Analyst Impressions, Web 2.0

I had run into American Technology Research analyst Mark Mahaney at Web 2.0. One of the more sober Internet analysts, I have enjoyed his work in the past. He later sent me his research report, which outlines his impressions of the Web 2.0 conference. I have highlighted notable bits.

  • The overall tone was highly positive. This will sound odd, but we detected a swagger to the event that reminded us of 1999 and early 2000. And yet, we also detected a more level-headed, battle-scarred, and determined attitude. “Hard work ahead, but rewards if we do this right” was our way of capturing the tone versus the “low-hanging fruit, sky’s the limit” attitude that we remember from 1999 and 2000. (Also recommended, my cover piece, The New Road to Riches)
  • Peter Norvig, the director of search quality at Google Labs, unveiled three initiatives that Google is currently working on — statistical machine translation, named entities, and word clusters. The goal of these is to improve the understanding of meaning in written words. To the uninitiated — including us — statistical machine translation means language translation (as far we can tell). Peter demo’ed Arabic to English and Chinese to English language translations that appeared fairly accurate….well, at least, the English phrasing appeared generally correct. (I sat with Peter at a panel at WTN and he made the same presentiation)
  • Representatives from Yahoo!, MSN, Ask Jeeves, and Amazon.com’s A9 search unit appeared to agree during a panel that two of the most important innovation focus areas for search now are integrated desktop search and personalization. In general, the representatives from these companies expressed a high level of confidence in the future growth drivers for search advertising – term coverage, pricing, search traffic, etc…No shit dudes. I recommend Blinkx over this anyday.
  • Idealab CEO Bill Gross launched a new search engine at http://www.snap.com , which contains some significant new features, such as refined subset search functionality, the ability to sort search results by click-thru rates, flexible payment structures for advertisers (pay per click, pay per transaction, pay per action, etc…), and substantial metrics transparency. While we wouldn’t view snap.com as a likely major new competitor to the leading search engines, the simple take-away for us is that no one company has a monopoly on search innovation.
  • My personal highlights: meeting Marc Canter and checking out Laszlo Systems and Rojo. Love both the products, and I think these two companies have a bright future. Also read David’s comments about RSS Space :-)
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