UPDATED: Web 2.0 Summit 2006 - Day 3 / The Alumni Report - Web 2.0 Launches from 2005 Revisited

Here are the day 3 notes for the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco:

[My notes and analysis in this square brackets.]

The Alumni Report – Web 2.0 Launches Revisited:

  • Michael Tanne / Wink: he gave a very long demo
  • Veoh Networks: YouTube except for high-resolution long videos. We have figured out how to store them in a distributed peer to peer way and deliver massive bandwidth on demand.
  • Satish Dharmaraj: Great demo of Zimbra’s offline client that syncs to their server and gives the exact same interface whether online or offline (using the “work offline” feature in the browser.)
  • Calcanis: sold Weblogs to AOL. Is trying to turn Netscape into a social media company like Digg
    • [I wonder about the sense of taking a brand that has one known name and trying to turn it into something else. I don’t get it. Same problem AOL is going to have trying to move from “makers of walled gardens” to “open standards media infrastructure company”. It’s hard to turn Volvo from “safety” to “sports car” in people’s minds after 40 years of brand impressions.]
  • Satish: We raised $15M. But we haven’t touched it yet. We’re veryb passionate about the business and think the exit will take care of itself.
  • Dmitry: We have raised $4M and $12M in two rounds and we need a war chest to go after a very large space.
  • Question: Do you all have a hiring problem?
    • Dmitry: Yes, it’s very hard.
    • Satish: For us, we are using a team who have worked together on startups already and who are doing another one. Calcanis: We don’t have a hard time finding developers. Go find the best developers who are already employed. If you have a star working for you that the developers can respect, then they’ll want to come and work for that person.
  • Question: What did you screw up royally in the last year?
    • Dmitry: We tried to solve the more difficult problem of huge bandwidth rather than consumer video. That cost us…1.65 Billion.
    • Calcanis: I blogged about things at AOL that sucked like AOL Search. That pissed a lot of people off who got defensive about their stuff that sucked. I was used to being an entrepreneur who would “kill the enemies and take the hill” but AOL was like the Senate – “we talk everything through here”. I posted that AOL search sucked and that upset the execs and the team. I was used to a level of transparency and to finding out what sucked about my product so that we could make it “suck less” but that whole concept really didn’t wash at AOL.
  • Question: Any advice on how to deal with how to prioritize once lots of opportunities start to find you?
    • Calcanis: Cuban said: “remember what got you here. Blogs got you here, they’re profitable, keep driving on that and focus, focus, focus.” Parallel entrepreneurship doesn’t work well. Why have seven moderately successful #3 companies? Bill Gross has done it but he’s rare and he’s still having problems.
    • Dmitry: We could take any one piece of our business and turn it into a whole other new business. Keeping focused is a constant challenge.
    • Mark Tanne: replace “viral marketing” with “grassfire marketing” (:-)) If something is hot, it will tear across the internet. If you don’t get that response right off the bat, then it isn’t resonating. Great. Shut it down or adjust or do something else.
      • [This supports the principles of rapid adaptation and mutation. I agree with this a lot. There was a comment from
        somebody at some point that when you build something on the net, it either resonates and takes off or it doesn’t. Listen to that. Don’t say, Well it’s growing at 10%/month and that’s pretty good. Bullshit. Use Skype as the measuring stick and watch how flat your curve REALLY is. If it’s not a wildfire success, mutate quickly and watch the rate of change of the ramp, and if you’re not getting hotter and hotter, keep mutating it, or kill it and move on.]