Having recently returned from the buzzing Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, I was struck by the difference this time around between this possible recession (if indeed it is a recession) compared to the last one back in 2000-01.
The general comment from most exhibitors was ‘what recession’ and the atmosphere was certainly very buoyant and as one exhibitor said: ‘This time around the internet is actually being used by consumers and businesses alike and overall the technology works.’ Indeed, I remember trying to buy items online back then and it was virtually impossible as the technology couldn’t cope nor were companies truly online in their full capacity.
Nor is any kind of downturn likely to change how much we are all going online, in fact aren’t consumers more likely to use the internet in quiet times for shopping, chatting with friends, searching for bargains and reading online?
Unlike in 2001 when I visited the bay area and the business car parks and Starbucks were empty, this time nothing could be further from the truth. In fact plenty of construction work was going on, particularly new office blocks, up and down the bay area. Hardly signs of a long-term downturn.
So I’ve put thoughts of any long-term recession far behind me. Instead, what’s more interesting is some of the exciting companies at Web 2.0 in particular Six Apart, Bungee Labs, Sprout (unusually from Hawaii), and Ortiz. What’s interesting is the total variety of companies exhibiting from the front line consumer guys like Photobucket through to the back room data storage and analysis companies like EMC. In fact, one analyst has commented that this was much more of a business professional show than the previous year when it was dominated by geeks. And the big IT giants were there, obviously recognising that they need to be in this rapidly growing market.
PS – the IT industry might be introducing all the wireless technology it possibly can and although it’s a heck of a lot better than in 01, it still doesn’t totally work 100% of the time either in my hotel room or office blocks and that’s in downtown SF.