Rumour had it that Trade Me’s Sam Morgan was going to speak at the opening of Microsoft’s Tech Ed 2006 in Auckland, and a whiff of disappointment flew through the air when Rowan Simpson, development manager of Trade Me, stepped up on the stage in his place.
But Simpson did a good job of telling Trade Me’s success story.
The idea behind the online auctioning and classified advertising site was born when Morgan was looking to buy a heater from Trade&Exchange’s website in 1999. Today, Trade Me is the 750th biggest consumer site in the world, says Simpson.
Simplicity and speed have been of essence ever since the beginning of Trade Me, he says.
“We just didn’t have the time or the money to deal with complex applications,” he says.
Sometimes the developers would come up with an idea at lunch-time, build the application in the afternoon and have it rolled out before the end of the day, he says.
Simpson says that Trade Me isn’t necessarily threatened by large corporations.
“We are more worried about a couple of guys [sitting] in a skanky flat with a laptop, building the next big application,” he says.
Helen Robinson gave her first speech at Tech Ed as the managing director of Microsoft New Zealand.
Robinson has climbed the career ladder rapidly in the last 12 months. At Tech Ed last year she had been with Microsoft for just two days, she said in her speech, before welcoming Simpson up on the stage.
Following Simpson’s presentaion, two general managers from Microsoft US — Scott Guthrie, GM of the Microsoft developer division and George Moore, GM of Windows Live — talked about innovation in each area.
Guthrie said that one million new sites have been built on ASP.Net in the last year. MySpace, without a doubt the largest site, has 1.5 billion page views per day and was launched on ASP.Net in 2005.
Guthrie also showed a demo of Atlas, which is a “framework for building next generation, cross-platform user experiences”, he says.
Moore talked about how the Live platform is “about me and my relationships”. Jacquie Brown, who was the MC for the keynote speech, got the whole audience to chant “It’s all about me” after his presentation.
At any time, MSN Messenger has 20 million users online simultaneously, Moore says.
Moore also announced Windows Live Content Gadget, which users can put on their Live.com home pages.
Some of the Tech Ed attendees that Computerworld talked to after the keynote speech felt inspired and were hoping to learn new things at the conference.
Bruce Muschcamp, systems analyst at the University of Canterbury and attending Tech Ed for the first time, said the opening keynote speech by Simpson was inspiring.
“Trade Me is a great success story. It shows that anyone can do it,” he says.
Paul Arnold, service support consultant at the University of Canterbury, says that the Windows Live presentation, which among other things showed maps of where a user’s contacts were located, was interesting.
Alastair Sheppard and Marcus Holland, systems engineers at Lincoln University, were excited about the social networking innovations. “It’s interesting how technology grows to meet social networking needs,” says Holland.
They were especially interested in learning more about the new version of Exchange, which Sheppard was looking to deploy, online collaboration and also Office 2007.