I’ve just returned from the Future of Web Apps Conference in London, put on by Ryan Carson. I didn’t attend the conference in London last year, but this year’s version was well worth the trip over the Atlantic. There were two major product announcements (Digg and Netvibes), as well as a set of really excellent speakers from around the world. I attended most of the sessions over both days.
There was no WiFi at the conference (BT’s fault, not the conference), so there wasn’t as much coverage as there otherwise would have been. But I found that not having the distraction of being online all the time made the sesions more interesting, too.
I switched to Mac a year ago and haven’t looked back. I’ve never had a problem that wasn’t easily solved, and they are in general a pleasure to use. I certainly can’t say that for the PC in my living room, which I have to constantly tinker with to keep it working properly.
Today I bought another computer to hook up to my bedroom television. All I need from it is to surf the web and be able to stream video from a network drive, so I looked at both low end PCs and the Mac Mini. Even though the specs on the Mini don’t compare to a PC of a similar price, I bought the mini. I wanted to keep things problem free and I like the fact that it is so small.
But my entire evening has been dedicated just to getting the thing running on the small LCD tv in my bedroom. It turns out Mac Minis are notoriously bad at playing nicely with TVs through a DVI connection. Thankfully Apple’s forums saved me. There are over 1,000 threads and 6,000 messages on the topic of “using displays with the Mac Mini.”
This surprised me given how many people I know have connected a Mac Mini to their living room televisions. With Apple pushing the new Apple TV, I suppose less people will be doing this in the future. Still, I’m disappointed. I thought Apple was basically flawless until now.
Well, I’m back in London, the city I’ve lived in twice and have visited at least a dozen times. Next week I speak at the FOWA conference, but today through Monday I’m seeing friends and meeting with startups.
I just had lunch with Saul Klein, the VP of Marketing at Skype and a Venture Partner at Index. I’ve known Saul for a few years now and it was good to catch up. The topic of conversation at lunch was how alive the startup scene is throughout Europe. It’s clear that Skype brought a new level of confidence to European entrepreneurs, who are more willing than ever to stay here and start their companies, whereas in the past they’d be moving to Silicon Valley.
Saul just wrote a blog post about this very topic. The one thing that strikes me about the tone is that it seems to be urging people here to realize that it’s ok to start their company in Europe. The whole thing boils down to “Come on guys, seriously, Skype showed that Europe doesn’t need silicon valley to achieve a global success, and look at all these examples of really interesting startups.” And he’s right. We talked about Netvibes, Last.fm, Allpeers and many others over lunch. And some, like Pageflakes and Bebo, started here and have since moved all or some of their operations to Silicon Valley.
Index Ventures is really kicking ass. They are getting into a lot of U.S. deals even though they’re based here in London. Mobissimo and SpotRunner are two of them. Of course, the fact that Index was a Skype investor certainly helps get them in the door. Saul tells me they are aggresively looking for interesting U.S. deals to invest in.
By the way, if you are trying to get in touch with me, my London mobile number is +44 (0) 7942 245659.
After a bad couple of days TechCrunch is suddenly flying is sub 1 second load times, even under heavy mid week traffic. We’ll be adding some of the third party stuff back in (sphere and mybloglog) and keeping an eye on things.
The single hardest thing about running TechCrunch is simply keeping the site live. Some weeks, more hours are spent by various people trying to keep the site up and running than are spent actually writing. There are many culprits. First, we have a lot of third party widgets, ads and analytics apps running on the site. They are often the cause for slow load times. FM Publishing, our advertising network, often slows down the site and then other things pile on to crush it.
Today we had three problems. FM is updating their software and caused massive . We switched to the new version of wordpress which is clearly not bug free. And on top of that we have a number of plugins that are acting weird on the new wordpress software. One of them took us down earlier tonight.
Another culprit is MyBlogLog, which we’ve had to strip off the site a number of times because of slowdowns.
Thank God for Media Temple, who work with us to keep the site live. Right now, TC is completely down, and Chris Lea at MT is being dragged out of bed to try to fix it for the tenth time today.
At some point I’m going to give up and move on to partners and software that can address our needs. Somebody who’ll be up with me at 4:17 AM when my site goes down because of them.
Jobster made a 180 degree turn in its strategic course this evening, launching a free job listing service to compete head on with Monster.com and others. I wrote about the Jobster changes on TechCrunch earlier this evening.
It turns out that a long conversation I had last year with Jobster CEO Jason Goldberg led partially to this new strategy. Jason wrote about our discussion in a blog post tonight. I like Jason and enjoyed our conversation. He’s a combination of two types of CEO – the take no prisoners, kill ‘em all type CEO and the thoughtful, let’s get the consensus of the exec team type CEO. I’ve never seen it in one person before. The guy is strong willed, but very open to the opinions of others.
As I’ve said before (and Jason has blogged this as well), I’m a loud mouthed blogger who considers himself an expert on whatever is coming out of my mouth at the moment. I dispense advice early and often, and am sometimes dogmatic in my approach to “discussion.” It’s a good formula for blogging, but I don’t take myself too seriously. The best entrepreneurs don’t ask for my advice, and tend to ignore it when I give it anyway. If they listened to everyone with an opinion, they would have stayed at their old job and never left the security of a steady salary, health benefits and stock options. Entrepreneurs are crazy, almost by definition. They attach utility to risk, which doesn’t make any sense.
So I was surprised to see Jobster change their core business model and go “disruptive” as Jason puts it. It’s bold and risky. I’m going to sit on the sidelines and cheer him on, with nothing to lose but my pride if it fails. But the Jobster team is putting their capital and time behind this, and going hard after a very large and very lucrative market. If they win, they win big. I can’t wait to see the rest of this movie.
Christopher Johnson analyzes the name “TechCrunch.” It’s “heavy orthographically” and “serious and it gets the job done.” I actually thought up the name in about ten minutes in June 2005 based on available domain names.
Check out Arringtonsucks.com for some good commentary on how much I suck. I just heard about this site today.
If you’re thinking of creating your own anti-techcrunch site, please do. Email me once it’s up and I’ll send you a TechCrunch tshirt.
Check out this post by Michael Eisenberg who noticed that the post game speech given by Tony Dungy (now the first black coach to win the SuperBowl), which contained multiple references to God, didn’t match up to the AP article – all references to God and religion were removed. The main quote in question (this is the AP version):
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Dungy said. “We took the hit early with Devin Hester. We talked about it; it’s going to be a storm. Sometimes you have to work for it. Our guys played so hard and I can’t tell you how proud I am of our group, our organization and our city.”
Eisenberg is asking for someone with a Tivo to check that the quote is inaccurate (he’s going on memory) – if someone has it please put the clip up on YouTube. If AP did change the quote, this story may blow up.
It looks like Robert Scoble got sucked into the PayPerPost machine by accepting their offer to pay him to speak at a conference. I applaud that he disclosed this, but his instincts were off when he accepted the payment itself. Since Podtech’s business model is based largely on producing content for companies in exchange for payments from them (infomercials), their integrity is already an issue. Robert should be the squeaky clean poster boy of podtech, not the one taking payoffs.
PPP very nicely asked to sponsor TechCrunch a month or so ago. We didn’t accept even though they have made improvements in their product recently. The way we see it, PPP is on one side of the fence, and we want to stay firmly on the other side.
IBD, host of under the radar events which where I have donated countless hours moderating panels, participating in discussions, etc. sent this email out to a group of bloggers today:
So we’re getting a barrage of emails today about the Arrington post –
It’s funny because he’s basically accusing conferences like ours of lacking an honest vetting process. As much as we’d like to comment, it would look really bad if we did. But – it sure would be cool if someone goes to bat and defends the honor of Under the Radar…after all, we’re all putting in a lot of work vetting and selecting companies.
We of course understand though if any of you feel uncomfortable writing a post about this….nobody wants the wrath of Arrington J
Christen M. O’Brien
One of the replies:
In my opinion this was a bad idea. In a day where more and more of us are striving to achieve greater transparency and openness, seeing something like this makes me realize how far we still have to go. IBD is run by two people that I consider to be friends – Debbie Landa and Alison Murdock. I assume they approved this email or at least knew about it. I don’t understand why they didn’t just pick up the phone and call me, and perhaps ask for a clarification.
I want to make it clear that I will continue to support DEMO, UTR, Stirr and other events and conferences where startups are asked to attend and present their stuff. These events are run by people that I have a lot of respect for and admire, and they can choose whatever business model they like. What Jason and I are trying out is a new business model – one where companies get in solely on their merit with no other issues to possibly cloud our judgement. That’s it.