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Web 2.0: Article

The i-Technology Deal of 2006: The Google/YouTube Deal

"The dissemination of video is showing the true impact of technology," says WetPaint's CEO Ben Elowitz

2006 will be remembered as the year in which YouTube became culturally ubiquitous and Flash video became the de facto video standard of the Web. As they return to work after the holidays, SYS-CON's network of stakeholders - editors and commentators, columnists and analysts, developers and managers - have begun to comment on our question: is the progress of i-Technology front-runners like Google/YouTube and eBay/Skype more, or less, important than real-world events the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein? ["Saddam Hussein Or Google – Which Is the More Important?"]

Industry legend Mitchell Kertzmann, of San Francisco-based VC firm Hummer Winblad, replies thoughtfully:

"I think your question is similar to 'Is it hotter in the summer or in the city' --  That said, the question did make me think that, in fact, the truly important stuff is at both ends of the spectrum -- macroimportance and microimportance.  The macro is all of the major affairs of the world, from the Middle East to global warming.  Micro is one's family. 

Where does technology fit?  For me, it's some combination of passion and earning.  With what I can earn from technology, I can contribute philanthropy to the big issues and quality of life to my family.  With my love of technology, I can bring stimulation and fun to my own day-to-day life.  With what I can earn from technology, I can buy technology toys!
 
Bill Gates is a great case study related to your question.  I believe that long after anybody remembers Microsoft, Windows, Office, Visual Studio, etc., everyone will know Bill Gates for his philanthropy and for the difference he made in the world because of that.  Technology is a means to the two greater ends."
Ben Elowitz, CEO of Web 2.0 startup Wetpaint, has a cautionary word:

"The tech-world is certainly in the habit of navel-gazing," he observes. "Saddam’s execution is a huge mile marker and symbol of a complex set of political and social changes. In the tech world, the Google/YouTube deal is looked at as a comparably huge marker from business, finance, and technology standpoints but it took until Time Magazine’s Person of the Year selection to elevate that to the larger social trend."

Elowitz continues:

"Ironically, these two events come together where the major networks decided not to air the full video of Saddam’s execution. The democratization of media online is an upset to traditional media control, as YouTube hosts a cellphone video of the entire event, start to finish. While a $1.65B deal price tag is a symbol of finance, it’s the dissemination of a video that is showing the true impact of technology, enabling people all over the world to access content they otherwise wouldn’t be able to see.

Of course we are seeing that same democratization trend at Wetpaint, as over 150,000 people have decided to create their own social websites instead of piling on to ones created by major companies. In the end, it is these social changes that evolve the world in a positive direction. Business, technology, and finance are helpful to track the bigger social changes only when we’re smart enough to look through them as lenses to see the real world."
SYS-CON will coninue to enlist the collective wisdom of its stakeholders and add their comments to this report. Watch this space!

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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