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April 26, 2007

Evening Keynote: Old Warriors Don’t Die!

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Tony Perkins (AlwaysOn Network) is moderating this evening’s keynote with panelists Jonathan Nelson (Organic, Inc.), Kevin O’Connor (O’Connor Ventures), Bob Davis (Highland Capital Partners) and Gene DeRose (House Party, Inc.). Just by observing the boys interacting on stage, I’m thinking this is going to be less "keynote" and more like a bunch of guys hanging out at the bar talking about the old days. We’ll see if I’m right.

[Side note: My tummy hurts. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that doughnut. Darn peer pressure. Sigh.]

Tony starts off by saying that when Drew Ianni first called him about moderating the Old Warriors Don’t Die keynote he said he had to come…to defend his age. Rimshot! Careful people, it’s the late in the day and even the moderators are getting punchy.

Tony asks the panel to identify when their "a ha" Internet moment was.

Gene says his moment came back in 1994 when Jupiter began focusing on the online services, things like AOL, Prodigy, CompuServ, etc. Ah, remember Prodigy?

Kevin’s "a ha" moment was back in ’94 when he quit his job and was trying to find out what the big moneymakers on the Internet were going to be. His original idea was to post resumes online but people told him no one would ever look for a job online since no one used the Internet. Heh!

Bob says his big moment came today when he showed up at Ad:Tech and saw how large the audience is. It showed him the power of the companies paving the way to the future. He says that the people who are making money on the Web are the advertising networks, not the YouTubes and the MySpaces.

From there, Tony launches into a diatribe about how there was a cultural issue when the Jerry Yangs of the world landed on the Internet. He says the Web was formed as a free private network for guys with ponytails. Because of that, the idea of charging consumer for access was not going to work culturally. Instead, the Internet was kept free and they reached out to advertisers’ to back it. Good to know?

Bob responds that it wasn’t so much the entrepreneurs that made the Internet free. It was more than there was so much money flooding into the market from VCs at the time that nobody needed to charge anything. The money was always there.

Jonathan jumps in saying that in the early days there were a lot of people experimenting with those subscription models because users weren’t willing to pay for it. They were willing to put up in order to have a free Web.

[Amuse yourselves, the boys are bickering and name calling.]

Gene declares the Internet the greatest medium available but he says it’s just a medium. It’s no different than TV, print, or radio.

Kevin says, yes, the Internet is a medium, but it’s also a channel where people spend their lives. Over the next few years, we have to tap that potential.

As a medium, the Internet has grown deeper, faster, wider, and broader than any other medium in the history of the world. In other words, it’s fat.

Tony says that the instant messaging generation, those 26 and younger (holla!), have shown us different Web value propositions that we weren’t aware of before. What is the real value of the Internet?

Gene says the Internet has changed everything. It’s changed the way we interact, the way we buy, the way we sell, the way we found a date, everything. We’re seeing a little bit of change every year. Social networks were around 10 years ago. We didn’t call them that and they weren’t as fancy, but they were there. Web 3.0 is going to be about getting rid of the clutter. Evening something as powerful as Google doesn’t work the way it did two years ago. Because marketers know how to game the search results. [It’s not gaming. It’s optimizing and it is a noble cause. –Susan]

Tony doesn’t like that answer and practically bites Gene’s head off. He wants to know what’s hip, what’s cool!

Gene defends himself saying that there are so many basic things different with the Web. When you look for this "big leap," you sell it short.

Tony’s still unimpressed. He says that 62 percent of the content the average 21 year old reads online has been produced by someone they know. That is a radical change of behavior, he argues, that’s a big deal!

Bog argues that the difference in the Web today is that it’s all encompassing. You can do anything and everything on the Web.

Tony asks if his daughter is living on blogs and on MySpace more than she’s going to CNN is that going to ultimately pose a challenge to the advertiser’s community? How are advertisers going to get to her?

The other panelists mock him and tell him they have to go to where she is. Heh.

And that’s pretty much it. There’s some more fighting and peanut gallery comments, but you got all the good stuff. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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One response to “Evening Keynote: Old Warriors Don’t Die!”

  1. Angela Moore writes:

    Very interesting debate. I remember being 16 (roughly) and the internet was just taking off. Last night, the DSL went out in my house (don’t you hate that??) and there were 5 times I thought of something I wanted to look up online and couldn’t! I can’t imagine life without the internet. I can find pretty much anything I want online and the majority of my friends spend time on blogs, myspace, etc. Being in that Instant Messenger generation, I realize that my internet is very different today than it was in the 90’s, and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds.



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