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Web 2: What Would You Ask The Majors?

By - October 15, 2006

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Esteemed members of the Searchblog community:

The Web 2 conference is coming up in three short weeks, and I have one hell of a job to do: I am interviewing quite an assortment of Internet leaders on stage, in front of nearly 1,200 people, for three days straight (I’ll be aided here and there by Tim O’Reilly, thankfully). The program of course has all sorts of other elements – presentations, panels, debates, and the like. But one of the hallmarks of Web 2.0 has been the one-on-one interviews, and this year, we have one hell of a lineup.

In the course of three days, among scores of others who will give presentations and speak on panels, we’ll be interviewing on stage:

Eric Schmidt – CEO Google

Arthur Sulzberger – Chair/Publisher The New York Times Co

Barry Diller – CEO IAC

Jack Ma – CEO Alibaba (including Yahoo China)

Niklas Zennström – CEO Skype (his first ever interview on US soil since the settlement)

Jeff Bezos – CEO Amazon

Bruce Chizen – CEO Adobe

Ross Levinsohn – CEO Fox Interactive (Myspace/Newscorp)

Jonathan Miller – CEO AOL

Ray Ozzie – Chief Software Architect, Microsoft

Roger McNamee and Ram Shriram- Venture investors (Elevation Partners and Board member, Google)

Eric Nicoli – Chairman, EMI

David Filo – Founder, Yahoo

Crikey. I need your help.

Now, I know that the event is sold out, and therefore not everyone can come, and many of you wouldn’t spend the dough (it ain’t cheap) to come even if you could spare the time.

Nevertheless, we plan to make the sessions available on the web as soon as we are able, in a format that will make them quite accessible. And with nearly 100 press and bloggers in attendance, your questions will certainly get coverage in real time. So, if you have any interest at all, I beg you to help me question these leaders while we got ‘em on the spot. I promise to report back to you once all is said and done.

Over the next few days (I’m traveling so it might be sporadic…) I’ll be posting one entry per interview, and asking for your comments on the post – what do you want to hear from these leaders?

I’ve already started with Eric, I posted my request here late last month – please add your thoughts; clearly we need to ask about YouTube….

Next up will be Arthur of the Times, then Barry Diller, and so on.

Thanks for your feedback, it means a lot to me to hear what you want asked of these folks. And I am truly honored to be part of these dialogs. Onwards….

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18 thoughts on “Web 2: What Would You Ask The Majors?

  1. SorenG says:

    John, why don’t you actually give users a say in some of the questions that are asked? Why not ask the three most important questions that people have? Why not give the audience a voice? You pick ten, and let the commuinity choose 3. Similar to Digg, but people uplift questions instead of news/articles. The technology is here. You can see an example of one session we set up here: http://tricycle.zooleo.com. If it is Web 2.0, it might be useful to do web 2.0 style interviews. We are not trying to get rid of expert interviewees like you (don’t worry) but to add a user-directed element to them. Check it out.

  2. Joe Hunkins says:

    Thanks John – your sincerity and enthusiasm are really neat as well as working to spread the word outside of the conference walls.

    Arthur: How can NYT offline and even online *possibly* hope to compete with the legions of news blogs and online news services as the barriers to entry and the expected paychecks to blog “reporters” are effectively zero?

    Jack: In what year will China GDP pass that of the USA? What does Mr. Ma see as the upside and downside of that historic milestone?

  3. Steven says:

    Joe Hunkins: You don’t need to ask Jack Ma when China’s GDP will surpass that of the USA. It’s 2040, assuming current growth rates. Any decent economic journal would have repeated this countless times by now.

  4. viggen says:

    How come that in recent years the “major players” basically didn`t come up with anything of their own regarding web2.0, they just kept on buying existing start ups” Are the big players lacking creativity when it comes to Web 2.0?

  5. Interviewing almost ALL CEOs is severely limiting the scope to just a business angle – There is an OBVIOUS shortage of representatives from the Creative Angle or Technical Angle.

    Most of the CEOs are just NOT that tech or creative savy – their responses are going to be pre-programmed to make their business model appear to shine in the best possible light.

    Possibly you could SQUEEZE some information from ERIC and DAVID about the concerns that with each new update – it becomes increasingly harder and harder for small and medium sized business Websites to place competatively on the organic SERPs. It appears that the concerns about eliminating SPAM techniques are having the effect of also eliminating many valid small business sites from virtually all competative keywords.

    Also, there STILL is a concern that not enough is being done to eliminate CLICK FRAUD – with the same enthusiasm that is continually shown in eliminating Spammy SEO techniques from being effective in the Organic SERPs

    Click fraud is an even more growing concern, now that many businesses are turning to PPCs as a way of compensating for drastic drops in Organic Rankings that have made once effective SEO strategies, no longer effective.

    From Jonathan Miller, possibly squeeze some information from him on AOLs almost abandonment of its Search Engine.

    It would be interesting to discover…WHY …AOL never attempted to create its OWN search engine.

    From Barry Diller, it might be possible to elicit some response about the ability of ASK to remain competative in this era of Giants and high profile acquisitions.

    Obviously, ASK is going to eventually be acquired by SOMEONE …does anyone REALLY think it can keep up with the massive potential of Google’s and Yahoo’s technologies and marketing capacities.

    Possibly from Ray Ozzie you could squeeze some information about the predicted decline of client software in favor or software as service model……and about the concerns that for all their investments, MSN just is NOT taking off!!

    But does anyone REALLY expect anything candid about these interviews – they are not really interviews but a Media promotional opportunity for Investors

  6. Gregg says:

    Thanks John. I’d sincerely appreciate if you could make the excerpts of the conference available to the general public on this website.

  7. Jeremy says:

    I would love to get into the show, but got rejected. Are there any 2nd chance opportunities? I regret not going to last year’s show…

  8. Ethan Stock says:

    John,

    I’d ask Eric if the YouTube acquisition means that Google recognizes that it can no longer build market-leading products, and must acquire them instead. Prior to this acquisition, it appeared that Google would rather build a 3rd rate product (Orkut, blog search, Froogle, ad infinitum) than acquire a first-rate one. Have they conceded that it’s tough to be both the dominant player and the radical innovator in the space, and can we expect to see more substantial acquisition activity in the future?

  9. Ethan Stock says:

    John,

    I’d ask Jeff Bezos why he’s utterly failed to make use of IMDB to dominate DVDs in particular and movies in general. I’ve finally signed up for Netflix this weekend, and am stunned at how useful the search and social components of their site are for finding out about movies; whereas IMDB, with its much richer content set and very long history, is far less useful to find (and buy) something to watch. For years, Amazon has had the opportunity to dominate this vast and valuable vertical search category, and hasn’t come close to capitalizing. Why?

  10. Ethan Stock says:

    John,

    I’d ask Arthur Sulzberger of the NYT if he believes that search has become a gateway mechanism for content discovery coequal to the editorial front page; and if so, a) how he plans to integrate that fact into his products and his marketing strategies; and b) whether he believes that other dynamic gateway mechanisms (like social sorting or “memetrackers”) may also prove to be valauble complements to the traditional front page. The NYT has largely succeeded online due to its brand and homepage, not its SEO, but bought About due to their success with SEO. How does he expect to integrate those strengths, and what is his view of future user’s default discovery mechanism(s) for newspaper content?

  11. John,

    I just wanted to propose some questions for the leaders mentioned such as: 1)Ask Ray Ozzie, about Windows Vista, it’s final presentation date, any enhancements in addition to the visual appealing factor and also about the new built in security features of IE7 and what they have in mind for the future competition with Mozilla Firefox

    2)Two questions for Bruce Chizen, about the achievements and improvements in Macromedia products and also if there would be any future versions of Fireworks.

  12. Dave Goodman says:

    I’d ask Jeff Bezos how he can sleep at night after foisting Amazon Unbox on the public. It’s so incredibly deceptive, invasive, unfriendly and performance-degrading for something that could be so simple. I’ve cancelled my Amazon account because of it.

  13. Joe Hunkins says:

    David Filo: If you and Jerry Yang spent more time in the hallways at Yahoo like Page and Brin do over at Google and then you blogged about what’s up with Web 2.0 and Yahoo, would Yahoo’s stock price go up or down?
    If up, why don’t you do it?

    Eric Nicoli: Would you strike the following bargain with the online world?
    All illegal music downloads will stop but only people over 18 years old can approve any online music purchase.

  14. Merijn Terheggen says:

    Ray Ozzie: Could you sum up the reasons NOT to base IE on the firefox codebase? Embrace and extend! It seems that adding components to support specific windows interaction could be done without giving away windows code/information that is key to a competitive process and should not be shared. The political effect could be, with the proper marketing, a stronger connection between Microsoft and several communities and a lot of goodwill. Microsoft would benefit from the cost reduction, the development upsides of OpenSource and still be able to maintain the IE brand. An analogy could be OS X from Apple. Is there anything wrong with this logic?

  15. kgs says:

    I didn’t realize that Web 2.0 was the Web redone for the XY chromosome set. This is again one of those spiraling self-referential extravaganzas where men label other men as “leaders.” It’s not just that it’s sexist in a deeply classic manner; it’s that it’s a big lie. There are many women past and present crucial to the development of the Web.

    What would I ask the “majors”? How about, what’s it like inside your echo chamber? Though I’m not that interested.

  16. Ask Eric when did Google decide they wanted YouTube. How long ago? What triggered the decision? Was it an idea that happened slowly or suddenly?
    Ask Bruce Chizen if having so many Adobe apps for digital photography will be a continuing trend. Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, Camera Raw, ImageReady…

  17. Ask Eric why search serps for almost any product are dominated by price comparison sites? Could it be the volume of adsense clicks they generate?

  18. Web 2.0 was the Web redone for the XY chromosome set. Google would rather build a 3rd rate product “major players” basically didn`t come up with anything of their own regarding web2.0 i believe