By Adam Jackson
Throughout Fall and Winter of 2008, Silicon Valley prepared and readied itself for the fallout. In late September, things started falling apart, VCs tightened their belts and the money dried up. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I’m not going to write what has already been written on the very delicate system that is Silicon Valley. What I would like to talk about is parties. I’ve been dubbed “The Party Guy” by many but lately, there hasn’t been a party. I’ve been working later at the office and getting a solid 7 hours of sleep every night. It’s been pretty difficult and I’ve missed seeing the faces, the flashing DSLRs and free drinks.
Since September through the end of December, things felt normal. Parties still happened, traveling across the US to attend barcamps was still the norm and people were still putting things on the AMEX and ignoring the fact that layoffs were happening all around them. Well, it’s January of 2009, exactly 4 months to the day that the Wall Street fallout happened and the fun has come to an end.
When I first moved to San Francisco, early next year, I couldn’t decide what events to attend. Four events a night at least were on my plate with many smaller events that were just meetups. Over at SocialCalendario, I’m stretching to find events and most of them are meetups, drinkups, tweetups and more intimate affairs. Who is affected?
We are. The community is affected. Connections, networking, deals and general conversations are handicapped when the face to face isn’t happening. I rely heavily on in person interaction and it was more than schmoozing but a chance to meet the dreamers, inventors and share ideas. Saving money is great and I’m on the team that looks at Web 2.0 and says, “the bubble had gotten too big” but I also feel that interaction and conversations must continue for innovation to really blossom. Parties, barcamps and conferences act as fertilizer and help to cultivate big ideas.
I propose we step it up a bit. Let’s organize more open source events around happy hours and co-working spaces. More Tuesday meetups of like minds at 21st Amendment and hour long mixers at Citizen Space / PariSOMA where we get one startup to spend $75 on a keg and we meetup to chat. The parties and events still need to happen but on a smaller scale.
Two events just popped up on my radar which I think will be a lot of fun.
BaconCamp is “an ad-hoc unconference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment about bacon”
LaidOffCamp is “an ad-hoc gathering of unemployed & self-employed people (including entrepreneurs and startups) who want to share and interact with each other.”
These two events are great but there’s no reason an event like this can’t happen every weekend. There are great venues out with open minded owners that support these kind of gatherings and there are people like me who will help out any way we can to bring people together. The party isn’t dead, it just has to evolve and for the sake of innovation, it’s best that we keep drinking and keep thinking.