Hornik, Canter & the Momentary Merits of Conferences

David Hornik of August Capital has taken a shot at the titleholder, Marc Canter, of most active conference-goer on the planet — and conceded that the title is still Marc’s to keep. Hey, it was worth a shot, but Marc’s the champ for a reason.
More seriously, it is worth pointing out why I and so many others are attending more conferences these days. After all, conference attendance is a horrible waste of time, with much spurious information, too much wasted time in travel, and it is straight-up costly once you bundle in hotel, travel, car, and so on.
So why do it? Well, for a long spell I wasn’t, but I am now because we are at a kind of technology & market inflection point. There is an organic coalescence going on around some nascent platforms, technologies, ideas, and so on — broadly this could be called Web 2.0, but I’ll cede that label to O’Reilly — and attending these things is currently the best way to get an in-you-face idea of where the smart people are looking. It’s a kind of “follow the alpha geeks” strategy, to paraphrase a meme.
Of course, once it turns from this fumbling about into venture bakeoffs of early-stage Web 2.0 companies it will be sign that the cycle is peaking and over-funded. But for now it is useful to wet your finger and stick it out in the breeze at these things.


  1. But how much more breeze do you feel at a conference vs from just reading blogs, etc.?

  2. Speaking for myself, it’s 80/20. I get 80% of the content from hallway conversations, and 20% from on-stage stuff.
    To your question … how effective are blogs at communicating the same thing? They’re better at the on-stage stuff than the hallway conversations, but they’re not bad at both. Nevertheless, it’s still more efficient for me to intermittently soak in stuff in meat-space.