Maze of Twisty Little Startups: Tale of Two Events I Didn't Attend

DEMOfall08 and TechCrunch50 each took place this week in California. Each is a launchfest for tech startups. Here are a few of the things that struck me as I read about the events.

First, reading about the events is like a concentrated helping of startup soup, and many of the startups are variations on existing themes. Hence the post title’s reference to the famous line from Colossal Cave Adventure.

Second, the events reflect increasing emphasis on Enterprise 2.0 (the deployment of social media within the enterprise). We can see this reflection in Bernard’s preview of DEMO for RWW, and in Liz Gannes’ account of how enterprise software stole the show at TC50. OK, Liz was referring to the first day of TC50, but I get the impression that her point still held at the end of the event.

The TC50 jury prize went to Yammer, one of the startups featured in the enterprise session. Yammer is essentially Twitter for the enterprise. That’s not so much the third point as it is reinforcement for the first point (much about Yammer is familiar) and for the second point (Yammer is for the enterprise). What’s fresh about Yammer is the way it plans to make money while keeping the barrier to initial use low.

Anyone with a corporate email can sign up and follow other people in their company. But if a company wants to claim its users, and gain administrative control over them, they will have to pay. It’s a brilliant business model.

That’s almost enough, given that this is a second-hand account. There are many first-hand accounts. For example, here’s a list of links to the many GigaNET posts from the two events.

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