Notes on Le Web 3

LeWeb3 StageSo unfortunately I wasn’t able to get out a timely blog post on Le Web 3 last week. Others have said a lot already but I just thought I’d write a brief post on it. It was a really great event and Loic and team deserve massive kudos for putting it together so well. First I have to rave about the near-flawless execution. The food deserves special mention because it was fantastic. Of course – what did I expect? This is Paris, after all. The production of the event itself, especially on the main stage, was fantastic, with a camera crew and staff that kept scurrying around keeping everything running smoothly. There was a fleet of BMW cars, sponsored by BMW, taking speakers back and forth from the conference site to the hotel. Very nice touch. The conference site itself was laid out very nicely with a chill-out “networking” lounge (where local artists were also working to add a bit of color). There were the usual sponsor booths but lots of space. There were a lot of people at this event but it never felt crowded. It was well produced but also managed to maintain a good community feel – no mean feat.

IMG_0234.JPGThe speaker line-up was really an all-star cast. I won’t go into too much detail here. I was lucky to be asked to participate on a panel on Mobile-Web convergence (chaired by Ouriel Ohayon) which was notable not only because I was on it, but because it was really well attended. I was a bit worried that the non-sexy name of the panel might put people off but we really packed the room – clearly an indicator that the mainstream “Web” community is eager to hear about mobile. We had a really good discussion on stage as well.

Apart from the panel thee was a lot of mobile interest at the event. French mobile widgets company Goojet won the start-up competition. Echovox’s Zong was out in force as a sponsor and David Marcus, Echovox’s CEO, was a great addition to the mobile panel. Of course, Nokia had a great presence there.

Other highlights?

Martin Varsavsky of Fon – a very entertaining speaker. Much more so than his appearance at Web 2 summit where he was incongruously sandwiched between Google and Verizon.

Jason Calacanis on why blog spam and paid search-engine “optimization” is destroying search in the same way that spam destroyed usenet. I especially enjoyed this presentation because it reinforced my view that trust and identity are going to have to play a role in the future of the Internet if it’s going to remain a useful medium.

Floor near the main stage at Le Web 3Talking to Scott Beaumont and Prashant of Refresh Mobile and hearing about their experiences deploying Mippin. Sounds like things are going really well!

Tom Raftery’s talk on green data centers and power demand management – though it was slightly far a-field for a Web conference. :)

Getting a demo of Mobiluck, a mobile social network. They are doing a great Web-based UI and they “get” what mobile adds to the social networking game. Must do a post on them later.

Meeting Lisa Sounio, CEO of Dopplr. If you’re not on Dopplr, go there and join.

Hanging out with my good friend Rudy De Waele.

Running into Paul Walsh wearing Sam Sethi’s badge.

Unfortunately I missed Philippe Starck’s presentation which I regret because it sounds like it was really good.

Lots more I won’t go into here.

There were a few negatives. Shahram Izadi from Microsoft research presented the Microsoft surface concept but I felt like I didn’t really see anything new here. Janus Friis talked about Joost but I really didn’t feel that he presented it in as good a light as Mike Volpi did at Web 2.0 Summit. Also, he kind of brushed off Paul (BT) Downy’s question about the proprietary nature of Joost (vs. the Web) which I think was a shame. He might have said (as Volpi did) that they are working on a browser-based version.

The Wifi was a problem. Wifi is always a problem at these kinds of events because it’s so easy to underestimate need. At Mobile 2.0 we got Swisscom to come in and build out a custom Wlan which was great and nobody complained. We only had 300 people there though. Le Web 3 (where Swisscom also did the wireless lan) was about 1700 to 1800 people – different kind of scale. And how many of those people were using iPhones as well as laptops? Plenty.

Marc Canter at Le Web 3Marc Canter had possibly left his lithium on the plane because he was even more rabid than usual. This had both positive (entertaining!) and negative (shut up and let someone else talk!) aspects.

So. All in all, it was a great way to spend two days. Great speakers. Great networking. Great city. Great work, Loic and team. Looking forward to next year!

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