106 Miles

I attended last night’s 106 Miles meeting, which this month was hosted by Skobee, who has their office in my building, two floors down. The guest speaker this month was Dave Winer, who created, or contributed to the creation of, RSS, XML-RPC, OPML, and Weblogs.com.

The turnout was better than I expected. The sparse 106 Miles web site hasn’t been updated since last November, and their blog has a similarly low level of activity (although it is more current), so I didn’t expect there to be much of a crowd. Despite that, probably 30 – 40 people showed up and squeezed into Skobee’s little office. The office is big for three or four people, but a little small for something like this. Moving all their desks out of the room helped.

The focus of 106 Miles is business and new technology, particularly where it relates to small web startups. It’s a good idea, but a little too business-oriented for my tastes. I’m sure I’d feel otherwise if I were involved in something like this, but my interests in this area aren’t just in trying to cash in on “the next big thing”. I would have liked to hear a discussion of the technologies people are using/developing, and how they’re using them to do something a bit more interesting than simply making money. Not that there’s anything wrong with making money, of course, but I felt like I didn’t have much to talk about with anyone. To be fair, this is a business-oriented group I walked into, so I knew what to expect.

As for the discussion itself, Dave Winer told stories of his early businesses, took a few shots at Six Apart for reasons I wasn’t real clear on, and gave advice to the people with startups now. There was a lot of talk of VC funding and “building to flip“, which I don’t really get, especially when the two are combined. Taking venture capital when your only business model is hoping someone buys your product seems a bit sketchy to me, and a little too reminiscent of the late ’90s tech bubble. And we all remember how that turned out.

Overall though, the meeting wasn’t bad. It was interesting hearing about what people are working on (online storage and Google search killers are the hot ideas this week) and the approaches they’re taking. I’m not particularly interested in working for a little startup like some of these, but the conversation did make me wish I worked for a company that’s doing something interesting.