Always New Mistakes

December 19, 2008

LeWeb and Paris

Filed under: entrepreneur — Tags: , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 1:24 pm

Last week I had the change to attend, for the first time, to LeWeb conference in Paris. LeWeb, organized by French entrepreneur Loïc Le Meur and his wife Geraldine, has become one of the most important Web conferences in Europe in past years.

This is the second time I attend a European conference, being FOWA @ London, the previous one and I have to confess that the feeling was different this time. When I went to FOWA I was impressed. There were some amazing keynotes and I got to know plenty of people. It really gave me a taste of what was out there in terms of tech startups. It actually put my feet on the ground and reset many of my expectations with my own tech startup.

LeWeb was quite different, the keynotes where stellar, even more that the ones at FOWA, nevertheless, my experience was distinct. A year has passed, I’ve met plenty of new friends, most of them working in tech startups and my own perception of the tech startup world is much more advanced now that my company is starting to operate with beta users. As a side note, it’s also true that once you are in this particular industry, you start to demystify many of the key players an so, talks that a while back seemed amazing to me, no longer have that effect.

So, this time, it wasn’t about getting a grasp of the market, but it was more about getting in contact with possible clients and partners. To that extend I succeeded in meeting very interesting persons and had an amazing time hanging with many European startups.


The keynotes were different from the ones at FOWA. The ones at FOWA had, in general, a high degree of technical content. The ones at LeWeb where much more business oriented and some of them where very inspiring. All in all, I think I like the LeWeb formula the most. Being a tech geek as I am, there is a problem with tech keynotes. Working all day as a developer, you really don’t want to listen to more developers talking about the same stuff you do at work. On the other side, some of them that might seem like amazing talks, become CEOs and CTOs PR talks. I don’t really get it, if you are doing a tech talk, give it, but don’t put a cool title for your keynote and then talk about what your company does and how well are you growing.

In contrast, LeWeb had very refreshing talks that touched very dear subjects to me, inspiration, neuroscience and music. Funny enough the keynotes I liked the most were the ones that had nothing to do with technology or big tech companies. The most amazing presentations, in my humble opinion, were these ones (in no particular order):

  • David Weinberger
  • Itay Talgam, Conductor
  • Linda Avey, Co-Founder, 23AndMe, Inc.
  • Helen Fisher, Visiting Research Professor, Rutgers University
  • Paulo Coelho, Author
  • Introduction with Morten Lund – Chief Ideologist, Lund XY Global Ventures
  • Robin Good, New Media Innovator, Explorer, Independent Publisher,
Master New Media
  • Chris Anderson – Curator, TED
  • Joichi Ito, CEO, Creative Commons

I specially loved Chris Anderson’s talk which nearly got me crying. I also had the joy of talking with him for a few seconds after his talk (thank you Luis Rull for pushing me to approach him) and managed to give him my business card, which, of course, he won’t read. But anyway, it made me immensely happy to talk with him as it’s one of the persons I have a deep respect for. You can find most of the keynotes in ustream, so check some of them out, they are worth it.

Finally and as a side note, I had the impression the organization was, ironicaly, quite disorganized, which lead to a chain of problems which bugged everyone during the conference. You could reduce them to cold, lack of food and lack of Wifi. Three things which are indispensable in any conference and all of them failed the first day. I hope next year the organization pulls their act together and get those issues fixed as the rest of the conference was a blast.

I’ll be going to the Lift Conference in February 2009 with my friends from Sandbox Network, so if you plan to attend don’t hesitate on dropping me an email.


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