Minibar London v5.0

An excellent evening at Minibar in London last night.

An even better event than the last one. This time I was on my own, which meant I was forced to meet people. On arrival I hooked up with Gavin O’Carroll, who was keen to tell me all about Rememble, which sounds pretty cool (and which he talked about on stage later in the evening – looking forward to an early look). He introduced me to Alex and Hannah, who I had an all-to-brief conversation with… before the legendary Matt Biddulph poked me on the arm to introduce himself. Turns out I look somewhat like my buddy icon! I’ve only got to know/of Matt via Flickr, Twitter, etc. (and today’s announcement that he’s going full-time as CTO of ultra-cool travel site Dopplr… didn’t even connect the dots until he Twittered it, and now I’ve met him in person). Proof of the serendipity of Web 2.0, and a reinforcement of the real life aspects of these technologies.

Early in the evening I also had a fascinating discussion with Hanni Ali of Ainkaboot about their new High Performance Computing platform based on Linux… this is of particular interest to me since my background over the past few years has been high performance payments systems and the like, so I’m always intrigued to learn about new things in this space. Good luck Hanni – I’m still intrigued to know how WebSphere Message Broker would run on your platform 🙂

It was great to bump into Mario Menti and James Governor again, although I didn’t get a chance to spend much time talking to either of them – hope to catch you soon, guys.
[as an aside, when I introduced James to Matt Biddulph, Matt said “oh my god… it’s James Governor!”. James, you missed an opportunity for the Blackadder-like response “yes, I suppose I am”…]

At the bar I met a lady called Becky who happened to work with the Open Rights Group… again, sorry I missed the ORG party last week… I also had a chance to chat to Anthony Steele, Nigel Crawley and Paul Johnston, all of whom are interesting guys – I hope we get the opportunity to speak again in the future.

On the presentations front, it was a good bunch. Mark Shuttleworth spoke to launch Ubuntu 7.04, and also talked about why Linux should be free, and why he sees Ubuntu as more of a threat to Microsoft than the other packaged distributions (referring to the Samsung / MS licensing agreement yesterday, which he felt showed MS attempting to assert that “Linux can’t be free”. When asked by a member of the audience whether it bothered him that MS might sue his customers, his reply was that it would be a great day – it would force MS to identify exactly what patents were infringed by Linux, something they have so far failed to do.

The talk on Truphone was interesting – basically this is a service that enables VOIP on wifi-enabled phones (Nokia only currently, and my Sony Ericsson phone is ancient enough not to have wifi either, so probably not much use to me). The speaker pointed out that Orange and other networks – but not all – were sufficiently worried about the fact that consumers could use this to bypass their SIMs that they have disabled some of the features that actually would allow users to make use of Truphone now – bit of a challenge to the business model.

I wasn’t at all convinced by the discussion about filesharing by Izimi. I gathered that it is not cross-platform, and the guys who were presenting it would have done a far better job of convincing people if they had simply done a quick demo of how it worked… but I’ll keep an eye on it nevertheless.

The last presentation (about Rememble) did have the advantage that Gavin ran it as a demo, which caught the audience’s attention. The concept is that you can store your digital memories or “membles” on a timeline – this includes audio, video, SMS and text. Talking to Gavin earlier in the evening I pointed out that he’s already competing in different ways with services like Tumblr and Scrapblog but it will be interesting to see how the service differentiates itself… and how easy it is to use… Nevertheless, this easily generated the greatest ripple of excitement from the audience (at least where I was standing)… looking forward to the beta.

I still believe that the organisation of the event leaves something to be desired. Currently the information is spread across three websites (openbusiness, Upcoming and InternetPro), with no single entry point. The other major problem is that the event starts at 5.30, which is great for finishing work in principle, but there’s no indication of what time presentations start – so people arrive early (which is good for quiet networking), late, or the presentations suffer from people arriving and/or being a bit too merry to take them in properly. Just my opinion.

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7 responses to “Minibar London v5.0

  1. Hi Andy, we didn’t get the chance to chat at Minibar, but perhaps next time… I certainly recall your question for Mark re Microsoft and patents. You are right as regards the izimi presentation, a demo would have been MUCH better. I hope to get the chance at a future event.
    I also second your comments re organization, but in Christian’s defence I’d also commend what he’s done by getting so many (and a fairly diverse) group of people together in one place in London. These things are all over San Francisco, and this sort of event in London certainly helps get UK more on the global map of internet startups.
    Anyway, maybe we’ll meet up at the next Minibar…

    PS: a tip on format for future Minibar first-timers: if you are presenting, they do have the facilities for demo, so if you can, use it.

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  2. Andy: how come you link to companies but not people in this blog post? me, matt, david and others have blogs. 😦

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  3. James, I was writing this in a rush before leaving for the US, I’ll be sure to revisit and add links, I’m sorry about that.

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  4. Links added where I knew them (I left a bunch of business cards on the desk at home so haven’t been able to check them).

    David, thanks for the comment – I was just ahead of you as you arrived, we exchanged grins about the relative dress code! I’ve revised the post a little to make it clear that it actually wasn’t my question about MS and patents. Although I did attempt to ask you guys about running on Mac OS X… which James describes as “an edge case”, something I’m sure his colleagues at Redmonk would be delighted by 😛

    I agree on your point about the organisation – this time did seem to work better, and you’re right that Christian does deserve credit for his work. I’ve shuffled the post a bit to put my point about improvements at the end, I wrote it in a hurry on Saturday morning.

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  5. when VCs have invested £7m they are likely to expect that their money is spent on getting some adoption on 90% of the market, before they go after mac people, especially given Apple, in the shape of its photo storage services and so on, already offers customers some competing capability.

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  6. Sure. Thing is that Apple’s market share is increasing, so in general terms you don’t want to ignore that platform any more. The BBC has the same issue with their Media Player – how cost effective is it to spend taxpayers’ money on making it work on a minority platform? Oh, and .Mac is subscription-based, and maybe I’d rather not pay that money to Apple.

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