Musing from the TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2010 Conference – DAY 1

No doubt there will be a gaggle of reviews, reports, regurgitations and rehashing of what went on at Day 1. So, here are my personal musing, in no particular order, of what I felt at the conference, what I sensed and what I experienced. I figured all the smarter, nerdy heads will cover the conference at a cerebral level. This is a stream of consciousness – a gut data dump – as it were.

1) Before I get to the conference, Brian Morrissey of Brandweek tweets how the men’s room at the conference is jammed but the women’s room is “clear sailing”. I think – “that’s a change – usually it is the other way around.” But it certainly set the tone in my head.

2) The conference itself was conventionally unconventional as it was on the second floor of an office building. Lots of space and lots of nooks and crannies where startup and confabs gathered.

3) The uniform of the day… Jeans or jeans like object – an occasional pair of shorts popped up. T-shirts of various sizes and shapes. No business casual here – at least not much. Did I come to the right place or did I land in a college campus???

4) Large presentation room reminds me assembly at an all boys prep school.

5) Where have all the women gone!!!! I saw 8 startup companies present today and of all the 20 or so people – not a woman among the lot. Hmm….

6) Where have all the women gone who did not graduate yesterday go? Most women here are staffers, volunteers or support staff. Are they old enough to drink????

7) So much inspired thinking – so little market access. Most of the startups have hopes of selling to “big brands” but with little notion of how difficult it is for a brand to implement a niche idea – no matter how brilliant.  After having worked on 40 ventures at Bell Labs New Ventures Group – I can spot winners a mile way and I can spot trouble even faster. The “motherly” side of me wants to warn these entrepreneurs. I want to say; “Don’t bet your whole business on selling to big brands – that is really really hard!” But I say nothing because this is their moment to shine and I don’t want to take away from their joy. The realities of life will crowd in on them soon enough.

8 )  All this technology is bottled up a without clear market access strategy. When I ask the startups how are you going to market – I get fuzzy; “oh we work with agencies” or “We want to sell to brands”. I even had one startup say to me that 95% of possible leads are not useful to him because they are too small. Uh – what happened to “walk before you can run”?

9) I can see how 4 or 5 of these technologies could be combined for some kick ass marketing programs – kinda like a huge tinker toy set for marketers. I think I will go build myself something from all these parts. Hmm – I feel like a system integrator all of a sudden. Is that right?

10) Is it me – or does this feel like high school again where the “popular, cool” people hang together and everyone else tries to connect with them? Well, this is no surprise since I think the medium age of the conference might be – uh – 23 (utterly non scientific SWAG).

So ended DAY 1 of TechCrunch Disrupt Conference. I will tell you one for sure. I am not breaking out my jeans – I like dressing like an adult.

Go figure.

Judy Shapiro

Who cares what Google says!

My son showed me a Google search result that was in contradiction to a fact that I knew to be true about the Great Depression (I am, by training, a history major).

 

So I looked closer at the source he was using to make his point and realized it was a not a reliable information source but rather an affiliate site from some financial services company.

 

“Honey”, I say with more patience. “Google simply shows you which pages have the words you looked for. It can not tell you which information to trust.”

 

And then out of the mouth babes came, “Then who cares what Google says”. Precisely.

 

Google’s power comes from its ability to gather information efficiently and serve it back to users based on a keyword driven algorithm technology platform. However, no matter how intelligent keyword search becomes, it can not provide the critical ingredient to make search reliable – it can not tell us when to trust the information we are being given.

 

That, is where, the line in the sand is drawn between the searches of today and the new way to search in the future. Between the power of Google today and upcoming power of whoever delivers trusted searches.

 

And I am betting that this “whoever” will be our digital social networks. I believe they will become the new Google of tomorrow (actually Googles…)

 

Look at this it this way. In the real world, much of what we need to know can best come from our personal and professional networks because it is, in fact, trusted. We go there first because it saves us a lot of time and fuss. We enlarge the information gathering process only if this does not provide us all we need.

 

Translate that concept to our digital social network world. I believe that we will be able to configure our social networks efficiently to be our first search circle moving out as the needs requires.

 

It makes sense. It’s what we do every day.

 

Watch out Google. Here we come.

 

Judy Shapiro

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