Recently in Le Web Category
May 15, 2013
Gosh, Le Web time already? Yup - it's now held twice a year. Summer's Le Web is held in the UK. While it's smaller than the main Parisian event, it still brings together an inetresting mix of European and intercontinental digerati for two days of discussion and netwoking. And, once again, I'm an official blogger at the event.
in three weeks' time I'll be in London for Le Web's UK edition, liveblogging as I normally do. (You can actually see me at work in the front row if you look carefully at the image above from last year...)
This year's theme is The Sharing Economy.
If you fancy coming along - the event is held in Westminster - I have a discount code for you: OBDISCOUNT will save you £200 on the cost of a ticket for Le Web.
December 6, 2012
Matt Mullenweg, Founder, Automattic, interviewed by Om Malik, Founder & Senior Writer, GigaOM
WordPress powers 17% of the top million sites on the web - and that's a huge responsibility. He wants to democratise publishing - but he also wants to build a sustainable business. Automattic sells services around WordPress, and they're growing it to be large, sustainable and independent.
"Some of the things around Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are troubling," says Matt. Facebook and Twitter's primary customers aren't those of we think as users - it's the advertisers. Apple does well when they make something amazing, and you get your wallet out to pay for it. Their primary customer is you. He doesn't approve of Instagram's move - it doesn't benefit users. WordPress comments work wit all sorts of logins, and they have the freedom to do that. Data silos don't make sense to him.
Does he plan on integrating other services into WordPress? Absolutely. You can always come home to your blog, whatever else you do. If you can back up some of that other content in your blog, so much the better. And you can push posts from WordPress to other engines. People said years ago that blogs were dead because of social media - but it has ended up providing a distribution channel for blogging instead.
Om is one of the philosophers of the web, says Matt. He love bespoke, hand-crafted things. How does that fit into the modern web? More personalised experiences, based on sensors and data input, says Om. It becomes our web, not their web. Facebook and Instagram are trying to sell us their web. We are the hub, not them. It'll happen by 2020. If you try to control the user experience on the web too much, that's when the ecosystem fights back. Matt doesn't want one device and one service that does everything, just as he doesn't always want to eat in one restaurant.
Where is the next big innovation for WordPress going to happen? Probably in plugins. There are 20,000 of them, and that's where the open development happens. The first four years of WordPress were about blogging, the second four were about being a CMS - from being something on your website, to being your website.
He was shown a YMCA login app, and wondered what the WordPress connection was. The answer? The backend was all WordPress. The next four years could be WordPress as an application platform.
Mobile? He describes WordPress as being like an SLR, full of functions advanced users can find in the application. But for mobile, you can simplify and simplify the application's UI to make it work in that environment. And they have more people working on the mobile version than the desktop one right now.
There's something about the time it takes to create something and the time it take to consume something. People appreciate that. That's why books are so good - and blogs.
Brian Solis, Principal, Altimeter Group
Computers are everywhere. Data is everywhere. Unless you use the stream of data to help you provide better experiences and change people's behaviour, it's just data. What are we going to do with big data that counts? We know that the lack of information is linked to loss of revenue opportunities. Altimeter refers to the internet of things as the sentient world.
We see a lot of devices that allow us to control the world around us remotely - lock doors, change the lighting, control the heating. This is about controlling environments and controlling the experiences around us. We're creating a relationship not just between you and me, and between you and the device, but with the information shared between them Some of you will create amazing utilities, but I'd love you to create amazing experiences. There's a human algorithm that produces a code that people aren't looking at. I want you to give me something I didn't know I wanted.
It's that dream and vision I want to see more of. It's about creating a better idea in the first place. The human algorithm is the one platform that is open source that we haven't tapped yet - it's you and me and what is possible.
Solis believes that Steve Jobs cracked the code of the human algorithm. He was the great UX designer, who create great experience for people. All the digital breadcrumbs we leave - our phone knows were we are and who we know, our home knows what temperature we like - and that's powerful.
Fitbit gets you thinking about your health and lifestyle. And that's wonderful. But it also connects you to other people who will encourage you. Think about how the experience you're designing will bring people together. This one brings people together to make each other better. What was once a life hack is now just life. We need to look at opportunities to help people change their lives.
A baby trying to use a magazine is funny - because she pinches and zooms (unsuccessfully). That's the world she knows. But isn't it hilarious that Apple has patented the page turn, when she will probably never read a paper magazine in her life?
As you develop products, think about what it tells us about ourselves, how it will communicate, how it will bring people together for a purpose, and help us optimise our lives. Experience architecture is a blank canvas. You get to determine it. Don't just make a cool product - you'll becomes just another thing at CES. Create a cool experience.
How do we find what people don't know they want? We need to filter out the noise. There are too many "me too" products. Do something different, something inspiring.
Life is about living - and creating - experiences that are worth sharing. This is about how devices and technology and data bring people together to do, see or experience something they couldn't have done before.
You're not just a developer, or an entrepreneur. You're an experience architect changing the way we live our lives.
A force of nature on stage - Ramon de Leon who does social media marketing for Dominos Pizza. And I love him for never saying "engagement" - and for bringing a sleepy Le Web crowd to life with the sheer energy of his performance.
People listen, people watch, people share. Have you never seen a dog with a video camera? Go to Chicago on St Patrick's day. GoPros are all over Le Web. Technology is wearable
He sorted a customer's pizza needs from a party in Paris at 1.30am. She had just lost her dog (he'd been put down) and she tweeted her appreciation.
His secret to social media: ask how you can make people feel.
Why do people make graffiti? Passion. In 2005 he considered going back to school just so he could have a Facebook account, because he wanted to use it to learn about his customers ay university - and beyond.
You need to believe in yourself and your own instincts. No way you can lead your team without this. You need to be your own caffeine - look inside for your own inspiration. don't be lazy. Success only hits a moving target. And don't be boring. If you're running a brand and you're boring - better up your ad spend, 'cos that's the price of being boring. He advised Disney to make its toilet paper interesting with origami. People take photos of it and share it.
His goal is keeping the conversation alive at all times, in helping them know the face behind the logo. "Social media fire can only be put out with social media water." If you're worried about people saying bad things about your brand - don't do bad things. And when you do wrong - fix it. If someone's pizza is screwed up, reach out to them and make them feel better _now_. Brands don't do this - they need to.
Social media is about people, not technology. It doesn't change your business, but it allows you customers to hold you to account. Get out there, get on your customers blogs. You are a media company whether you like it or not. Get your message out there. Content is always being created - and there's a level of excitement. But he's always trying to be found.
Update: Some background on Domino's social media history from Neville.
Liveblogging just can't transmit the sheer charisma of this guy.
I'll embed the video as soon as it's available. Below:
So we need a separate network for the internet of things? Ludovic le Moan, ceo of Sigfox, thinks so. Most internet of things products use existing networks. Around us their are many object, and most of them are deaf and dumb.
There are two categories of wireless now: short range (WiFi or Bluetooth) or long range (telcos/satellite). Both are energy hungry. The long range stuff is expensive. So, how do you build a low cost, low energy long range network? Sigfox claims to have come up with something that can be connected for less than $1 per year. And the price of the chipset to do it? <$1.
He demos a fire alarm which sends a message to Twitter when it goes off:
He suggests that they could cover the globe for €200m Euros.
This is a very cool idea - if it works as advertised. Worth watching.
December 5, 2012
I learnt an important lesson this evening, at the cost of some time and shoe leather. However interesting the end session is, if Le Web is over-running don't hang around. Why? Because you'll end up stranded at the venue, along with at least a coach's worth of other people, after the last coach goes.
By the way, if you want an example of how thin a veneer the "transparant, honest, social" creed of the web industry is - watch people elbowing each other out of the way to cram onto the last buses out of the venue. Amazing how quickly people lose their civilization...
Some poor member of the Le Web team (she probably drew the short straw) had to tell 60-odd people that the last two buses that they couldn't get on (possibly through being insufficiently skilled with their elbows) were indeed the last two. They were on their own on making their way home - with the nearest Metro stop and the next two down the line out of service. Some tried to call a taxi, with little luck. I gave up and headed to Porte de la Chapelle to catch the rail replacement bus, accompanied by Marcin Fejfer.
We eventually made our way to Jules Joffin - only to find that the Metro wasn't running south either. I walked back to my hotel, with a pause for a late dinner in a local bistro. So much for my evening plans...
Lessons, other than "don't stay late"? Perhaps the Le Web team could make a little more effort to ensure that coaches are there when the event runs late. One more coach - just one - would have got the rest of their (expensively) paying customers much closer to home. But even that wouldn't have dealt with the Metro problems.
Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission
Interviewed by Loic Le Meur
Neelie Kroes has begun an exciting experience - the inventors of Angry Birds came over to tell them what was needed. She cancelled her next appointment and called the Spanish finance minister to listen top them. In three hours they ended up with a to-do list - and inspiration.
Loïc points out that we have a lot of successful stratums in the room. How important are they to the Europeav Commission. Every week they have a meeting of the commission, and it is doom and gloom: unemployment, the euro and so on. She was fed up - so she asked for the floor, and said that there was one sector giving hope - and they should feed it: ICT, entrepreneurship and digitisation.
Loïc: but they haven't been on the scale of Facebook or Twitter.
She doesn't quite agree. If you add up all the startups - they are numbers that are omparible with Silicon Valley. If she looks at London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, she see entrepreneurs and others talking about what is at stake. We need an Airbus of chips. When Airbus was created, members were willing to work across borders. We can't go for the slow path of a digital internal market. We need top ytacle the problems that stop entrepreneurs working across Europe.
They have a plan and money - €100m - for a network of entrepreneurs across Europe. The money will be to inspire and create partnerships. They need food for thought. If they can stimulate examples of creating centres of excellence that make sense, then please come and let's talk.
But, as Loïc points out - she can't do anything about local problems like capital gains tax. She counters that she's not biased towards a particular nation or city. Their job is to make it easier to work cross-nationally, through law and regulation. They need to identify the big hurdles.
Loïc is unconvinced - so she challenges him to tell us what he would do. He thinks that entrepreneurship is better taught in the US - so we should teach our children more to create their jobs, not apply for them. He would try to protect the entrepreneurs, but not too much: bad products should still fail. But the things that sow them down should go. VAT is a bad one. It's much easier to hire and fire in the US.
She responds to his first point by suggesting that the young people have the enthusiasm, but their elders quash that spirit. There's a mindset change needed all over Europe. The generation above Loïc - the 50-plus people - need to change their minds, and use the generation behind them more. The strtup community need to be more concrete in the way they ask for things from government. She needs our stories to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. Can anyone explain why VAT is higher for ebooks than printed books? She can't. It's a ring-fenced way of thinking, and tax affairs are in the hands of member states.
Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder & CEO, Instagram, interviewed by MG Siegler, General Partner, CrunchFund
Breaking news just before the talk - Instagram has stopped supporting Twitter cards, which mean that Instagram photos now only appear as links in the Twitter stream, rather than photos. Why?
"This is an evolution of where we want links to where our content goes," says Systrom.
They were one of the first to implement cards on Twitter. But they realised over time that they did need to build an awesome web presence. Joining Facebook allowed them to staff up their web team, so they now want to direct users there so they can get the full experience. They want users on instragram.com.
Doesn't this change the commitment made when Instagram was acquired by Facebook to keep things the same?
"Things change as a company evolve, and I don't think we ever said that nothing would ever change," responded Systrom.
His decision or Facebooks? "I think the decision is coming from me." It's not a consequence of being acquired, it's the right thing for their business, he suggests.
Is it tit for tat?
"We have a really good relationship with Twitter," he insists.
No plans to pull the push of images to Facebook or Tumblr, though...
He admits that there was a lot of user angst after Instagram was acquired. They tried to counter that with a rapid pace of innovation. Their team of 16 is now 25. And they're hiring. They're based in Facebook's offices, and that's brought them Android and web resources.
He had experience of M&A at Google, and he carried that over to his acquisition of Facebook to try and manage it well. He hasn't lost any staff after the acquisition so far. He likens the relationship to that of a startup's board - experience people giving good advice. There were 27m users when the acquisition happened, and 100m when it completed. That sort of growth needs smart people in the room.
He hopes to leverage Facebook more - they want a billions users like the parent company. There are more mobile devices than desktop PCs, so that's their focus.
Will Instagram always stay a stand-alone product? The current plan is that it stays outside like the Messnger app. "We have a different graph." But they want to figure out when the intersection of the venn diagram, is, and what they can do with those people. That shows an independent product and brand within Facebook - like YouTube in Google.
Can Instagram live on if its founders leave? The best advice Systrom read was that you should build an organisation that can outlive its founders, and Steve Jobs tried to do with Apple.
Do Facebook want to make money off them? "They want to make value from us," he says. Wether that's engagement on Facebook or revenue, they're still discussing. But he points out the use of Instagram in disasters like Hurricane Sandy shows how much value there is in the system already.
It doesn't annoy him that people talk about Instagram as a successful company - because it is one. He suggests that humans are good with patterns, so it's inevitable that people will use the pattern of Instragram to help define their vision of something else.
He thinks video will happen eventually, but the timing is very, very hard. The timing will tip.
What on earth does kite-surfing have to do with startup culture? The MaiTai events mash together kite-surfers, investors and entrepreneurs in an adventure sports/entrepreneurship party.
Susi Mai's parents were wind-surfing hippies. Done her own thing with competitive kite-urging. Bill Tai is more tradition - an angel investor and board member.
MaiTai is a "life changing bonding experience" where you put a load of high-energy people in one place, you get a super-networking event. Susi brings the kite-surfing, and makes sure everyone gets on the water - and hang out with top athletes.
Companies have got funded, companies have built exits at the event. Forbes reported $7 million in exits off the back of the events. Bill suggests that events like this allow you to invest in people rather than technology. Putting them into an adrenaline-fuelled environment allows you to make a judgement on them, and how they'll react to the pressures of startup life.
Susi adds that kite-boarding is co-dependent. You need friends to help you launch, and to watch you and the area around you while you surf. It gives you an opportunity to assess their team skills.
There's also a synergy between the kite-surfers's desire to measure - and generate data - and the startup desire to analyse and use it...
The event series is growing, with six worldwide events and a rising "TEDx-like" culture of spin-off events and competitions.
"The bonds you form when you do something challenging with people can be life changing", says Bill.
They're still figuring out their business model. Bill describes it more as a movement than anything. They're putting it into a non-profit structure.
"I want to see it grow and be preserves as a tool which allows us to play," says Susi.
They do it because it's a passion, and that's what Scott Dunlap sees behind all interesting things. Passion makes things feel effortless, which is why it's behind pretty much everything we love as a human race. The passion in endless, and it can be amplified. But can it be measured?
Well, we have the internet of me - monitor tool we wear. And the internet of now - tools that track time and location. Scott is an ultra-runner. He shows us a bunch of data on calorie burn, steps and water on marathons versus ultra-marathons, versus huge mountain runs.
He has a watch built where he can record his mood every 30 minutes. Over time, he goes through a series of cycles of struggling and euphoria, with the amplitude magnifying. He calls the down phases "The Wall" "The Pit" and "The Abyss". A test of the body, the mind and then the spirit.
Interestingly, he hits "flow" in those euphoric moments, where his heart rate is lowest, but his speed is fastest. It's a human condition known by many names. Anandamide is the chemical that's triggered to create it. It's also in weed.
- Encourage passion in those around you.Force people to take vacations to explore their passions
- There's no such thing as work/life balance. There's just life balance.
- The marathon is a sprint, so pack lean. Cut loose the things that drag you down.
- Predict and celebrate the pain - because that'll help you get through the pain to euphoria.
Dr. DJ Patil, Data Scientist in Residence, Greylock Partners
Our world is becoming an instrumented lifecycle. We are becoming the internet of things by surrounding ourselves with sensors, and using that data to get better insights about ourselves. We talk about small things: sleep monitors, blood pressure sensors - but big things like a Google car or a rover on Mars are all feeding us data. How about jet planes? There are 43,000 engines running right now - with 30,000 more to come in the next few years. These complex pieces of kit have 4000 parts - and its sending data. It tells the pilot and the mechanic if it's starting to get sick. There are so many connected things that it could effect $32.2 trillion of spending. The 2003 blackout in the US was hard to track down because they'd couldn't identify what was going wrong. Sensors + data = insights. Were'e OK at sensors, grey at data, but not great at turning that data into actionable insights. We're just vomiting out data.
- We need to design our systems better: What do you want to take away, what do you want to do with it, and how do you feel about it? Our design needs to lead us to the next step.
- We need to make superpowers - tools that we build that make us feel powerless when they are taken away are superpowers. You wear Google Glass? You feel like Tony Stark... Think about augmentation, not replacement. When Spock lands on a planet, he pulls out a tricorder. It doesn't tell him what to think, it just gives him data which he interprets. How is your connected tech augmenting you?
- It's a new set of skills. A data scientist 2.0 - people who understand the hardware, the maths, the physics and the chemistry. Most of all, they understand how to put the human back in the data loop.
Don't just think of the internet of things, but the hardware of things, the data of things... Everything we need for superpowers.
That's a first - David Jones apparently needed an advert for himself before he walked on stage at Le Web. Sadly for him, but to the relief of the audience, it froze and they started the chat earlier.
This was a very disappointing talk. Jones clearly understands the basics of the new communications dynamics of the social media age, but he wrapped what he was saying in such fluffy optimism that he ended up undermining his won argument.
Any individual can organise against the corporates that displease them, he suggested. Correct. They can find out everything about the company, and share it in real time across the web. This is the Age of Damage - where failure to manage your reputation via social media leaves you vulnerable. (Nice bit of branding there.)
Is his book "really obvious"? Yes, to young people, he suggests, but not to the white Anglo-Saxon males that popular boardrooms. But that younger generation won't work for - or buy from - companies that aren't grounded in these ideas. The new price of doing well is doing good. The rules of business are the same as for social media: authenticity, transparency and speed. Dior fired Galliano when he made racist comments quickly, rather than agonising over it. Mitt Romney spent too long hiding from the tax issue, says Jones.
He's over-selling this argument, though. When challenged about the "mob mentality" of Twitter, he claimed that he couldn't think of a single example of when the crowd was wrong. How about the Lord McAlpine situation? The crowd was very wrong there.
Two thirds of brands in the world wouldn't be missed if they disappeared tomorrow, he says.
His company does work encouraging other businesses to integrate social good into their marketing mix. That's a worthy aim - but by ending up recreating the stereotype of a fluffy fact-free corporate do-gooder, which undermined his laudable goals.
December 4, 2012
Dalton Caldwell, Co-Founder & CEO, App.net
How are we going to cope with all the data that the internet of things will create? Struggling with your in-box and social networks? Things are only getting worse.
How about service that auto-tweet or auto-posts to Facebook using frictionless sharing? What do you do if someone is cluttering your stream? Unfollow them? Ask them to slow down? Maybe - but you want the algorithm to solve that for you. Reading the unfiltered stream is almost impossible now - we're reaching the limits of human cognitive capacity. The FB stream is a great example of this - eliminating noise and redundancy.
Streams will be useful for processing internet of things data, because you can apply filters. The problem is that if you're advertising-supported, you don't want third party apps displaying your streams - you want to control the appearance and the filtering, so the ads don't disappear. And you probably don't want to host home-automation data. In fact, you're more interested in engagement and repeated use, than you are utility.
The solution might be to unbundle the stream - use APIs and portable data to allow data to be hosted and accessed in many places. Examples right now are IFTTT (read/write APIs), 3rd-party Twitter clients (UI unbundling) and Flipboard (unbundled stream filters). All three of these are running into problems because the social networks have business issues with the social networks.
He created app.net as an example of what an unbundled stream service could be like. If you unbundle the streams - remove them from the commercial interests that drive them to push away third parties - you're driving innovation in streams, in filters and in UIs.