So I'm here with the junket of folks from Redmond who flew down to participate in what is perhaps the biggest Web 2.0 show of the year, the Web 2.0 Summit. For me it is somewhat of a factfinding mission -- I haven't done the event circuit for Microsoft nearly as much as my colleagues. In my previous life as a three-time startup guy, I did, however, attend many an event representing a promising startup desperate for attention and relevance.
Maybe my memory is bad, maybe being a MS employee changes the game significantly, maybe I don't show that look of desperation, maybe I was involved in the wrong startups...but I don't remember having so many easy & great conversations with venture capitalists. I dare say most I spoke with were approachable. ;-)
But in all seriousness, consensus here at the show (not that it is altogether shocking) is that we're in the beginning to middle of Bubble 2.0...a slightly less frothy, somewhat mature bubble where companies compete furiously for a sliver of the $400B global advertising market. We're back to the emphasis on users, momentum, and any number of metrics that are largely abstracted from earnings (or even revenues for that matter). Facebook is the trophy 'platform' of Bubble 2.0, with rumors of their frothy valuation & the promise of new opportunity therein driving early stage companies to stunning valuations. Speed to market is back in vogue, while revenues from paying customers are increasingly an inconvenient necessity.
The only thing that is constant about the startup community is that rules change violently and often without discernible warning. All of a sudden, yesterday's genius is today's slowpoke.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. As in everything, though, there is a cycle. IMO, this one has a few rounds to go to play out. It should be fun!