Notes from DEMO: Old faces, little hype.
It’s that time of the year again: DEMOtime in Scottsdale, Arizona. First the old stuff: Lots of very familiar faces are here. Excite co-founder Joe Kraus for example (he still looks like a twenty-something dotcomer.)
DEMO initiator Stewart Alsop regaled us with soporiphic inducing tales about the roots of the event more than 15 yars ago and the "fun” of the good old days. (BTW, Stewart, your on stage chat with DEMO producer Chris Shipley was just dry and not funny at all.)
Spotted at DEMO: Digital graphics pioneer Kai Krause
Jason Calacanis, once publisher of hype-and-hope tech pubs such as Silicon Alley Reporter or Digital Coast Reporter and now a leading blog publisher, is blogging in the front row with three colleagues (one is strikingly beautiful).
Dan Bricklin, the inventor of the spreadsheet (VisiCalc)and now president of Software Garden, pops up to tell us he is still “very excited” about the business opportunities of the “digital revolution.” For example the MP3 player boom. Yawn and double-yawn.
Also, digital graphics pioneer Kai Krause (developer of the famous “power tools”) is here, but refuses to talk about what he is up to. It seems like he’s working on something hot – or maybe not. He is more talkative about the past: For example he claims he received 45,000 business proposals a couple of years ago after being mentioned in just three stories at the three top-tier newspapers in Germany (including my main publication Der Spiegel, and c’t magazine). I (and some DEMO organizers) strongly doubt that number.
Another German with a moving past is at the conference: Stephan Schambach, founder and CEO of the once famous dotcom dotbomb Intershop, used to be an e-commerce software powerhouse. His new venture Demandware just launched......surprise surprise... a web services e-commerce solution for mid-sized online retailers
I admire that Schambach, once the number one poster boy for Germany’s new economy, and of the much hyped and then terribly failed “Neuer Markt” stock exchange, is back in the game.
However, his new venture is based in Massachusetts. He left Intershop and the Silicon Valley area about 18 months ago.
DEMO’s “old face line-up” is to be followed by a special invitation dinner to honor top innovators of the past (yawn): Marc Andreesen is coming, also handheld veterans Ed Colligan and Jeff Hawkins (PalmOne), Les Vadasz (Intel employee number 3 and recent head of Intel Capital), Tivo’s Mike Ramsey and/or Marc Benioff from Salesforce. We are told the boys from the Googleplex might show up as well (but I doubt that they are into nostalgia.)
The bigger question remains: Where are the fresh faces in high-tech? There must be some.
Some of the highlights.
+iUpload is a clever way to upload stuff to blogs and websites.
+“Vlog it!”, a creative and easy application for adding videos to blogs from Serious Magic.
+Photoleap shows a cool digital photo app to send hundreds of high-res picture files, up to 1Gb, all at once by e-mail.
+LiveDeal promises to bring the best of eBay and Craigslist together. I didn’t really "get it" totally but the service sounds interesting (ditto for a lot of the security apps shown Monday.)
+ Motorola's iRadio service streams Mp3 files on cellphones and puts iPod functionality to regular car stereo systems via a piece of Bluetooth hardware
P.S. Most entertaining DEMO act so far: Web-design firm Homestead’s interpretation of Don McLean’s "American Pie". Three guys performed “The day ugly websites died.” Let’s hope they’re right.
BTW, DEMO says it uses a merit process to choose companies presenting at the conference. But, all companies pay at least $10K and some as much as $20K to appear, say former DEMO veterans.