I had the amazing good fortune of being invited to Foo Camp this year. Foo Camp is the annual retreat of coders and gearheads at the Sabastapol campus of O'Reilly Media. For those of you who do not recognize the O'Reilly name, suffice it to say that Tim O'Reilly is the Patron Saint of Geeks. His media organization publishes scores of books on all things technical and he is a pundit, prognosticator and all around smart guy. Along with his publishing business, Tim runs some of the most interesting, thoughtful conferences out there, including the upcoming Web 2.0 conference, which I believe will take its rightful place along side PC Forum, TED and D as a must-attend event for executives, investors and entrepreneurs alike.
In April of 2003, I wrote about a talk Tim O'Reilly gave at his own Emerging Technologies conference. The talk was one Tim has given variations on many times since, the primary theme of which is the activity of the Alpha Geeks today will lead a path to the innovation of tomorrow. Foo Camp was designed entirely around this principle. Give the Alpha Geeks a forum to discuss the things that interest them and you will learn important things about the future of technology (Foo Camp has no set agenda -- the topics of discussion are determined as the weekend progresses based upon the projects and interests of the attendees).
Having now spent a weekend with the Alpha Geeks young and old (folks like Ray Ozzie, Mitch Kapor, Larry Wall, Bram Cohen, Ben Trott, Sam Ruby) it is abundantly clear to me that Tim is right. The bleeding edge eventually becomes the main stream, the only question is what part of the bleeding edge will emerge as most meaningful. This is precisely the question I try to answer as I meet with dozens of technology companies each year. Thus, to have the kind of lens into the future with which Foo Camp provided me was invaluable, not to mention extraordinarily fun (VC's are geeks too). Thanks, Tim, for letting me meet the Alpha Geeks and thanks to everyone at Foo Camp for the incredible education. What more could a VC ask for?