Three Web 2.0 Questions

The producers of web 2.0 NYC asked me to answer these three questions for the Web 2.0 NYC blog:

1) What are the biggest differences between the east coast and west coast web communities? 

The biggest difference is that NYC is home to a number of industries that have much larger communities than web technology. In the bay area, technology is the dominant industry. What that means is people who work in web technology in NYC don’t socialize outside of work with the same people they work with. If you work in web technology in NYC, you are unlikely to run into people in a similar line of work at your kid’s school, youth sports on the weekend, or a dinner party. In the bay area that happens all the time. I think this is both good and bad. The bay area makes it so much easier to connect with others for hiring, business development, funding, etc. But NYC provides a more balanced lifestyle than can help people who work in web technology understand how to create services with mainstream potential. It’s very easy to get sucked into an echo chamber in the bay area and that happens less in NYC.

2) What’s the most important, cool, scary, or useful product or technology that’s recently arrived or on the horizon?

Android powered phones, like T-Mobile’s Dream, are really mind boggling to me. When you can put any software on them you want, when you can hack the phone, when you can connect it to any carrier, when you can connect to any other device, the potential for the mobile phone/computer is limitless. I think the iPhone pales in comparison to the disruptive potential of Android powered phones.

3) Aside from your own talk, what’s the most interesting / entertaining speaker, talk or panel happening at Web 2.0 Expo?

Instead of picking just one, here are some things I wouldn’t miss at web 2.0 NYC:

1) My friend Charlie and my partner Albert are kicking off the conference at 9am on Tuesday with a case study class on startup decision making. These are two guys who have spent their careers (so far) on both sides of the startup table and have spent time as both VCs and entrepreneurs. I think this is going to be great.

2) Wednesday morning at 10am is going to be a tough call. Jonah Peretti is doing a session on viral marketing and I’ve not met many people who understand how this stuff works better than Jonah. But my partner Albert is on again at that time with a session on cloud computing that should not be missed for those interested in this rapidly developing sector.

3) If you’ve never seen Joshua Schachter talk about designing and scaling social systems, you owe it to yourself to do that. He’s on at 1:20pm on Wednesday.

4) 3pm to 4pm on wednesday on the main stage is going to be great with back to back presentations from Maria Thomas, CEO of Etsy on "How To Grow A Company" and Gary Vaynerchuk on "How To Build A Personal Brand".

5) Clay Shirky on Thursday at 9:30am. I would never miss seeing Clay talk about the web. He understands it so much better than most of us.

6) David Kidder and friends on web advertising automation. David’s an amazing presenter and he and his colleagues will make a very complicated topic easy to understand and you’ll leave with real actionable things you can do in your own company.

7) Kevin Ryan is doing two panels, one on doing a startup in NYC and one on exiting a deal profitably. Kevin’s got great company on both panels and they should be lively and informative.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. stone

    Biggest difference between east and west is that the folks on the west coast socialize with each other and with their competitors — breakfast or lunch is common. This kind of thing simply doesn’t happen in nyc.

  2. ES

    The echo chamber comment rings particularly true. For most web businesses, “selling” well to the SV early adopter set is not necessarily a good indicator of its potential in the mainstream market. The NY metro is a better predictor of what will and won’t sell in the mainstream. If you read too much techcrunch, its easy to think that success on techcrunch (a good review from Arrington lets say) or admiration from your SV peers will eventually lead to a real business that makes money and has appeal beyond the early adopter community.And quality of life matters to creativity and inspiration – whether its our plethora of good restaurants (though no In N Out burger), museums or diverse population. And only partially kidding, don’t forget the bad weather. We have many months of the year where the most appealing thing to do is to stay inside both during the week and on weekends. Of course, the spectacular weather of the bay area has not impeded that part of the country from being the source of myriad innovations so so much for that theory.

  3. Andy Freeman

    > The biggest difference is that NYC is home to a number of industries that have much larger communities than web technology. In the bay area, technology is the dominant industry.Not so fast. Technology is dominant in the bay area, but there’s lots of “not web” technology. (There’s Intel, the other semis, and the support industries. There’s some bio tech. I even know where to find a foundry that casts Ti in a vacuum so precisely that their jet turbine blades don’t require machining.)Yes, it’s probably easier for web tech folks in the bay area to hang out with just web folk, but when the NYC web folk exit their cocoon, who do they hang out with? I’ll argue that hanging out with quants would be a plus, art school students, not so much. (Which isn’t to say that the bay area doesn’t have art school students. NYC does have more/better quants.)

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know any art students but I do know artists. I also hang out with writers, photographers, media execs, ad agency execs, hedge fund managers, investment bankers, musicians, chefs, journalists, retailers, and real estate ownersI just think nyc is more diverse than the bay area. Its not good or bad. Just different

  4. Nate

    Joshua Schachter does give a great talk about building social systems. Saw him speak about this stuff a couple of years ago at StartupSchool and the audience was rapt. One point that stuck with me: “Always build with the knowledge that you’ll eventually have malicious users”.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a good oneI just reblogged it at

  5. friarminor

    It’s no secret that going mobile is where the competition will heat up. I’m no iPhone fan but looking at the way people are devouring the apps, Android will have a lot of catching up to do. Of course, ‘kill switch’ is such a turn-off for both users and third party devs for the iPhone so it is up to the Android to shake things up a bit and disrupt the monopoly. I wonder what effect a partnership between Google and Nokia can produce if it is possible?Go Web 2.0!Best.alain

  6. ginswizzle

    2) your hope for Android… there is zero evidence that Google’s OEM and operator partners (or even Google itself) are going to play by any different rules than Apple, Nokia, Microsoft or any of the other mobile software/service visionaries. read that as devices only available with certain carriers through exclusive deals highly subsidized handset prices tied to increasingly expensive multi-year (but thankfully all-you-can-eat more often than not) voice/data service contracts.