Wobble 2.0 – who let Microsoft in the room?



I attended the Chinwag Wobble 2.0 event in London last night at The Slug and Lettuce on Wardour Street - thanks to Deirde for the invite. It was a great event with a good lineup of speakers chaired by Mike Butcher. The paned of 4 were Andrew Orlowski of The Register, Ryan Carson of Carson Systems, Matteo Berlucchi of Skinkers and Dave Nicholson of Zopa.

I sat quietly at the front with Mrs Carson who was a charming host for the only softie in the room. The panel covered their thoughts on whether Web 2.0 was another bubble and whether we're on the verge of the bubble going pop. The common consensus was "no" and there is plenty of supporting evidence for that - not least the VC community isn't throwing millions around like the good ol days. I enjoyed the apocryphal story of the junior Boo engineer flying on Concorde to tweak a sever in NYC πŸ™‚

I found Matteo fascinating though that's partly down to his Microsoft connection having done a deal with Microsoft Research to bring a technology developed in our Cambridge labs in to the market faster than we could ourselves. I loved his suggestion that Microsoft is like the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where there is a huge trophy room of cool stuff but 99% of it never sees the light of day. Not strictly true but there is an element of that I can attest to having spent time at Microsoft Research in Cambridge.

Dave has a very interesting business and I'd love to chat more with him whilst Ryan was an avowed Mac guy building on the LAMP stack so definitely more to chat about there. He does use Excel though so I like him already πŸ™‚ Andrew was himself - cynical with a good dose of humour. I liked his quote that Web 2.0 has UI guys trying to solve infrastructure problems. Definitely some truth there.

I managed to get the final question of the night in which involved saying who you are and where you work. As expected, that raised a few eyebrows and intakes of breath. "who let the Microsoft guy in"!! All taken in good humour of course even when Mike jibed about Vista.

I left feeling like 20 more Microsoft people should have been in the room. Here's why:

  1. Once this community gets over their shock that we even know these events are going on, they welcome us with open arms. We can do business here....we should be doing business here.
  2. There is a lot we can bring to this community and others like it. Not least sponsorship but also speakers, viewpoints and our ears.
  3. The ears bit - that's the most important part. I want to get soooo many more Microsoft folks in the UK along to this. Many of the people in the room will help define our future success as the world goes Web 2.0 and we need to be listening to them way more. I had a great chat afterwards with Matteo who gave a lot of honest advice on how we should make it easer for companies like his to work with Microsoft. Real practical stuff like contracts and such. He's also a great advocate for those who wouldn't dare to work with Microsoft - it can work and does work. We just need to extend our on ramp to people at events like this.

There's so much more I learnt from listening to this community and look forward to the next one....maybe even speaking if I can twist their arm to let the borg talk πŸ˜‰



More details on Wobble 2.0

Comments (6)

  1. Mike Butcher says:

    A good write-up Steve. (And the story about the Boo guy is true BTW!) I think it’s true Microsoft could and should engage more. Afterall YouTube was built on MS platforms but no-one ever mentions that. But MS really needs to sort out it’s external and internal communications, especially in the UK and not relly on the US to send its ‘messages’ so much. Last year I attended a Web 2.0 workgroup from a guy at MS I haven not heard from again; the MediaTech event which put up a guy who just trotted out a lot of old MS slides; and now I’ve met you. I mean don’t you people TALK to eachother?! Or is the caferteria in Cambridge just too big?

  2. stevecla01 says:

    Mike – I hear ya. When you get to be 70k people based all over the world it gets hard…not an excuse and we should be able to do it better than most given what we preach but there are some realities of life that make it tough. We do need to engage more locally and rest assured I’m busy encouraging my team and others to just that so you should see more of us…and more consistently. We’re sponsoring and attending Future of Web Apps for example with Carson. The cafetreia in Cambridge is lovely…though I spend my time in the one in Reading πŸ™‚ See….people don’t even know where we live…how bad is that??? Seriously though, if there are places we should be either attending, listening or even talking I’m happy to help make that happen. Ultimately I’d like people telling our story for us – like the YouTube one – but that isn’t going to happen unless we’re out there showing we care and encouraging that. Hope to see y’all at another event soon or even just down the pub for a Chinwag ™

  3. Sam Michel says:

    Thanks for coming along Steve. What you say is true…the more people you speak to at Microsoft, the less it feels like a company closeted in steel and glass towers, trying to rule the world.

    It’d be great to see more of the Microsofties out and about at networking events like Chinwag Live, and that can only be beneficial for the company as well.

    I’m intrigued to see how the Vista gadgets are adopted by the geek masses, especially as this looks like it’ll be a year of massive widgetry, sorry gadgetry.

  4. Rosie Sherry says:

    I was at the event too…

    It’s almost funny reading your post, I can relate to you on a completely different spectrum.  I’m a tester, and testing doesn’t get enough coverage, here my three points adapted from yours:

    1) Once the community gets over the shock that software testing does a load of good people will start welcoming us with open arms.

    2) There is alot testers can bring to the community if we were given a chance.

    3) The ears bit, I want to get so many more testers out and about to help improve and apply our perspective the world wide web.


  5. stevecla01 says:

    that’s pretty funny Rosie…I guess we’re both on the fringes here. Look forwrad to seeing you at the next one!

  6. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in recent months at Microsoft is……..it’s good to talk. The Partnering

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