Friday, February 19, 1999

Harvard's Cyberposium '99

SPECIAL EDITION: The report from Cyberposium '99

 There're a few things I learned at Harvard this weekend. If you don't mind not
 sleeping much and if you move quickly, you might just make it in this Internet industry.
 There was a lot of attention being placed upon serving the consumer, and you must
 stay focused while always keeping moving. The Cyberposium '99, a joint effort
 between HBS's High Tech and New Media Club, 35 sponsors and 30 partner school
 programs drew 1,000 attendees for the weekend brain-meld at Harvard's Business
 School campus in Cambridge. Friday night, February 19th started off with a banner,
 rousing speech by's Guy Kawasaki. So impactful was Mr. Kawasaki's
 cheer, "Churn, Baby, Churn" that it became a mantra for the rest of the symposium.

 Directly after the rah-rah rally, Ken Morse of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center
 continued in the "go-get-'em" them vein with the introduction to the Entrepreneurial
 workshops. I sat in on two. People were packed in like sardines for "Starting Up &
 Starting Out" where one of the sound bytes was "self promotion is a great thing." The
 larger hall with the "Intrapreneurship in the Larger Company" panel drew a significant
 crowd too. Robert Rosenberg, director new ventures group, Lucent Technologies all
 conveyed the advantages of having the freedom to do the creative work without
 having to worry about the business and financial aspects of running a company. Tony
 Fadell, VP business development, Philips Consumer Electronics, said that Philips
 decided the only way to compete against startups was to be one too. Two
 departments, External Ventures, which invests in outside companies, and Internal
 Ventures, which gives money to Philips internal groups to spawn a new company are
 two ways they help ideas within and outside the corporate structure bloom.

 Networking went on into the night at a party at the Cybersmith café. Mitchell (who's
 call to fame is also ""), Andres Glusman, Peter Figueredo and Myles
 Weissleder of I-traffic were out in force, skiing on virtual rides and meeting other
 attendees like Eric Tilenius, co-founder NetCentives. I also met last year's
 Cyberposium's co-chairs, who also serve on this year's Board of Advisors, Jill
 Schaeffer (now at Pandesic) and Phil Terry, (now at McKinsey & Co.).

 Bright and early on the crisp Saturday morning (Feb. 20th), roughly 400 attendees
 absorbed Carly Fiorina's speech. As group president, global service provider business,
 Lucent Technologies, Fiorina had a full bag of statistics on how the Internet, which she
 feels is the most important development in history, has changed the world. Consider
 this--it took one century to install the world's first 700 million phone lines and that
 Lucent expects an additional 700 million to be deployed over the next 15-20 years and
 every minute 5 million e-mails are sent. (Wow! And I thought I had a full in-box!)
 When asked about the Lucent/Cisco battle, Fiorina acknowledged Cisco's monopoly on
 traditional data networking systems, but heralded Lucent's excellence in service
 capabilities and how to put a network together. Closing words of advice to MBA's and
 entrepreneurs were to choose your aspirations wisely; it makes all the difference in the
 world when you manage people.

 Right on the heels of this statistic-intense morning keynote was a lively panel
 discussion titled "Attackers vs. Defenders: The New Media Wars." Julie Fenster, VP,
 business affairs, Time Inc. New Media, spoke out right away citing that Time Inc. isn't
 a defender, but an attacker too. And the debate was off! While there were mild
 introductions from the panelists, which also included David Risher, senior VP, product
 development,, Charles Moldow, VP, sales and marketing, @Home and
 Chris Hill, managing director, Europe, AOL International, agreements were soon set
 aside. Mr. Moldow reminisced on when he was at HBS in '91 and first learned about
 "co-opetition." This theory needs to be more alive today than ever, to help this industry
 grow to the next stage. Ms. Fenster followed with "it's incumbent upon all of us to
 educate the rest of the world about" the Internet. Then all hell began breaking loose:
 Charles began with subtle and not-so-subtle attacks at AOL and its policies on and
 how customers can't keep their e-mail addresses even if they quit the service and how
 difficult AOL makes it to actually close the account. He became more pointed as
 Chris smiled, took the punches politely but responded with appropriate and meaningful
 mugs and grimaces. Sometimes you just have to give the audience a show. And it got
 even more hilarious when Louise Price, a Columbia Business School student was
 caught "stealing" another attendee's seat after asking a question. (She more than made
 up for any embarrassment by asking a good question herself and co-hosting a fantastic
 panel on Financing Strategies later in the day.)

 All panelists agreed that at this point, every company is an attacker and a defender,
 and that the title of the panel is a bit of a distraction from just focusing on serving the
 consumer. Just because an early bird had it lucky to establish a brand in the
 marketspace, you must always keep moving and stay focused. It is dangerous to get

 Product demos of Cross Pen, InterVu, the new Intel Free PC, and others occurred
 during the lunch break. The afternoon was filled with four panels in four tracks that
 kept the mind and pen busy.

 Last year's Cyberposium CTO Melissa Grossman (now at iXL), chief community
 officer Kristen Badgley (now at Proxicom), Jill Schaeffer and others held an
 impromptu panel on "How to get a job OR How to create a job OR How to create a
 job for yourself and others." This well-attended panel lead into the first track I
 attended "If We Build It, Will They Come?" moderated by Annette Tonti,
 Cyberposium '99 Board of Advisors and president of Speakers Sandy
 Pentland, academic head, MIT Media Laboratory, Paul Cooper, CEO and co-founder,
 Perceptual Robotics and John Patrick, VP, Internet technology, IBM Corporation gave
 introductions about their companies and their interests. Paul responded to the panel
 title with, "Try it! Build it, they will come, and if they don't you have the luxury of short
 reaction time so you can change it." He also warned that if you want to have a
 business on the Internet, you have to be able to accept public failure. John's response
 to the topic was, "not necessarily" but paid tribute to the very strong economic
 statement in the power of a mouse click." Sandy revealed that there are more people
 with computers than the statistics reveal--his rationale was that even cell phones and
 all the other little devices we carry around with us have computers. Paul encouraged
 everyone to NOT put up with lousy technology--hearing bad audio and seeing a
 "dancing postage stamp" is not acceptable. John recounted how it's the younger
 generations that aren't putting up with current privacy policies. The web is real-time
 market research, and you must be able and willing to change your product or service
 quickly. Again the themes of serving the consumer and ease-of-LIFE came up to give
 students something to think about.

I couldn't resist showing support for a fellow Alley-er and listened in on the "On-line
 Branding" panel with local hero Scott Heiferman of I-traffic. His counterparts on the
 panel were Peter Blackshaw, brand manager, interactive marketing, Proctor &
 Gamble, Jay Thomas, director of digital media, Levi Strauss & Company and Robert
 Cosinuke, senior VP/marketing director, Strategic Interactive Group. Moderator
 Professor John Deighton, Marketing department, HBS tried to rile up the group a bit
 with positioning the clients against the agencies. Scott hoisted his chair above his head,
 but the other panelists shrugged it off with a laugh. The discussion covered branding to
 bonding (with products). Jay spoke of how popular brands with previous generations
 doesn't guarantee future success and the panelists struggled with the challenge of
 keeping customers.

Chris Charron, senior analyst, media & technology strategies at Forrester, moderated a
 panel with Elizabeth Collett, Yahoo!, Ted Philip, Lycos, Inc. Fred Singer, ICQ, Inc.
 and Adam Taylor, MSN/Microsoft to a room of nearly 600 attendees. "Portalmania:
 Are the Deals Worth the Hype?" was obviously a topic of major concern. I briefly
 saw Sarah Holloway, executive director of MOUSE, before she spoke on a different
 panel devoted to discussing access issues for "the other half." David Turnbull and a
 handful of other NYU Stern School of Business students were attending the
 Cyberposium and probably taking notes for their upcoming conference on Friday,
 February 26th at NYU for Technology and MBAs.

The final panel I attended, "Financing Strategies for High Technology Startups," also
 drew a major crowd. The lively Christine Comaford, managing director at Artemis
 Ventures moderated and probed the panelists Whitney Bower, Geocapital Partners,
 Steve Harrick, Highland Capital Partners, Robert Zangrillo, Strategic Global partners
 and Internet Technology Partners, John Hanely, Lucent Venture Partners and Richard
 Vierira, Broadview for good answers. Key elements they look for in a good startup? A
 strong management team, how do they present themselves, what's the space? what's
 the experience of the team, the reality of the business plan, and differentiation. Each
 panelist covered what specifically they look for, how much percentage they take, their
 idea of proper management and the relationship with new companies.

If the attendance of the post-symposium career networking reception is even a mild
 indicator of the success and endurance of attendees and sponsors, the Cyberposium
 '99 needle is way over 100%. Thought-full and provoking panels led by strong industry
 leaders and with seasoned and strong industry players created a hotbed for intellectual
 stimulation and probably began the incubation for not just a few new hot companies!

 Two Killer Apps to Consider: 1. Devices to help you control what information you get,
 how you get it, and when. (Carly Fiorina) 2. Wearable apps (watches that with the
 push of one button tells you where the nearest restaurant is, makes a reservation, and
 then where the nearest public toilet is) (Sandy Pentland)

 [Apologies to my readers. In the process of sending out last week's column and getting
 to Boston, there were a few discrepancies. You may have noticed my editor's notes
 and a different e-mail address. I had my father and a friend help dispatch the edition,
 and--Christine Quinn won the election, Kibo is Kenny Schaeffer and Alla Kliouka's