Very Bubble Web 2.0, Web 3.0 Article

November 27, 2006

Here’s some great reading for a post-Thanksgiving, Monday morning food hangover. If you were looking for more evidence that we’re in another .com bubble (something I’ve been predicting for a while), here it is. The article makes many points which are totally hype and ridiculous, if you think about them with any semblance of objectivity.

1. San Francisco is the place to be, because you bump into other entrepreneurs in the coffee shop – everybody who’s anybody is starting a tech company with everybody else. Yet later in the same article, another tech-head says he employs people in a dozen countries. So I guess basing a company in Silicon Valley means the founders schmooze in an “urban warehouse” and at “Buck’s of Woodside” while they outsource the actual work overseas? Makes sense to me.

2. People who know little about tech are getting in. There is mention of people motivated by networking, by celebrity, and the get-rich-quick-scheme of building your business and selling it to Google (which of course, hit $500 a share), sure to attract all newly-minted MBAs. There is even a hint to videographers, writers, and artists that now is the time to move back to the Bay Area and get back the job you lost the first time around. Yeah, it’s always a great idea to start a tech company or work for one when your primary motivation has nothing to do with technology. At least this article calls a spade a spade: “flipping.” I believe the allusion to the sinking housing market is intentional. The Casey Serins of the world can latch onto Web 2.0, now.

3. Gratuitous nods to the folks who already made it big. Any bubble article has to have a list of companies that already cashed in, and this one has it in spades: MySpace, YouTube, PayPal, Google, and even mentions all the VC folks in Woodside riding horses among the eucalyptus trees with Michelle Pfieffer, Steve Jobs, Neil Young… (every name dropped seems to inflate the bubble further) – the implication being that if you get in on this, someday you too can eat a vegan breakfast burrito and feel bad for not having “jet money.” Has anybody recreated Woodside in Second Life?

4. Web 3.0. As if all this Web 2.0 hype wasn’t enough, there are several paragraphs devoted to Web 3.0 which I guess must be in alpha since Web 2.0 isn’t even out of beta. I guess if you want to leap past the social-networking-user-content-podcast-AJAX thing, you can jump into the “global mind.” Maybe this big idea will involve hiring an entire third-world nation (one of the African ones might do) to tag everyone’s data.

5. Lastly, a list of companies nobody in the Midwest has heard of are the next big things. This part of the article reminded me the most of Web 1.0. – a list of new companies and the “old” Web 1.0 ones they are replacing. Yelp is the new Craigslist. Pandora is the new iTunes. Loopt is the new MySpace. I seem to recall people thought eToys was the new Toys R Us, too. The sock puppet will soon be back, this time shilling Amici’s pizza. You know it.

Anyhow, once again I’m watching with amusement to see how this all plays out. I suggest reading What Jobs and Woz Want You To Know for some perspective on why starting a company can still be great – I just hope people continue to do so for admirable reasons.

Comments

  1. David says:

    Hey Jase,

    You should update the link to the Guardian article, looks like you currently have an anchor link which drops you in the middle of the article.

    On the SF note. All hype aside there’s definitely something to that point. It’s a lot different when you have people who eat, breath and drink technology. It’s easier to recruit talent (except when google is gobbling it all up) and a lot easier to obtain fundings (one of the key factors). Plus you have a whole ecosystem that’s built up around startups and entrepreneurship. Our legal counsel, for instance, specializes in technology startups and, more importantly, has a special deal whereby we don’t become liable for any legal fees until our first round of institutional funding (if that ever happens). In a less developed technology hub, you won’t as easily find such services or such startup friendly policies.

    And yes, you get a lot of wackyness, but I think the wackyness is a necessary byproduct. It’s kinda like how with Darwin and evolution you get all these wacky mutations and stuff. Some fall off the face of the earth, but a few are legit. But in the end, it’s really a numbers game. Come up with enough crazy ideas, one is bound to stick.

    Looking forwards to your Vegas write up btw…

  2. webomatica says:

    Dave, speaking of links it looks like the link under your name is munged, too. I’ll have to fix that too.

    I don’t deny that there’s some truth to the SF / Silicon Valley as being a good tech place for a startup, it’s just when an article comes out that implies that just by standing around in a particular coffee shop you’ll become a paper millionaire, just irks me. This kind of article just seems to celebrate the superficial aspects and encourages the wrong people.

    When the money dudes start piling in so they can make a quick buck, that’s when I think it’s not really in the Silicon Valley spirit of inventing useful technology that actually solves a problem or fulfills a genuine need.

    Second, yeah, I have to admit the sock puppet-esque craziness is fun – I’ll be enjoying the wackiness so I can get some free merchandise just like last time :) I just dislike how during Web 1.0, due to wacky thinking, many really stupid ideas got funded for the sole purpose of making scads of money. And in the end tons of people lost their jobs (myself included). I’m not exactly eager to see another boom and bust like last time.

    I am still hoping Web 2.0 will build on, learn from, and rectify some of the mistakes of Web 1.0. And I consider a speculative, hype filled bubble one of them.

    Of course, maybe this is the just way Silicon Valley is these days (and always has been) and I’m just out of the loop.

    Maybe I should just become a Buddhist. Or just sell out and start a splog. :)

  3. Carlo says:

    Moving the interest of those who have the money and are not skilled enough to understand what “Web X.Y” is, is a good way of making the money move.
    Is there a Bubble risk like in the .com some years ago? Yes, at least IMHO.
    Too many people are talking about Web2.0 and Web3.0, but there is nothing “solid” to talk about. We can discuss about sematic or interaction, but still there is a lot of fog between all these versions of the web and the real functionalities.
    Ask someone a question: What Web 2.0 does? Exactly!
    You will get thousands of different answers, and even if a lot of them will be similar, the root of everything remains evanescent…

    Would you invest a lot of money in a startup for this?
    I don;t deny that someone has been brave enough (and with brilliant ideas too) to become the new Bill Gates, but we shouldn’t forgot that Google is NOT born as a Web 2.0 company. Now it’s moving (and very well indeed) in order to make the most from its own (huge) basin of brilliant people and ideas.

    I fear that too many people will invest their money in “air” and that a lot of them will fall… with all their crew.

    Cheers