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Help Me Interview the Founders of Quora (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 11, 2011

cheever.jpegNext up on the list of interesting folks I’m speaking with at Web 2 are Charlie Cheever and Adam D’Angelo, the founders of Quora. Cheever and D’Angelo enjoy (or suffer from) Facebook alumni pixie dust – they left the social giant to create Quora in 2009. It grew quickly after its public launch in 2010, inspiring some to claim it was the best structured Q&A site ever. They’ve also snagged funding led by Benchmark. As far as I know, this is the duo’s first major on stage interview together.

I’ve used Quora, a bit, and probably will be using it a lot as I start researching my book in earnest. But I’m curious as to how the service scales beyond its current place as a repository of quality – yet incomplete – knowledge. I’m also curious about its business model.

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Help Me Interview Ross Levinsohn, EVP, Yahoo (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

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rossl.jpegPerhaps no man is braver than Ross Levinsohn, at least at Web 2. First of all, he’s the top North American executive at a long-besieged and currently leaderless company, and second because he has not backed out of our conversation on Day One (this coming Monday). I spoke to Ross yesterday, and wanted to wait on asking your input on what I should ask him till we had spoken.

On stage next week, Ross and I will have to discuss Yahoo’s top leadership, or lack thereof, save Ross and his interim-CEO boss Tim Morse, who was Yahoo’s CFO up until the abrupt firing of Carol Bartz late this summer.

Since that time, the daily rumor mill has swirled around the company (it was only weekly before that). Today’s news, for example, was that Yahoo stock is up, because potential buyers are “circling” the Internet giant. One of those buyers is Alibaba, the Chinese giant, another is Newscorp, where Ross worked in another life. A third is private equity, which would mean Yahoo ceases to be a public company, at least for a period of time. A long shot fourth is Microsoft, but we’ll get a chance to ask Steve Ballmer about the on Day Two….

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Help Me Interview Vic Gundotra, SVP, Google (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 10, 2011

gundotra.jpegNext up on Day 3 of Web 2 is Vic Gundotra, the man responsible for what Google CEO Larry Page calls the most exciting and important project at this company: Google+. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve heard as varied a set of responses to any Google project as I have for Google+. Traffic is up in a huge way, state many reports, then, no, it’s down as much as 60%. Google + is the best thing since the slicing of bread, Google+ is a waste of time.

I honestly don’t think the folks at Google care about week to week traffic fluctuations, or initial reviews by the blogerati. The company is in it for the long haul this time. And Google+ marks a shift in how the Google brand is expressed, what it actually means in the minds of its customers. (Here’s my post on that idea).

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Help Me Interview James Gleick, Author, The Information (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 08, 2011

Gleick.jpegDay Three kicks off with James Gleick, the man who has written the book of the year, at least if you are a fan of our conference theme. As I wrote in my review of “The Information,”

Gleick’s book tells the story of how, over the past five thousand or so years, mankind has managed to create symbols which abstract meaning and intent into forms that are communicable beyond time and space….The work really picks up speed as it describes the rise of early telecommunications, the role of information in mid century warfare, and the birth of both genetic sciences and the computing industry. In the end, Gleick seems to be arguing, it’s all bits – and I think most of us in this industry would agree. But I think Gleick’s definition of “bit” may differ from ours, and while it may be esoteric, it’s there I want to really focus when he visits Web 2 in October.

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Help Me Interview Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 07, 2011




Day Two at Web 2 Summit ends with my interview of Steve Ballmer. Now, the last one, some four years ago, had quite a funny moment. I asked Steve about how he intends to compete with Google on search. It’s worth watching. He kind of turns purple. And not Yahoo purple.
So sure, I’m hoping for more classic Ballmerisms this time around, and there’s plenty to talk about. From investors calling for his head (Microsoft generates impressive cash and dividends, but could hardly be called a growth stock), to the future of Windows, my only concern is we’ll run out of time.
Because I want to talk about the Xbox SDK, Microsoft’s cloud strategy, Bing, Windows 8, the Facebook and Twitter partnerships, the Skype purchase, Yahoo (again), tablets, the Nokia deal…

But enough of my questions. What do you want to ask one of the most important CEOs in the world?

As an extra incentive, I’ll be picking the best three questions from these series of posts (see below and watch for more). The authors of those questions will get complimentary passes to Web 2 – a more than $4000 value. So get to commenting, and thank you!

Previously: Mark Pincus, John Donahoe, Marc Benioff, Dick Costolo, Michael Dell, Mary Meeker, Michael Roth. Next up: James Gleick.

Help Me Interview Michael Roth, CEO of Interpublic Group (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 06, 2011

roth.jpegWhat’s the CEO of a major advertising holding company doing at Web 2 Summit? Well, come on down and find out. Marketing dollars are the oxygen in the Internet’s bloodstream – the majority of our most celebrated startups got that way by providing marketing solutions to advertisers of all stripes. Think about it: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Groupon – all provide channels between customers and brands.

So it only seem fitting that invite a man responsible for more than $6.5 billion in marketing-driven revenues (and that’s not advertising spend, that’s revenues after spend). Michael Roth runs the Interpublic Group of Companies, which include scores of specialized agencies, from Cadreon on the automated buying side of things to McCann, Lowe, and DraftFCB. The company employs more than 40,000 people around the world.

Marketing is changing dramatically as the Internet becomes *the* medium connecting brands and consumers. It’s also a key indicator of economic health – as goes marketing spend, so goes the economy. I’ll be asking Roth about the role digital has played in his business, as well as how he sees the rise of companies such as Google and Facebook.

What do you want to learn from a top executive in the world of marketing?

As an extra incentive, I’ll be picking the best three questions from these series of posts (including Paul Otellini, Mary Meeker, Michael Roth, Steve Ballmer, James Gleick, Vic Gundotra, and Reid Hoffman, among others.) The authors of those questions will get complimentary passes to Web 2 – a more than $4000 value. So get to commenting, and thank you!

Previously: Mark Pincus, John Donahoe, Marc Benioff, Dick Costolo, Michael Dell, Mary Meeker . Next up: Steve Ballmer.

Help Me Interview Mary Meeker of KPCB (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 05, 2011

Meeker.jpegFor the first time in eight years, Mary Meeker will let me ask her a few questions after she does her famous market overview. Each year, Mary pushes the boundaries of how many slides she can cram into one High Order Bit, topping out at 70+ slides in ten or so minutes last year. But given her move this year from star Internet analyst at Morgan Stanley to high-profile VC, I asked if Mary might spend another ten or so minutes with us to answer a few questions. She graciously agreed.

Kleiner Perkins has focused on social and mobile in a big way over the past year, raising significant funds, investing in Twitter, Square, Spotify, Klout, Path, and many more. But the firm does much more. Mary is a sharp observer of trends in our industry, and I am looking forward to picking her brain, if only for a few minutes. Sow hat do you want to hear from her?   

As an extra incentive, I’ll be picking the best three questions from these series of posts (including Paul Otellini, Mary Meeker, Michael Roth, Steve Ballmer, James Gleick, Vic Gundotra, and Reid Hoffman, among others.) The authors of those questions will get complimentary passes to Web 2 – a more than $4000 value. So get to commenting, and thank you!

Previously: Mark Pincus, John Donahoe, Marc Benioff, Dick Costolo, Michael Dell. Next up: Michael Roth.

Help Me Interview Dennis Crowley, CEO, Foursquare (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

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crowley.jpegFoursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley will give his first 1-1 interview on the Web 2 stage on the conference’s second day, following a morning of High Order Bits and a conversation on privacy policy with leaders from government in both the US and Canada. After Crowley will be a conversation with noted investor Ben Horowitz, then a discussion with leaders from both Visa and American Express.

But let’s focus on Crowley for this post. He and his co-founders have a tiger by the tail in Foursquare, the location-based leader that so far has resisted either demolition or acquisition by larger players like Google and Facebook. The still-young company (two+ years old) recently celebrated its billionth check-in, not to mention a $600 million private valuation. That kind of pressure is continuous and very real, I’ll be asking Crowley about living up to his investor’s expectations.

I’ll also be asking about business model, of course. Foursquare has done a ton of deals with many different kinds of brands, including publishers, but so far does not have a model that scales – though it’s clearly building out a platform for merchants. This puts it in the Groupon business, so to speak, at least in terms of competing for retailers’ time and treasure. So I will clearly be asking about that. Too bad Groupon had to cut out of the agenda (IPO issues), or I could have asked their CEO about Foursquare.

While I could go on, this is where I aks for your input. What do you want to hear from Crowley, about his company?   

As an extra incentive, I’ll be picking the best three questions from these series of posts (including Paul Otellini, Mary Meeker, Michael Roth, Steve Ballmer, James Gleick, Vic Gundotra, and Reid Hoffman, among others.) The authors of those questions will get complimentary passes to Web 2 – a more than $4000 value. So get to commenting, and thank you!

Previously: Mark Pincus, John Donahoe, Marc Benioff, Dick Costolo, Michael Dell. Next up: Mary Meeker.

Help Me Interview Michael Dell, CEO, Dell (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 04, 2011

Dell.jpegNot unlike Steve Jobs back in the 1990s, Michael Dell returned to the helm of his company at a crucial moment, when his namesake was seemingly rudderless. Back in 2007, Dell was losing marketshare to HP, Apple had not yet proven the monster it has since become in mobile, and tablets were something used on factory floors.

Since then, Dell has redoubled its efforts in tablets and mobile, reworked its product line to compete with Apple’s resurgent MacBooks, but seen his stock price only slightly recover since the 2008 recession. Why? Dell faces competition from China, for one (Lenovo has claimed it will overtake Dell in market share this year), and from tablets, for the other (Amazon’s new Fire might hurt Dell’s ultralightweight offerings, and its Streak Android tablet).

That said, Dell has to be happy about the on again, off again approach taken to the PC business by its primary competitor, HP.

In short, we’ll have much to discuss – Amazon, Apple, Android and Google, HP – and the future of device computing in general. Not to mention what it’s like to come back and run a company you had once thought you had handed over to a trusted lieutenant.

So I’d love your input. What do you want to hear from Dell, about his company?   

As an extra incentive, I’ll be picking the best three questions from these series of posts (including Paul Otellini, Dennis Crowley, Mary Meeker, Michael Roth, Steve Ballmer, James Gleick, Vic Gundotra, and Reid Hoffman, among others.) The authors of those questions will get complimentary passes to Web 2 – a more than $4000 value. So get to commenting, and thank you!

Previously: Mark Pincus, John Donahoe, Marc Benioff, Dick Costolo. Next up: Dennis Crowley.

Help Me Interview Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 03, 2011

costolo.jpegOur dinner conversant at  Web 2 Summit is Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter. Why pick Costolo for dinner? Because he’s pretty damn funny, besides being the CEO of Twitter, that’s why. And when it comes to dinner, you need some levity.

Not that Twitter doesn’t have some serious issues to talk about. I’ve outlined them in full throat on this site; if you want the latest, read The Future of Twitter Ads, for a start.

Dick and I have been round the maypole a few times, both onstage and in life. My company FM had a deal with his previous startup, Feedburner, and we remain colleagues and friends. Of course, that won’t stop me from channeling the Summit audience’s important questions. Or yours. So I’d love your input. What do you want to hear from Costolo, and about Twitter?   

As an extra incentive, I’ll be picking the best three questions from these series of posts (including Paul Otellini, Michael Dell, Dennis Crowley, Mary Meeker, Michael Roth, Steve Ballmer, James Gleick, Vic Gundotra, and Reid Hoffman, among others.) The authors of those questions will get complimentary passes to Web 2 – a more than $4000 value. So get to commenting, and thank you!

Previously: Mark Pincus, John Donahoe, Marc Benioff. Next up: Michael Dell.