Dec 10 2010

Le Web Roundup

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:-

Mobile Disruption

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…

Europe/US Divide

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!

Dec 8 2010

Le Web has kicked off… check out live posts here!

The auditorium is packed and a hush settles over the audience. This year’s Le Web appears to be bigger than ever before and not only that it’s beautiful. A lot of work goes into organising Le Web, you can tell not only from it’s size but the perfect management of the event, making it faultless.

With higher expectations than ever before, let me first go to the Microsoft presentation done by Charlie Kendel, the head of their Developer Ecosystem. The presentation starts promptly with Loic questioning how many handsets have been sold using the Windows platform to date. Charlie dodges the question and refuses to share how many this number of how many they plan on selling over the next year. It appears that Microsoft are a very closed organisation and as Loic points out, as a developer developing for the Windows platform, it’s impossible to get information such as how many downloads your app receives.

Charlie says that the new platform that they’re launching is very much focussed on the customer segment as opposed to operators which is what previously has been the case. It appears that Microsoft now recognise that people manage both their business and personal lives on one handset.

The new Windows 7 phone being launched by Microsoft appears to be much more social, encouraging development from the cloud. The phone comes with Xbox Live is built in with high quality games, they want it to be known as the Xbox phone. To date, 3500 applications have been uploaded to the market place one month after launch with 1500 developers already registered.

From the presentation, it would appear that Microsoft have seen the error of their ways and are attempting to change their direction to keep themselves in the mobile market as a credible platform provider. What that means for the future of their platform is yet to be seen.

Sep 8 2010

Living in a material world: Culture

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a number of articles on the culture of businesses and the role of the CEO as Chief Psychologist. I love the subject, I’ve read Delivering Happiness ten times over and still I can’t get enough of it. Given that it’s something which affects all companies, their staff and consumers – it’s still an area that is often done badly and worse still, over-engineered.

Who wants to be in my gang?

With the rise of the cool company, more offices than ever before are boasting shiny gadgets, games rooms and beer in the fridge to entice the very coolest kids to their working bunch. I’ve personally worked for a number of companies and don’t get me wrong it’s great. But it’s only great if it’s heart felt and genuine.

Building a business strategy around creating a cool culture is one that, in my opinion, will never succeed. Yes you can have your staff sitting comfortably in a lovely Aeron chair and the latest version of the iPhone in their mitts – but ultimately if it’s not in your core, not what you believe, not what you live and breath – it will never be sustainable.

Clock in. Clock out

To be seen as one of the cool web crowd, founders have stopped dropping vowels from their names and have taken to trying to create really cool working spaces with a “different vibe”. Whilst this is fabulous and beers will never be turned down, the shine starts to tarnish if the culture isn’t sewn through every part of the business. For example, enforcing a strict 9am-5pm regime to a non-customer facing role, when as part of your culture you’d be wanting them to focus on getting the job in hand done (often burning the midnight oil in the lead up to product releases) will start to cause a jar and the strain will begin to show.

Similarly, if you want to become a genuinely transparent company and to give your teams a voice – you can guide them, you can lead by example but you can’t control what they say. Ultimately, if you’re making the right hires for the culture of the business, you shouldn’t have to worry. Nobody is perfect, consumers want to know that there are humans behind the brand and sometimes that means them discovering your staff went for drinks on a school night – they probably do the same too.

Stop shouting, start doing

Not only are many companies now really good at creating their own ecosystems, they’re becoming bloody great at shouting about them. Self promotion has never been easier thanks to the likes of Twitter, Facebook and multiple video and photo sharing platforms.

Whilst this is amazing for communicating your culture and aiding recruitment, unless you really are living the life you’re selling, this can do more damage than good. Nothing worse than someone turning up to work at a weenie startup and being forced to create board packs and Powerpoint presentations (yuck!). Whilst you’ll get great people on board initially, they won’t become your advocates and essentially aren’t likely to stick around for as long as you’d like.

Company karma

Whilst you’re trying to stay cool, you’ll always be chasing for something outside of your control – after all “cool” changes and is very different in different people’s eyes. However, if you live by your “company karma” (I’ve just coined that phrase btw), this IS in your control and will be very hard to deviate from. Initially it will come from your core – the people that know what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it – but in time, through hires that fit, you’ll have a solid base for your company and all of the decisions that you make.

Of course, some of these decisions may challenge the norm, some people may think that you’re crazy, some people will tell you that they’d do things differently – but you’ll be confident in your choices, knowing that they’re right for you and your teams, after all, it’s come from your heart.

The companies that I really respect are those entirely focussed on producing amazing products, not those trying to be cool. That’s not something you can manufacture.

I’d love to hear your views on what makes a company successful, what culture means to you and how you think it’s sustainable as businesses grow. Please use the comments below and I promise I’ll respond 😉

One last thought

The cost of a Macbook Pro: £1,649.00.
The cost of a pool table: £1,950.00
The cost of an iPhone 4: £499.00
A sense of belonging and passion: Priceless.

Jul 22 2010

can android boys date iphone girls?

having opened up the vlog to crowdsourced content, this week’s topic has been selected by @wallrat who posed the question “can android boys date iphone girls?”.

i know it’s a question so many of you have spent hours wide awake pondering at night. so i’ve taken an objective view and have recorded my findings for you here, my friends. please, no need to thank me.

really hoping this “crowdsourcing” thing takes off, i hear it’s pretty hot right now 😉  help me out and suggest a topic in the comments below. the funnier the better, i don’t have dignity, it’s fine!

apologies for the delay in getting this posted, consider myself officially told off given your tweets and emails. it won’t happen again.

thursday hugs, M xox

Feb 11 2010

signs you’re amongst your own…

as it starts to enter into conference season again, there are always some welcoming tell tale signs that you’re amongst your own… a few of them are shared here…

i’d love your input too in the comments below. don’t be shy!

happy thursday peeps xox

Jan 8 2010

we need techhub… do it for europe!

having been asked to submit a video as to why i think techhub would be a great idea, i decided that it would be a good topic for this week’s video…

in all seriousness, i’m so proud to be a part of the uk tech scene – often forgotten for the valley… there are some great things going on here! the techhub would be an awesome place for all of that talent to come together in one place… and it would make an awesome back drop for some of my videos 😉

happy new year to you all, i hope that 2010 is treating you well… i’m having an operation next week and so it’s unlikely that i’ll be doing a video, but be warned, i’ll be back and kicking in no time, so don’t forget me!

love and hugs,

m xox

Oct 8 2009

signs that you’re a g33k!

yes you! you’ve always suspected you might be, but now there’s definite indicators for you to check!

as always, i’d love your input in the comments below and thanks to those who have already helped with the making of this on twitter 🙂

love you all xox

Sep 17 2009

signs that you may have a twitter addiction

i’ve always feared that i could have a twitter addiction, but given the regular appearance of the 503 error page, it’s become more apparent than ever. so i thought that it might be helpful to outline some of the symptoms…

i wonder if there are any help groups that exist…. hmmm….

happy thursday 🙂


Jun 22 2009

back to how it all began…

i was recently lucky enough to be invited to be interviewed by ryan havoc for his site havoc inspired. ryan has started a new series of interviews with web folks about how they got into the industry and where there careers began.

you can check out the interview below:-

i’d encourage you to visit ryan’s site. other interviews so far include paul boag and drew mclellan, both truly amazing guys. ryan’s done a great job and i hear there are plenty more cool interviews to come, no doubt a lot more interesting than mine 😉

me xox

Oct 1 2008

i need your help

so… this morning, i took the liberty of asking those great twitter folks what the first four things they opened in their web browser in the morning. mine are simple, gmail, twitter, facebook and 4mations to check what’s been going on overnight. the answers you gave were quite interesting and only go to prove that google rule the world! lol.

1. gmail
2. google reader
3. twitter
4. facebook
5. google analytics
6. basecamp
7. skysports
8. own website
9. bbc
10. igoogle

the other sites, which all drew include delicious, techcrunch, randommel (bless your hearts!), flickr, online banking, google calendar, google docs, times online, lynda.com, forums, wikis, google alerts, magicseaweed, freelanceswith.com, visto.com, phpmyadmin.

on a completely different topic, i’ve had too much coffee today already and am a little over-excited about those interweb fairies again. i’m thinking that i want to do more with my site – post more regularly and mix it up. I REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. i’ve considered life casting (but my life isn’t all that interesting), i’ve considered product reviews (but i kinda love them all) and so i’d love to hear from you what YOU would like to see – after all, it’s all about you. i’d really appreciate you taking a few minutes to leave your comments below.

thankyou mucho xxx