Niklas Zennstrom, Skype founder was there to kick of the day and we got to talk later in the evening face to face. The night ended with my having dinner at 9 PM by laptop at the Grill on the the Alley. In between, my second day at VON was packed with meetings with clients like VoEX, GrandCentral and Truphone, impromptu gatherings, being pulled into things and just catching up with people you see only at VON. Folks like Steve Smith who left LavaLife as Chief Scientist in December and has started a new company. I was able also to check out the VLIP booth and see The SightSpeed Guy, Peter Zottolo live and in person.
I caught up finally with the two most successful geek companies in VoIP, Digium via the very personable Bill Miller and Fonality with the hyper-kenetic Chris Lyman. There was the Skype party at the end of the night then some bump into's with Scott and Jason of the PulverMedia clan. Somewhere in the hotel Jeff was having a soiree, but I was too tired from being on my feet to keep the party hat on...you see, VON Is back.
I was able to spend time with Jim Granelli of the L.A. Times and discuss the current state of the newspaper business, just like I did at SNCR in Las Vegas with Tom Abate of the SF Chronicle two weeks back. It's a subject that as a former copy boy and sometimes high school sports reporter in my college days with the long defunct Philadelphia Journal at the age of 18 still intrigues me as I love to study how media works and is evolving and getting first hand insight helps when I lecture at colleges these days.
Jeff talks about VON Blur. .....and he's right. The size of the show floor is twice as large as last year or at least looks that way. The Press Room is standing room only, and the speakers lounge is about the only quiet place there is. The hallways are abuzz with activity and it was great to see that Jason, Jeff and Scott took my suggestion of creating more "conversation" tables around the event to allow the hallway meetings to get off the floor (well those are still happening too) and be more than stand up quickies...Arcadia at the Marriott and the dining room at the Hilton are full of VON badge toting attendees. I had meetings in both at breakfast and lunch with ex MobileCrunch Oliver Starr now at Guidewire Group working for two of the nicest and most respected people in the biz Chris Shipley and Mike Segal. Shipley is DEMO and with Mike as her business partner, the new venture, geared towards providing VCs and Biz Dev types with insight about what's hot next will be propelled by Starr's keen mine and almost tireless energy when it comes to mobile and portable communications. I also spent more time with David Spark, who is the host of Sprint's "The Communications Insider" and a regular radio show host, part time eWeek writer and more who I've known forever it seems. Like Oliver he's joining Guidewire Group too...then there was John Dvorak, of PC Magazine fame and the Cranky Geek podcast. Ironically we've talked many times but never met face to face.
For me VON is about the people and the time savings. I get so much done at these events that I wonder why anyone would not show up..you don't have to exhibit..You just have to be here.
In what is the first real WiFi VoIP project to be launched by any of the Muni WiFi providers the phone worked, much like a cell phone. Since its beta, I won't go through the minor problems which were found but also reportedly corrected.
The vision of Earthlink is to provide inexpensive VoIP service for those who don't need a cell phone. I view the combo in home, out of home service as the first step in a new era of portable phones.