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The 2008 LaunchPad: Web Meets World

By - July 15, 2008

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A while back I announced the theme of this year’s Web 2 Summit:The Opportunity of Limits: Sustaining, Applying and Expanding the Web’s Lessons.”

Since announcing that initial theme and lineup, an amazing group of folks have agreed to come and participate, and if you peruse the list, you’ll note that it’s not just the regular coterie of Internet leaders. Sure, we’ve got those folks coming, and yes, we’ll be focusing just as intently on the opportunities in our industry. But we’re also going further afield. As we wrote in the overview:

In the first four years of the Web 2.0 Summit, we’ve focused on our industry’s challenges and opportunities, highlighting in particular the business models and leaders driving the Internet economy. But as we pondered the theme for this year, one clear signal has emerged: our conversation is no longer just about the Web. Now is the time to ask how the Web—its technologies, its values, and its culture—might be tapped to address the world’s most pressing limits. Or put another way—and in the true spirit of the Internet entrepreneur—its most pressing opportunities.

As we convene the fifth annual Web 2.0 Summit, our world is fraught with problems that engineers might charitably classify as NP hard—from roiling financial markets to global warming, failing healthcare systems to intractable religious wars. In short, it seems as if many of our most complex systems are reaching their limits.

It strikes us that the Web might teach us new ways to address these limits. From harnessing collective intelligence to a bias toward open systems, the Web’s greatest inventions are, at their core, social movements. To that end, we’re expanding our program this year to include leaders in the fields of healthcare, genetics, finance, global business, and yes, even politics.

Last week (while I was on vacation, so I missed posting on it) we announced the focus of our annual Launch Pad program, where we focus on promising startups. This year, we’ve aligned Launch Pad with our theme, and I am very excited by the result. From our description:

For Launch Pad 2008, the focus will be on startups in the fields of alternative energies, social entreprenuerialism, microfinance, developing economies, political action, renewable technologies, and the like. We’ll be particularly interested in where these companies display significant cross over with the web, of course, but this will not be required.

Tim wrote a great post summarizing the idea:

This might seem like quite a departure for the Web 2.0 Summit, the conference that made its name by celebrating the revolution in the consumer internet caused by the move to the internet as platform, service based business models, and social media. Or is it? After all, I’ve argued all along that the real heart of Web 2.0 is the ability of networked applications to harness collective intelligence. Yes, you can harness collective intelligence to build amazing internet businesses, as the past five years have shown us.

But what good is collective intelligence if it doesn’t make us smarter?

In an era of looming scarcities, economic disruption, and the possibility of catastrophic ecological change, it’s time for us all to wake up, to take our new “superpowers” seriously, and to use them to solve problems that really matter.

Submissions are now open. I hope you can help us spread the word!

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Initial Web 2 Summit Lineup Up, Registration Is Open

By - May 28, 2008

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My partners at Web 2 told me today that the new website is live, the initial theme is up and posted (I am very excited about this year’s theme) and if you haven’t gone before, you can request an invitation to come here. Last year we had nearly 10,000 requests for an invitation, so if you want to come (Nov. 5-7 in SF) please fill out the form asap. I review each request personally.

The first line of speakers is also up, and there is a lot more cooking. Initial speakers include Jack Ma, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen, Ken Auletta,

Richard Rosenblatt, Lance Armstrong, Ralph De la Vega, Paul Otellini, Mary Meeker, Padmasree Warrior, Kevin Johnson, Joel Hyatt, Mathis Wackernagel, Marc Benioff and Vinod Khosla.

From the theme:

The Opportunity of Limits:

Sustaining, Applying and Expanding the Web’s Lessons

The commercial web is now a teenager—it’s been fifteen short years since Marc Andreessen released the Mosaic browser. To put this in perspective, television as a commercial medium reached its fifteenth birthday in 1956—the year Elvis Presley made his first appearance on national TV. National news broadcasts were still in their infancy, “As The World Turns” debuted as America’s first half-hour soap opera, and “The Price Is Right” began its dominance of the game show genre. Commercial grade videotape recorders emerged, portable black and white television sets were introduced, and the first local color broadcast aired in Chicago.

Fifteen years after television’s birth, the contours of the new medium were just emerging. The idea that this revolutionary new phenomenon—one busily reshaping the very fabric of society—might one day become just another application on a vast web of computers, well that idea wasn’t exactly in vogue.

In the first four years of the Web 2.0 Summit, we’ve focused on our industry’s challenges and opportunities, highlighting in particular the business models and leaders driving the Internet economy. But as we pondered the theme for this year, one clear signal has emerged: our conversation is no longer just about the Web. Now is the time to ask how the Web—its technologies, its values, and its culture—might be tapped to address the world’s most pressing limits. Or put another way—and in the true spirit of the Internet entrepreneur—its most pressing opportunities.

As we convene the fifth annual Web 2.0 Summit, our world is fraught with problems that engineers might charitably classify as NP hard—from roiling financial markets to global warming, failing healthcare systems to intractable religious wars. In short, it seems as if many of our most complex systems are reaching their limits.

It strikes us that the Web might teach us new ways to address these limits. From harnessing collective intelligence to a bias toward open systems, the Web’s greatest inventions are, at their core, social movements. To that end, we’re expanding our program this year to include leaders in the fields of healthcare, genetics, finance, global business, and yes, even politics.

Increasingly, the leaders of the Internet economy are turning their attention to the world outside our industry. And conversely, the best minds of our generation are turning to the Web for solutions. At the fifth annual Web 2.0 Summit, we’ll endeavor to bring these groups together.

I can’t wait for this year, it’s going to be great! And there is a lot of room for speakers still, in particular with an eye toward this theme. Please make your suggestions in comments here. Help me make this as good as it can be! Thanks.

Pre-Registration for FM's Second CM Summit, This Time, In NYC! (Searchblog Readers Only)

By - March 20, 2008

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Last September my company, FM, hosted the first ever Conversational Marketing Summit in San Francisco. I wrote about it here. The event was a hit – sold out, good buzz, great speakers and attendees. I was proud (and very nervous about hosting our first event).

This year it’s back, and we’re doing it twice. First, in New York, the capital of brand marketing. That will be this June 9-10, as part of New York’s Internet Week (official site). Then we’ll do it again in SF this Fall – more on that event later.

But first, to our June event. If you read my rant on ad networks a few days ago, you know I’ve been thinking a lot about brand marketing, the online world, and conversational media. So it should not come as a surprise what the theme is this year. We’re calling it “New Brand Way”, and in our two days of conversation, we’re hoping to move the needle a bit on some sticky issues in marketing and media.

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We’re selling only 300 or so tickets to this event. We’ve found that keeping the audience intimate makes for a really valuable use of everyone’s time. And those of you who’ve been to events I’ve run know we don’t waste folks’ time.

Readers of Searchblog get a chance to register early, and get a 25% discount. The code to use to get that big discount is JBAT25D. This discount won’t last long. We do events right, we spend real money on production, audio visual, and decent food (we’re doing it at the Ritz Carlton, after all). So get the discount while it’s hot!



Speakers include:

Jeff Berman, EVP – Marketing and Content, MySpace. Curious how MySpace’s plans to make money in social media? Me too!

Eileen Naugton, Director of Media Platforms, Google. Eileen is in charge of Google’s media monetization strategy, including YouTube. Yep, that’s a big job.

Matt Freeman, CEO, Tribal DDB. Matt is a leader in creating new forms of marketing online. See his interview in Ad Age here for more on his kind of thinking.

Michael Hoefflinger, GM – Partner Marketing, Intel. You know Intel Inside? The one with a billion dollars to spend each year? That’s Mike’s program.

Wenda Millard Harris, President, Media, Martha Stewart. Wenda is also Chair of the IAB and used to run Yahoo’s brand advertising sales. She’s got tons to say, as you might imagine.

Rich Silverstein, co-chair, Goodby Silverstein. Yep, he makes great 30 second spots. But his agency is also leading in online innovation. So what does he have to say about the future of our medium?

Mark Kantor, CEO, Graffitti Wall. Want to know how to succeed on Facebook? Talk to Mark.

Jonah Bloom, Editor in Chief, Ad Age….

….and many, many more.

Below are some highlights from my write up of the theme. If it reads like a post on Searchblog, well, you should not be surprised. In fact, what I’m pasting below is pretty much the beginning of my second post on ad networks and brands. But I’ll get to that later, maybe this weekend…

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CM Summit New York

June 9-10, 2008

The Ritz Carlton Battery Park

“New Brand Way”

Close your eyes and imagine leafing through your favorite magazine – Vogue, perhaps. A two-page spread halts your progress – the image of a beautiful, sophisticated woman standing in the doorway of a crumbling Havana doorway, with an elegant brand – “Lancome” – etched in the lower right corner. Or perhaps it’s a spread in Fortune, an arresting montage of imagery featuring a Jaguar automobile, a model you’ve never seen before.

Now, open your eyes, and imagine the same experience online.

Having a hard time?

As marketers, we love scale, and we demand safety and quality. But somewhere along the online way, we’ve forgotten about engagement.

Brand marketers are experts at using traditional media to build demand for their brands – over the past 50 years, we’ve perfected the art of the engaging spread, the irresistible 30-second spot. But when it comes to online, we have yet to find our footing.

Instead, we’ve funded the first ten-plus years of the commercial Internet with direct response dollars, pouring “branded display” budgets into ad networks and CPC vehicles. We’ve tried just about everything, to be sure, and we do buy display units on our favorite sites. Yet we’re often disappointed with the performance they deliver.

To paraphrase Wenda Harris Millard, Chair of the IAB, we must not trade our brands like pork bellies. Brands are not commodities, so why are we judging our online marketing by the standards of direct response? Is it, perhaps, because we can? Or, perhaps, is it because we don’t know how to measure that magic that occurs between a consumer’s ears when they first see the image of a beautiful woman standing in a crumbling doorway?

To keep building our brands, we have to go where the audience has gone. And every month, more than 600 million people visit conversational media sites – foreign lands when it comes to brand marketing. Or ….are they?

At the second Conversational Marketing Summit, our first in the brand capital of New York City, we’ll tackle this conundrum head on. What kind of marketing works in social media? Which of the lessons learned from marketing in traditional media apply when the audience joins the conversation? Why will we pay an $80 CPM to reach women, 18-34, in Vogue, but just $3 to reach the same audience online? What do we make of the promised new platforms from Google, AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo? Are CPC networks simply harvesting the hard won brand value we’ve built offline? How does one create engagement and build brands in the context of conversational media? What are the online analogs to the executions we so love in magazines and television, and how do we execute them? Who’s already doing it right, and how?

It’s time to reclaim our brands online, and to declare marketers a full and fair participant in the burgeoning conversation that is the online media world. In short, it’s a New Brand Way online, and it starts at the CM Summit, New York. Join us!

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I hope to see you guys there. And if you have input, thoughts, ideas for making this program better, please let me know. Thanks!

Web 2 Expo Early Reg Discount

By - March 16, 2008

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Hey gang, if you plan on being at the Web 2 Expo in SF next month, best sign up asap. My partners reminded me over the weekend that the early registration discount expires at the end of the week. Head here to get the discount. The Expo is a big event, last year there were around 10,000 folks and tons of exhibitors. I interviewed Eric Schmidt onstage, and this year I’m going to be doing the same with Marc Andreessen. Should be fun! More on keynotes and schedules….

Starting Up? Hit the LaunchPad!

By - February 21, 2008

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The SF Web 2 Expo is coming up in April, and the LaunchPad is once again happening. If you’re part of an interesting startup, you should consider applying for the LaunchPad. This year they are doing it as we did it at the Summit last year – VCs are judging the whole shebang. Check it out here.

The MySpace Platform

By - February 05, 2008

Facebook, watch out, the big guys are in the house…having MySpace launch a platform means real competition, and that is good for folks who were worried about Facebook changing the game on them once revenue became a reality.

The Yahoo Platform

By - October 16, 2007

Don’t count Yahoo out. They have tons of engaged users/readers/audience members, and a Valley ethos. From a report on their generally well recieved earnings, which came out today:

“Our goal is to create a motivated community of developers all building uniquely compelling applications that reach hundreds of millions of Yahoo users by plugging into the most popular properties or services,” Yang told analysts. Sounds familiar? Yahoo hopes to use its own big brand to create an ecosystem, a term tech companies love to use meaning a whole world unto itself, like Facebook.

I knew this whole Web as platform thing wasn’t a fad…

Help Me With Questions for The Web Bowl

By - October 01, 2007

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At Web 2 this year we plan to have a bit of fun, not that the conference isn’t fun. But we thought we’d put a number of well known web veterans up on stage after dinner and see how much they know about our industry. This format is familiar to any of you who’ve been to D in the past or have seen early versions of the Computer History Bowl, which has been around in various incarnations for a very long time. The twist is that we’re focusing just on web history, which, until recently, was something of a oxymoron. Now that the web is more than a decade old, however, we figured it was about time we had some fun with it.

We’ll be grilling folks like Martin Nisenholtz, who has been in this industry for as long at the New York Times has had a .com (actually, longer), Steve Case, who started AOL, Jay Adelson, CEO of Digg, and Scott Kurnit, founder of About.com.

But I need your help. We’ve set up a form where you can suggest questions we should ask them. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer, we’ll figure it out. But if you do, so much the better. Stuff like “What was on the cover of the first Industry Standard” or “How much revenue did The Globe have when it went public?”. If we use your question, I’ll thank you from stage.

It should be a fun time, and we’ll make sure to get it up on the web as soon as we can, so no matter if you can make the conference or not, you can check it out!

Last Few Days to Submit to the Web 2 Launchpad

By - September 28, 2007

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The submissions deadline is Oct. 1 for the Launchpad, for those of you who need a gentle reminder. We’ve got a great group of applicants already, but the deadline is very strict, as we have to have time for the final judging process.

A reminder on the new approach this year:



At this year’s Web 2.0 Summit, we are evolving Launch Pad a bit. While it’s great to be chosen to launch your new company at a conference like Web 2.0 Summit, the reality of the market is that the majority of successful Web 2.0 companies do more than just launch products. They also often pass the test of VC scrutiny— that’s how the market determines who wins and loses in the world of startups. To that end, this year there is no fee for companies involved, instead, the VCs are sponsoring the program.

The New Approach

This VC Edition of Launch Pad has several adjustments to the typical judging process:

* The judging panel will be comprised of six venture capitalists who will review Launch Pad companies as if considering them for funding.

* Judges will select up to eight finalists, that will be given ten minutes each, to pitch themselves on stage, in front of the entire Web 2.0 Summit audience and the VC judging panel.

* Each company will be provided feedback on its presentation in real time, by both the VC judges and the audience.

* The VCs may, at any time, offer these applicants non-binding term sheets for financing.

Entrants no longer need to launch their company or major product/service to qualify. Instead, those that apply will be reviewed by our panel of venture capitalists. If they make the first cut, they will pitch their company in front of the Web 2.0 Summit audience – the top executives, financiers, press, and analysts in the Internet industry. The audience will also have the opportunity to vote, along with the VC panel.