The Big Theme at Web 2.0

The big theme at this year’s Web 2.0 Summit was never mentioned on-stage. It wasn’t related to any of the buzzwords uttered in the hallways: tagging, social media, Ajax, or viral video.

The big theme, as I read it, was paranoia.

The conference was crawling with tiny little companies — two people working out of a corner table in the Starbucks in San Mateo. Their start-up just got $100,000 in angel funding yesterday, and their name is something like 9xPajamas. If you are worth your salt as a journalist/venture capitalist/tech exec, you need to know what they’re up to, and whether they matter.

So I was noticing a consistent undercurrent of paranoia. I wondered whether the start-up CEOs I was talking to were the right ones…or whether the dude that Don Clark from the Wall Street Journal was talking to was more important. Venture capitalists eyed other VCs, wondering whether they had the inside track in investing in the next JotSpot (acquired by Google this month.) And one senior Yahoo exec I spoke with at a cocktail party looked positively beleaugered — he, too, was sifting through all of the companies represented at the conference, trying to figure out which one might be the next YouTube.

The last time I recall feeling such paranoia? Hmmmm…..the year was 2000.

A few tidbits of additional coverage, from my blog CinemaTech:

Mary Meeker on the Growth of Web Video