[Web 2.0 Summit 2010] – Nov, 16 – The day started with a bunch of announcements from Yahoo! which was launching its Local Offers Program with 20 partners, including Groupon and GiltCity. Other new product included the new Yahoo Messenger with the social gaming and social networking integration (Zynga, Facebook and Twitter) – See more info in our article.
I missed a large part of the conversation with Jon Rubinstein, Palm Global Business Unit, HP, who kept saying that he could not tell us anything about the new upcoming products – except that” there is a great tablet coming“. We will know more in a few weeks.
Schuyler Erie from SimpleGeo explained how crowdsourcing changed disaster relief forever, showing us how OpenStreetMap was used to rapidly build a very detailed map of Haiti that helped saving lives after the earthquake. (see picture below) If you want to help the Humanitarian OSM Team, visit http://hot.openstreetmap.org
The panel with Susan Lyne (Gilt Group) and Tony Hsieh (Zappos) (moderated by Adam Lashinsky from Fortune magazine), was quite interesting. We learned how they both focused on rapid growth using different strategies and how they are both developing their businesses by innovating on new ways of shopping – Susan said that she does not see a lot of breakthrough innovations in the field. Tony explained his “delivering happiness” business model, and Susan claimed that her company still owns the high end of the “private” membership-based e-commerce market. Tony praised how much attention his company pays to hiring people who fit the company culture using various tools, including offering a $3,000 bonus to people who feel that they have to leave the company when it is not a match.
Jim Basilie, co-CEO, RIM, was hard on Apple’s strategy to use proprietary tools and rejecting existing web technology such as flash… RIM released a video that morning, comparing the PlayBook to the iPad, check our article. Editor’s note: It was quite amusing to hear him saying again and again that delivering performance is one of the main focus of his company, knowing that BlackBerry OS is slower than Android , iOS and Windows Phone 7. During the conference I was finally able to get some shots of the PlayBook “prototype” that was kept out of reach behind a thick Plexiglas box (see picture below).
The session with Carol Bartz, CEO, Yahoo! was the most crowded. John Battelle asked her “what is Yahoo! ?” She replied that it may have taken her two years to get the answer but she now can tell us that Yahoo! is in fact a simple story: it is an innovative technical company, the largest media content communications company in the world that can be summarized in 5 words: “content, communications, media, technology, innovation.” and she said that Yahoo! always stood for those words, even though it went off track a little bit when people thought it was a search company – “search is half of our business, and we can do it very well – search is difficult. And for this, our partnership with Microsoft has been a win for us.”
According to her, Yahoo! has had a couple of rough years, but companies get really tested when they go through difficult times. When asked about her vision of the future, Carol Bartz said that Yahoo! pages stayed statics way too long, they need more interactivity with more social interactivities. And talking about mobile- she advised that when screen are small you cannot waste any pixel – you need to provide intense personalization – and Yahoo! provides 6 different combinations of home page based on data, machine learning and human decision making.
Carol Bartz added: “midsize websites cannot scale personalized content very well, and at Yahoo, we know how to do it, so we can help them optimize their advertising and ultimately their content as well (Yahoo! currently serves 18 billion ads a day ) – this is not a product yet, but we are looking into it.” Editor’s note: The first step to this content crowdsourcing and curation is the re-launch on Wednesday , Nov 16 of Yahoo! publishing platform, rebranded “Yahoo! Contributor Network” (see picture above)
The Innovation vs Punditry presentation by Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures) was quite refreshing although it was sometime hard to have the time to read his over-packed slides. One of his first slides stated that experts have the same accuracy in predicting the future of technology as dart-throwing monkeys. His closing advice to innovators was: “Stop reading those research reports, and if you have a hunch that’s probably good enough” (see the three of his slides)
Tim O’reilly interviewed John Donovan, CTO, AT&T, and he asked him about net neutrality and what Google’s CEO (Eric Schmidt) said about networks being able to prioritize a content medium, for example video over voice, but not discriminating “against one person’s video in favor of another” – John Donovan replied that the nature of networks are different – it is just about the safety of the network and being able to build the required capacity – we are all for an open internet, but when we find an individual experience is damaged by another individual or an application we want the ability to manage the network… and he said earlier that poorly written applications are a big stress on the network – Editor’s note: mobile carrier networks carriers want to charge as many people as possible: the consumers and the content providers. If they get their way, only rich companies will have their content delivered properly. Many people are protesting the Google/Carriers approach.
The second day at Web 2.0 Summit closed with the conversation with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook and the first question was related to the launch of the new Facebook messaging system: Is it a Gmail killer? Mark explained his re-invention of the email : “email is too slow and too formal – sms and IM are a lot simpler, you do not have to remember an address and do not need to say Hello and sign your name at the end – so when it came to build a messaging we got read of the unnecessary” Tim O’Reilly said that this could be difficult to manage for people with a lot of contacts – it would need automation in the future. Mark Zuckerberg insisted on the fact that everyone on Facebook owns its own information, photos can be exported or downloaded as a zip file. One of his key statements (in my opinion) was “our view is to empower others to build on top of Facebook” – and “the apps that have done the best are the ones which have been fully integrated – we are in a zone that only the best entrepreneurs will work with us.” Editor’s note: Mark Zuckerberg loves to make others work for him “for free”
You can watch the videos of all the sessions on the Web 2.0 Summit website.