Just An Online Minute... Get There Of Your Own (Can)accord
28th Annual Global Growth Conference, InterContinental Boston, Boston
August 12-14, 2008
Nothing says "super fun!" like a full day of nothing but investment bankers, Internet researchers, and private companies pitching their wares in a stuffy Boston hotel. It's not bad if you like to learn about private companies' missions and needs, and enjoy tented parties along the Boston Harbor plating food from some of the best restaurants Boston has to offer. The only mood cramper would be, oh I don't know, something like anti-photo sentiments leveled at the person invited to photo-document the day. That's me.
It was drizzling and blue-grey when I arrived, which made the sea-blue windows of the hotel gleam with investment banking decadence. I was running a little late for the first lunch "Roundtable Discussion" with Colin Gillis, Internet Analyst, Canaccord Adams, Eric Alterman, founder of Kickapps, and special guests. I was handed an agenda devoid of speaker names so I had to keep popping back and forth into the rooms to confirm the speakers.
The discussion was "Rise and Fall: The Pending Fragmentation of Social Networks - Moving Past Web 2.0." Colin presented the Canaccord research, then introduced Alterman, who was barely visible, seated at the front of the room. He spoke, pitched, and pontificated from his seat. Odd, but not as odd as his view of Web 3.0. He must have missed the memo with the subject "Web 3.0 is virtual worlds" a couple years ago. Not once did he mention virtual worlds/gaming, but why would he? His view has to include his product/service. "For me, Web 3.0 is partly what Colin described... all those Web 2.0 things... within the context of brands and every other site on the Internet," he offered. He also opined the #1 place where he sees video growing is in live video. So develop those high quality, easy to mess with webcam applications, kids!
If I had large amount of money, I would partner up with Heath Clarke, the big cheese at Local.com. He gave me a good "well, duh" moment. When searching for parties to cover in the NYC media scene, I always include "nyc". Why would I want my search results to display parties in Beijing? Heath's presentation was simple, clear, and matter-of-fact - there was no condescension and he was very honest about what he was willing and not willing to reveal.
Clarke was a refreshing contrast to the Mzinga room, which began with a huffed outburst of "It's just that I've done so many of these ..." from Barry Libert, Chairman of the Board at Mzinga. He secured his ShamWow! style mic and launched into a video: "Chevy Tahoe is your bitch." He smiled confidently, expecting the attendees to laugh along. And here's the bummer - he had valid ideas and assertions, but they were so greased up with aggression and "What will it take to get you in this car" slime, it was hard to absorb. The video emphasized how UGC can potentially ruin your brand, but it wasn't obvious to me how Mzinga could help. I tried to black out when he needled Eric Alterman with "when did you start your business?" to which Eric answered, "As a small child," derailing Barry's attempt to show that he's been around longer. "So, you've been around as long as me then," Barry continued.
I hit the party full of apprehension, a bit raw from the nameless woman scolding me, as if I were a five-year-old, about taking photos of the registration signage (seriously?) I only got a few "we can't be seen together"s. How do you leave the house? What if you're in line at the Halal stand and someone gets a picture of you by Chauncey!? While wandering around the grass I chewed on Kobe beef with heirloom tomatoes, some sort of creamy fresh crab or lobster sandwich, tuna tartare, and a lamb lollipop (sounds gross, but it's delightful) dipped in a crème fraiche.
I ran into Wayne Chang, a friendly face and also the only person willing to lower himself to chat with me. I only stuck around for a couple rounds of pictures and headed out. No one needed anything from me and many preferred to avoid the camera, so it was next to impossible to be part of the party. Maybe if I remained for the tequila shots things would have turned around and I'd be reporting from the bottom of the Boston Harbor!
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