LeWeb's blog

Guest Post: Top Ten of #leweb09 in Paris

LeWeb has a very active official bloggers community from around the world and is proud to open its blog to guest posts from them, in addition of providing easy access to their posts about the conference. Here is a post by Donna Jackson from Switzerland.

TOP APP Jack Dorsey of Twitter started us off on a high note with SQUARE definitely the favourite app. A cool payment system you can use on your smart phone, it was a hit with everyone as Loic tested it on stage with his iphone and effected a payment. He also announced twitter plans for a developers camp in San Francisco in 2010.

twitter scoop #leweb09 chirp on Twitpic

The business plan is expressed in the image above, my photo taken from the screen at the conference. The wifi worked well much to everyone's relief this year.

TOP SPEAKER AND FORCE FOR CHANGE must go to Her Majesty Queen Rania who blew everyone away with her flawless delivery, warmth and Tech saviness.

I was lucky enough to have a brief moment to greet her and congratulate her on her speech as she left the speakers room where she had discussions with Twitter and Facebook to bring about change in education, health and opportunity for the women and children without access to education and the services we don't give a second thought to.

TOP MOMENT meeting my NY Times Bestseller list, "Crush it" friend, Gary Vee outside the Mayors cocktail party in the magnificent City Hall of Paris. Our group snapped us together and sang out "Ah the two wine people finally together in Paris!" We had a quick catch up before we went out to eat.

highlight #leweb09 @garyvee @QueenRania @chrisbrogan so inspi... on Twitpic

The following day his session had the audience stirred up and shouting for more as he delivered his legendry thunder. Then, in an equally serendipitous moment, I was wandering down an empty street in the Marias to attend a dinner, when who should I bump into again along rue Sévigny, but Gary and two friends. We swapped winestories, spoke about our projects and he very proudly showed me his baby girl on his phone. He is truly an inspiration and his message of be grateful and execute on your plans really resounds with me. Great to see you Gary! Italy awaits your Crushing!

TOP TRUST AGENT Chris Brogan, another of my mentors, who is such an all-around nice guy. He strips out the bs from social media and tools and gets back to basics on how to connect and build trust. His book Trust Agents, also on the NY times bestseller list and in its third printing, is a must read. We got to chat and hang out. My forthcoming chat with him here will give the best indicator of his approach to marketing your company online.

TOP PARTIES definitely the boat on the Siene with a view of Notre Dame and then the Mayors cocktail party at City Hall Hotel de Ville, so beautiful with the enormous Christmas trees.

TOP MEMORIES Walking to every party and event there was, from the romantic boat on the Siene to the VIP cocktail parties and coffee/beer night, we rode the metro and I even took a late night bus back to Gare du Nord with @Vascellari and then a taxi to my hotel. My off the wall, ludicrous interview with Paul Carr writer and card, on leaving London for LA and his list.

The united nations of bloggers: our cool team spent the evenings and late nights together -- @vascellari @clopin @ernohannink @icedsoul @tigertwo @hikari @MihaelaDraghici @liviacolare -- not one of us lived in the same country. We attended all the parties using the metro to crisscross Paris, walked all over the Marais and to our hotels, past the Louvre at night, very pretty, with all the twinkly lights. We made the VIP room (a nightclub) too, but nobody could afford the 20 Euro drinks, so we left and had coffee on the way home laughing till our stomachs ached and getting very little sleep.

the cool people at #leweb out in paris @wisequeen on Twitpic

TOP RESTAURANTS We ate out with fun bunch each night. On the first night, between parties that we walked across town to get to, we found a lovely restaurant in Saint Michel with a friendly owner called Red and ate duck and mashed potatoes followed by a crème caramel that was delicious with fabulous Bordeaux. Last night we also ate a lovely meal in a Fish Resturant in the lanes of Marais where a two course meal called a "formula", main course of filet, or Fiorentina steak, fish or whatever you wanted, was prefaced by a lovely starter. I had paté and red onion marmalade, and it cost just 13 Euro.

TOP HOTELS Admired the very elegant fashiondraped Hotel Pulitzer in rue du Fauborg, but couldn't stretch to that, so stayed in the arty bright place at Filles du Calvaire, nice area. The Hotel de Ville just down the road from Rue Curial 3 at the le web venue was affordable, clean, comfortable and friendly with free wifi. Good tip for next year if you can get in.

TOP NO REPEAT The restaurant near the Marais called L'Etincelle, 42 bis Rue de Rivoli, who robbed us, as small beer was 11 Euro and the food was overpriced and average. The sting came when Nancy discoved her phone had been nicked, and had to report it to the police. The crushing of my iphone in the street, it lasted till I got home and then crashed. Luckily I managed to download all the pics onto my apple just before it crashed.

TOP REASON TO ATTEND AGAIN NEXT YEAR I wouldnt miss it! A wonderful time of seeing old friends and meeting new ones whose blogs you've been reading for years, like Tara Hunt whose twitter handle is @Missrogue, Laura Fitton who blogs as @pistachio and Cate who blogs as @Cupcate. We expanded our minds and our inner circle of collaborators.

#leweb09 @wisequeen @cupkate in press bloggers jungle on Twitpic

#leweb09 @pistachio and wisequeen at press bloggers lounge on Twitpic

I also met an amazing French lady called Agatha, who recycles old mobile phones to grunge customise them as the latest trend phones, but that's my next post on Wisequeen.com. My LeWeb'09 flickr stream will give you a taste of it.

Donna Jackson started blogging professionally in 2004 and blogged on finance for b5media after living and working on four continents. She now blogs independantly on tech and startups from London to Rome. Her blog Wisequeen.com covers brandbuilding, building a social media empire using new media, VCs, Angel Investing and the Eurotech scene. She has an office in Switzerland where she blogs on the Zurich tech scene and networking, and in her spare time she nurtures her wine collection and garden at her home on Lake Como Italy.

Guest Post: What's Your Favorite Real-Time Tool?

LeWeb has a very active official bloggers community from around the world and is proud to open its blog to guest posts from them, in addition of providing easy access to their posts about the conference. Here is a post by Irene Koehler from the USA.

The theme of LeWeb '09 was "The Real-time Web," but what exactly "is" real-time? And, at what point, do real-time tools stop being new toys which only truly-geeky people use and start becoming so embedded into our everyday lives that we don't really think about them, but can't imagine living without them?

While most of the conversation at LeWeb was fairly technical and focused on what's ahead, such as exciting new applications and tech start-ups, I wondered what tools these uber-geeky folks are using day-to-day in their real lives which are simple enough for the rest of us non-geeks to use.

I invite you to hear from some of the attendees as they share a few of their favorite tools. Let me know in the comments which tool is your favorite and why you're a fan.

Specializing in working with the technologically-timid, Irene Koehler has a passion for helping businesses strategically use social media tools to increase their visibility and improve their reputation and community engagement.

Guest Post: LeWeb and the Lay Blogger

LeWeb has a very active official bloggers community from around the world and is proud to open its blog to guest posts from them, in addition of providing easy access to their posts during the conference. Here is a post by Nicole Cunningham-Zaghia from Switzerland.

I am one of the least-specialized of the "official bloggers". For the Lausanne Bondy Blog, I've written about makeup, minarets, and domestic violence. I don't talk tech. So why LeWeb? What is a general public blogger doing at "the" European tech conference?  The answer is simple: the real-time web is now.  As a citizen journalist and a blogger, moving forward means being where the news is- be it for a recent vote in Switzerland, or for the recent changes in technology which may affect blogging.  So here I am.  I came to LeWeb to learn about what this conference means for the end-user, for those of us who need to manipulate and use new technologies, but don't necessarily need to know all that goes into it. 

Back in the early days of the internet, I remember using BBS as a teenager, I remember the Coffee Cam, I remember doing my first web search in 1997...far from being a tekkie, I always wanted to be on top of, and use, the technology of the time.  I am the typical end-user.  2010 is no different- I want to know everything about Twitter, Facebook, Pearltrees, and use these tools to better inform myself and be a better blogger.  I came away from LeWeb with a few general thoughts confirming my own personal truths about social media and the real-time web in general, and more specifically its role in blogs and blogging.  

When blogs first started a few years ago, they were about information.  While comments always existed, they were one-sided affairs.  But now, blogging is more and more interactive.  People tweet posts, they facebook posts and put them on FriendFeed. What used to be a static URL is now transmitted in various iterations by dozens if not hundreds (or thousands of people. Social Media applications and the real-time web have changed the way blogs interact with their readers. But unlike blogs, Twitter and Facebook and the like are ephemeral. A blog page remains searchable months and years after it is published, whereas a Tweet or a status update gets lost in a matter of hours.  Twitter being down - or off and on for most of the first hour of Day 1- is proof that blogging is not dead (echoed by @stephtara on many occasion).  However, can one simply "blog" in 2010? Because social networks and the real-time web involve a fundamental shift in community and identity which blogs now need to take into account.

Community: I write for Lausanne, about Lausanne, but we have readers all around the world.  Our community of readers is not defined by Lausanne's geography.  Maybe for a love of Lausanne, but our presence is worldwide.  Social media will only increase this phenomenon. Each of our readers has their own community. So each time I post a link in my facebook feed, my high school friends in Louisiana, my college friends in Canada and in France, who would have never read the LBB otherwise, check out what we have to say. And the phenomenon repeats itself for each of our bloggers and each of our readers, exponentially.  Likewise, this worldwide community picks up Lausanne news which previously would have stayed local.  For example, a shop in Lausanne just mounted a minaret on its roof, and it was considered newsworthy enough to be picked up by the French site rue89.com, who was likely alerted to this minaret by one of its readers in Lausanne.  Social media allows you to interact with static web pages and blogs in a way that was not possible in the early 2000s and gives local news a global reach.

Identity: Social media blurs the lines between our offline and online identities. As Her Majesty Queen Rania said in her keynote, the web is more human than ever before, and personal. But even more so, our thoughts and actions are increasingly online and under our real identites. Ten and fifteen years ago, internet users tried to protect their identities- now we use Facebook and Linkedin under our real names. And this is how we interact with our "communities", which are no longer tied to where we live, but are instead the ensemble of our experiences- college friends, people met on trains or in meetings, and all this under our real names.  The real-time web is no longer an AOL chatroom in 1998.  It's a place where we aren't afraid to blur public and private personae.

So what does this mean for the Lausanne Bondy Blog in 2010? It's not my decision to make. Beyond what our community asks of us, I'm just one blogger in the fabulous, heterogeneous, young and multicultural team in Lausanne who will continue to transmit and create the news our community, be it in Lausanne or online, needs.

Nicole Cunningham Zaghia is a citizen journalist and part of the team of 15 at the Lausanne Bondy Blog, dedicated to providing news in French for and about Lausanne, Switzerland. A French version of this article is available on the Lausanne Bondy Blog's site.

The complete list of 94 LeWeb sessions videos

 All the LeWeb sessions are posted online and free to watch at Ustream, plenary, deep discussion stages and every single pitch from our 16 presenting startups this year. 

Check the entire video archive on Ustream also available on your iPhone, just search leweb on the app store.

Hundreds of thousands of people already watched them during and after the conference making the LeWeb conference online much bigger than in the venue itself. One day the room will just become like a studio with a public, less the networking in person maybe.

Guest Post: Le Web Paris ’09 Start-up Contest –16 companies jockey for #1 webpreneurship spot

LeWeb has a very active official bloggers community from around the world and is proud to open its blog to guest posts from them, in addition of providing easy access to their posts during the conference. Here is a post by Ric Ferraro from Spain.

Le Web 09 edition has lined up an exciting array of 16 companies at the seed and start-up stage to promote their wares in front of its highly influential jury and public. 135 companies originally applied for the competition back in October, so only the ‘crème de la crème’ have made it through to the finals.

If you look at the full list of selected companies that will present in Paris, you realise that this is a varied bunch indeed, covering areas such as cloud computing (c’est très chic right now) to social network aggregation and semantic web-style solutions.

The theme at Le Web this year is real-time web, so unsurprisingly a number of the chosen start-ups fit into this area. Notably, Sokoz, a web-based shopping portal that resembles an ebay on speed, offers item sales lasting 10 minutes with just 30-seconds for shoppers to decide whether to buy or pass up on the deal. Buyers are the ones deciding the price of each item, with the first one to click being awarded the lowest price.

Tanguy Lesselin, founder of Sokoz, says his site is all about playing while shopping, while saving time and money. With Christmas round the corner, the timing for Sokoz’s pitch is impeccable.

There are too many companies to carry out an extensive review here (and quite a few are still in private beta, so I have not been able to check them out fully) but each brings something original to the table. CloudSplit allows companies to track their cloud computing spend, FitnessKeeper lets you monitor your daily exercise routine on your iPhone, Siteheart lets you pay for items with your mobile phone, Superfeedr takes RSS feeds to the next level and Task.ly lets you manage your tasks better in an ‘all-in-one’ interface.

Mendeley will be a formidable adversary for other start-ups (and my tip for ‘one to watch’) after having convincingly won the Plugg Start-up Contest in Brussels in March. Backed by lastfm’s initial investor (and some of their recommendation technology magic), Mendeley allows researchers to discover, share and organize academic papers.

Personally, I am looking forward to an incroyable series of presentations next week- stay tuned for real-time updates from Paris.

Ric Ferraro is a mobile enthusiast, juggling from his base in Barcelona his responsibilities at LBS start-up GeoMe, where he is co-founder, with his regular blogger activity. His book on Location Based Services (Manning Publications, USA) will be available in early 2010. His credo is: ‘Try everything once’.

Video: LeWeb setup day two backstage

 Day 2: a new backstage video of how we get ready the LeWeb venue for the 2200 participants from 46 countries 

Video: LeWeb setup day two backstage

 Day 2: a new backstage video of how we get ready the LeWeb venue for the 2200 participants from 46 countries 

Guest Post: Why FourSquare Is Not The Next Twitter

LeWeb has a very active official bloggers community from around the world and is proud to open its blog to guest posts from them. Here is a post by Sebastien Provencher from Canada.

As an industry observer of local and social media, I've been following the rise in popularity of Foursquare, a mobile application enabling discovery of local places and friends and built with a reward system mechanism in mind. Users earn points for their various actions with the core activity being "checking-in", i.e. indicating to your friends that you're currently at a specific place. Like in a videogame, you get special badges (virtual rewards) and can even become "mayor" of places if you are the user going there most often.

FourSquare logo.

As it brilliantly leverages gaming mechanisms, the application is very addictive and it's going viral as people "signal" on Twitter and Facebook they are checking in to various places (although some people think it's too much). According to the Wall Street Journal, "nearly 150,000 users and tens of thousands more (are) jumping aboard each month". Co-founded by Dennis Crowley of Dodgeball fame (acquired by Google in 2005), the service launched at SXSW 2009. The Foursquare team is starting to think about their monetization strategy and it will probably revolve around coupons and special offers (which is, in my opinion, the best way to monetize a local real-time ecosystem). Some people are saying Foursquare might be the next Twitter. It won't and here's three reasons why.

Reason 1: Advertising is valuable if it's early in the consumer purchase decision process

Inspired by the consumer purchase decision process found in marketing theory, I explained in a recent blog post why I think Twitter and Facebook are well positioned to go after some of the dollars Google and other traditional media firms are after. Consumers signal needs and ask questions to their friends in real-time on social networks and get relevant answers. No need to do research in Google or in the Yellow Pages. Where is Foursquare in that process? It's much later in the decision timeline, at the "purchase" stage, when people are stating they are present in a store or a place (restaurant, bar, etc.). A conclusion has already been reached by the user and they've chosen to go to that place. It's difficult to monetize except as Techcrunch suggests, by building "a compelling recommendation engine that introduces you to new people to meet and places to see based on your past checkin history". I'm sure you could make a case for loyalty or customer retention programs but that's not where the big bucks are online.

Buying decision process.

Reason 2: Foursquare hasn't reached the scale yet to be a platform play

Foursquare has perfectly executed on their check-in function which could eventually become the "default" standard to check-in on local Web sites, serving an important purpose. As I wrote in my recent post about the "The Perfect Local Media Company in 2014", I strongly believe check-in will be a required component of mobile local services. Foursquare has an API that you can use to interact with their platform and introduce a check-in function in your own local application/site (see an example here). The big challenge here is Facebook. The gigantic social network is used to maintain your existing social graph o friends, already has critical mass (including in mobile) and I predict (like Jason Kincaid did) that Facebook will introduce a check-in function as part of their soon-to-come geo-location roll-out. I don't think Foursquare will become big enough in time to avoid this disintermediation.

Reason 3: Monetizing through local dollars is hard and requires a lot of financial and human resources

Outside of directory publishers and maybe Google, anyone who has tried monetizing "local" traffic has found it very difficult. It often requires a large sales force which means human resources and dollars. I was reminded of that fact with the recent announcement that Groupon, a local group-buying startup, had raised $30M. The article mentions that "they have 126 employees, more than half of which are sales staff finding new deals for users". I can guarantee you that Groupon needed all that money to scale local sales nationally. ReachLocal, a local search engine marketing firm, raised a total of $67.9M over multiple rounds to do the same, to "reach" local merchants. So, it's going to be difficult for Foursquare to monetize their traffic unless they partner with existing sales forces but they need to get bigger to appear on the radar screen of those organizations.

So, is Foursquare doomed? Not at all. They've perfectly executed so far on a shoestring budget (they raised $1.35M in September after self-funding the first months of operations), they're growing exponentially and expanding internationally. I expect them to be acquired in 2010, possibly before a next funding round. But are they the next Twitter? To that, I have to answer no.

Sebastien Provencher has been blogging about the intersection of local and social media since 2006 and is generally known as one of the top international experts on the future of directory publishing (aka Yellow Pages). He lives in Montreal (Canada), a city at the intersection of Europe and America.

Guest Post: Europeans Are International – Meet Them at LeWeb

LeWeb has a very active official bloggers community from around the world and is proud to open its blog to guest posts from them. Here is a post by Nicole Simon from Germany.

Why are they visiting Paris?

When you hear about LeWeb, you might get the impression that visiting Paris in December is about the food (some people), visiting the Christmas markets (mainly the Americans), Americans taking over a conference schedule (partly true), or some big uproar (for some reason happening every year). But no matter what, LeWeb is always exciting and something to talk about, even long after the event. You do not need to enjoy Paris nor do you need to speak French, because this is a European conference, with the goal of connecting Europeans with the world and giving them a chance to meet and talk.

Proof of concept

Loic and Geraldine made this bold, often criticized move of inviting "the Americans" over to Paris and this way attracting visitors from all continents, especially Europe. But it proved beyond doubt that it is possible to get Europeans together. Not by abiding to everybody's wishes or trying to make everybody comfortable, but by setting up their own rules of what they want to see happen there. And they successfully did. Before you call me a hypocrite and accuse me of drinking the Kool-Aid: just because a rose has thorns does not mean you cannot appreciate the flower. And despite all discussion LeWeb has established itself as the European event in Technology and for Startups. If you want to meet Europe (and some Americans) LeWeb is the place to be.

5 minutes or why nothing can replace meeting in real life

Everybody is connected online, from audio over video to virtual reality. But nothing beats meeting face to face and having a conversation. This is especially true for making connections business-wise. Even more so when people from all over the world come together in one spot for two days. It gives you the unique possibility to quickly establish a personal connection which will benefit you later. Don't underestimate the value of those quick conversations.

But there are only Americans on the program!

At first glance it may look like there is an overwhelming amount of American companies and speakers, but then again, that is one of the major appeals of LeWeb: not having to travel for a day to get to the US, but have them come here. And talking about technology and startups, those invited companies and individuals are shaping the way this industry works. For example, if you talk about the real-time web who else would you invite but somebody from Twitter? Still, there would be place for so many more Europeans and European examples on stage, n'est-ce pas? In fact, people are desperately looking for European examples. But just because you are from Europe does not qualify you automatically.

Maybe you are not good enough - yet

Truth to be told, many companies from Europe have not yet reached the world league. Before I get flack for that, go ask yourself: if your favorite national football club (that is soccer for the Americans) played in the world cup, would they move beyond the first round? Chances are no. Because in the world cup, the best of each nation play. And only those who made the cut are playing in the world cup. Your club may be top of your national league but that does not mean it will cut it internationally. It starts with the skill of spoken English and does not end with available material. Without relevance to at least the European market, there is no reason to have you on stage. And if you are a startup from a non-English country approaching VCs or people who write about startups, the least you should have available is enough information about yourself in English. I add the "yet" to the headline, because I strongly believe that Europeans can be relevant, just like some national football clubs are better than some national teams. They too understand the international level of this.

Feeling Europe

Most people and companies coming to LeWeb do 'get' this international vibe, and they very much take advantage of the possibilities. But there is more: I think Europeans will feel a sense of belonging; being able to connect with like-minded people who at that same time share a cultural background and history. I call them "European by Heart": interested globally, but keen on connecting their communities and European countries with one another, despite challenges like language.  Btw: many of the official bloggers fall into this category.

… ...and the benefit for non-European visitors

Possibility of running into or getting introduced  to somebody? Costs you the travel expenses and the ticket. Having access to experts from all over Europe in one spot, being able to figure out possible markets for your ideas and products? Priceless.

If you start talking to a group of people at LeWeb, chances are you will get the perspective of different countries and markets in a few minutes. Expert opinions like this will cost you a lot of money to gather  -- going to Paris will bring them all to you. Europeans do take advantage of this too.

Now how can you make more out of your LeWeb Experience?

There are many ways to make more out of your experience and most of them just require you to think a bit about what makes the country you come from different. Imagine a LeWeb visitor coming up to you and being curious:

  • How many people use the internet? What do they mostly use it for? What is their favorite Social Networking Site? How does Facebook and Twitter hold up against local competitors? What role do mobile phones play?
  • What language do people understand? Are they fluent in understanding English (like most smaller countries in Europe) or is it more of an effort for them?
  • If I am a startup, and I would like to gain customers in your country, where would I go? How does billing work? Is there a blogosphere I can talk to or are there other channels I should go through?
  • What are the major local events and when are they?
  • Are there local Barcamps? Are international visitors welcome? Where can I get more information?
  • What else should I know about where you are from?

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking and I am curious to hear what other questions you can come up with for the participants of LeWeb.

Since the first time she encountered the "European sphere" Nicole Simon has made it her goal to connect Europeans with one another and with the world, which is why her blog and her twitter account are 100% in English. Her day job is to help companies and individuals understand how this new media stuff works. She is the successful author of the German Twitter book (currently updated for the second edition), Founder of the German Girl Geek Dinner and mostly known to fellow LeWeb participants for her preconference podcast interviews. For this year's LeWeb she produced the mini-audio series "Why do you come to LeWeb" to get attendees in the spirit of LeWeb.

Video: LeWeb venue being setup as we speak

 Here is a quick video of the huge LeWeb room getting setup and ready for the 2,200 participants from 46 countries this year.

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