Time Traveling: 1994 Predictions from Ken McCarthy and Marc Andreesen

I revisited an old video of Ken McCarthy and Marc Andreesen from the first internet marketing conference in San Francisco in 1994.  It’s mindblowing to time travel back to 1994 and see how much has come true, how much changed, and how much has remained somewhat the same. 

Here are a couple of points highlighted in bold from Ken’s section plus some thoughts from 2009:

  1. The internet’s revolutionary power as a distribution network will transform content.  Definitely a true statement, and even more disruptive than imagine.  It’s neat to hear Ken mention how the internet could be a powerful tool for enabling new forms of content such as being a tool for independent film producers.  Given the limitations of the time, Ken stops at saying that it could enable distribution of trailers.  Who would’ve thought Jaman.com for indy films.
  2. The internet to transform customer service: discussion boards are the future!  The internet continues to amaze the world in creating new ways for people to interact, including ways for businesses to interact with their customers.  Hello, social networking.  Hello, Twitter. 
  3. “Imagine if you had a 1,000 subscribers… that’s a nice little business.”  Today, 1K users is barely enough for a sample testing group, let alone a beta product, let alone a business.  Bummer dude.
  4. Let’s work together with the existing media ecosystem.  Or not.  Now that we have enough confidence and staying power, the industry is all about disruption and even shrinking markets. 
  5. Bandwidth problem will get solved.  Always bet on technology. 

Marc Andreesen’s portion has great info as expected.  Here are some that I found amusing:

  1. “We tried NOT to do two things: invent anything new; solve any hard problems.”  For startups, determining what NOT to build is just as important as deciding what to build.  Marc highlights that they will not be trying to solve the problem of ‘search’ – who would’ve expected Google to build an empire there.  Entrepreneurs can often find opportunities by understanding of what tough problems are not being solved by existing companies.
  2. “It took us three months to realize interactive TV wouldn’t work and may never work…”  Online video has exploded in the past few years with mobile video on the horizon.  I personally find it one of the most interesting and fun areas to explore as both a consumer and techie.
  3. The applications that are going to be successful over the next several years are the ones that will enable communication.  Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 aren’t really that different after all.
  4. The future: deeper integration into desktop environment.  True to a degree, but then again, why not just skip the desktop and live in the cloud.   Marc’s other predictions on a more ‘graphical, immersive navigation’ and convergence are still pushing forward today.
  5. Techies love Dilbert comic strips.  This has certainly stood the test of time.
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