A Night a VLAB: The Social Networking Widget Money Tree –a Green Sapling with Fruit to Bear

(Me, giving opening remarks, pic from Julio of Oracle)

The VLAB event last night was a success. What’s VLAB? A non-profit group that sponsors ongoing panels and talks around the subject of business and technology at Stanford and co-sponsored with MIT. I met many of the volunteers and organizers, a good group of folks. Thanks for joining the Shaking the Money Tree of Multi-Platform Social Networks hosted by VLAB.

I kicked off the event as the moderator last night, I gave a very short ‘industry level’ discussion about the social networking space and lead with these high level slides. It was followed by a presentation from RockYou, an applications developer network, then Social Media, a “meta” network for developers, then the panel which included, Sourabh Niyogi, Co-Founder & Vice President of Engineering, SocialMedia, Kevin Marks, Developer Advocate, OpenSocial, Jia Shen, Co-Founder & CTO, RockYou, Steve Cohen, Head of Platform, Bebo, and Ken Gullicksen, Managing Partner, Morgenthaler Ventures.

The topic of the evening? Finding monetization in the next phase of widgets being spread on multiple social networks. We were “shaking the money tree” the tree being the social networking space. At the end of the evening, I came to the conclusion the money tree is small, a sapling really, yet on this tree we’re seeing small buds of potential growth. In most cases, the successful applications are self-expression or entertainment, and we’re just starting to see some applications around utility spring forth.

One rule, the money in the social networking space can’t be from acquisitions, it needed to be long term revenues generated from creating value. The event was sold out, (over 350 registered) and folks came out despite the rainstorm and the heavy traffic from the Bill Gates speech next door. The event was video taped, so I’ll point to it once it’s live, hang tight.

In the meantime read what Kevin Marks from Google wrote, he observed that the key take away was to be Organic, not Viral. Shannon expands upon the conversation, and even discusses some of his upcoming projects. Ken Kaplan shares his notes.

For a detailed blow by blow on the event, Lawrence went out of his way (bus trip and all) to attend the event, read his detailed notes. Foldier blogged their thoughts about the event, and think their product will align nicely.

Despite this industry being young and green, spring is right around the corner, expect growth, innovation, and some real business utility to come out of this blossoming tree –we all hope to soon taste some fruit.

(Tagged vlabfeb08. If you blog about the event, leave a comment and I’ll include your link)

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