October 07, 2003

silicon valley 4.0

SV4.0 turned out to be a fun conference, despite the expected handwringing. The basic premise was, SV Version 1.0 was semiconductors, v2.0 was PCs, v3.0 was the Internet, so what will v4.0 be? Not-so-subtle subtexts included: what is the state of venture investing, the maturation of information technology, and will the Valley be where 4.0 happens at all?

And the answers are? A bit fuzzy, but:

* 4.0 is wireless, or biotech, or nanotech, or sensor nets, or the digital consumer, or a reinvigorated Internet sector, or some hybrid of these.

* VCs are still quite cautious, but also surprisingly optimistic about the next 6-18 months.

* Yes, IT is maturing. But Geoffrey Moore asserts we are now in "the indefinitely elastic middle", a long, productive period between the wild ramp-up of the tornado and the slow inevitable decline.

* The Valley is still relevant, especially because of the depth of talent, the entrepreneurial infrastructure, and the unparalleled access to capital. However, it's a global world, and India and China represent game-changing players on the world's tech stage.

Some notable sound bites (quotes are very approximate since I'm a lousy transcriber):

Judy Estrin, on being introduced as having helped Vint Cerf invent the Internet protocols: "There are already enough 'Fathers of the Internet'; Vint Cerf was leading a group developing TCP, and I was the masters student who got up early in the morning to test the link to London"

John Sculley: "Not going to the Intel platform was one of the biggest strategic mistakes Apple ever made"

Geoffrey Moore: "Remember, 1.0, 20. and 3.0 are still here...now you have a bigger canvas to paint on"

Mike Moritz, on the secret of Sequoia Capital's investing success: "Staying awake"

Rich Karlgaard, coining a phrase after a rant by Heidi Roizen: "Now we have Roizen's Rule: 'A bad software company costs 3 times as much as a good software company'"

Janice Roberts: "The days of Super Bowl commercials for pre-revenue companies, are over"

Best talks of the day: Geoffrey Moore, Rethinking Innovation (he was kind enough to post his slides, what a class act)

Joseph Chamie, director of demographics for the UN ("I have 191 country bosses"), who stole the show from the venture business cats who were his fellow panelists. Some choice bits:

* "You need to understand, there is a new international population order"
* World population growth is happening in the developing nations; by 2050 India will have 1.5 billion people. The entire European Union growth in all of 2000 was equalled by India in the first 6 days of the year
* The US will have 400M people by 2050
* There will be many new "longevity millionaires" living more than 1 million hours (114+ years)
* Women are moving into the labor force globally, which will effectively double Earth's mental capacity
* In 2050, world pop ~9 billion, stabilizing around 10B in 2100
* They are starting to look at 300 year forecasts (!)

A few intriguing demos were shown:

* Mirra (get one. just do it)
* IXI Mobile's "Personal Mobile Gateway" (SW platform play putting server and router on phones/personal bricks and gatewaying to low cost specialized devices on the PAN)
* ManyOne Network (Joe Firmage's attempt to create Web 2.0 by doing a graphical 3D capable caching browser, seemed kind of spacey but maybe that's just Joe)
* Treo 600 and the Brain (Jeff Hawkins shows off the cool new Treo, and speaks mysteriously about a revolution in understanding the neocortex and modelling it in silicon)

Plus good chow, good networking, and a surprise appearance by my old pal Roseanne.

Posted by Gene at October 7, 2003 11:37 PM | TrackBack
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