Friday, February 08, 2002

Cyberposium day 1 I attended opening ceremonies at Harvard Business School's Cyberposium today. I'm told it was a tepid affair compared to previous years, but I thought it was still a great turnout for a student run tech conference. The opening panel was with Esther Dyson, with Phil Terry mediating. I struggled to get much out of Dyson's comments, but it's always great to see Phil working the crowd. Phil was my boss at Creative Good, he's a good guy, and the firm does good work.

Then there was a panel featuring the founders of Lycos, Bowstreet, Third Age, and the CEO of Red Hat, Mathew Szulik. Szulik was very personable, and was on top of important issues like DRM, SSSCA, and what Open Source is really all about (which Dyson did not mention). Mind you, he also made worrying comments like "We change business plans hourly" but overall he struck me as being the smartest guy on the panel (except for perhaps the Lycos fellow, Bob Davis, who sold when the selling was good).

One thing that surprised me was how focused the group was on culture and people. While culture and people are fine, my time at Chicago is really driving home the importance of sound economics--you essentially want some form of monopoly position you can use to expropriate economic rents from others, while making sure those rents don't get expropriated from you in turn. Many great "culture stories" (like the media darling, South West) can be better explained by microeconomic analysis. But the media's not dumb, they know what sells copy, and CEOs aren't dumb either, they know what journalists need to put in their copy so it sells.

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