During the Churchill Club's ninth annual Top 10 Tech Trends Debate last month in Silicon Valley, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers legend John Doerr – best known for investing early in Compaq, Netscape, Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Amazon.com, and Google – observed that the venture capital industry funded more than twice as many Web 2.0-related deals in 2006, involving nearly twice as much money, as it did in 2005 – a trend that he did not expect to slow down any time soon.
At the same event Roger McNamee, cofounder and partner of Integral Capital Partners, called for "Web 2.0 applications that really move people's lives," which prompted Nexaweb's founder and CTO Coach Wei to blog that a company like his own provides an implementation of the fast-emerging Web 2.0 technology stack, which Wei defines as an Application Client Container | Internet Messaging Bus | Enterprise Mashup Server.
"I am lucky to be involved with quite a few Web 2.0 companies beyond Nexaweb (such as VisibleMeasures and HeyLetsGo)," wrote Wei. "I see tremendous untapped market/customer opportunities."
I was reminded of all this when reading VC Peter Rip's recent post on "the mainstreaming of Web 2.0" – a process that he contends is reached when there is no longer a profitable point of friction between the Present and the Future:
"Profits accumulate in the gap between What Is and What Is Possible. Web 2.0 is now firmly in the category of What Is."
Rip goes on to map the next stage of building out of the New Web:
"The hard problems in the vision of a true web-as-platform involve all the usual hard computer science issues. How can we normalize information from disparate sources to make it interoperable? How do we get to a lingua franca without waiting for moribund standards (think CORBA and SOA)? How can we then manage the transition of legacy information and services into this world of interoperability?"
According to Chad Jackson too, Web 2.0 is "the current stepping stone in the evolutionary process to the future where media is completely integrated and user-interaction becomes effortless."
Tim O'Reilly, whose "Blogger's Code of Conduct" recently made it to the front page of The New York Times, flags up that the real issue, while we wait for that future, is that "there is still huge opportunity in bringing Web 2.0 principles to mainstream business."
"I was at Thomson (Westlaw etc.) last week, and they are studying Web 2.0 like there is no tomorrow, and getting a good understanding of how it will apply to their business. Ditto many other mainstream companies. Salesforce.com is working hard to build a business platform for network applications, and I'm sure that there are others."
"Where are the enterprise applications?" O'Reilly continues, before adding:
"What does the open, network-enabled supply chain look like? What does the Web 2.0 insurance company look like? What does the web 2.0 credit card company look like? (Especially when they realize that they are most likely a phone application.)"
Tim O'Reilly, whose Web 2.0 Expo with CMP Technology starts on Sunday in San Francisco, believes that Mashups – which he defines as "brute force web data access, manipulation, and display" – are going to be superseded by Meshups – "natural data access, manipulation, and display" – in lock-step with the gradual realization by the broader Web user base that the Semantic Web is really about a global data integration and data generation effort.
As O'Reilly puts it:
"The Web is moving beyond unstructured and semi-structured blurb, it is becoming a bona fide database."
This "web of data" (to use Tim Berners-Lee's own characterization) inevitably, is already being dubbed "Web 3.0" – or, to use O'Reilly's descriptor, as the "Data Web (Semantic Web Layer -1) frontier."
As Indus Khaitan, Sr. Manager of Enterprise Marketing at Symantec, notes: "Web 2.0 is just a stepping stone for the Semantic Web."
For anyone with an interest in the future of the future, it promises to be an intensely interesting week here in San Francisco.