Oracle Lunch2.0

October 22, 2007

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Just got back from the Oracle Lunch2.0. While it was interesting to hear all the database giant’s Web2.0 initiatives, I felt this was the most presentation-heavy Lunch2.0s I’ve been to.

The presentations featured Oracle’s widget initiative, basically enabling users to access enterprise CRM information through lightweight applications that they can take wherever, and applications that will work with whatever widget platform you are using. They also demoed an enterprise mashup application featuring data from Google Maps, Oracle’s CRM and GPS applications. You’re clocking in billable hours. Are you really at the service call? Google Maps says you’re in a bar somewhere downtown. U-huh. Ok a less scary example – say you’ve dispatched support to a client. Now you can give a more accurate ETA to your client. Perhaps AT&T should have something like this.

“Our service personnel will be there in approximately 13 hours…”

The food was great, saw a lot of familiar faces. But it sure would’ve been nice to talk to Oracle engineers who may have been working on the projects they demoed today. (Netgear’s Lunch20 is a nice example…they did the demos nicely by setting up booths where engineers talked about their products in smaller groups…because IMHO, Web2.0, among the many things it stands for, is about interacting with your users). The presenters said it several times during the demos that they are interested in hearing feedback from the web community that was present. But beyond saying you want to hear from the community I think it’s also important to make the environment conducive to feedback. Just my two cents. I’m sure there was time after the presentation, but I was gone by then.

But thank you Oracle for the great food. I hope you’ll open up to the web community again as I’m really interested in your Web2.0 stuff, but hopefully with more conversations and less presentations. The projector is nice, but I want to play with it and experience the application for myself. It would be nice to talk to the engineers who worked on it. Again, just my two cents.

Here are some pics from the event.

Jeremiah OwyangDave McClure aka Facebook Fanboyone of the many presentations...oracle4.jpgRobert Scoble's backoracle7.jpgoracle8.jpgoracle9.jpg


Hottest Lunch20

August 29, 2007

It was the hottest Lunch20 I’ve been to. Ever.

I mean literally. It was 105 degrees in Pleasanton where our host Spigit is headquartered. I almost didn’t go because of the heat but was really interested in learning more about Spigit.

“Innovation evolved” is the company’s tagline and their website describes it as a “community platform for launching new ideas.”

I’m going to try not to butcher it because I’m in the process of discovering Spigit myself, but there’s a great video of Founder and CEO Paul Pluschkell about it here. But here’s what I got from the demo today: Spigit harnesses the wisdom of crowds by simulating market conditions in a MMOG via social collaboration (they say social networking but I really think the word collaborate is more accurate). It sounded to me like Cambrian House at first, however how this is different and how this stood out to me was that Spigit comes with a reputation system that’s determined by the combination of users and algorithms, which I think, is the critical element that would differentiate it from all the other social networking sites.

There are three active communities right now, Spigit for Startups, Spigit for Students and Spigit for Election 2008. Spigit for the Enterprise is coming next month.

Networking was definitely great. Since this Lunch20 was not in my neck of the woods I met a whole lot of new folks. Among them Kurt Brockett of IdentityMine, Geof Lambert of IPv6 Task Force, Kristen Kuhns of StoryOfMyLife.com (check them out at Spigit), Spigit CEO Paul Pluschkell was at my table and all the way from Uruguay, Conrado Vina from Moove-iT.

Lunch was good and the airconditioned office suite felt even better. Much thanks to the Spigit folks who were out there barbequing in the parking lot, in the 105-degree heat, just so we’d have something to eat. The food was delicious. Thanks.

In other Lunch20 news, the Wall Street Journal did an article on the increasingly popular event. Congrats to founders Joseph Schmarr, Mark Jen, David Kellogg and Terry Chay.


Facebook Mixer2.0

August 2, 2007

Just got back from the Facebook Developer Happy Hour, which is probably one of the biggest Lunch20s I’ve been to.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many engineers crammed in one room. It’s really not that surprising, a majority of Lunch20ers seem to be engineers (which probably explained David Kellogg’s shock when I told him I was a marketing peon during the Meebo Lunch20). But nonetheless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many.

Which is great for Facebook’s recruiting efforts. Again. Lunch20′s ROI. Catering costs for this event probably doesn’t even come close to how much it would’ve cost to reach such a targeted audience in the form of advertising on job boards, etc. And Facebook is hiring. It seems the most urgent is for a MySQL DBA because it got a special mention.

It was definitely a well-attended event with prominent bloggers. Podtech’s Robert Scoble was there, as well as Jeremiah Owyang.

Also got to catch up with LinkedIn’s Mario Sundar. And even though I know better, for some reason, I just had to ask, “so where do you stand in all this talk about how Facebook is taking over the social networking space?”

It was loud and I don’t have the best hearing so I can’t directly quote, but Mario (who, by the way, is also active on Facebook), said something along the lines of there’s a place for both. And I agree. Though as I’ve said in the past, it’ll be interesting what LinkedIn’s open API might do to professional social networking (does anyone else remember the time when that used to be an oxymoron…or am I just too old?)

The food was great. California rolls and potstickers were definitely networking-friendly.

It seems I learn something new with each Lunch2.0 event, and this is today’s list:

You’re not an engineer and there’s nothing but engineers around you…
And… you’re hungry but you also wanted to keep the conversation going without having that awkward “I’m chewing” silence…I’ve learned that the question:

“What do you think about Ruby?”

will go along way.

That will buy you a good 15 minutes and give you a wealth of information.

If your new engineer friend is shy, you can follow up with

“Will it scale?”

Trick, by the way, was courtesy of Ramon (I’m not sure how to spell his last name)and Blake Commagere, developer of one of my favorite Facebook apps, Causes. Thank you both for educating me on Ruby.

It’s fascinating to watch engineers talk about Ruby and hear them make the comparison with PHP and use phrases such as “it’s like magic…” complete with the twinkle in their eyes.

Free food
(I work for a recruiting firm so I have an idea what these guys make, which makes a lengthy conversation about where to get free food beyond perplexing…)

While I was trying to catch some fresh air at the hallway (it was reaaaaally getting stuffy in the cafeteria) I got in a conversation with David Kellogg, Nick from del.icio.us and Dimitri from Converse about where to get free food (aside from Lunch2.0)

Dimitri gets his grub by making his rounds for samplers at Costco.

David recommends sneaking into that company in Mountain View with rhymes with Oogle. He recommends printing out an email that says you have an interview. Show it to the guard, who will then let you into the cafeteria.

“Just don’t do it right at noon when it’s obvious,” he said.

I’m not sure I’ll try it because I don’t trust myself to make a realistic enough e-mail, but we talked about creating a template for this purpose. I’ll be stalking Dave for this.


Lunch2.0 at Meebo

July 26, 2007

Ok so it was officially an “Intern Lunch,” and an intern lunch it was. At 29 I felt like I was a card-carrying member of the AARP. But it’s all good. The pizza was delicious…though I did hear my stomach growling at around 3pm and that’s when I realized I really didn’t eat much since I was so busy yapping.

Not sure exactly how many people there were, but there was hardly any room to walk through the crowd.

From my understanding the purpose of this Lunch2.0 was to attract new candidates to work for Meebo. I’ve made this point before, that Lunch2.0 makes a lot of sense as a recruiting event, and is definitely more cost-effective than setting up booths at a career fair.

Speaking of recruiting, I’m not sure if there were prior agreements to do this, but the swag being given away at the event were not Meebo’s. The plastic cups, stickers and condoms (YES. You read that right) were from Slide: “What’s in yours?” and the url: www.slide.com/student. They were on the same table where Meebo’s job listing flyers were. It doesn’t take much to see that Slide is also doing recruiting there. I sure hope that this was a planned thing. Because otherwise, I think it’s just tacky to solicit and outstage the host by bringing your own swag.

So yeah. I hope that was a planned thing.

And speaking of tacky…I was talking to Sam and Maia from Spock during the lunch about the trouble I had. As I was walking away I meant to tell Sam “it was nice meeting you, SAM,” but what came out of my mouth instead was “it was nice meeting you, SPAM.” Needless to say I am embarrassed over this. My apologies again to Sam. (I was talking to Sam from Spock about Spam…can you see how my tongue got confused?)

But overall, it was a great event. Much thanks again to Meebo for hosting.


How to beat Post-Bubble Stress Disorder and have fun at Lunch2.0

July 3, 2007

There were some interesting points that were brought up in my previous post on Simply Hired’s Lunch2.0.

Water pistols and tie-dyes and how they can induce flashbacks of the dot-com bust.

I admit I suffer from this as well. But probably because I barely survived the Bust and dodged the Pink Slip bullet a few times. It’s irrational, I know. But I guess it’s like PTSD. Certain things trigger it.

If you suffer from Post-Bubble Stress Disorder and want to get back into the tech scene without flashbacks, here’s how I deal with it. It’s overly simplified, I know. You can write a book. But if you need a quick fix, think of three letters.

ROI. The companies that tanked back then had fun with reckless disregard when it came to cost and the simple question “what for?”

Now this post started with Lunch2.0 and Lunch2.0 it shall be — why I think Lunch2.0 is fun yet makes perfect sense.

1) Not to get all cheesy here, but for little investment, there’s lots of return for Lunch2.0. From a conversation I had with one of the founders, Mark Jen, it probably costs about $500 (sandwiches and salad) to $3000 (catered) plus swag (optional) to host one. The return? Blog posts (ahem), plenty of links (search engine optimization, trust ranking, etc), plenty of buzz, and lately, mainstream media coverage too. Here’s one from the San Francisco Chronicle, and another from the UK’s Financial Times. Think back 10 years ago, how much effort would it have taken to get the Chronicle to give you a couple of column inches because you were hosting a lunch?

2) If you’re looking for technical talent, Lunch2.0 beats any recruiting event out there. Both in price and in turn out. A booth at a job fair will easily run you $3,000. Plus swag. Plus hourly rates to staff the booth. And for what? It’s a candidate market out there. The best candidates aren’t trolling the job fairs. They don’t have their resumes posted anywhere. They are passively looking. They usually like where they are while keeping their options open. Lunch2.0 events are great places to not only meet them but also talk to them in a relaxed setting. You’re getting the real candidate there, as opposed to the ultra-polished suited up and well-rehearsed candidate you might meet at the job fair.

3) If you’re a huge company it’s a great way to get some blogger love. I don’t know about you. But I just won’t come and eat your food and then say nasty things. Even if I hated you (in which case I just won’t go), ok so I don’t like you that much, I’d at least say thank you. The food was great. I had fun. Now, isn’t that worth more and cheaper than say…paying $1500 to get your logo on a jersey in some sports event somewhere (yeah I know…for a cause, tax deductible, etc…but we’re talking returns, here, peeps…)? Not to mention that at Lunch2.0, you’re the only star in the event, versus having to share the same space with 10 other companies in that jersey you’re sponsoring for $1500.

So yeah. It is fun and sometimes even childish and quacky (as Pedro C put it in the last post) but just because it is what it is doesn’t mean we’re headed for another bust. Having barely survived the last one, I have to remind myself of that too sometimes. These events are not only sensible, they are actually cost-effective from a marketing standpoint. I have to keep these things in mind to ward off Post-Bubble Stress Disorder, let loose, and have fun.


Lunch2.0 at Simply Hired

June 29, 2007

I got there late, but I made it in line.

No, not the iPhone line in Palo Alto. The Butter Chicken, Samosa and Naan line at Simply Hired’s Lunch2.0 event.

Met a few new people and caught up with a few familiar faces. Had to avoid certain people because I saw them reloading their Simply Hired water gun.

But d’oh I am back in my iPhone fever again so I can’t write a coherent post…so I’m just going to make a list.

Why Simply Hired is my most special Lunch2.0 yet.

1) I got lost on my way there. I drove around Google Country back and forth on Charleston Road for heaven knows how long before I finally pulled over and consulted Google Maps which told me that Simply Hired was on the other Charleston Road.

2) For 35 minutes while looking for Simply Hired, I was not thinking about the iPhone.

3) I met a few new people who aren’t really new we were just never really introduced. Finally met Terry Chay.

4) Someone approached me with a Lunch2.0 Moo Card and asked “is this you?” That made me feel special.

5) I learned how to make a tie-dye shirt. Step #1: soak it in water first. Very important. I ruined a perfectly good Simply Hired shirt because I skipped this step.

6) I learned the rules of Four Square. Holly Liu and Michael Li were kind enough to explain it to me.


Lunch2.0 at Ning

June 17, 2007

Went to Lunch2.0 at Ning last Thursday and as usual, had a great time.

Out of all the Lunch2.0s I’ve gone to I was looking forward to Ning’s the most because I’m actually a member of several networks there such as Ning Network Creators, Lunch2.0, World Wide Mac and the Recruiting Network, and one that I created as part of a project.

How active I am in those networks is another question. I accept almost all reasonable invitations to join a network, but never really participate except in a couple like Ning Network Creators because there’s definitely value to it. It’s where I get quick answers from Ning CEO Gina Biancini herself, and where I can communicate with her what kind of features I would like to see in their next release.

I joined Ning back when they barely had five pages of social networks back in February and now they have grown to about (if I have my numbers right) 40,000 social networks on just about anything you can think of.

Not sure how Ning’s volume compares with other white label social networking sites (Jeremiah Owyang has a running list of companies in this space) and I’ve looked at almost all of them. Now, I swear this is not the free lunch talking (the cold noodle salad with peanuts…whatever it’s called…was great), but comparing all the companies in that space in terms of ease of use, flexibility, pricing and features, I would say that Ning has the best product. (Someone remind me to post about what’s wrong with GoingOn which I’m not going to do here because this is a happy post.)

Oh. And it looks like Ning has a few more tricks. Just saw this today on TechCrunch.

Thanks again to Ning for hosting Lunch2.0.


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