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Warriors owner Peter Guber talks success, failure and Golden State's new 'digital arena'

They saved the star power for the end of the ad:tech SF 2013 conference, as the Golden State Warriors co-owner, Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner and Oscar-winning Hollywood producer Peter Guber took the ad:tech keynote stage for a rollicking back-and-forth to kick off the Under the Influence Summit. Mr. Guber delivered some anecdotal gems on his career journey that made this son-of-a-garbage-man into a half-billion-dollar business mogul and his vision to make the Warriors' new basketball arena the most 'digital' sports venue in the world.

To call Peter Guber a Renaissance Man would be an excessively generous compliment -- to the Renaissance Era. Mr. Guber is part owner of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the NBA's Golden State Warriors. He's the former CEO of Columbia Pictures, and he's produced the blockbuster films "Rain Man," "Batman" and "The Color Purple." In his spare time, he tweets and teaches at UCLA.

But this ad:tech SF audience's fancy turned to the Golden State Warriors, as the local NBA team had just clinched a playoff spot the night before. Why is that big deal? Before Mr. Guber's tenure with the Warriors front office, the team had made the playoffs just once in the previous 19 years.

Asked right off the bat about his team's achievement, Mr. Guber took a big picture view. "We'd already won, in the sense that we won the fans' minds," he said.

Peter Guber's successes aren't just in the arena of sports, but also in business, movies and television. "You talk about my successes, but I've had so many failures and calamities," Mr. Guber told the audience. "I once did a movie called ‘Bonfire of the Vanities.’ Even when they showed it on airplanes, people tried to walk out."

His goal is for no one to walk out of the Golden State Warriors' new San Francisco arena, slated to open in 2017 as the most digital sports venue in the world. Mr. Guber is probably the only major American sports team owner who discusses his stadium in terms of bitrate availablity and having its own dedicated operating system, and he has some seriously next-level ideas for the Warriors' next arena. Paperless tickets and smartphone ordering of concessions are just the beginning of Mr. Guber's vision.

"The difference with location-based entertainment is that fans think they can affect the game," Mr. Guber said. "This has to be iconic."

"This has to be a digital venue that serves as a beacon and lightning rod for the San Francisco Bay Area community," he said. But if you've ever seen Peter Guber speak, he's something of a beacon and lightning rod all by himself.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest, longest-running digital marketing and technology event. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.