Here’s our Merc story today (free registration) about the first day of Web 2.0. There were 13 start-ups launching products in the afternoon, and we sat back and listened to the crowd too. From sheer applause, and interrupting oohs and ahhs, Zimbra and Zvents won the day. Zimbra, in particular, kicked butt.

Zimbra, we failed to mention earlier, is backed by Eric Hahn, formerly CTO of Netscape, who was also behind Lookout Software, a “search” application for Microsoft Outlook which was snapped up by the software giant last year. As Om Malik notes, Hahn knows email.

Our story summarizes only briefly the main themes at work at the conference.

Remember that sometimes it is the unexpected good stuff that wins reaction. The presentation of Flock, a next-generation open source browser, for example, was a counter example. It was eagerly awaited by the crowd, as Flock has generated quite a bit of buzz (ourselves having contributed). A lot had already leaked out about it, for example the ability to blog directly from the browser, where you can drag text from a document you are reading directly to a personal notepad and drop — all on a single page. But during the presentation, there was a slight snafu, when the drag and drop feature didn’t work in a way it was supposed to. Flock’s Bart Decrem was clear from the outset that the product is still being developed. Anyway, while people still think Flock has promise, it didn’t get near the same applause as say, Zimbra, which is relatively unknown. (Flock investor David Cowan winced here).

Zimbra CEO Satish Dharmaraj was quite the presentation meister, and had a lot of fun shocking the crowd (read our story for more on why)

Oh, and one note on KnowNow, which we first mentioned yesterday for unveiling its “eLerts” RSS service — a way to get alerts from news sources that you subscribe to directly to your desktop. Well, it became a joke during the presentations because its eLerts kept leaping onto the screen while other companies were doing their presentations (all of the products had apparently been loaded to the same PC for the presentations, and so eLerts plagued them all). So far, eLerts hasl become the bete-noire of the conference — though perhaps it isn’t fair, as we’re sure there must be some way to turn of these eLerts — but it was amusing to see the other presenters grapple with it. They’d try to close the eLerts, only to have them insist on jumping around the screen throughout.

By the way, there are many other sources writing about the event. Jeff Jarvis, who is here, gives a brief synopsis of each of the presentations here.

rademacher.jpgOtherwise, there is the usual networking stuff that goes on at these conferences. We bumped into Paul Rademacher, who told us he had joined Google. He is the quite humble guy who developed HousingMaps, one of the first mashups using Google maps (he integrated Craiglist real estate listings) which we wrote up for the Merc, and also blogged about.

raymond.jpgMeanwhile, Raymond Nasr, the Google guy famous for his bow tie, told us he has left Google. He has been Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s speechwriter, public relations manager for years (going back to Novell, etc) and has feverishly working behind the scenes during conferences and other Google events, getting almost no public attention. He did work for Google’s foundation, and is also incoming president of the Churchill Club, where he will focus his attention now. He will also guest-lecture at Oxford….

Update: We mentioned Zvents, the cool event related Web site (see link to Merc story above), but we should also point out again its competitor Eventful. For the gearheads among you, here is a great piece by the Eventful guys about how Eventful embodies the Web 2.0 meme.