Well... it's that time of the month again. Tokyo 2.0 was packed to the brim this month ... maybe the slowdown means people leave the office at a sensible hour now (see below :)
Jason Calacanis - ex-Netscape and Weblogs Inc., now founder of Mahalo, and co-organizer (with Mike Arrington) of TechCrunch40 - was first up to bat. The topic of his talk was 'The Future of Startups'. With that A-Rank Internet pegiree, and so much experience looking at and evaluating startups for the TechCrunch40, I was expecting to hear a solid presentation full of anecdotes and tidbits of advice for budding entrepreneurs in this new age of recession. It was a bit of a let down really, as the main impression I came away with was that Jason needs to practice his presentations more.... perhaps he was just a little rushed.
Today's revelations were that:
- In a recession, people have more time and less money (sure...)
- Startups don't cost anything these days ( ... Hmmm... they do if they're going to do anything hard)
- In a downturn, people don't have money, so they take more digital pictures, party, socialise and look for love more, so services like Flickr, Facebook, eHarmony and Meetup.com thrive (... do people really do more of these things when they have less money?)
- The Wisdom of Crowds often only works when filtered or supplemented by "curators". (okay ... I'm down with that)
- Surviving is Innovation (??? - I believe that there are example of companies surviving in the past ...)
While there were a few nuggets in there, I guess I was expecting something a little more inspiring...
Next up was Steve King from Pearson (publishers of the Longmans Dictionary) and Tracey Northcott from Enfour there to talk about the "The changing face of publishing in the age of the iPhone". Longmans have been around since 1724, and honestly, they could do with some refreshing of their presentation style!
They presented a case study on how they worked together to get their dictionary on the iPhone. The presentation was overlong, and heavy on bullet lists of the history of the project, and light on interesting stuff about what actually happened in the course of the development. They belied their unfamiliarity with the times when they derided a question about free services with the haughty response "We have wages to pay!" There may have been some nuggets of information later on, but it was time to recharge my drink.
Final presenter for the night was Kristopher Tate from Zooomr, and now from BlueBridge K.K.. He was clearly elated to be showing off his latest creation - the BlueBridge groupware service.
Bluebridge has a basic set of features for online event scheduling, messaging and filesharing organised by project. Not much new for the world here, but the selling point is "Ease of Use" .... basically Ajax everywhere. It will be interesting to see if other GroupWare vendors take their lead, and move to less cluttered, more interactive interfaces.