While I didn't make it out to San Francisco for Web 2.0 earlier this month, I felt like I was at the East Coast version last night at the TechCrunch party.
While I didn't make it out to San Francisco for Web 2.0 earlier this month, I felt like I was at the East Coast version last night at the TechCrunch party.The TechCrunch partay was at NYC nightclub BED and included Webheads, tons of marketing people, investors looking for the next big thing, biz dev people from mainstream media firms desperate to keep their jobs, and bloggers galore.
There were plenty of start-ups on hand, ranging from companies that have been around since 2000 to tiny operations that seemed as though they were founded on the spot.
Here are the trends I spotted:
1. If there is community users will come. Everyone seemed to think that their company offered the solution to creating online community. No one, however, seemed willing to admit that engaged users, not clever business plans or slick Website layouts, create community.
2. We've got letters, lots of letters. All the companies on hand kept talking about how users created their content, despite the fact that few of these sites had any real evidence of actual content created by, you know, real users.
3. Google: The Alpha and Omega. I was amazed at how people said their sites would be supported by advertising. But, few had much in terms of real advertising. In fact, most just had Google Ad Words. As far as I can tell, the current thinking for new Web plays is to start with Google Ad Words as the base revenue and, hopefully, at the end of the cycle sell off to Google.
4. Online broadcast is back. I'll admit it, this one confuses me. While many sites claimed to have user generated content, they also claimed to be compatible with the broadcast model. What??? Most of the Webtreneurs read the tea leaves -- i.e. agencies want to spend even more money online next year but they want to be able to leverage their broadcast creative.
Here is my sticking point: The issue most of content plays had during the dotcom bubble was that they thought in terms of broadcast. It didn't work. Most successful Web content to date has been driven by pull rather than push -- that is to say, consumers access the content how they want, when they want, and where they want. This is the complete antithesis to the broadcast paradigm. Maybe I was missing something in their pitches.
5. Few could finish their pitches. And speaking of pitches, few people there could actually finish them. Then again, they didn't have to; they had VC in hand and deals on the way.
One thing I was surprised by was the lack of video startups. Given how hot the YouTube/Google deal has made this sector, I expected to see a lot more video plays.
Of all the companies present, I was impressed by two. The first, Compete, is not new -- they've been around for about six years. Compete offers a behavioral tracking system that allows companies to track customer's online shopping behavior. This is a business plan that makes sense to me and obviously, these guys have stood the test of time (at least in Web years).
The second company that struck me was SalesGenius. Like Compete, SalesGenius gives users online behavior analytics. The SalesGenius tool is a sales rep CRM solution that lets reps track Web visits from potential clients. SalesGenius gives reps a report on how potential clients browsed their site, how long they spent on the site, where they went on the site, and other data. Then, with an additional add-on, sales reps can interact in real-time with their clients while they're still on the site.
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