Return from Paris after two days, into a blizzard of review meetings, raise my head and the top search on Technorati is Le Web.
I didn't find out until after I had emailed Loic to say (sort of quoting)
The confernce was awesome, one of the best I have been for a while and extremely reasonably priced too. I wd have paid twice as much in hindsight.
What was awesome about it?
The first was the frantic energy of the schedule. There was a constant stream of talks for two days backed up by a frenzied start-up room. 47 start-ups in two days. But the best bit were the people. Conferences are, after all, soylent green. If you went there to get data, you were in the wrong place (check the Internet, it is better for it.) If you went their to have great conversation, you were in the right spot.
My highlights (and apologies if I missed you out):
- Two hours in a gab with Reid talking about AI and the nature of mind. (He talked intelligently, I faked it.)
- Hanging out with Marko and dinner with Tom and Thuy Tienh
- Pondering whether men should shave their privates with Yossi Vardi
- Catching up with Ola and Tarek at the NetVibes party (oh, and learning how to use Netvibes from Tom, Fred and Marko)
- Watching Simon Levene shoo off other VCs when introducing me to Dappit
- And of course, chatting with the general list of stars Fred mentions.
- Good comments from Danny Rimer and Niklas Zennstrom
This is what conferences are about. The community not the content. Well the content is the community.
There were some moments of insight, especially in areas where I am particularly blind. Two sentences from Bo Shao on China were truly insightful: that Western firms just can't get it right in China. Yahoo has failed, eBay has failed and now Google is failing. That you need to be down on the ground to get it right. (I'm luckily going there in January.)
And there were things Loic could have improved:
- Wifi: d-uh. And the dude from Orange should have been more apologetic about fucking up. Instead he blamed 26 conference attendees for messing it up.
- Badges: 30% of the area of the badge went on the Le Web logo. Conferences are about people, so I need the name badges to have names on them--ideally first names in BIG LETTERS.
- Drinks: in American conferences they keep big vats of coke and mineral water in the hallways. In French ones, you cue for a butler who pours you a half glass and presents it on a silver tray. Very elegant, but just not very appropriate. All that chatting makes you thirsty. And having vats of drinks around creates a natural place for congregation and conversation.
- Two tracks: as Nicole Simon argues two tracks (or even three) might have helped the conference. The conference design wasn't innovative in that regard and surely more time could have been spent thinking about break outs and b-o-fs.
- There was some downright scary shit. This in particular.
Apparently appalling stuff that , the show was hijacked by the politicians for Loic's own political ends. We did have Peres and Sarkozy turn up to speak. And a lot of people are really pissed off. You can read Tom Morris, who has done a great job of compiling a list of the unhappy. Even the Telegraph has muscled in.
Peres didn't bother me. I had a morning conference call to attend to, followed by a meeting, so I missed his speech. Because they were handing out translation headsets for Sarko, I managed to wear one for a while--that was cool. But I had another call and a meeting during his monologue, so I missed it to.
Would they have bothered me? Peres not. I've seen him speak before and he has an amazing presence. Sarko maybe. He looks a tad boring. But if he had bothered me, I would have walked out of the hall and found someone to talk to. There were hundreds of us out there.
Still, Loic hasn't found time to reply to any of this on his blog. He is probably knackered and figuring out his posture to all of this stuff.