Dan Farber on Yahoo, Sun, and Web 2.0 Summit


In the press room at the Web 2.0 Summit, News.com editor in chief Dan Farber covers Day 2 of the grand old conference, now in its fifth year. Tim O’Reilly and program chair John Battelle have steered the conference from its beginnings as the Peer to Peer and then Emerging Tech conferences to a broadened agenda that tried to subsume the emerging enterprise conversation known as cloud computing.

Battelle’s conversation with Jerry Yang was noteworthy for Yang’s physical gestures – crouched forward in his seat with barely a glance of eye contact as he defended his tenure and ducked any sense of his posture regarding the future. As Farber indicates below, the CEO job is not one that leverages Yang’s strengths. Yang’s posture underlines the unlikelihood of a revived Microsoft deal any time soon given the missed window before the election when the deal could have worked.

The muted presence of Microsoft at the conference – absent from a Day 2 cloud computing panel with execs from Salesforce, Google, Adobe, and VMWare – was mitigated somewhat by a platform panel where Live Services’ David Treadwell traded barbs with Google’s Vic Gundotra (formerly of Microsoft.) But a conference-ending talk and conversation with AL Gore brought the more pressing issues of saving the world to the front and blurred the subtle tilt toward SIlicon Valley in tone if not substance.

Battelle’s skill in asking the news-worthy questions without expecting the answers brought enough clarity to keep the conference valid as a marker of the state of the technology union. While nothing will repeat the first year of the conference or even the upscale show biz quality of the next few, the emotional impact of the Obama election could be felt as O’Reilly and Battelle kept the focus on what to do with this stuff rather than solely swimming in the stream of industry politics. Gore set the tone we will remember in his oddly improvised talk, dabbing his eyes and face and looking a lot like Jesse Jackson trying hard not to burst out crying. This year’s Web 2.0 Summit turned out to be what Gore said it needed to be: a puppy with a purpose.