Friday, March 23, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Los Angeles ~ by JoAnna Minneci

There is so much to tell you about! In the interest of saving bandwidth, I'll skip any introduction and get right into the thick of it:

March 2, 2001

WebWomenLA had their first official meeting at Fu's restaurant in West LA on March 2nd. It was wonderful to see synergy in such a large group of people. The meeting's attendees had a common goal - to establish themselves as an entity for women in New Media in Los Angeles. Many of the people there had migrated from WebGrrls-LA, and aren't looking back. The group is so new they don't even have a website yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Vojo @ Manhattan Beach
March 8, 2001

Don't let the cute name fool you--networking at a Vojo event is serious business. I'd been in meetings since 7:30am that day, so at one point, I leaned against a pillar for a moment's rest...and was immediately approached by a friendly woman who took advantage of the fact that I wasn't already talking to someone, and started a conversation with me.

Here's a funny anecdote that made the rounds at this event: A pair of men approached a professionally dressed woman having an animated conversation with a small group. The men introduced themselves, and asked if they could join the conversation. She rebuked them saying, "I'm having a conversation here!" and turned away. The guys shrugged, backed away and moved on. Turns out this woman and her group of flight attendant friends were just having a drink at the hotel bar, and weren't Vojo networkers! The guys didn't even realize the women weren't wearing nametags! OOPS!

I would heartily recommend attending this group's events, which are scattered all over the Southland. Everyone (save the flight attendant!) was friendly, open and polite. Have your business cards at the ready, and lots of 'em. Leave your shyness at home and practice one of your most important business skills at Vojo!

Finally, It's not a secret, as far as I can tell, but I'm often here's the answer: Vojo doesn't mean anything. I talked with Tim Stinson (co-founder, Vojo) and he told me that it was catchy, pronounceable, and available as a domain. Hey, whatever works!

Spring Internet World
March 14-16, 2001

"Somber" is the word I'd choose to describe the vibe at iWorld this year.

I met up for lunch with my "Pasadena Partner", Kyrsten Johnson (read her article below!) and we started our day with lunch at the Original Pantry. We walked in at 1pm and were seated among a crowd of badge-wearing boys carrying big black bags of tchotchke. chach·ka or tchotch·ke n. Slang A cheap, showy trinket. Some booth workers were kind of stingy with their loot: At one booth, Kyrsten actually filled in a form with everything short of her blood type in order to get a "fun-size" candy bar. At another however, a man was passing out foam lizards on a "leash", and he couldn't give them away to the greedy crowd fast enough. Those lizards were a hit!

The best piece of schwag I got was an iMac-red retractable phone cord, compliments of iAsiaWorks. The girl working the booth was very friendly and polite and gave me my choice of a baseball cap, t-shirt (I had a personal moratorium on t-shirts for this event!) or the RJ-11 cord. That was a no-brainer.

There are plenty of places you can read up on what happened & what didn't... but I will share with you some comments I collected:

"There was a lot of elbow room," said Alan Elmont, partner in the recruiting firm of SEPA Systems, LLC. "I was working the floor and everyone is hiring salespeople, not techies."

"I went yesterday afternoon, and it was just about the quietest show I've ever attended. No sense of excitement or exuberance anywhere (though the kids banging drumsticks in the big Genuity "machine" were trying awfully hard) Liz Fuller, Leaping Lizard Productions

"The companies that should have been in the "exhibit hall ghetto" were right up front with the big guys, and there were lots of open spaces in the back." (Anonymous overheard quote)

I cut out of there at around 4:30, hoofing it back to my parking space so I could dump my big black bag before beginning the parties.

Tier One's post-party at the Hotel Figueroa
A refreshing light dinner was to be had at the Tier One party. Catering was done by La Salsa, and there was a three-piece mariachi serenading us. Networking was sparse as the population, but I did get to talk to a few people I've seen around. Ray Goldsmith, (account executive, AT&T), enjoyed a cigar and a Corona poolside. (Although the invitations said "swimming suits optional", nobody opted for a dip)

I was greeted by Don Baarnes and Greg Faciane early on, but they were deep in conversation the rest of the evening, and I didn't want to interrupt.

I also ran into Linda Thurman, (president, NTV: The Television Cooperative) who was excited about the following night's open meeting at iWorld. Linda explained that NTV is a cooperative for the distribution of traditional and New Media content on cable.

Said Cindy McMahen (owner, Nexus Interactive), "I'd have to say [the Tier One party] was good for me. Although there were fewer people than I expected, I connected with some interesting folks, and I met another SEO expert. I enjoyed a quick bite while resting my aching feet -- and made it home with plenty of time kiss the kids g'night."

VIC's post-party at the Mayan
Showing up at around 7:30, I found free parking at a meter. Last year's "wrap around the building" line was non- existent - I walked right in. There were plenty of hot hors d'oeuvres and not much of a line for those either.

There was a very energetic woman leading a drum circle, and at one point, a man in the middle of the dance floor was twirling two glowing schwag yo-yo's in around-the-world fashion, as if he were a fire-dancer. He didn't hit anyone.

Keep in mind, I'm comparing this year's event with last year's, when it was so crowded you'd be wearing more of your drink than you drank...My personal speculation about the reason that not as many people were there: a $20 admission fee is kind of steep when you're an out-of-work dot-com refugee.

The second level was reserved for non-profit exhibit space, and I recognized a few faces there, as well. One face I didn't see was that of the founder of VIC, Brad Nye. I heard he was there, but that he'd cut his trademark ponytail so I probably wouldn't have recognized him anyway.

The quality of people was was the quantity that was lacking: I had a fun chat with Bill Rini, of Web405 notoriety (I say that with affection, Bill!) discussing the ins and outs of public transportation in France. Also went into the finer points of Harry Potter with Matthew Burgess and his girlfriend Kat.

The most obscure part of the evening was the impromptu meeting in the ladies' room, where I met up with
LeeAnn Webster ("Queen of Fun" Single Solutions). While we were talking, we drew three other lipstick-applying women into our conversation. Rubi, Clerisse and Robin exchanged business cards with us, and we all promised to keep in touch. Boys, you can KEEP your golf course. Give me a good girly-chat in the bathroom any day. That's where the real business takes place!

So much for brevity, but how do you cover Internet World in 750 words? I'll have more for you next week, with my first-hand perspective of Rocktails and the second edition of the Layoff Lounge.

Best regards,