Web 2.0: Put a Fork in It, It's Done, Says VC Firm

Ann All

It's a bit surprising that a term as nebulous as Web 2.0 ever became popular in the first place. (Granted it did give a lot of bloggers something to do, with their diligent efforts to define it.)


My husband recently asked me for a definition, and as I began to list a number of technologies that ostensibly fall under the Web 2.0 umbrella, it occurred to me that many of them are only loosely related. So it's confusing to refer to them all as Web 2.0. That may be why newer and more descriptive terms are starting to pop up -- as in the Social Web to refer to social networking.


Some observers even speculate that confusion over the term may have caused companies to be leery of any technologies branded Web 2.0. As InformationWeek recently reported, interest in Web 2.0 tools and technologies declined this year among the companies it surveyed. That's a shame, really, because there are examples out there of businesses using Web 2.0 to their advantage.


One man, Tim O'Reilly, is given most of the credit for coining the Web 2.0 term. His company, O'Reilly Media, profits from the popular Web 2.o Conference (along with CMP and John Battelle, creator of Searchblog and participant in a number of other "new media" ventures). It caught on despite dismissals by folks like Tim Berners-Lee, the guy widely credited with creating the Internet.


Now SiliconValleyWatcher credits another man, Randy Komisar, a partner with Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with killing the term -- or at least landing a mortal blow -- with his statement that his firm has "absolutely no interest in funding Web 2.0 companies."


SiliconValleyWatcher's take is that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and many other VCs "certainly won't be attending 'Web 2.0' conferences, and without VCs attending, there is no point in startups showing up and preening for their next capital raising event."


Responding to the post, Tim O'Reilly is a bit more measured:

I think the real way to interpret this comment is to say that if a company needs to identify itself as a "Web 2.0" company rather than describing the problem they are solving, or the opportunity they are creating, then they are just playing the buzzword game, and aren't worth investing in, regardless of the buzzword!

We think that makes a lot of sense -- which is more than we can say for some of the definitions we've seen offered for Web 2.0.

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