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FOWA London ’08 – Day two thoughts

October 11, 2008

Tim Bray from Sun kicked it all off this morning, his hat isn’t quite as cool at Ryans, but its a hat, hats are the new Vans apparently.

Tim had an Interesting pitch which he tells us he changed it at the last minute from a detailed technology pitch to how companies in the techspace can survive the current crunch. I have to be honest, after a day of being depressed about my stocks this was about as appealing as root canal work, but he pulled it off. Some people (including me) will hate this, but Tim tells us the waterfall method is dead, we need to be agile. Projects that take months of requirements cost infinitely more. Well I agree with that, if your some l33t start up, the rest of the world need requirements, nothing like finding out your agile approach missed something 20 iterations ago to really screw up your day.

Honestly, the cloud, and what ever it is beginning to get a little boring. If I hear another pitch that infrastructure is like “1900s electrics and why would anyone want to generate it” again, I will scream, bring back the lolcatz. However Tim was a little critical of both Amazon and Google, infact he drew the exact same conclusion I have that lock ins are bad. You need to get into the cloud but you need to be careful. Poor old Werner spent the session moaning on twitter that he couldn’t respond, would have been interested in his replies.

The thing I loved about this session was the upbeat approach to a downbeat subject, downtimes are also a great chance to reposition your business, according to Tim

Think about regulatory technology
Think about basic needs
Think about servicing the legacy
Think about telecoms
Build something for yourself
Fear VCs (really, well if you work for Sun…)

Really interesting , but pulling telecoms into the same pitch as fearing VCs, I dont know, perhaps I am over critical here but it was a slide filler.

Tim then went on to talk about how to ride the crunch personally:

No technology religion
Designer vs developer, dont just be one
Dont be an X developer (for any value of X)
Build skills
Contribute to an OS project
Publish
Network

Love it, its the philosophy I live by, I hate some of the narrow mindness of the tech world and Tim kicked ass in this part.

Adam Gross – Salesforce

Adam discussed cloud computing from a developer perspective. Discussed the subscription model and how it deliveries value quickly. Adam tells us that the key to be a great SaaS company you need to be totally scalable from day one and extensible, yer, we know. The pitch was a little disappointing and was really just a sales chat. I love the product, but I loved it before I heard the 10th pitch. Adam also wears nice jumpers.

I then went on to a uni session lead by the very friendly and consummate professional Robin Daniel. Robin spoke about running your business in the cloud, interesting chat about Disney and Mickey Mouse tracking services. Ron gave a solid overview about the force.com platform.

Chris Messina from Vidoop then gave a great talk about how oAuth and portable data can revolutionise your web app. Very interesting, very relevant and quote of the conference in my mind:

“Passwords are not confetti”

For those that dont know oAuth basically replaces the need for third parties to ask for user credentials, thats the deal, I have to be honest I kinda got a little lost how this differentiates from Open ID (and Facebook connect), apart from the fact that oAuth can run on the desktop, I think. This was quite a technical session, which I quite enjoyed,

Work/life balance or Blood, sweat and tears: Which is the startup way?

This was great, it was a double header from Jason Calacanis (Mahalo.com) and Tom Nixon (Nixon McInnes) talking about some of the philosophies behind running a business.

I love tech, if your reading this you know I do, but this was a great break after days of detailed byte level conversation. I will be honest, I loved this, ok, I am a conservative voting spirit of free enterprise and I believe in two core business principles, if you want to succeed you need to work damn hard and you need to believe in what your doing. Gary Vanachuck calls this business DNA, I agree (but in a more British and less Randy Matcho Man Savage way). I guess what I am trying to say is this, if you want to live on the beach drinking tequila you better have an awesome business idea, not everything web 2.0 is about wine, shoes or friends. This session gave both sides of the argument, that’s why it was interesting. As a people manager I can take a lot away from this, there is a fine line somewhere and finding it it key.

Jeff Bar, the Amazon AWS head honcho then went on to talk about the important bits of cloud computing, he went head to head with a chap from Mindspring.

This was frigging awesome, not awesome in terms of the content, even though it was a very interesting devils advocate to cloud computing. It was awesome for the fact I send a couple of twitters out complaining about S3 then was invited to talk to Jeff Bar and Werner about my complaints, the CTO of Amazon is involved, he reads twitters, thats pretty cool.

The Future of Entrepreneurship – Julie Meyer, Ariadne Capital

Interesting discussion how companies can demonstrate how there is market demand for tech products. Very interesting discussions regarding B2B and B2C, quite thought provoking. Discussed the speed of innovation (although she came from a VC perpective) the thing I quite liked is not to stress too much about the technology, but make sure it works. Its interesting this is a similar concept as Edwin from AOL spoke about yesterday, I wonder if its credit crunch inspired.

Julie had an interesting quote from WorldPay, apparently the most important thing Nick Qgden did was never miss the payroll…

…It was ok, death by powerpoint, she was interesting though.

How can you survive outside of Silicon Valley

Again a double header with Michael Galpert from Aviary and Andy McLoughlin from Huddle, great overview of the development and VC scene outside of Silicon Valley. This was quite an inspiring session, and Andy made me proud to be British and involved in the tech world!

Facebook connect overview – Dave Morin

I liked this, having spent time today looking at things such as Open Social and oAuth I was a little “credential managemented” out, but this is pretty cool. The thing I really like about FaceBook Connect is the ability to:

1. find out who you are
2. grabs all your info
3. gives you an option to publish what it was on your facebook account

I can see this as a real value add for so many people in so many different spaces, forget the credential bit for a moment, basically being able to tell people you care about what it is you just did, is very powerful.

Next session was an Adobe AIR app Dragons den £5K prize, I didnt get chosen (not bitter). I wont go into detail as the whole thing was a little amateur hour, but fun.

Mark Zuckerberg, FaceBook CEO

This session was hyped to the max, and that can only lead to one thing, a little disappointment (I support Spurs, I know all about this). I dont know what I was expecting, Facebook CEO to announce he was opening up his platform, that he was hiring Ben Hur and his crack squad of LOLCATZ who knows. It was interesting, but not amazing, I didn’t spot Jesus or Gandhi in the audience. He looks half my age which is oddly inspiring, must work harder. Zuc all but confirmed there is going to be a facebook payment system. So we need to keep on top of that :)

After Zuc there was the most awesome talk from Kathy Sierra, I cant even write about it, it was that good (I am also tired, been writing this post for over two hours!).

Then live Diggnation and Facebook party but that a whole different posting…

From → Conferences, Web Tech

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