October 18, 2011

Welcome to the Social Revolution

Sean Parker
Sean Parker at the Web 2.0 Summit yesterday (photo by JD Lasica)


Sean Parker, CEOs of Salesforce & eBay highlight day 1 of Web 2.0 Summit

JD LasicaThe one conference I try to make every year is the venerable Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’ve now been to seven out of the eight annual gatherings of entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley luminaries and tech-savvy business people.

Here are some highlights from day one of the three-day conference, which you can follow live on Livestream. And here’s my photo set of the conference speakers on Flickr.

Highlights of Web 2.0 Summit 2011

Sean Parker, who was immortalized on screen by Justin Timberlake as a brilliant, rich party boy in “The Social Network,” was captivating when questioned by host John Battelle:

• On Facebook: “The problem isn’t privacy but the glut of information available to power users” who prop up the network.

• There was an interesting exchange when Mashable co-editor Ben Parr asked Parker about his Wikipedia entry, which says: “Sources are inconsistent as to whether he was a co-founder or early employee of Napster.” Parker said flatly that he was a co-founder and provided Napster with its first big infusion of cash. About 30 seconds later, someone in the audience updated his entry to reflect that — but editors reverted the entry back. Even the subject of a Wikipedia entry isn’t authoritative if it’s not in a published source somewhere. Besides, as one of my Twitter friends told me: “John Fanning was source of initial funding; he had online games company, Sean Fanning worked for him, Parker came later.”

• Would it kill Wikipedia to include photo credits for photos of living individuals? I’m willing to contribute one of my photos of Parker to the public domain but have too much on my plate to do so as an anonymous donor.

“CEOs should be thinking about what a social car looks like. Toyota should name its next car the Toyota Friend.”
— Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

• Parker on Google Plus‘s threat to Facebook: The advantage of first movers is high in the social sphere. Switching costs are high for the end user, and Facebook must falter for Google Plus to take over a good chunk of Facebook’s users.

• More Parker: “One of the big mistakes we made at Napster was going completely peer to peer without even talking to the record labels.”

John Battelle likes his Wikipedia entry because he’s 3 years younger there than in real life.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and a pioneer in the tech sector, says he loves the music service Spotify, which Parker is an investor in. “It’s all I use for music now.”

• Benioff: “Facebook is becoming a vision of what the next-generation consumer operating system will be.”

• Benioff sees three main forces driving the tech sector: the cloud, mobility and social. “These forces are creating a revolutoin in our industry.” At Salesforce’s recent Dreamforce conference, the overarching theme was: “It’s a Social Revolution.”

• Benioff: “We didn’t see protesters in Egypt and Tunisia carrying signs that said, ‘Thank you Microsoft’ or ‘Thank you IBM.’ These social networks represent a democratizing force and a fundamental shift in how people organize.”

• Benioff said the auto industry is missing out on an opportunity to capitalize on the social wave. “CEOs should be thinking about what a social car looks like. Toyota should name its next car the Toyota Friend.” Continue reading

November 16, 2010

Web 2.0 Summit: Privacy, innovation, games & ebooks

Eric Schmidt
Google CEO Eric Schmidt

JD LasicaNow in its seventh year, Web 2.0 Summit — running Monday to Wednesday in San Francisco this week — remains an exceptional experience for members of the tech community.

Over the years, Web 2.0 Summit has consistently pulled in the biggest names in the tech industry, and this year is no different, with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and investment banker Frank Quattrone among those on tap.

“We have in our hands the power of the Internet,” co-founder Tim O’Reilly said in his opening remarks, extolling the growing ubiquity and capabilities of our mobile devices. Assaying the larger landscape, he added: “We’re entering a period of conflict, or intense competition on the Web.”

Here’s my Web 2.0 Summit photo set (so far).

Day 1 highlights

Loved Day 1. A few high points:

Will face recognition technology become commonplace? Said Schmidt: “Trust me, that is not a no-brainer.”

• Google’s Eric Schmidt, a regular at the summit, engaged in a fascinating discussion with hosts Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle about privacy in the digital age. When O’Reilly suggested that the use of face recognition technology is “inevitable,” Schmidt countered, “Trust me, that is not a no-brainer. … This debate will get worse, it’ll get harder, as technology progresses.” He said that one could no longer assume that “engineers’ political views” could pass muster in some cultures when rolling out a global service. For example, Google staffers assumed that blurring people’s faces and license plates in Google Street View would appease privacy advocates, but in some countries that still didn’t go far enough. Germans demanded that entire houses be blurred out if the residents requested, and political leaders in certain nations still think that’s not good enough.

• Eric Schmidt on Net Neutrality and Google’s joint statement with Verizon in support of different levels of Internet service, which has garnered Google widespread criticism: He said that the statement of principle was done in deference to the carriers’ history of 30 years under government regular for their land lines and their aversion to any regulation in the mobile space. ”

“We generally prefer that competition to produce the outcome” over government regulation, he said. A laudable premise — except when discussing predatory business tactics by the telecom industry.

• More Eric Schmidt: “Google Earth has changed my appreciation of the world.” Paired with Google Maps, it becomes “a transformative experience.”

• Schmidt also took a shot at Hollywood’s reluctance to embrace “smart television” — a fusion of traditional TV programming with Web content. Television studios and networks fear that their business model will be jeopardized if television is opened to the wealth of available (and mostly free) Web content. But Google thinks people will watch “even more TV” when given additional content choices.

• Schmidt on the fact that people now upload 35 hours of video to YouTube every minute: “It’s a truly amazing and disturbing statistic,” he said.

• Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, the company behind FarmVille, unveiled a new vision for his company: to “dog activate” the world. Mark’s a brilliant guy — we appeared on a panel together two years ago — and the newly minted billionaire (at least on paper) envisioned the day when we’ll instantly know when our friends are playing social games. (A dog appears in Zynga’s logo.)

• More Mark Pincus: “If I have Pandora, I have a music dialtone.” That is, instant 24/7 access to a celestial jukebox.

Author Steven Berlin Johnson on ebooks

Steven Berlin Johnson

Steven Berlin Johnson.

• “The link and the url are losing market share,” said Steven Berlin Johnson, who has written a serious number of serious books (many of which are on my bookshelf). “There is no standardized way to link to a page in an electronic book.” But books should at least have a “shadow page” on the Web that lets people link to them and talk about them. When we use apps that aren’t Web-enabled, thus cutting off the conversation flow, we should point out those flaws, he said.

• Ben Huh, founder of the I Can Has Cheezburger empire: “Hollywood hasn’t yet caught on yet to Internet culture.”

• More Ben Huh: “Cats are always at the center of Internet culture. … We do it for the LOLs.”

• Yusuf Mehdi of Microsoft: “At any given time there are 100 versions of Bing” on the Web to give the company feedback on how the search engine could be enhanced.

Web 2.0 Summit: Then and now

It’s interesting to take a look at where Web 2.0 has been over the past seven years — here’s some of our past coverage:


Al Gore at Web 2.0 Summit 2008.

Web 2.0 Summit photos (2004)

Web 2.0 Sum­mit: Jason Cala­ca­nis on social news (2006)

Cov­er­age of Web 2.0 Sum­mit 2006 (2006)

Web 2.0 photos (2006)

Web 2.0 Sum­mit 2008 Day 3: Polit­i­cal round­table, Al Gore (2008)

Day 2 of Web 2.0 Sum­mit 2008: GoodGuide and Face­book (2008)

Web 2.0 Sum­mit 2008 Day 1: Google.org (2008)

Web 2.0 Summit photos (2008)

Web 2.0 Summit: Content & search get social (2009)

Web 2.0 Summit photos (2009)

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October 23, 2009

Web 2.0 Summit: Content & search get social

Aneesh Chopra

Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

Social networks becoming more relevant to offline lives

JD LasicaI have been to every Web 2.0 Summit since its launch except for one (when I had a speaking commitment in Toronto), so it was good to be back at the venerable technology conference in San Francisco this week. This year’s event was not a somber affair, but it was considerably smaller in attendance: probably 50-60 percent off its high of a couple of years ago (that’s my estimate, not official). Just look at the Flickr stream: probably one-tenth the size of a couple of years ago.

Here’s my Flickr photo gallery of the summit — that’s Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, above. I briefly got to meet him backstage. (Disclosure: I was admitted with a press pass.) His deputy, Andrew McLaughlin, dissected dumber-than-dumb U.S. regulations — in effect preventing Government 2.0 from taking place — at the Web 2.0 Expo last spring. I asked Chopra about this from the floor and he talked animatedly about the progress his office is making in cutting the red tape to ribbons.

If there was a theme this year, it was this: Content is getting increasingly social. We see that through the major social networks (Facebook, Twitter), through news organizations that are struggling to find a business model (the social journalism-friendly Huffington Post is expanding its staff), and through a panpoly of new “social search” and “real-time search” results rolled out by the major search engines.

The tech press has already covered the newsworthy items coming out of the Summit (a sister event, Web 2.0 Expo, is held each spring in SF and will be held Nov. 16-19 in New York). Chief among them: announcements that Microsoft’s Bing search engine will now offer results from the real-time Web via Twitter updates (at bing.com/twitter) and, soon, public updates on Facebook (no money was exchanged), and Google will now offer a deeper set of Twitter updates, including something called a social circle (social search), due to debut early next year.

So here are some snippets of the scene at this year’s Web 2.0 Summit: Continue reading