Years ago we were at Le Web in Paris on the famous day when the organizers pre-empted the event with a series of political stump speeches (in French no less) to an infuriated audience.
This year the event was an unqualified success in our view although like all such events there are always armchair critics out there sniping away at it. (Running a conference of scale is a tough problem that breaks the best of them.Â Try it if you dare.)
We will publish the usual content summary note next week but in terms of the event we would highlight the following points:
- What the agenda lacked in "tech heavy" content it more than made up for with some very high caliber presenters.Â Although like all large events the big sponsors got presentation slots they sent good people.Â Everyone was very impressed with Marissa from Google and even Microsoft made some real progress.Â Having some notable Americans fly over (Robert Scoble, Mike Arrington, Doc Searls, Kara Swisher to name some) made the interaction more interesting.
- Although Loic made a big mistake with the politicos years ago he scored a huge win with Christine Lagarde who is the Minster of Finance of France.Â We’ve lived in France for four years and have never seriously considered practicing our technology advisory work locally here but after seeing her it’s pretty clear that France may be implementing some programs that will change the game.Â
- Having lots going on at once gives everyone something to do.Â The start-up competition was mobbed (and warm by that virtue as well) and had one of the top three showcases of emerging technology companies we have seen at any conference in the world.Â Beyond that the expo rooms had things to see and Google and Facebook put rooms with programs together too.Â
- As usual lots of discussion and networking was going on.Â Le Web has always been fairly laid back with few people just sitting there listening to the presentations.Â This venue made it even more enticing for people to be around the talks but really doing their own thing, having discussions and meeting people.Â The event is especially good for the young crowd that really enjoys mixing it up with the crowd.
Part of Le Web is coming with the right attitude. Le Web was never about incredible deep technology insights but rather about seeing a bunch of interesting content and bits of technology from around Europe and interact with new people while doing some creative work yourself.Â You also can’t just sit back at Le Web and expect it all to come to you. Move around and you’ll find happiness.Â (It’s okay to expect heat, network connections and food but some of these were circumstances only partially in control of the organizing team.)
If I had to position it I’d say it’s kind of between an O’Reilly ETech and a TED.Â It still needs to find more of a brand identity and harmonize with that.Â For example how nice should the food and dinner events be?Â For a poor 23 year old they were fine. For a 40 year old corporate executive or venture capitalists they were totally unacceptable.Â (Remember you’re trying to get these types together right?)
All conferences suffer a bit in the online world today.Â We can get so much done and participate remotely (usually for free) it makes it hard to justify the time and expense required to go somewhere.Â But Le Web was worth the time.Â The second day was inspiring, especially the afternoon.Â That alone was worth the trip.