ICE08 wraps up after two exciting days

ICE08 wrapped up in Toronto yesterday after two full days of sharing information, ideas, forecasts and opinions on various topics. Some excerpts from the final day:

Scrabulous

One of the founders of Scrabulous, Jayant Agarwalla, flew over especially from India to share his experience in building one of the most popular (and controversial) games on Facebook. His app, which has taken no outside funding to date, generates about $25,000/month from ads placed above and below the game. It was launched in June 2007 and already has 3.2 million users! He mentioned that the Facebook application directory and the “mini-feed” have been the main generators of traffic for his app.

Funding in Canada

There was an interesting panel discussion on the funding climate in Canada which featured both venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who have successfully raised financing here. Jeremy Wright of b5media noted that his has been the only media company investment by Canadian VCs in the past 4 years (having raised $3 million from JLA and Brightspark). Vikas Gupta of Transgaming said that his company has found raising financing from strategic investors in the US more lucrative. The lone VC on the panel, Alan Gershenfeld, talked about the need for startups to focus on building their core value proposition as opposed to overloading their product with features. The consensus seemed to be that there is money available from angels and VCs in Canada, just need to know the right people.

Wireless innovation

Panelists from RIM, Viigo and Quebecor Media talked about innovations in the wireless world and what role their companies are playing in it. But as an audience member pointed out, the Canadian carriers basically stifle innovation in the mobile space here with their policies. There was a strong call for them to be more open, otherwise we are left discussing the innovations going on in the US and other parts of the world.

Web 2.0

The concluding session on the state of the web, which featured a presentation by Salim Ismail (former head of Yahoo Brickhouse), was the highlight of the conference. Salim talked about how the web has evolved from email in the 80s, to the web browser in the 90s and now the RSS aggregator in the 00s. In the 90s, there were few publishers of content (CNN, ESPN, etc) and millions of viewers. But with the advent of Web 2.0, that has meant that there are now millions of publishers as well – individuals creating their own blogs. And RSS / syndication ties that in to how that content is consumed. Salim also mentioned that the current publically searchable web is about 60-80 billion webpages, but that there is a 400-500x bigger “hidden web” which Google, Yahoo, etc don’t search. This is the data stored in the databases which is only retrieved when specifically asked for. Intriguing stuff.

And then there were other discussions on the future of gaming platforms, interactive marketing, the growing talent crisis and on the relevance of copyright as an effective legal tool. Along with the engaging sessions, the main value was in the tremendous networking opportunity with the speakers and delegates from a variety of interactive media backgrounds. Overall, ICE08 was a brilliantly organized event held at a fantastic venue (The Carlu) and I am already looking forward to the one next year!