LeWeb '10 Conference Sneak Peek: "Platforms"

leweb10-460x60(2)

Loic and Geraldine Le Meur have just announced the theme to this year’s LeWeb conference in Paris. It’s going to be “Platforms”. You can watch the introduction video here.

The 2009 edition was extremely relevant and it’s probably one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. You can read the various posts I wrote when I was there. I believe the Le Meur’s have a created a world-class conference and I urge everyone (especially my European friends and contacts) to attend, You can register here.

Chris Sacca on Douchebags, Porn and Lube

Second afternoon at LeWeb conference, Chris Sacca, Founder, Lowercase Capital LLC, proposed to us his three dominant trends for 2010 in a very tongue-in-cheek presentation.

Chris Sacca LeWeb Paris December 2009

They are:

1) Douchebags

  • According to Wikipedia, “the term refers to a person with a variety of negative qualities, specifically arrogance and engaging in obnoxious and/or irritating actions without malicious intent”
  • According to Sacca, they create hostile environments on the social Web but he says we’re moving past this with the rise of the real Web
  • This is happening because of distributed authentication. We’re being verified against an actual community plus location information.

2) Porn (the traditional definition, i.e. material that is intended to cause excitement and arousal)

  • Sacca then showed us a series of graph and data charts
  • “Data is porn”
  • “Data enriches all Web services we can provide”
  • “We’ve never known more about people’s preferences”

3) Lube

  • There’s friction in the e-commerce funnel (shopping cart abandonment)
  • Major mistake: we ask people to provide information before giving a service
  • iTunes: makes it easy to buy
  • Amazon: one-click makes it easy to buy also.
  • They’ve removed the friction
  • Signing up is also painful, creating a profile. As a good example, he talked about Posterous (which allows you to signup using e-mail. “E-mail is simpler than logging-in.”
  • He suggested developers provide benefit first before the hurdle of signing in.
  • “Let’s lubricate the Web.”

Her Majesty Queen Rania: "You Are This Century's Digital Darwins"

One of the most awaited presentations of LeWeb was the one by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. A superstar of the social Web, Her Majesty has more than 1.1 million followers on Twitter (I love her Twitter bio: “A mum and a wife with a really cool day job…”). She gave a passionate speech about how the real-time Web can change the real world.

Her Majesty Queen Rania LeWeb Paris December 2009

Some of her comments/statements:

  • Did Michael Jackson change the course of the Iran revolution?
  • The real-time Web is a new phase in the evolution of the Internet.
  • Our thoughts, emotions, actions are increasingly live online.
  • She called LeWeb’s attendees ” this century’s digital Darwins” doing “digital anthropology”, driving humanity towards new horizons.
  • On her usage of social media: “My virtual self can get closer to people than my real self because of protocol and quiet deference in my presence. Online, people are not afraid to speak their mind. It demystifies who I am and what I do. Titles don’t mean much online”. Social media helps spread ideas. Queen Rania can talk to 1M people at once and she’s inspired by the potential.
  • She says we must not forget and ask “can the real-time web bring real world change? Can we tackle the big challenges like poverty, disease, education?”
  • She called real-time the new prime time.
  • She then discussed her charity 1Goal, whose goal is “education for all”, to help children locked out of school and locked in poverty get the education they deserve. She suggested we move from virtual activism to real action and get involved. This is not about money, this is about millions of people joining a cause which will be promoted until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. You can sign-up here.
  • She then concluded by saying “the real-time Web is a real human experience that can bring real change to humanity”.
  • Her presentation was followed by a long applause and loud cheers, much appreciated by all attendees.

Her Majesty Queen Rania: "You Are This Century's Digital Darwins"

One of the most awaited presentations of LeWeb was the one by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. A superstar of the social Web, Her Majesty has more than 1.1 million followers on Twitter (I love her Twitter bio: “A mum and a wife with a really cool day job…”). She gave a passionate speech about how the real-time Web can change the real world.

Her Majesty Queen Rania LeWeb Paris December 2009

Some of her comments/statements:

  • Did Michael Jackson change the course of the Iran revolution?
  • The real-time Web is a new phase in the evolution of the Internet.
  • Our thoughts, emotions, actions are increasingly live online.
  • She called LeWeb’s attendees ” this century’s digital Darwins” doing “digital anthropology”, driving humanity towards new horizons.
  • On her usage of social media: “My virtual self can get closer to people than my real self because of protocol and quiet deference in my presence. Online, people are not afraid to speak their mind. It demystifies who I am and what I do. Titles don’t mean much online”. Social media helps spread ideas. Queen Rania can talk to 1M people at once and she’s inspired by the potential.
  • She says we must not forget and ask “can the real-time web bring real world change? Can we tackle the big challenges like poverty, disease, education?”
  • She called real-time the new prime time.
  • She then discussed her charity 1Goal, whose goal is “education for all”, to help children locked out of school and locked in poverty get the education they deserve. She suggested we move from virtual activism to real action and get involved. This is not about money, this is about millions of people joining a cause which will be promoted until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. You can sign-up here.
  • She then concluded by saying “the real-time Web is a real human experience that can bring real change to humanity”.
  • Her presentation was followed by a long applause and loud cheers, much appreciated by all attendees.

Osama Bedier from Paypal on E-Commerce, Money and Micropayments

Osama Bedier, Vice President of PayPal Platform and Emerging Technology, was interviewed by Om Malik on the second morning of the LeWeb conference to talk about the world of e-commerce, money and future Paypal projects.

Om Malik Osama Bedier Amazon LeWeb Paris December 2009

  • In the history of the world, there’s been five major shifts in the way we pay: barter, coins, paper, credit cards, digital.
  • Removing friction has been the objective in that evolution.
  • If the future of money is digital, it means it’s fully connected and personal.
  • Paypal is the first method of payment that was born with the digital age.
  • Paypal moves 70B$ worth of e-commerce (out of a total of $350B).
  • As they look forward, Paypal wants to go after all the money that’s being spent today ($30 trillion).
  • Paypal has recently launch Paypal X to open their payment platform to developers.
  • Visa/Mastercard are partners, not competitors to Paypal. 50% of Paypal’s transactions go to credit cards. The enemy is paper money.
  • Innovation will be increased flexibility in paying and micropayments
  • On micropayments, they have a lot of plans for 2010. Bedier didn’t want to share too much but he suggested the following: Paypal has 200M accounts across the world. They know quite a bit about the credibility of these accounts. They’ve earned credibility. Paypal should allow them to do small payments. Details next year…
  • They just signed a partnership with Philipps, the television manufacturer, to enable payments on your TV. Why? Because televisions are platforms.
  • From a social network point of view, Paypal is seeing growth of 20% month over month in payments there. They think it’s a huge opportunity. A lot of of those payments are around gaming and some are for dating sites but it’s slowly making its way to commerce.
  • Payments + social is the future and the line between online and offline commerce is blurring and it’s driven by smart phones.

Danah Boyd: "We Can't Use Privacy To Justify Bad Behavior"

Danah Boyd, Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, talked to us about privacy, transparency and what’s public in social media.

As a researcher, Boyd says she tries to look in people’s online lives (for example, she searches for random words on Twitter) to get into worlds that are different than her own. She wants to de-familiarize herself and tries to change assumptions about what people are doing.

Danah Boyd LeWeb Paris December 2009

She gave three examples of situations where underlying assumptions were wrong

  1. The college admission officer
  • A few years ago, a college admission officer received an essay written by someone who wanted to get into college to leave his gang world. When the officer looked at his MySpace page, he realized that the individual was still in a gang and his profile was very much gang-oriented. The college officer assumed he was lying but his profile made sense in his community’s “gang culture”. He probably wanted to leave but he had to survive it. Two different contexts.
  • Parental access
    • A daughter inviting his father to become a MySpace friend and giving access to her profile. Dad saw that she’s displaying a “what drug are you?” quiz result showing the she is “cocaine”. Dad became uncomfortable and had a talk with his daughter. The father asked “How did you get to be “cocaine”?”. She answered that the kids that smoke pot and took mushrooms were lame and crazy. But she added that her dad’s generation did coke and they turned out ok (!?!). Dad did not assume/interpret what he saw and engaged a conversation. It was key in understanding his daughter’s behavior.
  • Violence
    • A young women kills her mother. She had a profile on MySpace. Her mother was alcoholic, she had abused her and a long period of time was documented on MySpace. Everything was publicly listed but nobody was looking. It was visible. When talking with her friends, people had reported it but nobody did anything about it.

    She then asked us “when should be looking when we’re not? Should we be looking at people in trouble? Should we look at different worlds than ours?” She mentioned a concept from Jane Jacobs: “the eyes on the street”. They’re the lookouts for our community and the best way to keep a community safe. How do we do that online? We use “privacy” to justify why we’re not looking. Just think of domestic violence. In the 1960’s, it didn’t exist (i.e. “I can beat my wife in the privacy of my home”). Now, we have a right to safety in a private space, in our home. We can’t use privacy to justify bad behavior. She says she sees a lot of kids crying out for help online.

    On bullying, she says that parents believe technology created a new evolution of bullying. It’s actually not more present than before but it’s more visible. People couldn’t see it before. Parents blame the technology thinking that bullying will go away. We can see these dynamics now. The internet is bringing diversity (different worlds) together. We should embrace the power of visibility. We’re making things we like and things we don’t like visible to everyone.

    I love the fact that Boyd specifically talked about online bullying because she was “bullied” via Twitter at the last Web 2.0 conference in New York. You can read about that on her blog.

    More in The Guardian and in ReadWriteWeb.

    Danah Boyd: "We Can't Use Privacy To Justify Bad Behavior"

    Danah Boyd, Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, talked to us about privacy, transparency and what’s public in social media.

    As a researcher, Boyd says she tries to look in people’s online lives (for example, she searches for random words on Twitter) to get into worlds that are different than her own. She wants to de-familiarize herself and tries to change assumptions about what people are doing.

    Danah Boyd LeWeb Paris December 2009

    She gave three examples of situations where underlying assumptions were wrong

    1. The college admission officer
    • A few years ago, a college admission officer received an essay written by someone who wanted to get into college to leave his gang world. When the officer looked at his MySpace page, he realized that the individual was still in a gang and his profile was very much gang-oriented. The college officer assumed he was lying but his profile made sense in his community’s “gang culture”. He probably wanted to leave but he had to survive it. Two different contexts.
  • Parental access
    • A daughter inviting his father to become a MySpace friend and giving access to her profile. Dad saw that she’s displaying a “what drug are you?” quiz result showing the she is “cocaine”. Dad became uncomfortable and had a talk with his daughter. The father asked “How did you get to be “cocaine”?”. She answered that the kids that smoke pot and took mushrooms were lame and crazy. But she added that her dad’s generation did coke and they turned out ok (!?!). Dad did not assume/interpret what he saw and engaged a conversation. It was key in understanding his daughter’s behavior.
  • Violence
    • A young women kills her mother. She had a profile on MySpace. Her mother was alcoholic, she had abused her and a long period of time was documented on MySpace. Everything was publicly listed but nobody was looking. It was visible. When talking with her friends, people had reported it but nobody did anything about it.

    She then asked us “when should be looking when we’re not? Should we be looking at people in trouble? Should we look at different worlds than ours?” She mentioned a concept from Jane Jacobs: “the eyes on the street”. They’re the lookouts for our community and the best way to keep a community safe. How do we do that online? We use “privacy” to justify why we’re not looking. Just think of domestic violence. In the 1960’s, it didn’t exist (i.e. “I can beat my wife in the privacy of my home”). Now, we have a right to safety in a private space, in our home. We can’t use privacy to justify bad behavior. She says she sees a lot of kids crying out for help online.

    On bullying, she says that parents believe technology created a new evolution of bullying. It’s actually not more present than before but it’s more visible. People couldn’t see it before. Parents blame the technology thinking that bullying will go away. We can see these dynamics now. The internet is bringing diversity (different worlds) together. We should embrace the power of visibility. We’re making things we like and things we don’t like visible to everyone.

    I love the fact that Boyd specifically talked about online bullying because she was “bullied” via Twitter at the last Web 2.0 conference in New York. You can read about that on her blog.

    More in The Guardian and in ReadWriteWeb.

    Tony Hsieh, Zappos' CEO, on Happiness

    Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com, blew away the crowd this morning at LeWeb with an inspiring speech about meaning/purpose and happiness. A long applause followed his presentation.

    Tony Hsieh Zappos LeWeb Paris December 2009

    Highlights:

    • Hsieh says Zappos takes most of the money they would have invested in marketing and invests it in customer experience
    • The corporate culture is the number one priority. Zappos hires for culture, they give five weeks of training to every new employee, they offer new hires $2000 after one week to quit, they have a culture book, and use twitter to build culture
    • They base their decisions on the 3Cs: Clothing / Customer service / Culture
    • They worry about customer happiness, employee happiness, vendor happiness
    • What separates great from good companies? Culture: committable core values
    • The main comment he gets: “that’s great but it would never work at my company”. Hsieh says it doesn’t matter what your values are, the important is to stick to them.
    • As for vision, he says that whatever you’re thinking, think bigger. Does the vision have meaning? Chase the vision, not the money.
    • Everyone should take a step back and ask what is your goal in life and the reasons why it’s your goal? and then you should ask why you answered that? and try it again. Keep asking “why” and everyone eventually answers “happiness”.
    • Problem: people are very bad at predicting what will bring them sustained happiness.
    • The few different frameworks of happiness: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness, vision/meaning (something bigger than yourself)
    • Meaning / higher purpose is the most sustainable way to be reach happiness

    Hsieh suggested three books if you’re interested in the topic:

    By the way, do you know you can visit Zappos’ offices in Las Vegas. Details here.

    Tony Hsieh, Zappos' CEO, on Happiness

    Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com, blew away the crowd this morning at LeWeb with an inspiring speech about meaning/purpose and happiness. A long applause followed his presentation.

    Tony Hsieh Zappos LeWeb Paris December 2009

    Highlights:

    • Hsieh says Zappos takes most of the money they would have invested in marketing and invests it in customer experience
    • The corporate culture is the number one priority. Zappos hires for culture, they give five weeks of training to every new employee, they offer new hires $2000 after one week to quit, they have a culture book, and use twitter to build culture
    • They base their decisions on the 3Cs: Clothing / Customer service / Culture
    • They worry about customer happiness, employee happiness, vendor happiness
    • What separates great from good companies? Culture: committable core values
    • The main comment he gets: “that’s great but it would never work at my company”. Hsieh says it doesn’t matter what your values are, the important is to stick to them.
    • As for vision, he says that whatever you’re thinking, think bigger. Does the vision have meaning? Chase the vision, not the money.
    • Everyone should take a step back and ask what is your goal in life and the reasons why it’s your goal? and then you should ask why you answered that? and try it again. Keep asking “why” and everyone eventually answers “happiness”.
    • Problem: people are very bad at predicting what will bring them sustained happiness.
    • The few different frameworks of happiness: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness, vision/meaning (something bigger than yourself)
    • Meaning / higher purpose is the most sustainable way to be reach happiness

    Hsieh suggested three books if you’re interested in the topic:

    By the way, do you know you can visit Zappos’ offices in Las Vegas. Details here.

    LeWeb: The Money Roundtable

    Interesting VC/Angel roundtable this morning at LeWeb moderated by Dave McClure (who defined himself as Startup Investor & TroubleMaker!). Here’s what participants had to say about the VC/angel market in 2009 and what we can look for in the future.

    Money Panel LeWeb Paris December 2009

    Christopher Sacca, Founder, Lowercase Capital LLC

    • His firm does early stage investment ($50K to 250K) and very large investment ($500M+)
    • It is now cheap to start a company. Ten years ago, it would cost you $1M before your first line of code. Rent and Engineers are now the two biggest expense lines.
    • Sacca revealed that they did 3 deals yesterday.
    • The changes he saw recently: valuations are up again driven by larger funds probably because it was a year of low activity. Funds need to get the money out and VCs definitely have money.

    Dan’l Lewin, Corporate Vice President, Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Microsoft Corporation

    • Microsoft buys 10-20 small companies per year, about half of those are VC-backed.
    • Those acquisitions are usually companies that are 2 to 5 year-old.
    • 2009 was a good year relative for young companies.
    • Microsoft buys many companies abroad, not just in the US.
    • When asked if he thinks acquirers are competing with VCs, Lewin said he doesn’t think so given the scale of their business. They look at businesses that are close to the core, extending the business.

    Dave McClure Chris Sacca Danl Lewin LeWeb Paris December 2009

    Dave McClure, Chris Sacca, Dan’l Lewin

    David Hornik Jeremy Wenokur Eric Archambeau LeWeb Paris December 2009

    David Hornik, Jeremy Wenokur, Eric Archambeau

    David Hornik, August Capital

    • 2009 was a great year for August Capital as they closed a new $650M fund.
    • Hornik did 4 deals in the last 12 months (6 in the last 15 months).
    • Size of those deals: between $1M to $35M. Usually, they are Series A rounds (approximately $4M)
    • What’s a successful investment for Hornik: when he can say “that was great!”.
    • In 2010, a lot of people are hoping is the year that VC are able to raise money. In the case of Gowalla, competition for the deal between funds drove the price up.
    • Hornik mentioned that it’s cheap to start companies these days but, as it starts scaling, it’s not as cheap. It’s cheaper the ten years ago but it’s not cheap. The things that succeed require capital.

    Jeremy Wenokur, Angel investor & Advisor to Apax Partner

    • Wenokur says he took 9 months off and just restarted investing.
    • The size of his deals: $25-50k investments.
    • He’s seen the shift of money to smaller funds and that’s why you see a lot of deals being chased.
    • For him, a good exit is $20M-30M exit and it happens one out of five times.

    Eric Archambeau, General Partner, Wellington Partners

    • They search Europe for investments
    • They have 800M euros in management
    • They do 50K to 25M euros investments
    • in Web investment, they look for evidence of traction
    • In reference to smaller exits in 2009, Archambeau says that maybe VCs were less patient this year and maybe exited too early.