The Future (Forward) Is Now

Some of the best and brightest from the worlds of technology, higher education, sports and entertainment and venture capital are gathered today at Future Forward ’08 retreat at the Henderson House in scenic Weston, Mass. The conversations, predictions, admissions and humor shared by the 100+ “forward-thinkers” is equal parts compelling, insightful, informative and believe it or not, uplifting.

Here are a few tidbits gleaned from the panel discussions:

Future of social networking – the questions were asked on this topic included – is it a generational phenomenon? Will today’s power users stick to it, or is this a kid phenomenon? Will they outgrow it?

Stephen Vinter of Google: “I think we tell our kids that the world will be more collaborative, and then chide them for playing on Facebook. This is the first instantiation of how people interact. The Internet’s impact on the election was groundbreaking and social networks are the first generation of that. It will explode and permeate a far greater world than the walled gardens we see now. It is not about age.”

Jennifer Chayes of Microsoft: “Our studies show that interactions that teenagers have in the real world are being replicated in the virtual worlds. We are seeing the new online social behavior replace old behaviors in the real world. The Web has become the new mall. I don’t see it changing. Social networks will evolve with kids. As they get older, the size of their social networks might get smaller but will get stronger. They will not abandon it when they get out of school and get a real job.”

Social Media – can it be monetized?

Lauren Bigelow of WeeWorld (full disclosure – BluePoint client): “The younger set networks more visually through avatars and they want more than the text of Facebook. There is a generational difference of teens vs. other demographics. Youths are very focused on the brand, clothes, etc. that define them. They are willing to experiment through visual objects. The monetization aspects are very real in the virtual world.”

“No question it can be monetized.” – Microsoft’s Chayes.

East Coast trends – what is happening here?

Scott Kirsner, the East coast: after dominating in the enterprise and telco spaces for the past few decades is starting to ‘get it’ in terms of consumer and SMB markets – witness Carbonite and Constant Contact.

Marketing – what matters most? what matters now?

Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot: “Your next marketing hire should be half ‘old school’ marketer and half content creators.”

Bill Lucchini of Intuit: “Your marketing people better have a clue about what your product does.”

Mobile advertising market – John Landry of Lead Dog Ventures: ”Mobile advertising… the two words are scary when put together.”

VC investment trends – David Friend of Carbonite : “The VCs are starting to see the advantages of investing in a company with a recurring revenue streams. But here on the East coast, they are not going to invest in a consumer oriented company that has not proven itself.”

Branding/naming – David Friend, when asked if he concerned that George Lucas might sue him for using the name Carbonite. “I hope he does. The publicity would be awesome.

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1 Response to “The Future (Forward) Is Now”


  1. 1 Adam B. Needles December 3, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Kristen/Tim, thanks for this post.

    First, it was great to hear what is going on at Future Forward. It has been a few years since I’ve attended that conference or the Nantucket Conference, so great to get the scoop on people’s sentiment.

    Second, it is interesting to note the generational aspect of social media. What is interesting, though, is how something that began as a tool used by people who were really college and early professional age has migrated to younger people and also is now migrating to older people. I was shocked when my Mom called me the other day to ask about setting up a Facebook account. So I’m not sure the generational aspect will forever shape the future of social media. Social media mirrors its participants, so it will change as other generations get onboard.

    As for monetization, I think it’s a bit of a red herring. We need to think about these mediums differently as marketers. Just did a blog post today on this concept of embracing Marketing 3.0 as part of re-thinking how we engage in the social media world as marketers. FYI:

    http://propellingbrands.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/whos-propelling-ideas-hayesmalone-on-marketing-30/

    Like the blog. Keep it up.


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