@ Web 2.0: AOL’s Portal Fatigue; Zune’s Closed Ecosystem; Adobe E-Reader; Conway’s Way; Reed Kung Fu

Some coverage from people who actually covered Web 2.0 conference…I did more hallway talks, and yes, there was the Lou Reed not-so-surprise-surprise quick-hit concert in the evening.
AOL: Jonathan Miller, CEO of AOL, speaking at the conference, explained some of the rationale of buying the financial tool Relegance…””There haven’t been too many new ideas around portals. But how do you bring in new ideas to that model? The answer is what Relegence does: real time information. People want that high speed information, and that’s what’s going to revolutionize the portal.” This is funny: Since going free, AOL has seen explosive growth in sign-ups. “We had a pricing problem rather than a product problem.”
— Ray Ozzie of MSFT spoke in the second half of the day, and among other things talked about Zune being a closed system: “There was one strong focus with Zune. The goal was to build an end-to-end experience. There are technologies inside that experience related to Windows Media, and we license those technologies so they can be developed far beyond the places we can take them. We never would have succeeded at the end-to-end experience if we put too many complexities on the table.” Yep, Apple says the same thing…
— Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen spoke in the morning, and spoke a bit about its newly launched electronic reader, compared to other products in the market: The NYTimes Reader is similar to what Adobe has been trying to do with PDF. Adobe are extending that themselves with their Digital Reader. He says over the last 7 years they’ve been talking about ebooks, but he thinks “we’re almost there” in regards to ebook devices – he points to Sony Reader as an example.
— The other two in search, Microsoft and Ask.com heads of search/CEO also spoke at the conference…asked how are Microsoft and Ask are different in search. Steve Berkowitz of MSFT said there isn’t one size fits all for search – Microsoft is aiming to create a set of experiences, based on the Live set of products. Jim Lanzone said that Ask.com enables users to do more, faster.
— Had a good chat with the amazingly prolific angel investor Ron Conway….his mind works in amazing ways. Outside the Silicon Valley, the news/journalism industry needs more angel investors like him. Only, he works on economies of scale where even a fraction of returns compensate for others….the news industry doesn’t really work that way.
— Also had a quick chat with Shelby Bonnie, the outgoing CEO of CNET…he’s taking some much deserved time off. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts something new, though he didn’t hint anything to that effect…just my hunch. He and Larry Kramer, they could make a dream team.
— Lou Reed, who did a small four set concert at the conference, is apparently AOL CEO Jonathan Miller’s “senior Kung Fu brother”, as Miller introduced him at the concert….Reed had connected him with his Kung Fu teacher. For a very accurate description of how the awkward concert went, read this SFC description.