobbing with Google over drinks and appetizers at
Sino Restaurant & Lounge, desperately trying to keep up on email and touching base with my super team back at home. However, sometimes a morsel of content so incredibly entertaining comes along, that a real time insta-post is absolutely required.

This afternoon I attended the
SEO & Blogging session on the Wonder Twins track. At the beginning of the Q & A, Matt Cutts, sitting against the back wall of the room, offered Michael Gray $100 to take off his shirt and dance on the table during the session. The audience erupted in laughter as Matt Cutt's was pulling out wads of cash. While the entire audience was rooting for Michael to get up and groove, Andy Beal counter offered $200 if Michael wouldn't end up half naked. Panelist antics such as these are what can make conferences extra enjoyable. The networking and learning opportunity is enormous, but a bit of levity woven through the event make fast paced cram sessions bearable. Also, it's interesting to see how loose, and apparently close, all of the Bloggers were in this particular session.

Here's a photo just after the mayhem ensued.  From left to right: Vanessa Fox of Ignition Partners (the moderator), Aaron Wall of SEO Book, Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim, Michael Gray of Graywolf's SEO Blog.

SMX West 2008 Panel

After the session, Aaron and Andy were nice enough to discuss this blog and our strategy in general. I also had a chance to catch up with Matt. A few months back, we outed a competitor for black hat spamming with hidden links. During an interview with Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting, Matt addressed the issue and offered some perspective. I thanked Matt for mentioning the issue during the interview and Matt was glad to contribute, as always.

Though I sometimes get worn out sitting in these sessions by the end of the second day of a conference, it's experiences like this that remind me of why I love eCommerce. The people are great and the opportunity to take home some nuggets of knowledge are equally matched by nuggets of fun. I'll post more about my experiences at the conference soon.


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