Friday, November 18, 2005

Do Web 2.0 Companies Have Launch Parties?

They do, if they are Riya. They also buy too much swag, which really does not seem to be Web 2.0. Well, it is actually not just the launch party and swag that has me scratching my head in confusion - it is that the launch party seems to represent a return of a dotcom mentality in the Bay Area.

My first thought about the launch party was "wow, you guys should have it on a rooftop, invite someone from Industry Standard to be cohost, and then you'll have a total dotcom feeling there." I bet they hand out T-shirts as well.

It all comes back to what is Web 2.0. I have wondered about that for a while, if it is just a marketing term for dotcom sites with a community feeling to them and use some Ajax, and are pretty cool. I look at this as an outsider, in a state that does not have any Web 2.0 companies. When I worked in the Bay, though, I also looked at things as an outsider during the dotcom era - realizing that there was more than just the 7-by-7 mile chunk of land, but the rest of the country spent money and was more important than one area. So, I wasn't on top of any rooftops drinking alcohol, but working to help make the company a success via media and PR - my job.

So, I wonder if companies are just draping themselves with the Web 2.0 title because they think that VCs want to hear the term. There are companies out there that have that term, and while they are cool, I have yet to figure out the value proposition.

This also comes back to the post that John Cook was eviscerated for, when he quoted Riya's Tara Hunt on Web 2.0 being about parties and beer. She noted on her blog that the quote was taken out of context - a tongue-in-cheek comment. But, is that mentality coming back to the Bay? Tara wasn't around to see the landscape after the first bust, so it was a joke to her. For us that happened to be there, it was not a joke.

Now, to me, Flickr is a great representation of Web 2.0 - and the article in Business 2.0 was a great explanation of how Flickr is doing more than just providing a service, but building a community. But, that's just good marketing, PR community relations. Buzz does not make good PR, but it makes good Web 2.0 - and companies are not built on buzz, just acquired.

Now, to me, neither Slide nor Filmloop are Web 2.0 companies, but seem to be that me-too mentality that was prevelant during the dotcom era. Hopefully, someone from Filmloop's PR firm is counseling the company on the lack of any benefits that a public pissing match will do for the company as it positions against the competition. It is too reminiscent of 2000.

Web 2.0 is about communities, not about funding. But, it seems to be moving to the all about funding stage.

I brought up my concerns to a friend in the Bay, if we were entering another dotcom mentality era. The response was good: there are no launch parties, as there seems to be a maturing in the Valley. There is a perception gap from what is said on Blogs and the reality in the Valley. But, it is very apparent that the generations behind us, are the "entitlement" generation. They believe they are just entitled to everything without having to work, and that is the larger problem with tech. Rewards with no work.

Update: well, the party did go off, and from the different blog posts (and photos - hey that's beer!), it does read and look like the dotcom parties. Maybe Web 2.0 is a Bubble, or Babble as Om wrote. Actually, this makes me wish I had published a post I had written about six months ago, lamenting that we were on the verge of another bubble, but decided not to post.

Disclosure: I am an Alpha tester of Riya, and think it's okay, so far. I also talk with Tara, and think she's a good WOM/Buzz marketer, although we disagree on many things. I also had contacted Riya when they first had job openings, because of my background in photo industry. Despite claims to the contrary that they contact every resume, I never heard from them.

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