CONFONZ AT THE WEB 2.0 SUMMIT — While the rest of the world prepares for Halloween, there was a significantly scarier sight on display yesterday at the Palace Hotel. You truly know the web 2.0 "revolution" is over when the suits outnumber the geeks. Granted, the Palace isn't exactly a geek haven. And the pricing of badges for the conference is certainly out of the range of most of your average Web coders. But it's easily within the grasp of venture capitalists, marketing weenies, and CEOs. And that's just who attended this, the second Web 2.0 conference of the year.
The party circuit last night was no different. With MySpace at SFMOMA,Yelp at the Cartoon Art Museum, and a host of others scattered between the W and the Thirsty Bear, it was a mild party night to say the least. All suits, all half-drunk, all talking on their fucking Bluetooth headsets, despite the deafening music and chatter.
"What?! No, paradigms! Do you hear me? No, no no no, I said 'going forward' ... no, can you hear me? Shifting paradigms going forward ... No ... Facebook... No ... I said 'paradigms'!"
Last night's parties got off to a slow start, with a cavalcade of rejected HTML gurus drinking themselves to enjoyment at the House of Shields. They were obviously depressed by the conferences boring tone, and focus on moneymaking. These were the once-weres, the might-have-beens, and the suitless masses.
The suits were over at the W, where Sun, Accel Partners, and the German government all had their soirées. Sun's was relatively subdued, what with all the press and juicy Java details. The Germans were quite awkward, with a schwanky full-service meal served inside a miniature conference room, complete with menus, crystal glassware, and expo booths around the side. Oddly, no one really felt comfortable eating, only standing around and watching as the German consulate folks resisted the beer.
Of course, the real suit-haters were over at the Yelp party around the corner. Kind of appropriate for them to have it at the Cartoon Art Museum, since Yelp, without a buyout offer from Google, is basically a cartoon impression of a startup. It's been around so long now that Google can only see them as a potential competitor, and a potential database to buy.
But that didn't stop the Yelp folks from bringing in all their relatives, friends and roommates to crowd the venue and eat the free food. In half an hour, only two suits made it in; the rest were urban hipsters seeking a free meal, some of them looking homeless.
As for Accel Partners, Facebook's big venture-capital backer, over at the W, it was a standard W affair, with potstickers and chocolate cake. Inside, it was all "How's your capital?" and "Can I stroke your cock for you Mr. Wagner?" The real function of this event was to provide adequate alcohol to fuel the maniacs who would eventually wander into the MySpace party after 8.
Here's a tip: if you want your party to be wild and crazy, and packed with drunks, start it after 8. That's exactly what MySpace did, and that's exactly what happened. When you get down to it, this event wasn't really too spectacular. The food was standard, the drinks were relatively cheap, and the art was in danger of being puked on. Hmmm ... sounds a lot like MySpace's clientele.