This is a guest post from Traction's very own Director of Strategy, Ronan Dunlop, who surreptitiously used my conference pass to check out Jeff Bezos and a few others at the Web 2.0 Summit in SF last week (or was it the week before?).
I caught part of the Web2.0 conference. On reading many of the posts during and after the event, it occurred to me that a prerequisite to being a Web 2.0 pundit is to find flaws in how people and companies are going about implementing 2.0.
Two things that jump to mind are the criticisms of Amazon and Salesforce.com’s initiatives to enable people and business to capitalize on the opportunities of Web2.0 by leveraging their infrastructure.
Some see Amazon’s effort to provide computing power and complete supply chain infrastructure on a usage basis as a sign that they are struggling and Salesforce.com’s mash-up incubator idea as a thinly veiled ploy to charge someone else for the privilege of being an extension of their own R&D team.
I see it differently. Both Bezos and Benioff are inveterate entrepreneurs. They have seen an opportunity to make money from byproducts of their business. Their instincts led them to capitalize on it. How is this different than cattle farms providing manure to PG&E to create energy or a chicken farm making money from selling chicken feathers? It simply sounds like good business to me.
Web 2.0 is not about altruism or community love. These companies are providing services that you have to pay for. They have no idea how much money they will make from this. They hope they will. The more the better and anything they do make is gravy. The fact that these byproducts are 2.0 in nature is fascinating. They are made possible by web2.0 and are enabling everything from bricks and mortar to more 2.0 ideas.
I think what they are doing is brilliant in its simplicity. But nothing has changed. At heart 2.0 is a mash-up of ideas and technology tools – the same as 1.0. 2.0 is the same religion, with the same populist spin and with the same cast of characters as 1.0. The ‘old-testament’ style crash of not so long ago, challenged our faith. But we all need religion it seems, so now we have Web 2.0. A new testament of sorts, built on the ruble of our excesses while deriving its strength from the plebian masses.
Something as dumb and simple as Youtube is a prime example. Youtube is unsophisticated, simple to rig (so that your video gets to the top of the pile) a productivity drain on the workforce and a moneymaking conundrum – in other words it looks like vintage Web 1.0. But who am I to argue with $1.65 billion purchase price or Google’s $12 billion stock surge post stock swap.
The king is dead, long live the king.