Thursday, June 12, 2008

(You Won't Fool) The Children of the Revolution

Yesterday I've been to the Mash Bash event that was organized by blog Mashabale, at Tel-Aviv Port. I figured out it'd be a nice opportunity to get some feeling of the web 2.0 scene while getting a free booze at the same time.
With only 5-6 presenters fixed in low-budget booths around the exterior (man, they didn’t even have an Internet connection, and had to connect to the Free Hot Spot of the public port), I realize quite quickly that this was more of a gathering event for the web 2.0 evangelists to exchange notes and quick shots of their mobile cameras to be later uploaded to their Facebook or Flickr profile, rather than a professional trade-show, but nevertheless I tried to make a best use of my time by trying to catch quick chats with the various presenters, hoping I'll be able to make a better sense of the web 2.0 phenomena.

My quest started with Copenda - a dating service. After few minutes with 2 graceful cheerleaders-looking girls who explained to me they know nothing about the technology, I managed to get to one of the founders who patiently explained to me that his company innovate by the fact that they search in 3rd party social networks like Facebook, but through these connection try to create their own network.
Funding? Angel, Revenues? No, Business Model - Advertising. Got it - Moving on.

Next was Outbrain. They have developed a widget for Bloggers to embed in their blog (yes, I installed it this morning). The widget enables readers to rank your post. Hmm ...
"And why would bloggers like that?" - "Why not?" said they "We're giving it for free"
"And how do you intend to get money?" asked I - "Oh, we have money from a VC"
I could see the question was lost on him, so I had to try again -
"How do you plan to give back money to the VC?"
Suddenly I got his attention "Oh, you mean our business model ... well, we haven't figured that out yet. We focused on bringing the users first"
Focus on the traffic, and the money will follow – I heard that before. I have to say that I’ve been once to a Chinese latrine. Boy, I’ve seen a lot of traffic there., but I still don’t see Google buying it.
Anyway, I didn’t want to interrupt anymore with my silly questions, so I left him to be cross-examined by 2 runny nose kids who claimed they have developed a Facebook-killer social network.

After a short visit to Hooqs, I went to talk to the founder of Sightix. A people-search facebook application that enabled you to reach people over a degrees of separation chart (friend of friends of friends …). That looked somewhat interesting, and I even happily shared with him my People Rank idea (see previous post). Alas, the guy wasn’t quite interested in talking about his product, and instead started talking about his management vision. Sightix are looking to recruit a very small number of very good engineering and treat them like kings. He wants to put every developer in his own office and have no managers at all. Every developer will manage himself and there will be an absolutely flat organization. He was talking on and on about that. Man, was he in love with the idea. It broke my heart to tell him that this was already tried more than 20 years ago in XEROX PARC and was proved to be quite non-scalable. I couldn’t escape the thought, that the guy has created his all idea of a product just as an excuse to exercise his real start-up of Self-managers Company.

I was just about to leave when I suddenly spotted Blonde 2.0 (a.k.a Ayelet Noff). If Yossi Vardi is the priest of the Israeli web 2.0, Blondie is the high-class Madame. She was floating lightly amongst the many bloggers, twitters, flickrs and diggers and with polished English spread out her marketing soundbites to everyone who was willing to listen.

Finishing my last drink, I took a last look at the surroundings. At all these children of the 2.0 revolution - widget developers, social nets app creators, user-generated uploaders, AJAX gurus – what have you.
How nice is life for them – playing with VCs’ and angels’ money, showing off one to another with new ideas with no accountability for revenues, every now and then putting on their nice clothes and shmooz out in social events.

Who needs a customer?


Anonymous said...

Might be an interensting article but don't you have even one good thing to say about those "kids" that know how to work, invest time, thoughts and efforts?
How about making your next article about ideas for productive actions for the "kids" and less criticsm which besides trying to insult, not sure how it gets us somewhere....

Shaul said...

Skepticism is the death of innovation... thanks for a killer article...