Monday, December 14, 2009

Marissa Mayer @ Le Web 09 Paris: Google Goggles & The Future of Search

PARIS -Marissa Mayer gave another closely followed fireside interview at LeWeb 09 in Paris this year, with Michael Arrington attempting (but failing) to get her to reveal more about the new Google-branded mobile phone (set to hit the market next year).

Marissa made it very clear that Google understands that search is evolving and particularly that mobile devices are becoming the key channel for accessing search. This ties in nicely with the launch of Google Goggles, a mobile software through which anyone can take a photo with the device and let Google automatically figure out what they are looking at.

Here is a short part of the video interview:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Le Web '09 Paris-Review and Recommendations from an Official Blogger

PARIS-Wowee! What an action- and news-packed 2 days here in Paris!Loic Le Meur (& team) pulled all the stops to gather some of the most influential web entrepreneurs and thinkers in Paris at this year's show.

From Jack Dorsey of Twitter, to Chad Hurley of YouTube, Niklas Zennstrom of Skype and Marc Simoncini of Meetic, LeWeb this year truly elevated itself to being one of the leading web events worldwide. So influential was the gathering, that #leweb trended as a top topic on Twitter for 2 days running, an impressive feat on its own.Both the BBC and CNN covered the conference.

So, as official blogger of LeWeb'09 (and someone who attended the '08 edition) how can this amazing 2-day event be summed up? What were the salient points? What lessons can be learnt to make next year's event even better (not easy!)?And for those who weren't there, what did it feel like to join the world's web elite?


First, the good bits -the LeWeb team really did listen to the feedback from last year's edition. The Wifi network worked a treat and no-one died from hypothermia this year. The food was plentiful and the Nespresso coffee flowed freely like a mountain spring.

The speakers at this year's edition were undoubtedly top notch, and covered all the main angles , plus getting Jack Dorsey to premiere his Square payment device was a real scoop. One had a feeling that speakers were as proud to be part of LeWeb as much as Loic was proud to have them present.

The Start-up contest was great -I would say almost an event in its own right, with a great selection of startups. I was particularly impressed by Hyperwords but saw many other cool concepts.I would have liked to have seen more, but ,like many people, would have required a clone to be able to attend all the simultaneous LeWeb sessions I was interested in!


Now, for the improvement opportunities...there are not many, but in the spirit of continous improvement, some are worth pointing out...the one that stands out like a sore thumb is the registration process managed by Amiando, which, frankly, was a shambles. Unlike last year, I had registered early to avoid showing up and being told my badge wasn't ready (this happened last year). So, when I saw that there was a separate, shorter queue for 'Press/Bloggers', my heart swelled. But, sadly, it was not to be. I was told that even though the sign said 'Press/Bloggers', really what they meant was 'Press'.

So, I was instructed to queue at the right 'D-F' surname section. After 30 minutes of queueing, it was my turn. 'Sorry, your badge isn't printed' was the reply when I showed my accreditation.So, back to the Helpdesk (manned by only 3 people with one printer at a conference with over 2000 attendees!!) and another 20 minutes of queueing and listening to some French swearing from other people in the queue. NOT the best way to start the day or the conference, especially when you've skipped breakfast to be at the conference venue early.

Next, the blogging process...As Official Blogger, I greatly appreciated having a dedicated space on the lower ground floor with (almost enough) power sockets and tables- many other conferences can learn a lot from this.It was fantastic!Minor points though -the process for getting bloggers' posts on the leweb main website was a little shambolic. Each blogger had to submit a link or RSS from their own blog page in order to get their post online -a much better way would have been to get their feeds from all the blogger sites in advance and link it up automatically to the main event website.

Finally, the official party at the VIPRoom was a lame duck affair, with drinks shockingly priced at €20 a pop and a venue lacking in atmosphere or entertainment value. I understand there was no sponsor -but that is no excuse. If having no sponsor means that no effort is made, then it would have been better to pull the plug on the event. Plus, I heard from attendees of earlier LeWeb editions that these parties used to be great-let's bring the old days back!


There were many great things about the event, so it is difficult to focus on one or two of them as best memories of the conference, but if I had to choose, I would say the salient point was the speech by Queen Rania of Jordan -impactful, up-to-date and elegant. (a queen who personally checks out her tweets-how cool is that!) A real case-study in how a public figure can change the world.

Next best, Gary Vaynerchuk shook things up nicely on stage in the second day of LeWeb with his freewheeling style and sometimes coarse language -it was good to see someone challenging the status quo and sharing contrarian views freely with the audience.

Finally, I claimed my 5 seconds of fame at LeWeb this year!At the end of the event, Loic announced some statistics on the conference (see photo above) about #no. of connected devices, #of iPhones and network usage. Low and behold, I had managed to become the data upload king of leweb, with 15.64 GB of data!!Quite an achievement at an event with 2300 expert web users all competing for bandwidth!


Overall, a big well done and thank you to Loic, Geraldine and the team for LeWeb 09 for delivering such an informative and enjoyable event. Thanks to LeWeb, Europe becomes the centre of the wired world for two days every year, an outstanding achievement by any measure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Queen Rania Al Abdullah @ LeWeb '09 Paris

PARIS -Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan delivered a passionate, inspiring and thought-provoking keynote speech at LeWeb Day 2 in Paris just before lunch. She told the audience that Real Time Web can bring real change to the humanity and asked the audience to support her 1Goal chairty in order to help children who are locked out of school.

In a well-delivered line, she noted how Twitter and other real-time applications can do what has never been done before since 'it is hard to connect with people when you are a queen'.

Queen Rania told LeWeb that the web is more human than ever before and that everyone now has the power to change things. You can find more info on how to support her charity at this link.

Tim Ferriss @ Le Web Paris 09

PARIS - Tim Ferriss started his talk here in Paris a few minutes ago saying that his original title for his bestselling book was rejected by the publisher.

He then decided to use Google to bid for varying book titles and see which one would be more popular -'The Four work week' came out trumps.

Tim says that there are 3 tipping points for attracting mass attention in the media and that you should PPC: Phenomenize, Polarize and 'Communitize'. Tim opted to pitch his book at people looking to change their lifestyle in non-traditional ways.

He also stored media-grabbing stunts (like his experiment to gain 17kg in a short space) for just prior to the book publishing date in order to obtain links to his blog or book site.

His credo is that you should market test everything before deciding on everything from the book title to the content, especially where the publisher has no initial marketing budget (like in his case).' Whatever people think is right is probably wrong', he stated.

You can try to test ideas, he said.

Videos are a great way to attract views: e.g. "how to 'peel' hard boiled eggs without peeling" or "how to be Jason Bourne".

Here is Tim's presentation:

Ferriss - Le Web 2

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Le Web'09 Paris Start-up Contestant Video Interview

PARIS -Liqpay positions itself as a simple, but effective way to carry out financial (and other) transactions on web and mobile platforms. With a growing global customer base, this startup from Ukraine is looking to grab the headlines at LeWeb's Startup Contest.

Vitalij Kharitonskij, Liqpay developer and Kristina Chaiykovskaya, Business Developer, ran me through the main features of their service. You can see my video interview in this post later today (internet connection permitting).

If you are at Le Web, Liqpay will be presenting at 1500 in the Startup Contest area.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Le Web Paris ’09 Start-up Contest –16 companies jockey for #1 webpreneurship spot

PARIS- Le Web 09 edition has lined up an exciting array of 16 companies at the seed and start-up stage to promote their wares in front of its highly influential jury and public. 135 companies originally applied for the competition back in October, so only the ‘crème de la crème’ have made it through to the finals.

If you look at the full list of selected companies that will present in Paris (found here), you realise that this is a varied bunch indeed, covering areas such as cloud computing (c’est très chic right now) to social network aggregation and semantic web-style solutions.

The theme at Le Web this year is real-time web, so unsurprisingly a number of the chosen start-ups fit into this area. Notably, Sokoz, a web-based shopping portal that resembles an ebay on speed, offers item sales lasting 10 minutes with just 30-seconds for shoppers to decide whether to buy or pass up on the deal. Buyers are the ones deciding the price of each item, with the first one to click being awarded the lowest price.

Tanguy Lesselin, founder of Sokoz, says his site is all about playing while shopping, while saving time and money. With Christmas round the corner, the timing for Sokoz’s pitch is impeccable.

There are too many companies to carry out an extensive review here (and quite a few are still in private beta, so I have not been able to check them out fully) but each brings something original to the table. CloudSplit allows companies to track their cloud computing spend, FitnessKeeper lets you monitor your daily exercise routine on your iPhone, Siteheart lets you pay for items with your mobile phone, Superfeeder takes RSS feeds to the next level and lets you manage your tasks better in an ‘all-in-one’ interface.

Mendeley will be a formidable adversary for other start-ups (and my tip for ‘one to watch’) after having convincingly won the Plugg Start-up Contest in Brussels in March (click here for my blog post on this). Backed by lastfm’s initial investor (and some of their recommendation technology magic), Mendeley allows researchers to discover, share and organize academic papers.

Personally, I am looking forward to an incroyable series of presentations next week- stay tuned for real-time updates from Paris.

(Photo credit: