On Friday, I wrote a post summarizing interviews with Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO) and Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) at Web 2.0. Summit in San Francisco, CA. Mark was sharing his vision of upcoming Facebook Messages product. Eric announced new Android upgrade and showed soon-to-be-available smartphone with Android Gingerbread. He also described how Google imagines the usage of their “self-driving” cars. Today, I continue with my summary of other social media sessions. I describe the main points of interviews with Evan Williams (Twitter ex-CEO) and two biggest venture capitalists from New York and Silicon Valley.
The interview with Evan Williams was very cheerful. The Twitter ex-CEO and Tim O’Reilly looked like old mates, catching up on latest news. Evan showed regrets regarding lack of Facebook and Twitter cooperation, but he also said that Twitter has a lot of money in the bank, which means new investments in Twitter development. A journalist made a funny comment that the popular game for smartphones, “Angry Birds”, should have been made by Twitter :) Everyone laughed and then Williams revealed that soon we will see Google Translator on Twitter. Users will be able to translate tweets into their languages. For now, there are only French, Italian, German, English and Spanish versions of the service, but tweets appear in all possible languages.
Asked about the inappropriate tweeting behaviour, Evan joked that it will not disappear until you can combine Twitter and alcohol. He also said that Twitter enabled users to speak up and be heard by more people, giving more power to what they are writing. So those who are not careful will have to learn it the hard way. For example, in 2009 Amanda Bonnen got $50K defamation lawsuit because of her tweet.
I found the video from the session with venture capitalists also very interesting. John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) and Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures) were interviewed by John Heilemann. The choice of guests wasn’t accidental. Both Doerr and Wilson are disagreeing in many aspects, plus they are from LA and NY, which makes them kind of frenemies. This made the discussion much more interesting. When Fred said he thinks Google just acquires start-ups and doesn’t do anything new and innovative, John argued that it doesn’t matter, because acquisition of a developer or a group of developers is the same thing, just at a different stage of the project development. Next, Fred said Facebook is so closed that nothing can be built on the platform. The only thing that flourished on Facebook was Zynga, but no other company has repeated their success. John didn’t counter that one.
The frenemies seem to agree that the start-ups evaluations are getting crazy. The golden rule used to be to give less than $5M evaluation to a 3 people company, whereas now you can see companies with 3-4 people getting evaluation of $30, $40 or $50M. John Doerr expands the statement by saying that nowadays the ideas and entrepreneurs are better, markets are larger and the combination of smartphones and social graphs enables businesses to grow at very high pace.
Second trend mentioned in the conversation is the companies not going public. You can see Twitter or Facebook still being privately owned. However Salesforce, Netflix or Amazon went public and what Fred points out is that only those companies which have very strong, big ideas should follow their steps. There are many companies which have good ideas, but they should wait at least a decade, before going public and sometime it may be better to get sold instead.
The conversation is very interesting not only for the social media start-ups, but for everyone who thinks of creating their own business or is already developing a new company.
There are 61 videos from the Summit already viewed by more than 24,000 people. The event also gathers more and more good feedback. I gave you the summary of the most interesting sessions in social media field, but there are many more topics to be explored and I encourage you to do that.