Profile: Vertical Leap Conference

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Event: Vertical Leap

Date: Tuesday, June 28 2005, 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM

What was it?

Vertical Leap was an exceptional one-day conference held in the heart of Silicon Valley earlier this week, hosted by Jeff Clavier and Dave McClure. In their own words, “A whole new crop of venture-funded startups focused on vertical search are beginning to enter the field and draw attention. Search is going Vertical — vertical search engines are available for local businesses, product & shopping search, travel search, weblog & news search, and search for classified & jobs listings, with more domain-specific search engines debuting every month.”

The event focused on search, obviously, and web 2.0 themes were prevalent throughout. The event was very well blogged and we’ve linked to many of the posts below.

All of the segments were interesting and well organized. A key focus was on investments in this space, of course, and the technology and customer approaches needed to dominate in niche search areas.

The most interesting segment from our perspective was on news/blog search. The panel was moderated by Om Malik (with Steve Gillmor stepping in at the beginning because Om was late). In our opinion the seating of the panelists was symbolic when thinking about their companies from a web 2.0 perspective.

Left to right, you had Chris Tolles (Topix.net), Jim Pitkow (moreover), Scott Rafer (feedster), Tantek Celik (technorati), and Om Malik. From the discussion it was very clear who “got” web 2.0 and who didn’t. As you went from left to right, the panelists were more focused on web 2.0, peaking with Om (I overheard a comment after the panel from an audience member that said “they spent more time on Om’s blog than on all of the others’ sites combined”). :-)

Om kept asking questions that the others just couldn’t answer about user interfaces, search relevance and tagging. Chris, at the web 1.0 end of the table, wasn’t keen on RSS and tagging, and stated repeatedly that Topix.net went for the “wow” factor in deciding where to place content. “People want to hear about murders and bankruptcies, not companies making their numbers”, said Chris when asked about search relevance. Scott and Tantik just shook their heads, as did most of the audience. Om looked away towards the audience and chuckled.

That being said, topix.net is an awesome site and after sifting through their 250 RSS feeds I found a great one and subscribed.

There is a fundamental shift going on in the Internet, and some people speak the new language. Others simply hear gibberish.

Overall, a wonderful conference, terrific networking event, and plenty of coffee was available all day. Thanks Jeff and Dave for putting on a terrific conference.

Program:

Program Chairs:
Dave McClure, Director of Marketing, Simply Hired
Jeff Clavier, Founder and Managing Partner, SoftTech Venture Consulting

Agenda
8:30-9:00am Registration / Continental Breakfast

9:00-9:45am Keynote
Dave Hills, CEO, LookSmart

10:00-10:45am Investing in Vertical Search
Moderator: Jeff Clavier, SoftTech VC
Mark Kvamme, Sequoia Capital
Chris Moore, Redpoint Ventures
Theresia Ranzetta, Accel Partners
Andreas Stavropoulos, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

11:00-11:45am Local Search
Moderator: Charlene Li, Forrester Research
Brady Forrest, MSN
Paul Levine, Yahoo! Local
Shailesh Rao, Google
Daniel Read, Ask Jeeves

12:00-1:00pm Lunch Provided

1:00-1:45pm Shopping Search
Moderator: Gary Stein, Jupiter Research
Mark Bradley, NexTag
Graham Jones, PriceGrabber
Chris Saito, Yahoo Shopping
Michael Yang, Become.com

2:00-2:45pm Travel Search
Moderator: Niki Scevak, Jupiter Research
Phil Carpenter, SideStep
Vajid Jafri, Cfares
Scott Jampol, Yahoo Travel / FareChase
Beatrice Tarka, Mobissimo

3:00-3:45pm Classifieds / Job Search
Moderator: John Zappe, Classified Intelligence Report
Craig Donato, Oodle.com
Gautam Godhwani, Simply Hired
Konstantin Guericke, LinkedIn
Garrett Price, Kijiji

4:00-4:45pm News / Blog Search
Moderator: Om Malik, Business 2.0
Tantek Celik, Technorati
Jim Pitkow, Moreover Technologies
Scott Rafer, Feedster
Chris Tolles, Topix.net

5:00-5:45pm Future of Vertical Search
Moderator: Barney Pell, Mayfield
Ofer Ben-Shachar, RawSugar
Julia Komissarchik, Glenbrook Networks
Paul Pangaro, Snap.com
Bob Wyman, PubSub Concepts

Links:

wiki
SDForum
photos
more photos
Jeff Clavier on David Hills Keynote
SimplyHired Blog
David Hornik
Dave McClure (great quotes – “There are only so many telecom executives to convict…”)
Barney Pell (multiple posts)
Phil Bogle
Christina Wodtke
Chris Heuer
Gerald Rousselle

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