October 18, 2011

Welcome to the Social Revolution

Sean Parker
Sean Parker at the Web 2.0 Summit yesterday (photo by JD Lasica)


Sean Parker, CEOs of Salesforce & eBay highlight day 1 of Web 2.0 Summit

JD LasicaThe one conference I try to make every year is the venerable Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’ve now been to seven out of the eight annual gatherings of entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley luminaries and tech-savvy business people.

Here are some highlights from day one of the three-day conference, which you can follow live on Livestream. And here’s my photo set of the conference speakers on Flickr.

Highlights of Web 2.0 Summit 2011

Sean Parker, who was immortalized on screen by Justin Timberlake as a brilliant, rich party boy in “The Social Network,” was captivating when questioned by host John Battelle:

• On Facebook: “The problem isn’t privacy but the glut of information available to power users” who prop up the network.

• There was an interesting exchange when Mashable co-editor Ben Parr asked Parker about his Wikipedia entry, which says: “Sources are inconsistent as to whether he was a co-founder or early employee of Napster.” Parker said flatly that he was a co-founder and provided Napster with its first big infusion of cash. About 30 seconds later, someone in the audience updated his entry to reflect that — but editors reverted the entry back. Even the subject of a Wikipedia entry isn’t authoritative if it’s not in a published source somewhere. Besides, as one of my Twitter friends told me: “John Fanning was source of initial funding; he had online games company, Sean Fanning worked for him, Parker came later.”

• Would it kill Wikipedia to include photo credits for photos of living individuals? I’m willing to contribute one of my photos of Parker to the public domain but have too much on my plate to do so as an anonymous donor.

“CEOs should be thinking about what a social car looks like. Toyota should name its next car the Toyota Friend.”
— Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

• Parker on Google Plus‘s threat to Facebook: The advantage of first movers is high in the social sphere. Switching costs are high for the end user, and Facebook must falter for Google Plus to take over a good chunk of Facebook’s users.

• More Parker: “One of the big mistakes we made at Napster was going completely peer to peer without even talking to the record labels.”

John Battelle likes his Wikipedia entry because he’s 3 years younger there than in real life.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and a pioneer in the tech sector, says he loves the music service Spotify, which Parker is an investor in. “It’s all I use for music now.”

• Benioff: “Facebook is becoming a vision of what the next-generation consumer operating system will be.”

• Benioff sees three main forces driving the tech sector: the cloud, mobility and social. “These forces are creating a revolutoin in our industry.” At Salesforce’s recent Dreamforce conference, the overarching theme was: “It’s a Social Revolution.”

• Benioff: “We didn’t see protesters in Egypt and Tunisia carrying signs that said, ‘Thank you Microsoft’ or ‘Thank you IBM.’ These social networks represent a democratizing force and a fundamental shift in how people organize.”

• Benioff said the auto industry is missing out on an opportunity to capitalize on the social wave. “CEOs should be thinking about what a social car looks like. Toyota should name its next car the Toyota Friend.”

John Donahue, CEO of eBay, agreed with Battelle’s assessment that eBay is no longer chiefly a global online auction house but a technology platform. (At eBay’s X.commerce conference last week in SF, the company introduced a new technology platform geared toward developers.)

• Donohue: “The wall between retail and commerce is crumbling enormously fast. In over half of all retail transactions, the consumer accesses the Web at some point in the shopping cycle.”

• Donohue: “The Chinese government is not going to let a non-Chinese company succeed in China” because it views the Internet as a national security issue.

• Donohue whipped out his mobile device and pointed out that eBay now sells 270 cars a week through its eBay apps. (I think he said 270.)

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., took direct aim at the pending Protect IP Act, which he has put a senatorial hold on, as a threat to the tech and social sectors. He’s right — get informed!

• Wyden also took aim at the Obama administration’s “secret use” — and misuse — of the Patriot Act. Under current law, he’s not allowed to even disclose the misuses.

Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare (I couldn’t be at day two today but am watching the live stream): “The key is to building a great startup is not to sit down at a whiteboard and brainstorm ideas. It’s to build something that you want to be using 18 months from now.” So true.

A final thought: It would have been fun if the conference organizers, at some point, had asked people to check in on Foursquare. If just 50 of the 700 people in the room did so, they would have won the coveted Foursquare Swarm badge.


• Take a look at past coverage of the Web 2.0 Summit on Socialmedia.biz.JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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