Dec 10 2010
Following the Le Web conference held in Paris over the past two days, I wanted to take this opportunity to summarise the event for you, sharing with you what I’ve learned.
Firstly, I should take this opportunity as a hat tip to Loic and Geraldine Le Meur who did an amazing job of organising the conference on the largest scale it’s ever been. Wherever you turned, there were people talking, connecting and sharing ideas. Not only was it a great environment to help bring people together but the quality of the presentations were awesome – something which is too often hit and miss at these types of events.
The main themes to come out of Le Web were mobile disruption, the current state of the acquisition model and the continuing discussion around the Europe/US tech divide. Let me explain some more:-
It was clear that Apple shouldn’t become too complacent from all of the presentations taking place at the conference. The audience were raving about the new Windows 7 operating system and it’s certainly something I’d be keen to try. When Google’s Marissa Mayer demo’d the Android 2 handset with the new Google Maps built in, people were offering to hand in their iPhones in exchange.
There definitely appears to be a turn in the tide, with consumers wanting phones that work as well as look attractive. The average consumer no longer has a handset for work and a handset for home, they want to be able to do everything on one device and the question is, who will do it the best, first? Only time will tell….
The Current Acquisition Market
After the alleged $6b acquisition attempt by Google of Groupon, the big subject on everybody’s lips is whether we’re in another bubble heading towards bursting. This was only fuelled when Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder of FourSquare took to the stage and confirmed that they had turned down an acquisition offer in the region of $140m.
Regardless of all of this speculation, the VCs seemed clear that they didn’t believe that it was a bubble in the respect of that which took place nearly a decade ago. If the industry were to take a downturn, it’s very much encouraging that they believe we’d be able to survive it. With more business than ever before taking place online, it’s only right that the value of existing online assets will go up. Whether I agree with this is a different matter…
The interesting debate kicked off which takes place at most of the European web events, which is whether it’s truly possible to achieve large scale success being outside of the States, and in particular San Francisco.
It seems that being in San Francisco provides many of the entrepreneurs there an opportunity to gather a strong support network, plenty more angel investment opportunities and allegedly a different working mentality. I can certainly see that there is value to having great people, trying to achieve great things around you would encourage and motivate you and provide you with some amazing contacts that may be useful in the future.
One point that was raised that I’m not sure that I agree with is that the mentality of entrepreneurs trying to make a success in the US is different as these people are doing what they’re doing because they truly love it, it’s a way of life for them, whereas in Europe we’re focused on exit. They cited Dennis Crowley turning down the acquisition offer as he says that he wouldn’t want to sell the company as it’s the one thing that he’s passionate about. Whether he genuinely means that or is waiting for a better valuation, only time will tell…
I had an amazing couple of days, meeting some truly inspiration people including the wonderful Bertrand Piccard. To those of you with whom I had the pleasure of meeting… until next year, au revoir!