Sorry if you're sick of hearing about Web 2.0, but it was a pretty damn amazing conference. Especially for me - for the past three days my "job" has been to get up and go meet a bunch of incredibly cool, interesting and many times insanely successful people and listen them talk about the future of the industry I work in and many times the world around us. Amazing signal to noise ratio. I'm such a fan-boy of the tech industry, I hate to say it. I wanted half the people there to sign my laptop with a sharpie. Hell, I was ready to rip my shirt off, write GO WEB2! on my chest and cheer at some of the sessions.
The blogger in me wants to try to recap it all, but there's no way I can possibly try to recount all the great moments of the past several days. Jeremy did a great job recording it live. Here's some highlights for me:
On the First day Jeff Bezos talked about A9 (among other things) and Bill Gross talked about Snap.com. Very cool stuff - though I think that Bill's search service is too complex, I was just listening in awe to some of the amazing technology behind it. I think just like GoTo.com (later Overture) it'll be the underlying tech (and assuredly patents) that produces the value from Snap.
I was very, very impressed with Marc Benioff - both his take on his industry and the fact that his company gives away 1% of their time, equity and profit to the SalesForce Foundation. It's an incredible example for anyone starting up a business today to follow.
Since I read a quote from Marc Andreesen a while ago talking about the lack of innovation in the browser, I had sort of considered him out of it especially if you think about what's going on with RSS. But seeing him on stage in person, I understood that he's become - maybe rightfully so - a sort of curmudgeonly voice of a veteran who's seen the rougher side of the business. And also one that still lives in mortal fear of Microsoft it seems.
By the way, I'm 6'2" and pretty hefty. Both Marcs were considerably taller and bigger than I was. Impressive.
Larry Lessig gave a standing ovation-quality speech today. Basically the same content you can get online here but in person it was astounding. Well done, well choreographed and incredibly compelling. I shook his hand afterwards and just told him how much he ruled in so many words.
Amusing anecdote: The last session was Jerry Yang speaking and he said something like, "If I had a dollar every time someone told me 'I didn't know' [about a feature in Yahoo]" then he stopped in an awkward pause and someone in the audience said something like "You do." Heh. "Okay, bad example" It kind of brought home the fact that I'm sitting in the same room with a lot of very rich people - Jerry being worth around $2 billion dollars.
Like I wrote about before, John Doerr holding up his Treo in response to the question: "What's the next big thing," was pretty great. In fact references to mobile technologies were strewn throughout the conference as people talked about various devices and patted their HipTop or Blackberrys strapped to their sides, etc. Nice to know everyone has mobility somewhere on their radar at least.
Here's a link to some audio of the mobile panel I sat on. I think most of the group panels were interesting to only a portion of the people in the audience at one time, and ours was no different. I saw feedback that we were a bit essoteric in our conversation, which was *exactly opposite* of what I wanted to convey, so that's too bad. But I got to babble incoherently to room full of people, so that was good. I really needed some of those green, yellow and flashing red lights.
One of the best parts of the conference for me was the foyer outside the conference hall. Being an out of work wanna-be entrepeneur with some neat ideas and a demo in my pocket, surrounded by multi-millionaire investors at a rah-rah gathering celebrating the fact that the buzz is back in the tech industry was pretty fun. To show you how insane the distortion field was at one point, I was standing in a chat-circle with a couple of (I have to assume) Very Rich People, one who was envying me because I was free to go off and create a new startup and he was continuing at his current work. Uh-huh. I'll tell that to my land-lord next month. I'm sure he'll be equally as impressed with my current "freedom" as well. You know... Once I get to the point where I can fly first class for the rest of my life without worrying about the cost, I'm pretty much retiring to an island somewhere and blogging full time.
Anyways, really great conference. Exhilarating, exciting and inspiring. I can't wait to get down to work on this stuff.