LeWeb 2013 in Paris – Day 1 of the next 10 years

Starting yesterday, Paris became, as it does every year, the place to be for the tech community in Europe (and not only Europe). LeWeb 2013 started in an atmosphere of reflection. The tenth edition of the event marks an important moment in the evolution of Europe’s tech community and it’s a good moment to look back and see what we’ve accomplished, but also a good opportunity to look forward to what the next 10 years have in store for us.

That’s exactly LeWeb’s theme for this year, one chosen to reflect expectations, changes and where this evolutionary path may take us.

Geraldine & Loic Le Meur, LeWeb Founders, opened the conference talking about some major trends that will be discussed in the following days:
– Mindfulness & meditation – the Headspace app for meditation and the Lift app for mindfulness
– Creating communities – such as Summit Eden
digital detox
– reducing friction – companies such as Uber or the Y plan
– online education – Code academy, Udacity, Lynda.com
– 3D printing: Virtox
– connected objects: Nest , Smart things, Doorbot , Tesla, Jawbone
– artificial intelligence
– tech changing economy (Uber, Airbnb)
– how payments are changing (Paypal, Bitcoin)
– crowd funding or how to start your VC fund without having a fund (syndicate) – Indiegogo, Kickstarter
– investing in people – Upstart.com
– the way that what we eat is changing – Good eggs
– the way we shop is changing: Bonobos, Modcloth,
– the way we buy media is changing: Triggit, Criteo .

The first talk of the day was absolutely amazing. Inspirational, rich in insights and information and from a speaker with great energy and a humbling experience.

Fred Wilson, Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures
Investor in Kickstarter & Twitter, Code Academy, Duo Lingo and many more, he said he considers investments from a societal perspective. And this perspective includes some mega trends that will dominate the next 10 years, as follows:

1. Transition from bureaucratic hierarchies to technology driven networks:
– Twitter – replacement for a news organization;
– Youtube – replacing traditional TV video content production
– SoundCloud – overturning the hierarchical world of radio & TV.

2. Un-bundling – how products and services are delivered. Selling unbundled products used to be expensive, but today’s economy makes it possible.
– the people who produce these products are focusing to be the best at what they’re doing
– banking un-bundling – financial companies are focusing on specific economic products
– education un-bundling – no need for buildings or physical storage spaces anymore, so education can be focused on certain subjects and available anywhere, at any time.

3. Constant connectivity (through smartphones mainly). We become nodes on the network.
Examples of companies making it happen: Uber, Halo, Venmo, Dwoalla.

Other important trends:
– banking is changing; for example, Bitcoin is a protocol that hasn’t existed before
– the gamification of health & wellness applications and processes are enabling people to take better care of themselves
– data leakage foster the need for increased trust & identity
– a Bitcoin like network, ungoverned and not regulated will emerge and will give people the power to manage their own online identities, on their own terms.

Among Fred’s latest investments is Human DX, focused on enabling machines to analyze the human DNA and make it learn how to perform medical diagnosis.

Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley author, investor, business advisor & former Chief Evangelist at Apple
– the most important thing an entrepreneur can do is build a prototype
– create a product so good that Silicon Valley will want to copy it.
– don’t limit yourself to American ideas
– don’t ask anyone to do anything you’re not willing to do
– investing, to this day, is still a local phenomenon
– intellectual property is only important if it becomes valuable in a certain context

Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote on building the “100 year old start-up.”
– the difference between software and hardware is fading and the best products will have both physical and digital presences
– the paid Evernote products creation, in chronological order: premium, Evernote business and Evernote market (the products reinforce each other)
It took the premium version 16 months to the make the first million dollars. For Evernote business it was only 5 months and for the Evernote market it took only one month.
– don’t scratch off users that have not paid you for years- maybe you haven’t provided them with the opportunity to buy from you: “It’s more important that you stay than that you pay.”

Travis Kalanick, Co-Founder & CEO, Uber
– Paris was the inspiration for Uber – because it’s very difficult to get a taxi in Paris.
– they found product market fit and they’re growing quite fast
– they have a very transparent corporate culture and financial data getting into the press are pressuring for adopting new corporate rules, which hurts the culture
– Uber functions legally in 62 cities around the world and each city is like a startup
– the service’s core value: reliability
– Uber is the intersection between lifestyle and logistics (urban logistics fabric), so it can become a provider of more than just cars on demand (they actually did on demand roses/ice cream/christmas tree – in 5 minutes!)
– Loic was rider zero in Paris for Uber
– all over the world, taxi companies are trying to pressure legislators into adopting laws to outlaw competition
next step: move towards other verticals.

David Marcus, President, PayPal
– he announced the Paypal Beacon – making payments invisible in the transaction process
– this came as a solution for trying to find a way to build something better than paying with a card
– the goal is to give users back the time they spend paying so they can enjoy it in other ways.

Bruno Maisonnier, Founder & Director, Aldebaran Robotics
Bruno discussed the future robotics and potential business applications:
– using the power of the body language for interfaces
– building a platform to try to find new opportunities to explore robotics (market place)
– potential applications: monitored healthcare, education through robots
– cognitive investment – the robot will provide access to the entire world wide web.

Shehzad Daredia, Co-Founder & CEO, bop.fm
This Y combinator backed startup is solving a still existing problem with the music industry: the fact that it is still a fragmented mess.
– Bop.fm makes music universally accessible no matter the country and the device
– it detects what music service you’re using and plays it through that
– if you don’t use any music service, they link to the official video from Youtube or to the track on Soundcloud.

Tony Tjan, CEO & Managing Partner, Cue Ball about wayfinding for the entrepreneur
Good recommended read: Wayfinders
The results discussed below come from a study made on over 25000 entrepreneurs and analyzing their decision making pattern and other essential aspects of their behavior. This uncovered some timeless truths: the driving traits of entrepreneurship (heart, smarts, guts and luck).

Heart – purpose, passion, agape, nuance (70% of business who got an IPO didn’t start with a plan and 61% of founders are heart driven)
Smarts – pattern recognition is at the root of smart entrepreneurship
Guts – the guts to initiate, guts to endure, guts to evolve; 30% failed a business, but 1 in 3 are serial entrepreneurs
Luck – humility + intellectual curiosity + optimism

You can also take the test here and discover what your dominant traits are.

Wayfinding involves a lot of self awareness. This can be achieves through peers and mentors, by developing accountability through journaling, by taking psychometric tests, by exploring the power of a pause and by building values and standards and using them in every activity.

The model for the next 10 years is the purpose driven entrepreneur, defined by authenticity, and the “consumer comes before product, product before profit” mentality. This requires deep self awareness that leads to self congruence – what you say is what you think, and what you think is what you do.

Nick D’Aloisio, Founder, Summly & Yahoo Product Manager

Nick turned 19 last month. So far, he has founded Summly and sold it to Yahoo for over $30 million earlier in 2013. The way he created this product was by applying the way he learnt – by summarizing information – to what people could use. So he created an automatic algorithm that summarized automatically pieces of content. Summly was always automated and it not it is fully integrated into Yahoo in the content suggestions and beautiful mobile experiences.

As a young entrepreneur, he wishes entrepreneurship was more attractive to other young people and recognizes the importance of advice coming from experienced business angels and mentors, one invaluable resource that a crowd funding campaign cannot provide a startup.

The Future of Bitcoin and Math-Based Digital Currencies – a panel moderated by James Currier, Co-Founder, Ooga Labs & Curator of the NFX Conference for network effect businesses, with Garrick Hileman, Economic Historian, London School of Economics and Shakil Khan, Head of Special Projects at Spotify

The history of Bitcoin was explained by this great video:

There is a total of 21M bitcoisn available. Fifty are found every 10 minutes. More than half of them have been mined so far. There are over 60+ crypto-currencies and an anonymous market place. Things are fairly complicated. In spite of that, Switzerland is thinking of making it an official currency because they see the economic opportunity.

The question to be answered is what will people do with Bitcoin and what will companies do when they adopt it. We’re in a changing regulatory environment and social dynamics kick in, just like for any other product. Currencies are backed by supply and demand and imposed by governments. The financial systems are broken, some of the infrastructure used is 20-30 years old and it’s time for them to move on. If people are accepting that music & videos can be played from the cloud and they grow up with credit cards & Paypal – virtual currency will not be that different to them, especially the younger generations.

There is clearly a need for something like Bitcoin – some of the fundamental thinking behind it is necessary. But the data about Bitcoin is not sufficient and we need more transparency in order to better understand it. Bitcoin exchanges need to gain the trust of the users and that will not run away with the money, but multiple entities are looking to build their expertise in this sector, including the Silicon Valley Bank.

These are just some of the remarks and interesting thoughts shared today. In parallel, the startup competition was underway, with pitches and networking. Here are the finalists and remember that you can also check out the second and third days of the conference as they happen, on the live stream.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more great information, so keep an eye on us. Also, here are some pictures from today’s talks and presentations:

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