Tuesday, May 04, 1999

Silicon Alley Breakfast Club - Esther Dyson

 "The high priestess of what's around the corner" was how Alan Brody
 introduced one of the industry's most sought-after pundits, Esther
 Dyson, at his May 4th Silicon Alley Breakfast Club meeting at the
 Marriott Marquis. She took the podium and graciously told Alan he
 we should all go home now after that intro, deferring her own
 credibility, but we stayed on to hear her thoughts. And it was well
 worth it to stay. Esther chronicled the history of organizations
 involved in domain href registration and how ICANN (Internet
 Corporation for Assigned hrefs and Numbers) evolved. She told us
 how she was approached in Washington and asked if she would
 hypothetically be interested in being the interim Chair for a
 hypothetical organization that would be formed to take over
 responsibility for the "IP address space allocation, protocol parameter
 assignment, domain href system management, and root server system
 management functions now performed under U.S. Government
 contract by IANA and other entities." She accepted. After a lot of
 examination and re-evaluation they created ICANN and began to give
 Network Solutions (the big hairy gorilla) a little competition. Esther
 was quoted as saying at a press event: "one small step for three
 domains [.com, .net, .org] and one giant step for domains at large."

 Alan was eager to have Esther tell everyone what people at her famed
 PC Forum conference said about Silicon Alley. Honestly, Esther,
 replied to him, "they didn't think much about New York and Silicon
 Alley." She wanted the conference to be a "back to reality" check, but
 people wouldn't be serious and instead everyone was happy. Oh darn!
 Esther did say that "this industry is nuts right now. There is too little
 money chasing too few ideas chasing too few managers. It won't last,
 so enjoy it while it lasts." Basically she cites the advertising agencies
 as the ones who are funding Silicon Alley, but the business models
 don't work. People are applying an advertising model to a direct
 marketing industry. Advertising delivers the promise of the brand, the
 web can deliver the brand. The web has real value -- you can use it to
 check airline schedules, buy a movie ticket or book, order a meal or a
 car or a shirt, transact business. Esther encouraged the audience to get
 involved with ICANN if they were interested, and despite hearing
 elevators screeching up and down the vast unacoustical lobby, it
 seems as if she kept the audience suspended in attention. Some of the
 guests who came out for this early meeting were the Humor Network
 guys, Randy Zane and Kenneth Kaplan of PC Expo, Renaissance
 multimedia (a sponsor), John Murphy of mPRm and Howie Schwartz
 of Antidote Systems.