Friday, May 04, 2007

SF New Tech Meetup

May has found a new home for the SF New Tech Meetup among the IMAXs and Starbucks of the Metreon Theater on Fourth. Amid the popcorn-munching delinquents and chai-swigging yuppies a steady flow of tech geeks, bloggers, and startup CEOS shuffled upstairs to discuss the latest and greatest in Bay Area online video technology. The free beer and bad-but-free pizza helped lubricate the scene, whose gender ratio was akin to the frat party demographic the hors d'oeuvre suggested. The atmosphere was quite congenial and I bumbled around as a blogger newcomer. Event coordinator and emcee Myles Weissleder deftly kept the show going despite no shortage of technical snafus and the honorable Om Malik presided over Q&A sessions.

Here's a quick recap of each presenter: & Robert Scoble - Since leaving Microsoft and the source of the material that made us all watch his inside view of the evil empire, Scoble has been casting around with the video podcast startup looking for a project that sticks. He now hosts "The Scoble Show" where he interviews developers and CEOs with the colloquial aplomb he honed at Channel 9. Last night he had little new to offer and admitted that he "thought [he] would find more good user-generated content." While PodTech still searches for a cohesive audience and market share, Scoble is still looking for quality content producers that might fit into the niche PodTech hopes to assume, whatever that exactly winds up being. Also, Scoble committed the geekiest self-call I've ever seen by referencing his own Wikipedia page. - While Murphy's Law conspired against Steve Rosenbaum's painful PowerPoint presentation, the founder and CEO spoke earnestly of his startup's ability to serve the layman's needs for video content. looks to help those who want video for their site, blog, or company but don't want to be in front of the camera or make the video themselves. Magnify looks to find existing video and allow you to curate your space with appropriately relevant videos. It sounds a lot like video clip art and as video becomes the standard everywhere I wonder how long viewers will tolerate generic video content. - Taking the opposite approach from Magnify, TurnHere connects a customer yearning for video content to a world wide network vetted filmmakers. Senior VP John McWeeny explained that TurnHere, working with a range of budgets, can produce video segments ranging from the local deli commercial to a tour of Hong Kong with InterContinental Hotel's concierge. TurnHere is also working with Google to use their videos as content overlay in the growing Google Earth/Maps system. - Any San Franciscan tech meetup wouldn't be complete without everyone's favorite lifecasting evictee. Kyle Vogt, the "MIT hacker" of the team, was on hand to give a history of technical challenges they have faced along the way including building their own content delivery network and totally redesigning Justin's streaming backpack setup. While Vogt wouldn't comment on any of their server-side architecture, the audience was quickly distracted when Vogt dialed up Justin, who was wandering the streets of LA and stopped to talk to the meetup in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater. The Q&A hit a high point when one excited female audience member asked "Is Justin available for house parties?" - Taking social networking mobile, wrapped up the evening with a technically flawless demo of its cell phone enabled system. Ideologically similar to Twitter, Kyte is different in that instead of being limited to 140 characters you're (currently) limited to 20 megs of video which you can shoot from your phone and upload live. You can them edit these video assets and publish them in an embed on your blog. Founder Daniel Graf showed how easy it was to upload content, post responses, chat with your audience, and even organize polls all inside Kyte. Many members of the audience pulled out their own phones and sent in pictures and text to the open channel Graf created during his presentation.

The entire event was broadcast live through Veodia's streaming technology and the friendly guys from the Palo Alto based start-up were playing the presentations back off an AppleTV directly after the event wrapped. A variety of voices were heard during the presentations as many took advantage of the "60 second soap box" and took the mic to address the ears of the Bay Area's tech community. Though the beer ran dry earlier than some (I) might have liked, the event showcased some interesting ideas in the wild world of online video.

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