Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mesh - Day 2, cont. - Reviews, Photos, Videos

This is part 2 for Day 2. I blogged earlier this morning about Steve Rubel's session. Haven't been able to blog since, so this post is my wrapup of the day.

I also have some postmortem thoughts to share on my overall impressions of Mesh - that's coming right after this post.

So, after Steve, Mathew Ingram had a Keynote Conversation with Dr. Paul Kedrosky, a well known VC and blogger - who happens to be Canadian. Paul was very forthright about the nature of the VC business, and I thought Mathew was a great foil. He said all the right things at the right time, and kept the conversation moving along at a crisp pace.

The main takeaway for me was the idea that the tech bubble is alive and well � it's not a mirage - but we need to make these mistakes along the way as we figure out how make money with Web 2.0 (whatever that really means). Paul was also very direct in saying if you don't need VC money, don't take it. He joked about how prestigious it sounds to say "I got funded by Kleiner", and turned it around saying it's actually better to say you DIDN'T take their money. Well said - if you can make it on your own - do it.

The good news is that with the costs of entry being so low, you don�t need that much funding in the first place, and it's actually easier to enter without much of a business model. Mathew then asked if you really can just build something and make the business model later � Paul said that�s what Google did � so, the precedent has been set. To make this work, Paul noted that your business has to be able to scale real well, and operate economically.

Some other comments of note from their talk:

- Last 6 months, there has been a shift is to business apps for Web 2.0 � it�s now 60/40 biz/consumer, whereas before, he was seeing 90%+ being consumer.

� Subscriber-based business models can work, and he cited a Canadian company - Dabble. They make shareable databases easier to use, and help people stop using Excel as a database as a default since Access is so hard to use.

- For Toronto-based startups, Paul advised looking for funding from Boston, not Silicon Valley. It's closer and more accessible for them. He noted 2 VCs - Polaris and Kodiak - who invest in Canada.

- Final advice to finding the best VC � think creatively � VCs are more open to creative exits, especially with there being so few IPOs now

Tara Hunt was the next speaker I saw, and she was a mixed bag for me. A Toronto girl-made good in Silicon Valley, she has fantastic energy, passion and presence. Lots of good ideas there (esp the bowiechick clip from Youtube), and she was really great about engaging the audience and getting them to be part of the session.

Being so audience-friendly cuts both ways, and a few people challenged her assumptions and ideas - rather effectively, I thought. There was some very lively discussion about the thin line between real community and marketing, and it's getting harder to tell when people are talking, blogging, podcasting, etc. about stuff that's real or when they're getting paid to do so. This theme came up several times during Mesh, and it's certainly key to how much staying power Web 2.0 will really have.
The only other session I had time to see today was one hosted by Mark Evans - more stuff about VCs and Web 2.0 funding. Panelists were Rick Segal and Jason Fried, and they were just great to watch. Rick is very candid and supportive of Web 2.0, and basically gave everyone an open invitation to pitch him for 30 minutes any time. What was really nice to hear was his enthusiastic endorsement of the talent pool we have here, and how we should take more advantage of the universities which produce so many top people. Rah rah - but still a good message.

Got 2 video clips for you, and then some photos from my N90...

First, a 3.5 minute clip of Steve Rubel, and then a shorter clip of Paul Kedrosky. I wanted a longer clip for Paul, but my memory maxed out. Doh!

Steve Rubel/Stuart MacDonald, Paul Kedrosky/Mathew Ingram


Tara Hunt, Jason Fried/Rick Segal


Breakout session - nice fishbowl effect - or are they in subway car?, myself with Mike McDerment, one of the Mesh guys (and the developer of my website!)


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