Our interview with Tim O’Reilly

Will the financial crisis lead to the end of Web 2.0? Daniel Lyons already uses the term ‘Web-Two-Dot-Over’. “Nonsense”, says Tim O’Reilly at the first keynote of the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin. “These are difficult times for start-up companies who need financial support from Venture Capitalists (VC), but that has nothing to do with the trends and opportunities which are still there for Web 2.0.”

“These are uncertain times and we do not know what the future will bring us, but has that been different in the past?”, says Tim to a crowded audience. Such a crisis is a good moment to seperate the ‘winners’ from the ‘losers’. Obviously, the winners will survive. Important for surviving are Tim’s ‘Robust Strategies’:


Robust Strategy 1 – Working On Stuff That Matters

So the question is: what matters? Still there are many problems asking for a solution: climate change, governments not listening. And what about the recent financial crisis? So what to do? Simple, make sure to master the problem and make the impossible possible. Yeah sure, you might think. Tim draws the comparison with the Berlin Airlift. Impossible, so the Russians thought. But 2.3 tonnes airfreight, 278,228 flights and 148 million of flown kilometers (that’s from here to the sun) and 322 days later proved the impossible possible. Today it’s not different: “great challenges bring great opportunities”.

And Web 2.0 offers unsurpassed possibilities. Tim mentions Ushahidi, Everyblock, Benetech and 23andme as examples of cloud computing, open source and mash-ups.

Robust Strategy 2 – Create More Value Than You Capture

Dare to think big. Have a vision. “Look at Microsoft. Such a great vision: a computer on every desktop and in every home”. That makes a company big and successful. And be honest, they did change they way we work and communicate. And again the value of Web 2.0 is to create value not only for yourself but especially for others (social media, remember?). Tim’s take home message: “Tackling big problems will not only make you great, but it will also make the world great”.

(Picture courtesy of MikiMedia)


At the beginning of the keynote I thought it was going to be a pretty depressing story, but actually what he told was just common sense – fortunately still prevailing in 2008. If you have an idea, believe in it, think big and act. The beauty of all these Web 2.0 technologies in my view is that you can create an enormous audience. And with that an enormous power, financial crisis or not.


See Tim’s presentation here:

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