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Web 2.0 Expo: Five Companies To Watch

When it comes to pressure, Launch Pad is not for the squeamish. You have to be willing to expose your company's soft underside in 5 minutes. So, who are this year's chosen five at Web 2.0?

When it comes to pressure, Launch Pad is not for the squeamish. You have to be willing to expose your company's soft underside in 5 minutes. So, who are this year's chosen five at Web 2.0?Web 2.0 Expo, which is co-produced by O'Reilly Media and TechWeb, is a perfect venue to expose really cool technologies and innovative applications of mashups and other Web 2.0-type stuff. Past presenters at Launch Pad included Zimbra, CleverSet, TripIt, ClickForensics, JobScore, Chirp Interactive, Triggit, Sharpcast, Omnidrive, and Flock.

This year's panel received more than eighty submissions to the Launch Pad competition. Not bad considering the current economic meltdown and increased pressures to do more with less. But, hey...that's what Web 2.0 is all about.

And while venture capital has been the focus in past years, the reality of the market is that companies must gain the attention of customers. As such, the organizers at this year's San Francisco show said they wanted to narrow the field down to the essential types of technologies.

Industry experts judging this year include Anand Iyer of Microsoft BizSpark, Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, and Matt Marshall of Venture Beat.

So who are the five brave companies? Here's the list with some of my notes.

  • 80legs: provides a Web-scale platform for content discovery and analysis. The team saw an opportunity to attract smaller search engines and companies looking to protect their assets. The image search alone was worth the demonstration.
  • Bantam Networks: allows business teams to create secure social workspaces to share information, track activity, and manage contact and company relationships inside and outside the organization. The parent publishing company helped create this CRM tool. CEO John Rourke has a very funny sense of humor.
  • DubMeNow: gives you a simple, smart way to exchange contact information from your mobile phone. This is different than current Bluetooth exchanges in that the service is text message based. That means you can use it on your smartphone or on your previous cell phone.
  • nitobi, PhoneGap: is an open source development framework for building mobile applications with JavaScript. Not familiar with Objective-C or Cocoa? This tool will help you get up to speed on building apps for iPhone, Blackberry or Android.
  • zeaLog: a place to collect and visualize personal data. The company calls its network a "life-tracking" site and participants are referred to as zeaLOTs. The company has been gaining buzz since SXSW in Austin.

As if the five minute presentation and the feedback from the panel weren't enough, audience members will be asked to vote for their top choice based on the demos. Votes will be tabulated in real-time and projected live on screen. The top vote-getter will be named People's Choice Winner.

If you'd like to stay up to date on information relating to Web 2.0, sign up for the conference newsletter.

For video demonstrations from some of the other vendors, check out David Berlind's review cam of Apture's cloud-based hyperlinking service and Kosmix's mashup for researchers.

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