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High Tech Policy

I just returned from several days in Aspen from PFF’s 10th annual Aspen Summit…PFF is a think tank that advocates free-market approaches over government regulations. The theme of this year’s conference was “Building a Digital Ownership Society -- The Place for Property and Commons.” My overall thoughts on the conference were that the keynotes were particularly interesting and semi-provocative while the panels were generally love fests with some disagreement on the issues around the edges.

“Aspen, what a boondoggle,” everybody said to me upon my return. Wish that it were true. Aspen IS beautiful, but the interior of a hotel in Aspen is very similar to the interior of a hotel anywhere. Although the hotdog cart in “downtown” Aspen stays open 24 hours which can come in handy.

Webcasts of the keynotes and panels will be available in full…some are posted already… Here are some of my personal thoughts on the keynotes:Keynotes posted: -- SUN President Jonathan Schwartz’ announced a new, free DRM solution (which sounded eerily similar to one that former Cisco-ite and former/current SUN-er Andy Bechtolsheim pitched while at Cisco.) I’m still pulling for this type of solution and Bechtolsheim is one of the smartest individuals I have ever met, so I’m sure this solution would work if implemented.- Edgar Bronfman, Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group, gave a compelling address about technology and content industries working together…notable, because he sounded sincere. He also said that the battle between consumers and the music industry has already been waged. “We lost,” he said.- My mom taught me that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, so I will let you view Intuit CEO’s Steve Bennett address for yourself.- Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s address delivered the oft-heard message to technology companies in the room: “government doesn’t know what you do.” He did say that technology companies should reach out to governors on both side of the aisle as they were more likely to be quicker in working with technology companies on the policy issues that matter to them. You can view the aforementioned addresses here.

Those keynotes that aren’t yet posted, but worthwhile to view when posted are: -- William Owens -- CEO, Nortel -- Called on U.S. policymakers to develop a better vision for broadband deployment. News Story.- Tom Perkins, Founder, Kleiner Perkins -- Gave a bit of a history of venture capital as well as railed against SOX and stock option expensing. Tidbit that I did not know about him: he used to be married to Danielle Steele. Proudest company he helped fund: Genentech (KPCB funded them 100K and got a 33.3% stake -- for those of you keeping score at home, that 100K investment would be worth $30B+ today).

For you fact hounds, also published and now available is PFF’s treasure trove of data, Digital Economy Fact Book (7th edition). FULL of great information and stats.

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