The Return of Hype?

Last week I had a chance to attend a big shin-dig at San Francisco W Hotel. More than 100 were in attendance. The occasion was release of Good Technology’s new GoodLink 3.0 software. Now I am accustomed to big companies like Oracle and Microsoft spending tons of money on launch of new products. But a start-up spending what could be easily $200,000 to announce some modicum of improvements in its new product! Amazing. (Well they did announce support for Pocket PC, which means that Microsoft’s own ActiveSync software products are rather late!)

One had to be there to understand that Good Technology pulled all the stops – there were some random VP-types from Dell, Microsoft; CTO level folks from StarBucks and some insurance company whose name I forget. CEO of Verisign, Jeff Hawkins of PalmOne! Think of it as an all star line-up on the podium. The room was chock-a-block with venture capitalists. Infact I could go as far as to say that this was the highest per square foot VC density seen since the hey-day of Industry Standard and the Internet Summit. John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins, Bruce Dunlevie of Benchmark, ex-Oracle Ray Lane of KP and some others. Media was in heavy presence as well – Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Economist, San Jose Mercury News, Business 2.0, Fast Company, Red Herring 2.0, and the trades were all there. (Oh wait, actually they put us on tables accordingly as well!) The event, left many of us media types perplexed. The usual chest thumping aside, there was nothing new, and as one of my media colleague said: what was that about?

I wondered about that as well, a lot. And came to a conclusion, that we are seeing the Return of the Hype. By now most of us know that Google has IPO plans. When not if, Google goes public, then there is going to be a narrow window of opportunity for technology companies to peddle their wares on the stock market. Another good IPO from say, and the IPO markets are going to open-up really well, and a lot of companies will get out of the gate. I have a feeling that Good was just trying to position itself for precisely that. This is how the VC marketing machine works, and some of them must be getting quite antsy about holding onto the Good investment for so long. (Trust me I have seen this wash-rinse-repeat cycle a few times before.) Elsewhere there are signs that hype is back to a large extent. Tribe.NET is having parties, others are having media parties. It is like the spring of 1999. (Good or bad, I don’t know but it sure is fun to be in San Francisco these days.)

Going back to Good Technology, of course there could be the other reason. The company keeps repeating the mantra – we are killing BlackBerry. And then the next day, RIM says it has a million customers. Some sort of fuzzy logic somewhere.