Kevin Cheng  

2005 vs. 1999

October 7th, 2005 by Kevin Cheng :: see related comic

Last night, I was at the [Colors of Web 2.0 Party][1]. The moment I walked in, I was inundated with free T-shirts and stickers. “All we need now is an open bar to make it 1999,” I exclaimed and lo and behold, the bar was indeed open.

I haven’t had the pleasure of attending [Web 2.0][2] but between the launching of numerous companies, at least three headline acquisitions and the various evening events, I must say I have a slight feeling of deja vu.

The night before, I was at [Web 1.0][3] where I proudly sported a [failed dot com t-shirt][4] and survivors jokingly shared elevator pitches for fictional new ventures (including [Eddie’s][5] excellent pitch of the up and coming technology known as VRML).

A fellow attendee of Web 1.0 pointed out an interesting point - those who are doing the dot com thing all over again, largely weren’t even around for the first wave. In fact, many of them were just coming out of college, if that, during the first boom.

So when I get that sense of deja vu, it strikes me that I can’t just take comfort in knowing we’ll learn from our previous lessons.

Not to say that you can’t learn from the past without experiencing it and not everyone involved is brand new to it all. I would hope, for example, that venture capitalists aren’t as eager to jump on business models that involve losing $3000 per customer acquisition (true story).

Of course, the real question is, what is there to actually learn? Are we just less reckless than before? Less caught up with hype than before? I’m not sure but from what I’m seeing, there’s still a _feeling_ of recklessness and let’s just say $2,000 a head for a conference to discuss buzzwords is probably a bad indicator for “not getting caught up in hype”.

So what have we learnt from 1999? What _should_ we have learnt?

[1]: “The Colors of Web 2.0″
[2]: “Web 2.0 Conference Coverage”
[3]: “Web 1.0″
[4]: “”
[5]: “Eddie Codel”

5 Responses to “2005 vs. 1999”
Jason Yip wrote:

That we should cash in earlier this time around? :)

Jesse wrote:

In 1999 I was just out of uni and, having no other reference, the booming tech environment seemed normal. In 2005 I know such an optimistic environment is not the only possible one. What others more seasoned in hi-tech have told me is that booms are commonplace, as is to be expected with any business environment with expected earnings of $500M +/- $1/2 billion. Ride the wave, dude.

Dave wrote:

I like that you guys went this direction. I think THIS is what is going to make this NOT a “party like it’s 1999″ phenomena. There are enough of us who remember the lunacy that occurred last century. ;)

But I also think there is some stuff to get excited by again. And it does seem (more importantly) that industry is listening again. It also seems to me that people are selling stuff that is more useful, with a keen eye towards business practicality.

Web 2.0 is only part of this. The other part I see is “on-demand services” like 1 part of Web 2.0 is really helping the on-demand service community be taken more seriously and that is the Rich Internet Application. Not just AJAX, but also XAML is on people’s minds. I just recently wrote about Max (thier photo sharing software) at

Anyway, the point is that good things are happening and there is a chance for entrepenurial types to do some really neat things, get bought by really big companies. I don’t think a “going public” exit plan is on the minds of much of what is going on right now (from what I can see). But hey! ya never know. Greed is a powerful thing.

Ryan Nichols wrote:

As a friend of mine recently stated, “This time have an exit strategy”. :)

Jon wrote:

How is “” something to get excited by again?

They sucked in 1999, too ..

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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?