Cloud Computing: Ballmer, Dell, Benioff Take Center Stage at Web 2.0 Summit
Meet the Co-hosts
John Battelle and Tim O'Reilly warm up the audience with their explanation of the event's theme: "the data frame."
Parker, who co-founded the Napster music service, discussed the challenges and potential in the digital music space, particularly for music power Spotify. He also denied Facebook has a lingering privacy problem. "There's good creep and there's bad creepy," he said about Facebook. Parker also said it would be tough for Google+ to compete with Facebook because of the natural order of network effects. "Facebook would have to screw up royally, and Google would have to do something really smart."
Following Parker was eBay CEO John Donahoe, whose online auction company just unveiled X.commerce, which lets programmers build virtual shopping carts, payment services, inventory control and tax-management services. "The wall between e-commerce and retail is crumbling stunningly fast," said Donahoe, adding that X.commerce is intended to be the operating system for shopping. However, he told Battelle eBay does not compete with Amazon. eBay, Donahoe said, will not make tablet computers. Donahoe also doesn't worry about Google Wallet and Offers as a rival. There's plenty of e-commerce pie, he believes.
Benioff, who sparred with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison earlier this month after his appearance at Oracle OpenWorld was canceled, said Facebook is becoming the next vision of a consumer operating system. That is one reason why Salesforce.com acquired Ruby on Rails application developer Heroku, which enables developers to build applications inside Facebook. Benioff sees the data frame as one that encompasses the cloud, mobility and social networking.
Dell CEO Michael Dell was the headliner early Tuesday, Oct. 18. Dell said changes in technology necessitated his return to the helm at Dell in 2007. He emphasized that Dell is committed to the consumer business. Battelle asked Dell what he thinks of what's going on with HP, which is in turmoil. "I think any uncertainty or confusion that exists is an opportunity," Dell answered with complete diplomacy. He added that there's "no question" Dell is realizing opportunities due to the uncertainty at the rival. Dell recalled his youthful days when he set up a bulletin board system on his Apple II computer, which set the stage for his use of Facebook and Twitter today.
Gross, who is credited with creating paid inclusion for ads, Overture and several other companies, unveils Chime.in, a new social-media software tool. Chime.in offers selective sharing, which enables users to follow only certain things based on the interests of their fellow users. Chime.in has partnered with several companies, including Comcast, E! Entertainment and others. GigaOm has a good Q&A with Gross about Chime.in.
Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley said his location-based check-in service recently surpassed 10 million downloads. He also said he was satisfied with the number of users who are using Foursquare regularly. He also noted that he was at a loss about what to do on Twitter early on, which is why he's not panicking that users aren't taking up the service the way, say, users have flocked to Facebook, Twitter and Google+. He believes Foursquare Radar, an application that lets users take advantage of contextual information to let other Foursquare users know what's going on nearby, will see broad adoption on Apple iOS devices. He also doesn't fear Facebook because he doesn't believe they will do everything in social better than anyone else.
Ben Horowitz, general partner of the young but powerful Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, talks about how he wanted to create a firm that helps technical product founders become CEOs rather than boot the product guys in favor of an MBA. "We want to build the lasting franchises," Horowitz explained. He also had a lot of praise for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the way the young leader has constructed his management team and product innovation cycle.
Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers partner Mary Meeker provides her Internet report, including this handy little breakdown of Google Android versus Apple iOS smartphone and tablet market share worldwide. Note how this chart compares Amazon's e-reader share to that of Apple's iPad tablet. Androids tablet share is so tiny it isnt even a factor. See Meeker's full Internet Report.
Google Ventures Managing Partner Bill Maris (seated right) and Ventures team member Graham Spencer (seated left) discussed what they're trying to do with Google Ventures, the company's venture capital arm. Spencer said that when he and his team hear pitches from start-ups, he applies a formula to determine whether to take the company on as an investment. These guys have cachet. Maris was a biotechnology and health care portfolio manager for Investor AB. Spencer co-founded and served as CTO at Excite.com, and co-founded JotSpot, which was acquired by Google.
Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America had some news: The Sony PlayStation Vita handheld gaming device. The device, which Sony demonstrated here, will be available in North America, Europe and Latin America Feb. 22, 2012.
La Dolce Vita
The PlayStation Vita leverages the cloud to allow users to start playing a game on the Vita and pick it up later on the Sony PlayStation 3. The portable gaming unit has a 5-inch touch-screen and two cameras. It will cost $249 for the WiFi version and $299 for an AT&T 4G version.
Microsoft's irrepressible CEO Steve Ballmer touts the rise in the company's search market share from 7 percent in 2009 when the company launched its refreshed Bing search engine to roughly a 15 percent search share today. He added that Bing's internal studies show 70 percent of the time users don't care where their search results come from, while 15 percent of the time they prefer Bing and 15 percent of the time they prefer Google. He also said the recent acquisition of Skype is a type of social play that will connect people with others. Battelle also asked Ballmer whether he's glad Microsoft didn't buy Yahoo for $44 billion in 2008. The audience laughed at the irony of the question, as Yahoo recently fired its last CEO Carol Bartz and continues to lose money. Ballmer threw his arms up and said, "Times change... Sometimes, you're lucky. That said, there's a lot of good things at Yahoo." He added that he was proud to call them a partner. Ballmer also said Microsoft is competing against and beating Google Apps in terms of applications in the cloud. As usual, Ballmer pulled no punches in his appearance.