I usually have these posts written within a day or two of Le Web but other commitments slowed me down this year. 2009 saw the 6th Le Web (my 4th) and it was easily the best ever. Loic & Geraldine can rest easy knowing 2010 will be totally over-subscribed.
People go to Le Web for a couple of reasons:
I went as an official blogger to the event but with intentions of doing all of the above.Â It was a real pleasure to be on the official blogger team and a big thanks to Stephanie Booth who organised all of that brilliantly.
The Irish contingent was tiny with Joe Drumgoole, John Peavoy, Colm Long of Facebook and myself flying the flag. Whilst I know the tickets are very expensive, it’s a pity there wasn’t a bigger showing. The IDA attended last year but I didn’t spot them this year. Le Web is the European web business/tech event and I happily skipped every other pay-for event this year to ensure I could go.
The opening session with Jack Dorsey set the perfect tone for the two days. The guy who created the global phenomenon of Twitter showed off his new startup Square. This is P2P payments with a credit card swipe that plugs into the headphone socket of your phone and an application which allows others to pay you. I didn’t quite get how revolutionary this was until I saw it in action (despite the terrible demo problems he had).
There are often complaints that they have too many Americans speaking at the event. I take the opposite view, since this is one of the few opportunities for those of us who don’t regularly travel to the US to see these guys speak and perhaps meet them. Standout highlights for me were Tony Hsieh from Zappos and Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV but there were plenty of others including David Hornik from August Capital and Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital.
I have ordered the Zappos Culture book that Tony mentioned (just email email@example.com and theyâ€™ll post you a copy) and downloaded the Tribal Leadership audiobookÂ from here (use California 90210 for your address in the registration screen). Wonderful stuff.
Gary (NSFW audio):
Those who worked best on stage were generally the contrary bastards. In that batch I’d include Mike Arrington, Lukasz Gadowski, Andrew Keen, Paul Carr, Dave McClure and Martin Varsavsky. Guys who are not afraid to call bullshit on things but who also see potential in the most interesting of places. The sessions that they were involved in were far more useful and fruitful than the usual cheerleader echo-chamber gang.
In fact, the echo-chamber gang were the only real let-down of the two days. We’ve all heard their schtick non-stop for the past few years and it’s grown old and boring. I’d love to see a bunch of new US faces coming over next year who have something new to say.
The real-time theme of the event did become a bit of an unbearable Twitter love-in at times to the detriment of many other exciting things happening in the real-time web. As someone pointed out on a TWiT podcast recently, more people play Farmville on Facebook than are users of Twitter.
For those who think Irish startups can’t compete at the highest levels on an international stage, just watch Joe Drumgoole’s pitch in the Startup Competition. I was shocked that Cloudsplit didn’t get the win but rumour has it that Thierry Henry was one of the judges
Over a couple of days I met entrepreneurs, bloggers, VCs, techies and business people. That’s why I go. The energy in that room recharges my batteries and reminds me that fantastic startups are being built all over Europe and we all have more in common than we think.
Even if I didn’t get to announce our first US customer.