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Going Back to Cali

I spent the first half of the ‘90s neck-deep in the West Coast venture-funded startup game. Our crew at Alexander Communications was the first point of contact for newly funded startups who’d just cashed checks from Kleiner Perkins, Hummer Winblad or Vulcan Ventures. During those years, I spent half my time at the Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, a quarter of my time in a Delta 757, and a quarter of my time in Atlanta. It was an amazing era, and the speed of innovation was astounding. I could probably win a decent-sized bet if I could locate the Palm Pilot 1000 I preordered at Demo96. And the climate out West kinda feels like 1995 all over again. What better way to test my ‘Golden Age Of Consumer-Focused Startups’ hypothesis than to roll TechCrunch Disrupt SF next week with my press credentials?

I like the way John Doerr framed his ‘Third Wave’ concept with Charlie Rose at Disrupt NYC earlier this year. It’s all about social, mobile and commerce; and John’s contention is we could be on the cusp of redefining the Internet as we know it. He believes we’re moving past the web as sites and documents to be more about “people, places and relationships.” There’s little doubt John’s onto something here, and I find his construct a useful way to look at the current crop of startups.

And there are going to be some great examples of the species on-display (24 in the Startup Battlefield alone). I’ll be sitting down with a bunch of startups, including the folks from Toktumi who bring a second line to your iPhone via VOIP (over both 3G and wireless!). They’ve had a summer of accolades, and represent a very interesting segment of the mobile market. If anyone doubts web-based telephony isn’t blazing hot, witness Dave McClure’s 500 Startups announcement today of a $250K micro-fund 100% targeted to the Twilio platform.

I – like the rest of the world – will be interested to see Monday morning’s ‘Super Angels To Super VCs’ panel presumably hosted by the king pot-stirrer himself Mike Arrington. It’ll be interesting to see the dynamic there, and where Mike’s falling on the spectrum between Karen Silkwood and P.T. Barnum. With guys like Ron Conway, Dave McClure, Chris Sacca, Roelof Botha and Chris Dixon on-stage I’m expecting some serious insights into the current and future state of investing. And of course I’ll be rolling with the lite version of the TechDrawl video rig, so you can expect some interviews and panel footage from the show.

Many thanks to my buddy Vivek Wadhwa for greasing the skids all the way to TechCrunch CEO Heather Harde to lock-up press passes for Ben Dyer and me. And speaking of Vivek and Mike Arrington, don't miss their onstage debate at UC Berkley earlier this week.

Have a great weekend, and we’ll keep you updated from TechCrunch Disrupt SF.

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