Monday, July 18, 2005

Alwayson's Founder Says Valley Still "Athens of Information Age"

Tony did a Q&A for the business beat of the San Jose Mercury News that went to print Sunday:

Tony Perkins is the founder of AlwaysOn, a publishing group that runs a commentary and networking site at His group is organizing the AlwaysOn Innovation Summit at Stanford, to be held Tuesday through Thursday. Among other things, the conference will recognize what AlwaysOn and a team of judges have selected as the 100 top private companies. Perkins, who was also the founder of the former Red Herring magazine, recently spoke with Mercury News Staff Writer Matt Marshall about Silicon Valley's role in innovation, business in China and new forms of media. Here is an edited transcript of their conversation.
We think there are two bubbles going on. We think there's a Chinese bubble, and we think there is [laughs], ironically, somewhat of an open media bubble -- and we sit in the middle of that bubble.

If you look at the Chinese market like a sports writer, you'd see there aren't a lot of obvious private company horses emerging of significance. Not in terms of being tech leaders. However, in saying that, I would add China is still an opportunity because it represents a large number of buyers, and because you can get cheap software development and manufacturing there. So I think the Silicon Valley obsession with China right now is a good thing. But the day when we'll see China producing dozens of Silicon Valley-type emerging companies, in my opinion, is a long way off.
We're confident of our position, but we think there's a lot of irrational exuberance in the blogging and the whole area around it. When it comes to the open media bubble, as a journalist, I just see a large landscape of feature-based companies and ultimately they will serve a role in showing the word that wow, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) aggregation is a good thing, quick and easy Web publishing is a good thing, social networking under the right circumstances can be valuable. But it is going to take time for all of those features to come together, and if they are to be successful, they're all going to need to be bought by Google or Yahoo. Or we'll see a new Google come out of this generation, but it will be one of the few private companies that pulls a lot of features into a bigger idea. In the old days, companies used to be ridiculed as a one-product pony. Today, some of these guys are not even a product, but a one-feature pony.
(full article)

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