NILS 2007 - Day 1

Web 2.0 | 2007/05/25 12:44 | Web 2.0 Asia
I'm in this beautiful city of Sapporo, Japan to attend the NILS - New Industry Leaders Summit. NILS is a twice-a-year event where about 300 CxOs of various IT companies participate. They mostly come from Japan but increasingly more non-Japanese executives are coming to the event as well. Here's my summary of Day 1 sessions.

Future of Internet TV: Jeremy Allaire, the Founder and CEO of Brightcove, held the opening keynote and gave his insights about the changing landscape around the online video industry. Jeremy emphasized that, despite all the craziness around Youtube etc, the online video industry is far from being "game over" - in fact we're just seeing the beginning of it. Out of the $350B worldwide video market, online video service currently takes up only 0.01%. Brightcove is opening a Japanese office soon - Hope they will provide a decent white label service to Asian customers. By the way, the internet connection at the hotel was so bad that Jeremy could hardly give a good demo, which was a shame.

Online ad exchange market - Philip Kaplan, the founder and president of AdBrite, and Niren Hiro from AdMob Inc. gave presentation about the online and mobile advertisement. AdBrite serves up ads for 45,000 publishers. What was especially interesting was BritePic, what they called " on steroid." It turns your web image into a banner ad by overlaying ad-related functions on top of the image file. What a guy Philip is, by the way - he showed a Ze Frank-like video of himself explaining his service, and later on during the cocktail party went on the stage and played drum, stopping everyone's conversation for good 5 minutes. A good insight from Philip, by the way: Superbowl ads are not about superbowl; They are about cars and beers. When it comes to the online advertisement, finding the right demographic is far more important than being contextual.

AdMob, on the other hand, seemed to be more focused on the mobile ads and (accordingly) the Japanese market. What was interesting from their presentation was some of the figures on the Japanese mobile internet market. Japanese mobile internet service market has 3 times more users and 8 times higher penetration than the US; 85% of whole Japanese people use flat rate data plan (which I didn't know); There are 80-120K off-portal mobile sites in Japan. So AdMob is trying to streamline the Japanese advertising industry, which still depends pretty much on the traditioinal way of doing business such as phone calls between the ad seller and buyer. AdMob is in a good position of doing so, as the company serves up 2.8 billion ads in 160 countries by partnering up with 1800+ mobile sites, according to them.

Both AdBrite and AdMob were invested by Sequoia and they shared some of their Sequoia experience. Philip of AdBrite said he was impressed by how much of due diligence was done by the VC. In fact Sequoia talked with so many of AdBrite's customers that at some point it was Sequoia who talked about AdBrite's business, not AdBrite themselves.

RIA with Apollo: Perhaps the best demo in the event. Mike Chambers from Adobe gave a presentatio/demo of some cool Apollo applications. First he showed a Finetune Player, a desktop application. The Finetune desktop application can play the playlist that resides on a web server, and as it's a desktop application, it can act like one e.g. importing playlist from iTunes, doesn't close even if the web browser crashes, etc. Another demo was Maptacular, a mashup of local address book content with Google maps. Maptacular is a Flex app layered on top of Google Map service (not just an overlay but a deep level integration). They're also working on the Ebay application. As the name suggests, the application allows you to use eBay on your desktop application. It's got some merits; the seller information is kept locally so you don't have to type it every time; you can be notified instantly if you missed an auction rather than having to check the email on and on; your shopping list can be exported to Excel, etc. Mike also showed some other demos such as Adobe Media Player, Mini Digg, and Twitter camp. More information on Apollo can be found at

The panel discussion: This was very interesting. Five executives from well-known Japanese companies (DeNA, Opto, Allabout, Septini, Works Application) came on stage and shared their vision and lessons regarding running a company. They talked about how the founding members of the company changed their roles as the company grew. Also talked about was "what should be the right role to be played by a CEO?" And, despite some minor differences, the shared theme was a) Designing corporate vision and culture; b) Recruiting and training talent; c) Operating the company efficiently by some good human resource management.
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