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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  1. Jeremy,

    I too was around during the last bubble and saw both the good and the bad. Whatever may be happening with the internet today (bubble or not), last night was just a party, at my house, launching a company. No million dollar bills to pay, just some beer and some pizza and a really nice time.


  2. Mike, then why use the dreaded L word, which does harken back to the dotcom era?

    It makes me shudder to think that mentality is coming back. And, from those photos and different blog posts, it appears it is.

    I thought Web 2.0 was about building communities, about egalitarianism on the Web. Does that include parties and parties and parties, or nose to the grindstone to make the Internet better? I hope the latter, without private steam letting.

  3. throwing a party at a private home that costs a few hundred dollars to celebrate a launch milestone doesn't have anything to do with what happened in 2001.

    I'm happy to engage with you on this subject, but you'll have to do better than this.


  4. I appreciate your skeptisism about the luanch party bringing out memories are the glut and waste of the dot bomb era. I think that the techcrunch party was a smart thing to do, and well done. It blended the excited that it deserved, was good for company moral, had a little internet buzz, and was done with a reasonable budget, in a way that was much more web 2.0.

    I think it is good to be reminded of the mindless glut that once was, and if companies can follow what techcrunch is doing they too would fare well.

    Celebrity greatness, wisely.

  5. uh, typo, I meant to say celebrate greatness, wisely.

  6. TechCrunch's parties are open to the public. You just need to read TechCrunch and sign up.

    I'll be doing a book launch party at Mike's house in January. Total budget for the party? Maybe $1,000 or so for beer and pizza.

    That's 1/100th of what those Industry Standard and Red Herring parties cost. Oh, and I wasn't invited to those. You're invited to any of my events.

  7. Jeremy:

    I must admit I had some of the same feelings you do -- and it's not just because I'm too far away to make it to any of the parties. As I said to Robert in the comments on my blog at, I wonder sometimes whether all the parties don't help contribute -- in a small way -- to some of the "bubble" mentality, both now and then, and not just in the people who start companies but those who fund them. Not that parties and meeting people isn't a good thing, because it is. Just a thought.

  8. Oh come on, you make it sound like everybody was flown in at Riya's expense, to listen to the Rolling Stones playing live, everybody swam in an Olympic-sized pool of French champagne, and everybody left with a 5 carat diamond-encrusted Riya brooch.


    This was Mike's private home, there was some beer and some pizza, the music was automated, and a lot of people dressed very casually came and generally behaved very politely and responsibly (except for reportedly drinking all the scotch).

    I've had way more decadent parties at my own home and so far, there's no VCs falling over each other to fund me.

    The L word predates the dotcom era by several eras. I'm old enough to have attended the launch party for WordPerfect for Windows in 1990 (give or take a year) so it's at least 20 years old.

    We can all still have launch parties without bringing down the Four Limo Drivers Of The Bubblaclypse, as long as we remember some fundamentals:

    You know you're in a bubble when:
    * Your launch party is designed to maximise publicity, not to thank your staff and other people who helped get your product live for all their hard work;
    * When staff atttending outnumber investors;
    * When hangers-on attending outnumber investors;
    * When your best developers don't come;
    * When you pay an entertainer to perform;
    * When you pay for anybody's transport to get there;
    * When you can't get (a) pizza; (b) beer; or (c) both.

    ...other contributions welcome!

    - alan

  9. hi jeremy
    I also was around for the ups and down of the bay area, I left in 2002. In a period of six months all and I mean all of my freelance assignments had disappeared because my clients were now washing dishes, cleaning windows and god knows what else. A party is just a party and should not be confused with launching a new company. Let's keep things clear and not repeat paste mistake. I am with you on that one!
    Anne Laszlo-Howard
    RushPRnews, press release services and distribution

  10. Mike, here's a thought to engage in. If you don't want it to be too dotcommie, launch party ... edit the invite list.

    No PR. No Marcom. No Marketing. No Salespeople. No Press. Make it a true tech geek fest, where like minded individuals can speak freely and share ideas.


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