A Healthy Skepticism about Web 2.0

The strongest impression that was made on me during the Web 2.0 Conference last week was that of enthusiasm. People are excited about the new developments, the new opportunities, and the new creation cycle that is currently happening in the Web 2.0 space. And I do understand and agree with this enthusiasm. However, it did strike me that a majority of the conversations and presentations that I saw lacked a healthy sense of skepticism that should correspond with any new company, initiative, or trend. It seemed, at times, like much of the zeal was taken at face value, without a critical eye given to ideas.

That being said, there are notable exceptions, some of which are turning up in the blogosphere (Fred Wilson, Om Malik). I thought that it was interesting to note that John Battelle, who helped organize the entire hyped-up event, is launching his new company underneath and away from the public display of excitement and enthusiasm that he helped create over the past couple days. It was his sobering remark in the last few hours of the conference about his wanting to avoid getting caught up in the hype this time around that I believed signified a sobering closure to the event. Even this man, who orchestrated the entire conference, has the perspective this time around to realize the difference between marketing spin and potentially genuine opportunity.

I hope that during this next boom we remember to critically test all ideas and notions with a healthy skepticism. I didn’t sense much of it over the past few days in San Fran, but I suspect that it will follow after the lessons we’ve learned.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.