Level 3, and the Web 2.0 fatigue

The Web 2.0 conference hasn’t even begun, and you can feel the fatigue. You can almost predict the marketing “spin” coming over next few days, that is enough to make you groan.

A perfect example is this news from Level 3 Communications, touting the fact that they had won the contract to provide bandwidth to fast growing photo-video hosting service Photobucket. This is not the first, and I am betting the last news release from Colorado-based backbone provider trumpeting their deal with some “Web 2.0” company. They had made similar announcements when they did deals with YouTube and MySpace.

It is all spin and a blatant attempt to get a little Web 2.0 pixie dust. In fact, Level 3 is spending liberally to get it. They are sponsoring the Web 2.0 conference, and paying top dollars for it. I wonder why they are not one of sponsors (or even an exhibitors at) ISPCon, a conference that is closer to their core business.

Hate to break it to you guys, but you paint a pony with black stripes, it doesn’t become a zebra. You are a bandwidth provider, and might become a content delivery network, but you will still remain in the background, and a plumbing company. Not that there is anything wrong with it.

Getting associated with Web 2.0 might give a temporary sizzle to the stock, but in the long run that is not why anyone would care about Level 3. Clean balance sheet, profits and solid business fundamentals would be the best way to do that. If Level 3 CEO Jim Crowe or anyone else in his executive team wants to talk about that, have your people get in touch. Thanks but no thanks for Web 2.0 spin.