Last night I attended the Genius Workshop at Christophers Restaurant in Cambridge. In the words of founder and organizer Shimon Rura, the title is meant to be more aspirational than descriptive. The structure is very informal: just a bunch of smart and creative people talking about what they are working on and new ideas. This is the third one of these events that I have attended and every one has been a fun and interesting experience.
The theme that was discussed on our side of the table was Web 2.0 initiatives. Many people in the group were working on projects (jobs, hobbies or both) that explored new and innovative ways to store and use information. On my end of the table there were:
- Alexis Ohanian of reddit.com which is a little like Slashdot but without the editorial oversight.
- Shimon Rura built Voo2do for his own use and it caught on virally to the point where it has over 7,000 users and was named by Dion Hinchcliffe's Web 2.0 blog as the Best Online To Do list over BaseCamp's Ta-Da List and Remember The Milk.
- Pito Silas from BlogBridge a desktop RSS aggregator.
- Ted Gilchrist creator of BotCasts a service that translates blogs into pod-casts.
- Wikipedia's Sam "SJ" Klein was also there although he was at the other end of the table and I didn't get to talk to him until I was leaving.
Many interesting topics were discussed but two that stand out are: that VC's have a hard time getting involved with these Web 2.0 projects which require so little capital (the VCs don't have the bandwidth to manage tens of sub-one million dollar investments); and how can these new services make money when people expect everything for free and the incumbent has very little advantage over the new market entrant willing to give the service away to get market share.