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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Seattle Startups... 

I went to the the TechCrunch Seattle party last night. It was sooo much fun. Seattle has a great and growing startup community. Highlights below...

First, I got to chat with Michael Arrington -- and he remembered me from Mix06! That was a party highlight, now i need to follow-up with that e-mail on our demos :)

I ran into a ton of people I met at MindCamp 2.0. I'm so glad that I went to mindcamp -- even though I'm not a coder, the people I met were great and they are doing really interesting things. One of the sessions I went to (at mindcamp - back to the party in a second) was about building a startup - led by the folks from has since become one of my favorite people. My big take away from that session was that keeping your startup concept secret isn't worth it. Their point was that if you are working on it and passionate, sharing the idea will get you feedback and ideas -- and in reality people can't just steal your idea. You're working on the execution and others typically have interest but aren't motivated enough or driven by the depths of the passion you have in your idea to drive it. Net-Net: Super secret startups should be a thing of the past. I saw that reflected last night. People were excited to talk about what they were working on, and wanted to share ideas and think about how to tackle the big problems (genetic algorithms anyone?)

Some Cool Seattle Startups: - remeber to pay your friends back. They are targeting college students and have figured out that early adopter techy people aren't their target market. :) Gaurav promises that cool schwag is on its way (will they follow the trend and have their t-shirts printed on american apparel?). Perhaps it will find its way into the next valleyschwag?
farecast - they are still in private beta, but from what i can tell it looks like a neat concept - basically you put in information on a flight you'd like to purchase today and it forecasts whether the price is likely to go up or down tomorrow/next week -- so you can purchase when it is at the lowest price. I only got to play with it for a minute, but i'm hoping it has time specifity built in because the probability of a flight on Friday night from Seatac to SFO going up is likely (since they sell out), but the mid-day flights are probably likely to stay the same. So the day-time relationship is key. - wishlists that build upon individual asks and mass user data to predict gifting (i think). hmm. Sounded like Personally, i still like the amazon wishlist function. Not that anyone buys from my very outdated wishlist! If they can get the predictability stuff done that would be cool -- it would be great to say "i need a gift for my best friend - she's 29, a mom and likes gadgets - what do you recommend?" And then they'd find cool stuff for me to get her given her demographic. Right now i just browse mightygoods and bookmark any possibly cool item that maggie finds. - they sponsored the party - thanks for the pizza and hefeweizen! Redfin is also about figuring out ways to sell your house leveraging online marketing. They charge 1% (as opposed to 3%) of the cost or a flat $2K fee depending on the services you want (i think).The idea is neat here, but i'm still not sure how the costs work out...They also just launched in the SF Bay Area housing i'm gonna watch that...definitely filing them under my "this could be useful soon category"

What would a 2.0 party be without competition? was there in full-force. I still love how they price my house and their tools are so easy to use.

Of course there were loads of microsoft people - from vista, from live (did you know live is evil backwards? kinda funny right? i don't know how i missed that. we should so have a LIVEEVIL t-shirt.) And a smattering of Amazon peeps and I think one Google person (where are the google people? they must be coding their beta software ;-)

I also got to hang with Chris Pirillo. I love chris - he's so passionate and I think he's convinced me to go to Gnomedex. He's pretty frustrated with the lack of "fit & finish" in Vista right now... and to see him provide live feedback to the members of the vista team was great. Fit & Finish is one of the things we've really got to focus on at MS, definitely one of my frustrations. Lately I think the challenge is around converting "data and function" into "information and utility" ... more on that to come ...

The only downside to the party was the heat in the room. It was steamy hot. And not in a good way.

Flickr pics are here.