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SIME Helsinki afterthoughts

September 17, 2008


SIME came to Helsinki, so of course I had to go and check it out. I had never been into one of the events previously, as I previously wasn’t in the “space” that SIME targets.

The day began with champagne, which was not quite what I would have expected from a business conference. There is definitely a certain vibe to SIME, and those more knowledgeable than me told me that the main event in Stockholm a cross between a party and a conference. Sounds fun!

The day’s program consisted of presentations and panels featuring very interesting and passionate people including digital creative agencies (e.g. Nitro), digital media properties (e.g. Microsoft Marketing), social media destination sites (e.g. Suomi24, Stardoll, Muxlim), startups (RunToShop), investors and a bunch more. It was a fascinating cross-section of entrepreneurs, corporate folks, youngsters with passion and veterans with battle proven skills.

The highlight sessions were definitely the ones with a bit of controversy. Taneli Tikka (RunToShop, also on Everyplay’s advisory board) joined the panelists from Suomi24, MySpace Nordics and Xtract on the stage to get beyond the hype of social media advertising. Aamulehti’s Matti Apunen interviewed Google Finland’s CEO Petri Kokko and got several well deserved laughs from the audience when he tightened the thumbscrews on Petri ;-). To Petri’s credit, he did well under the pressure, but perhaps a bit more straight shooting answers would have been what the audience yearned. The tug of war between newspapers and Google News was one of the topics on the stage, but the match had to be declared unresolved as next session was about to start.

I was personally very impressed by the excellent presentations and panel leadership from SIME’s Chairman Ola Ahlvarsson. This gentleman thoroughly knows how to take his audience and deliver a compelling presentation, as well as gently but firmly lead the panels into interesting discussions. Superb job Ola!.

Networking at SIME was the highpoint personally. It was great meeting old friends like Sam Weintraub (a F-Secure colleague, nowadays at the mysterious Fruugo) and catching up with the movers and shakers in digital media, social media and venture capital.

The hilarious highlight of the event were definitely the outstanding videos created by Radon. Ranging from street interviews of random Finns about the state of the Finnish digital media industry (hilarious) to asking them if they “porn surf” (the responses were outright awesome) to the legendary INTERNOT resistance group fighting for analogue lifestyle. If you haven’t yet checked it out, do it now: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3. INTERNOT! INTERNOT! INTERNOT! ;-)

I gotta hand it to theĀ  Swedish organizing team. SIME Helsinki was a fun, different event and I’d definitely attend again.

Facebook’s social games a flash from the past

September 11, 2008

Back in the years 1992-1994 I was running a BBS called Starport, which was one most famous BBS for demosceners as it was the World HQ for Future Crew. BBS were a lot like the current SocNets, but just with a few hundred users. You dialed in with your modem, posted on forums, chatted, downloaded and uploaded files, and in general just hang around socially.

One of the big attractions were the multiuser games like Trade Wars or Legend of Red Dragon (LORD). The asynchronous multiplayer action back is almost identical to the current Facebook games like MobWars or Battle of the Bands. Actually, those ancient BBS games were far superior to the simple gameplay mechanics in many SocNet games. Trade Wars was a personal favourite with its Elite-esque sci-fi action.

This started me thinking that it might not be a bad idea to port Trade Wars to the Facebook platform. I know I’d die to play it again.

TechCrunch50 after thoughts

September 11, 2008

TechCrunch50 is over, and Yammer (“Twitter for enterprises”) won the top prize. This was the first time I was actively following the conference and the livestream provided by UStream was simply outstanding. It was a rare opportunity to watch the demos live and listen to the Q&A with the panels.

If you are ever serious about pitching a product to VCs, you should do yourself favour and watch the video recordings available on the TechCrunch50 site. Nothing beats seeing other entrepreneurs doing it for real.

The Rich media and Games tracks were of most interest personally, and the trends of user generated content, collaborative workspaces, virtual worlds with developer APIs and in-browser experiences were obvious in almost every single presentation.

A few quick observations:

PlayCe has a neat idea with the mirror world model, where the 3D game spaces are built from real world data (satellite maps, GIS data etc). It remains to be seen if real world really makes for compelling game play experiences. The downtown of New York isn’t really designed for fast speed racing or Godzilla boss fights.

Atmosphir‘s “build your own 3D platformer” experience was very much an alpha version with plenty of promise. I was frankly surprised that the panel didn’t point out the obvious parallels to LittleBigPlanet, which is polished beyond perfection and due out this fall.

Bojam is collaborative space for musicians around the world. This was a concept with real legs and obvious potential to be used for live jamming, learning from pro players, composing and much more.

There was almost no Nordic participants apart from Burt from Sweden. This made me think. Would I want Everyplay to launch publicly among 50+ other companies coming out of the closet simultaneously? Obviously the group as a whole gets a lot of press, the networking opportunities are immense and if you do well, you are pretty much guaranteed to get a huge influx of users (this happened to Mint, the winner of TechCrunch40). On the other hand it’s pretty expensive for a Nordic company, the competition for attention is intense, and these events take place once a year.

Would I postpone a launch several months just to do it at TechCrunch or DEMO? Or would I show a hastily done alpha just to get it in time for TechCrunch or DEMO?.

No, I wouldn’t. But if the timing would naturally work out, then yeah, it definitely would be worth it.