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Wednesday at Web 2.0 Forum

Posted by davidvc on November 8, 2006 at 9:15 PM PST

Walking into the
Web 2.0 Forum I saw some
gorgeous ornate brasswork on the door.

brasswork.jpg

I also thought you'd enjoy an example of the kind of stoic portraits
hanging out on the walls of the hotel

Portrait.jpg

The place continues to buzz with activity. I found myself surrounded
by CEOs and entrepeneurs at every turn. A real quick look around
the tables during lunch (lots of deals going down), revealed
Marc Andreesen, Jeff Bezos, and Marc Benioff. By the end of
the day I was so high on it all, I felt that I too could start a
company! YES!

I sat in on the Wednesday morning session,
, which was basically a series of ten
minute presentations from some very high-level folks.
Here are some notes from the ones I thought were most interesting

Debra Chrapaty - Microsoft

Ms. Chrapaty runs IT for Microsoft, and gave us all a quick lecture
about the importance of infrastructure: if you want a huge growth
curve for your Web 2.0 startup, you need to be prepared with your
infrastructure. This includes network infrastructure, servers, power,
making sure you have labor and materials, location, and so on. This
is something we at Sun are pretty aware of, and reminded me of the
announcement Sun recently made around the data center-in-a-box,
Project Blackbox.

Ms. Chrapaty talked a lot about the cost of power, how cooling is 40-50%
of your overall power costs. This again led me to the

"cool" things
Sun is doing in this area, where the low power
consumption of our new chips is yielding significant cost savings
for our customers.

Dr. Hyun-Oh Yiu, CEO of Cyworld

Cyworld is a massively successful social networking, video uploading,
and music purchasing site in South Korea. Some interesting stats:

  • 20 million subscribers
  • 40% of total population in Korea uses Cyworld
  • 96% of 20-29 year olds use Cyworld regularly
  • $300,000 in sales of digital items daily
  • 160 million songs sold (second only to iTunes)
  • 100,000 video uploads daily (significantly more than YouTube)

These guys have just expanded markets into China, Japan, and the
US. They seem to have really nailed this space, including making
good efforts to protect members.

There was a great article on social networking burnout in the
Chronicle. But far be it from me to actually criticize
the burgeoning growth of the Internet - that would be heresy... :)

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com on Enterprise Mashups

Mr. Benioff demonstrated how the Salesforce.com application can be
extended with "mashups" from other providers. He said that many
of the big app providers are recognizing the value in providing a
platform, not just an application. The one thing that caught my
eye was that he said they were providing a web-based database API.
I looked it up, and sure enough, they have an

API called Apex

which is a SQL-like language with procedural extensions that you can
call from a client app, either Java or AJAX or .Net.

They added
procedural extensions to help reduce the server round-trips required
to accomplish data processing and reduce the amount of data shipped
to the client. This is basically the standard stored procedure model
invented by Sybase with Transact-SQL and used by most database
platforms today, translated to Web APIs.

I'm not sure why they didn't use the existing ANSI standards for SQL
and procedural SQL or Java procedures. Using the Salesforce API seems
to invite vendor lock-in.
But it's great to see that somebody's doing this, and I suspect there
will be a lot of demand for it; hopefully over time a standard will
emerge.


Don Tapscott
, CEO of New Paradigm

Mr. Tapscott has just finished a new book called href="http://www.amazon.com/Wikinomics-Mass-Collaboration-Changes-Everything/dp/1591841380">Wikinomics, and this talk was about the themes
of that book. He
underscored the power of this trend we're seeing of
moving away from
centralized corporate control of resources to a much more distributed
model. He quoted an economist from 100 years ago who asked
"why does the firm exist? why isn't everybody an independent
contractor?" and the answer was "the cost of the transaction:
the cost of resources, the cost of collaboration, coordination,
and so on." Henry Ford understood this and put everything under
one roof.

But the Internet has helped reduce these costs, and now you are
seeing products built with mass collaboration, where we harness
the power of self organization. This is a very profound change -
not just social networking.

Some great examples:

  • BMW x3 was not
    made by BMW. If you're an engineer, you can get on the
    web and participate in the design. (NB: I couldn't find any reference
    to this design approach on the web)

  • Goldcorp - Mr. Tapscott's
    neighbor took over 50-year-old mining company. His own geologists
    couldn't tell him where to find the gold. Normally geological data
    for a mining
    company is kept very secret. This new owner
    published his geological data, and held a contest - $500K for anyone
    who can find gold. 77 submissions, from mathematicians, computer
    scientists, geologists. He chose the top three, and found 3.4 billion
    dollars worth of gold. His market cap went to 10 billion dollars.

  • The Chongking motorcycle ecosystem (see Jeff Clavier's blog on this) is basically
    open source motorcycle manufacturing

  • 40% of Procter and Gamble innovations happen outside the company

  • Boeing's dreamliner
    is being produced through a group of peers -
    no spec, no traditional supply chain.

  • Science Commons is
    opening up scientific research by providing open access to scientific
    research. (My brother blogged about the barriers to access of
    scientific research
    ).

The end result: the basic business models are changing in profound ways,
and one of the biggest challenges will be the ability for existing,
well-founded companies to adapt. He predicts those who don't adapt
will likely be left to the wayside.

So, some pretty cool stuff. I worked the booth in the afternoon, and had
a few interesting conversations, including a good discussion about
offline applications and synch with
Kevin Lynch
, the Chief Software Architect at Adobe. He concurred
that mixed up with all the interest in rich Internet apps is the need
to run these apps offline, and he grilled me on the approach to synch
I've been discussing. I could see offline storage in a relational
database as being very useful for the Adobe platform. Kevin is a
very friendly, approachable Chief Software Architect. I've met many
who are brusque and generally grumpy, so a nice change. He pointed
me towards the Adobe Apollo project which is working on a way to
deploy your web apps to the desktop so they can run independent of the
browser.

At the end of a long day, however, it's always good to come home.

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