While enjoying the party Rafat Ali’s paidContent threw for New York City new media types last evening, I was struck at how different the atmosphere was from the 1990’s venture-capital funded Silicon Alley “launch” parties I attended, literally almost nightly for a period of time.
First off, the party was funded by corporate sponsorships, not by VC money that ought to have been ear-marked for company operations. Additionally, while the event was held at the prestigious W Hotel, it was gracious without being extravagant. During the 1990’s launch parties, open bar martini parties were the norm. Last night, the party hosts offered the first two cocktails on the house, and sold $10 drink tickets to very thirsty attendees.
Second, while Silicon Alley parties of the 90’s celebrated companies for merely obtaining venture capital, paidContent’s inaugural NYC mixer comes after several years of success as a self-sustaining “independent media and information company covering the business of digital media.” Ali obtained venture capital backing this week, after having proven his model. Moreover, the funding is to be used for expansion, both geographic and strategic.
Third, while 1990's NYC Internet parties were only about "fun," last evening's paidContent party was about "content." Content does not get much better than a live, one-on-one Q & A with Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., Chairman, The New York Times Company and Publisher, The New York Times. Sulzberger took the opportunity to provide real insight into the Time's online operations and strategy. See my coverage of the Q & A: Arthur O. Suzlberger, Jr: The New York Times Company has the 'dough' online
Lastly, I disagree with Jeff Jarvis’ take that the mixer was “jammed with guys in nametags making pitches for their companies to anyone who would stand still and even those who would not.” Thanks, in part, to paidContent’s emphasis on meaningful business networking from the get go, many of those “500 people signed up and sold out the place in three hours,” came armed with print-outs of targeted business contacts to connect with, gleaned via paidContent’s online pre-party attendee networking tool.
I was happy to find out I was on attendee’s short-lists and those fellow party-goers that I had a chance to network with had real-world, forward thinking ideas for Web based businesses and the confidence to put their own financial and “sweat” equity behind the ideas.
So, unlike Jarvis, I do not “fear, frightening news for the industry and economy.”