Like it or not, Web 2.0 is heading for your network

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DavidM: Of the new products you are seeing, what percentage is hardware and what percentage is software? Is this following a trend and if so how steep is the curve?

Chris_Shipley: The vast majority is software because these are the most capital efficient businesses, usually. They require less investment and less time. Software distribution channels are wide open thanks to Internet/Web distribution. The dynamics have changed, certainly, but software has always outpaced hardware in terms of new products coming to market.

Moderator-Julie: Pre-submitted question: "DEMO has taken criticism (from competing start-up shows) for requiring demonstrators to pay for the right to demonstrate. Is this criticism valid?"

Chris_Shipley: First, let's be clear: DEMO is a product launch event. It is not a start-up show. It is true that some of the greatest innovation is coming from very early stage companies, and that the demonstrator fee charged by DEMO is a big bite for many young companies. Second, no one buys "the right to demonstrate." Only after a company is screened and deemed qualified is a company invited to participate. The cost of accepting that invitation is the demonstrator fee. But most importantly, the DEMO audience is a demanding one. They want to see products that come from companies that will be viable in the market. That fee, while not insignificant, is a pretty strong indicator that the company is investing in its product launch so that it can be a sustainable, viable competitor in the market.

So, is the criticism valid? I'm not sure there is a criticism. At best, it's an observation. DEMO is very transparent about its fees. The fees are clearly on the Web site and we stand by the value we deliver to our selected demonstrators and our audience. We're very clear in our contracts about the terms and conditions of participation. And we've never forced someone to sign a contract nor looked ill upon a company that chose not to participate. Other events have other business models that, presumably, work for them. Ultimately, I'm glad that there are diverse offerings for a diverse range of companies in various stages of growth.

TechieGirl: What's the feeling/outlook for VC funds these days? Do they have lots of money or are they holding back for election results and listening to reports of a soft economy? What types of technologies seem to be getting the most VC dollars (that you've noticed)?

Chris_Shipley: At the risk of repeating myself, I'd say again that the investor community is fairly conservative. But it's driven less by politics and macro economic trends than you might think. These firms are looking for businesses that "have the potential" for rapid growth and big payoff. Currently, many investors are looking to new markets, such as green tech, as open fields for innovation and growth. But generally, investors don't really put money into technologies, they put it into companies. Demonstrate a large addressable market, with a smart experienced team to take it on, and the potential for a big exit at the end, and you've got a fundable business/technology.

Alper Celik: I believe VCs are not cool, and really care more about money. I am an entrepreneur and I always want to work with an entrepreneurial-VC who is coming from the entrepreneurship and still has the feelings. On the other hand, "business angels" are a lot easier to work with. Where do you see yourself? Are you closer to an angel, VC or entrepreneurial-VC?

Chris_Shipley: VCs get painted as this class of person that's all about helping the entrepreneur and creating businesses and building companies. But let's be clear: VCs get paid to make money. That's their job. That's why they "care more about money." I'm not an investor and so I can be an advocate and advisor to entrepreneurs. I'm passionate about entrepreneurship, but also realistic about business building. So I see myself much more of an entrepreneur than anything else.

Pparker: Will we ever see mobile phone usage on the level of Japan? I'm thinking of the ubiquitous usage of texting and video, particularly amongst teens. In fact, are we at a point where if we culturally wanted to achieve that level, can we do it technologically? Or are we there, and I'm just too old to know it? ;>

Maybe you are too old, but that's not for me to say ;>. We'll see mobile phone use continue to rise. Whether it rises to the ubiquity of that in Japan or Korea, is as much to do with the business models of the carriers as it is with the culture of the user.


ititit3: Question regarding Mobile apps, future of mobile devices: Recently on Network World, Mitchell Ashley claimed the iPhone would soon become a flash in the cool tech pan with leaked details of Windows Mobile 7 OS -- what are your thoughts?

Chris_Shipley: Technology is always a horse race. Remember when the Trio was the hottest phone? This is how innovation works. One company works to trump another and the market responds. Let's hope Mobile 7 *is* really great. That will only spur Apple and others to push harder.

Chris_Shipley: Looks like time is running out. If I didn't get to your question here, keep an eye out to the DEMOletter blog, to my blog or, especially to the DEMO event at the end of the month. Hope to see you there and elsewhere online.

Moderator-Julie: Thank you for coming! Mark your calendars for our next chat at 2 p.m. ET

February 5 -- ITIL demystified with Third Sky's Lou Hunnebeck

More chats are on the way, too. Please watch for information about them in your Network World newsletters.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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