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Category: Le Web 11 Day 2

Five things I learnt from day two of Le Web

1. Your talents emerge young, so follow your passions…

Bill Gross

Sometimes entrepreneurship starts young. Bill Gross, Founder & CEO, Idealab was 12 when he started running candy arbitrage on his street, buying sweets in one place cheaper than the prevailing price, and then selling them at a profit, while undercutting the local shop. I started publishing a newspaper for the kids on my street when I was eight… Working at something you’re passionate about makes a huge difference.

2. Mobile is replacing the web

George Colony

Forester’s research shows that more and more customers are choosing apps over the website of online retailers, according to George Colony, Chairman & CEO, Forrester Research. 45% of the companies are taking money from the web to apps. Bear in mind that the web is not the same thing as the internet. The web will be replaced just as other services have been before.

3. Context + Social Data = Useful Analysis

Deb Roy

Is Twitter chatter around an event or a TV show just noise? Is it media? Or is it one of the best research tools you have? Take a wild guess…

4. Sometimes simple applications of technology fund more interesting research

Ariel Garten

Ariel Garten, Co-Founder & CEO, Interaxon made a return appearance with more developments on her thought-controlled tech – which they’re using for games. At least, for now…

5. A grown man in bunny ears is very distracting

Bunny ear man

I have no idea at all what that demo was about…

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Le Web: Automattic and the virtual workplace

Sarah RossoThe Ignite talk at Le Web I’m most interest in: Sara Rosso from Automattic

No-one is inspired by a cubicle-filled office. But we’re locked into thinking about productivity as something that happens in an office. But what should that be? Some people are more productive at home, at the beach, in a co-working space. But remote workers are still viewed with suspicion in most businesses.

Automattic, makers of WordPress.com, are completely distributed. They don’t have an office. Their staff are scattered all over the world. Rosso lives in Milan…

How do they do it? Private chat on IRC, Skype and a bunch of internal blogs are the key communication tools. It means that all the information and discussions in the company are searchable as soon as you join. IRC is their “showing up” in the office. Everyone needs to be a self-starter, though, they need to manage themselves, and they need to over-communicate on their progress.

Companies need to be distributed because they can recruit from a bigger pool of talent. You can move beyond the idea of the Apple Store-radius of recruitment.

They meet once a year (at least) for a mix of fun and work. 

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Le Web: How is social-mobile-local changing media?

mediapanel3.jpgA panel discussion the changes in media wrought by the latest technology, moderated by Thomas Crampton. Not surprisingly, Paul-François Fournier, Executive Vice President, Orange Technocentre defines media as, essentially, businesses that produce content, which is a pretty broad definition. Brad Garlinghouse, President, Consumer Applications & Commerce Group, AOL thinks that keeping traditional media away from the innovative, digital media is vital to stop new efforts being crushed.

Is Techmeme media? Gabe Rivera, Founder & CEO, thinks it is, even though they don’t write any of the content. The term “media” is overused, he suggests. When people say “media” they almost always think of broadcast media of various sorts. Bruno Patino, Senior Executive Vice President, Strategy Digital Director, France Télévisions Group & France 5 talks about the evolution of television and people start constructing social conversations online around TV shows as they watch them. This represents a loss of control for the media; they’re still in the game, they just don’t control it any more. And that’s not a bad thing. It maximises the experience.

Rivera suggests that most social media isn’t really integrated with existing media, just sort of bolted on the end. Very often tweets are just amplification or repetition. Fournier points out that media is changing on multiple fronts. TV is evolving into the multi-screen experience. Other media is now being published through social networks. There is lots of experimentation, and there will be failures and successes we learn from.

Patino argues that people don’t “deliver” the news any more, you give up control of your news when you publish it, and people will absurd it into their networks. The context in which we are telling stories is changing.
mediapanel1.jpgCrampton moves on the conversation from social to local. Social is about scale; local is the response. Garlinghouse reminds us that traditional media has struggled to fund local coverage for decades. Patch is AOL’s attempt to reverse that – targeted at areas of around 50,000 to 80,000 people. But he thinks Twitter is garbage – or at least he says as much before he starts back-peddling, throwing out the world platform instead. He thinks there’s a huge opportunity at the intersection of the social graph, the interest graph and the local graph. Crampton challenges the sustainability of the Patch model, and Garlinghouse says that the experiment will play out over the next few years. Some Patch sites are already profitable.

Scaleability is the key question, says Patino. We used to call local 500k to 600k. That’s not local on the web. The ground is changing everywhere, so the old volume business model just breaks.

Alexia Tsotsis from Techcrunch challenges the relevancy of local media. Patch is at about 10m uniques in 18 months – but it’s clearly a challenge, says Garlinghouse. But to say that local community is irrelevant is short-sighted at the very least. Patino thinks that we have to find a solution, so that local powers continue to be monitored. But Rivera wouldn’t do a local site. There are plenty already – and by definition, there isn’t much to aggregate and filter. The abundance just isn’t there. Garlinghouse points out that stories of national importance can start in local areas – it’s something like citizen journalism curated. The question is: are local merchants interested enough to advertise on the platform?

Is mobile passing the desktop for media yet Probably not, says Rivera. However Twitter says that over 50% of its activity is on mobile, and it’s over 30% for Facebook. Garlinghouse would like to see more customisation of news experience based on your social, mobile and interest graphs. Patino certainly thinks mobile is the new frontier for TV and very important. They’re looking at iPhone and iPad appellations that allow you to catch up with, and share, TV. And Fournier suggests their DailyMotion deal was driven by similar considerations.


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Le Web: 5 steps to making a predictive, social business

Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah Owyang, a partner in the Altimeter Group, has a question for us: Is your business ready for social business? You wouldn’t trust a pilot, a surgeon or even a member of your shop staff if they didn’t have training. Yet many do with social.

We’re still really early in social – maybe the 1998 equivalent of the web. Companies are rushing to integrating social – but they’re not doing pod job. The Washington Post tried to integrate with Facebook 11 different ways on one page. Why have you spent years getting people to come to your website just to send them straight to Facebook. The mainstream media are upping their coverage of social media crises.

We have a spiral towards social media sanitation. If we respond on social media without a strategy, we can actually make things worse. So… a social business hierarchy of needs. (The slides will be on his blog later)


Getting the basics right. Why are we doing this? What education do you need? Educate employees around tools is a basic minimum. Dell use unconference style training. Intel have an internal certification programme.


Get the right team in place. He’s got five models – he talked about them last year. The average size of a corporate social media team is 11. Weber Shandwick has pretend crises to practice on.


Looking just at work accounts, owned by the company – many companies have proliferating accounts right now. 1 out of 330 employees are using these tools for business purposes.


If you’re running social media in a business – you need to let go and let the running move to the business units. Most companies still have it locked in Marketing. Support is usually next, following by product. This level is rarely reached by most companies. Salesforce rewards their top social media employees – Chatteratti.


Social, local and mobile enable you to start predicting what your company need to provide. Websites will increasingly be assembled on the fly, based on mobile data. Websites as we know them will change, and conventional advertising will go away – replaced by contextually useful. But we are years away from this.

Most companies have yet to integrate social data into their main customer relationship tool.  But to get to that point, you need to climb your way up this hierarchy.

The slides:

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Le Web: Marissa Mayer or Google Take Two

Marissa Mayer at LeWeb

So, what does Marissa Mayer have to offer us this year? After all, we had Schmidt yesterday… Well, a few things.

  • Checkins + Deals will launch next week
  • Latitude is still under development – 10m active users

She thinks there’s lots of activity in local still. It’s natural that there will be winners and locals. What will make for success? Transactions? Data ownership? That’s where Google has put the emphasis, because they think that they can innovate with. Location is useful on phones in particular. Maps follows voice and texts as the major use for a phone. As of June, maps has more usage on phones than on desktop.

Why go for indoor maps? Plenty of places that are large, indoor and confusing: shopping malls, airports, etc. It’s not just the maps, it’s locating people within the spaces. No GPS inside, so they use WiFi signals to locate you. A survey tool takes measurements of WiFi strength every few feet within the building…

Google+ is vital to her team – local feeds social feeds local. Chances are if you’re going somewhere, you’re going there with someone or to meet someone. Social and mobile working together offer real ways of working together. They’ve learned a lot from Wave and Buzz. Wave was a great concept, but was over-promised and too hard to understand. Buzz taught them a lesson about privacy.

There’s a clear company line emerging about Android – it’s ahead of iOS, Google services are better on Android. They’re clearly wedded to it as the future of the product.

Becoming Microsoft or becoming Yahoo? Which is the bigger fear? asks MG Seigler.

“Every company is it’s own thing.”

“That’s not one of them.”

“I’m not going to pick one of them.”


What does it take to be a great product manager? asks Chris Heuer. Finding the right people – those who can look at technology, see what is possible, and create a great product. By the time they come to her, they’ve passed the technical hurdles, so she wants to see what excites them. She wants people with enthusiasm, not those who are “too cool for school”. They need to build products that delight things, and you need to understand what delights you first to do that.

Le Web: Evernote – gunning for your office software suite

Phil Libin From 5m to 20m users in a year. Partnerships with companies like Orange in France, to give their users a free year of Evernote Premium. A refreshingly free way with their figures – apparently the only way to build trust with users who might store their memories in the service for a lifetime. It must be a Phil Libin presentation. He’s covering much of the same ground as last year so far. 750,000 premium users – less than one in 20, but then the don’t pressure people to upgrade. “Free” Evernote is the main product. They got profitable about six months ago, but are back in the red now, as they’re hiring as fast as they can. They’d need to put the brakes on that to go back into profitability. Oh, and they now have offices internationally – including  forthcoming one in Zurich, the first in Europe.

Two new apps:

Evernote Food

Food is one of the things Libin is capturing all the time in Evernote. Easting is one of his “core competencies”. It’s a separate app, because he believes that mobile should be simple and clear in their function. Mobile apps should be simple, but desktop apps can be unified. Capture a photo of your food – the app automatically captures the restaurant, and pulls up related notes.

Evernote Hello

Similar thing for people. Photos of people, map of where you met them, and any related notes. Uses the iPhone gyroscope to makes sure you get good photos, and grabs four to create an animated “moment”. Links to social networks are going to come in the next version.

Evernote is build for Libin – he can’t remember stuff. He likes food. He can’t remember people’s faces…

They’re up to six apps now. Where are they going? They want to reimagine what tools for the modern knowledge workers look like. Office as the model doesn’t take into account 30 years of ethnology development. What are the tools for a modern person who has narrow boundaries between home and work? That’s Evernote.

Le Web: Airy answers from Airbnb

Brian Chesky

More than once this Le Web, I’ve heard American voices talking about how they used AirB&B to get themselves a room in Paris. The concept is allowing you to pay to borrow someone’s guest room or apartment, villa or other property. Indeed there are everything from apartments through to castles and islands – and even entire (small) countries…

The company started in 2008 on a couple of credit cards, and has grown through two rounds of funding. How much traffic do they get from appearances on TV shows like Conan O’Brien. The answer? Not much? It make have a reputation effect, but not a usage spike. Average person in New York makes $4000 a year using the service – and that’s at 4 nights a month let out.

And now Brian Chesky, Co-Founder & CEO is falling into buzzword bingo “community” “platform” – he suggests that Airbnb is becoming a platform without really giving us any details of how. Ooh, Tourism 2.0. New buzzword. However, his point that by bringing tourists and travellers into residential neighbourhoods, they’re bringing new business to companies that never had a tourist base before.

One interesting revelation: they had to more actively manage their would-be “landlords” – people who are unresponsive or are attracting poor ratings are contacted and, if they don’t respond, removed from the site. Last year, they had a user vandalise a host’s apartment. They responded with rolling out dozens of new features for security, and instituted a 24/7 helpline. Not clear exactly how that would prevent it happening… Chesky has lived the service though – he spent a year living out of apartments he rented from the service.

They have a network of 2000 photographers worldwide who they pay to go and photograph properties at no charge to the hosts. And they found them by e-mailing people in their community.

They have $112m from their last round of funding. They intend to invest in search and discovery on the site as a priority. They hope to become, as he puts it, the Google of places and experiences, rather than info.


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