I’m sitting here with Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords. He picked me up from the airport tonight. I have spent the last few hours telling him all about the Google Zeitgeist conference.
They asked me not to blog about it, mostly because some of the executives that spoke there from Google competitors asked to have it be off the record and not for blogging. The speakers were pretty open and I could see why they might not want to be quoted.
I just wanted to send a public message to Larry, Sergey, Eric and the rest of the Google team: thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I have to say that everyone at Google treated me extremely well. They didn’t tell me any secrets (although I picked up a few hints) but they were, to a person, nice, smart, and fun to be around. I felt like I was at Microsoft. In fact, if it weren’t for the color logo on the building, I wouldn’t know that I had left Redmond. My head hurt. Being around 450 smart people for two days does that to you.
When I presented to them this morning I stepped off the stage and into the audience. Why? You should have seen who was in the audience. Folks who run the world’s greatest media properties in the world. The librarian of congress was sitting in the first row. Many of the world’s top CEOs and VPs (a VP from GE followed my talk). I was struck by how much better the conversations I was having around the event were than the presentations (and there were some awesome presentations – the kind you’d see keynoting at the SXSW or PopTech! or “D” conferences). If I had a suggestion for the Google’ers it’d be to make the format more conversational. This thing needed an unconference format in the worst way. The expertise that was sitting in the audience was awe inspiring.
I’m very honored that Eric Schmidt (and Gary Boles, who was the planner) invited me to speak to this audience. We might be hard core competitors, but I certainly admire Google a lot and have ever since that day in 1998 when I did my first search on Google (it was for the word “NetMeeting” and the result set that came back was so much better than all the other engines out there that I switched immediately).
Having Vint Cerf come up to me after my speech and say “great speech” is one of the highlights of my life. I will never forget that. I hope I get to return the favor someday.
It’s actually a good thing they asked me not to blog because if they didn’t limit me from talking here I would have added onto the Google hype pile. Some of the relationships I made, though, will definitely show up on my blog in the future.