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 🙂
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 🙂 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:
- 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.
- There is a lot we can bring to this community and others like it. Not least sponsorship but also speakers, viewpoints and our ears.
- 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 😉