People, technology and life

Tag: LeWeb13

Interview with Jeremiah Owyang at LeWeb

It has been my pleasure to interview Jeremiah Owyang at LeWeb this year. At LeWeb 13 London, Jeremiah moved the discussion from the sharing economy to the collaboration economy. A term that I personally like much more, because it encompasses so much more. And that is a much better reflection of the social trend.

On Tuesday, Jeremiah officially launched his new company Crowd Companies on stage at LeWeb. I have included the video below, so you can see the whole presentation and the background on his choice to start his company. As I talked to Jeremiah in London about his ideas on the collaboration economy, I asked him to get back together on Wednesday and do a short video interview on his ideas and his drive to start Crowd Companies.

Jeremiah and myself had been talking before I started the video and I managed to fit in a complete rookie mistake to forget to introduce Jeremiah in the video. Sorry about that.

This is the video of Jeremiah’s talk on stage at LeWeb’13 Paris

Fred Wilson on investments, trends and opportunities

LeWeb-FredWilsonFred Wilson is kicking off the talks at LeWeb. As a VC he is sharing the way in which he is looking at opportunites and how their firm chooses what to invest in. His first statment is one that I absolutely agree on. If you have ready the post I wrote before LeWeb, you will see that I wrote about the fact that I said that society changing is much more important for the next 10 years in technology than the actual technological developments are. And Fred came out and says that they do not think in technologies, but they think in trends. Tech is important, but to him trends in behaviour and society are a lot more important to base their choices on.

The first big macro trend Fred talks about is the move from burocratic hierarchies towards technology driven networks. It is no longer about the hierarchical structure. It is no longer about one person at the top making the decision, then feeding that down through the pyramid to wait for feedback to come back up to help him make more decisions. For a long time, that actually used to be the most efficient way to work. But now we see technology driven networks replace those hierarchies. As an example, Twitter replaces the newspaper. A newspaper is a very bureaucratic product. The content is decided upon by the chief editor of the paper and he filters and decides the content of the things you are reading. That makes it a slow process to produce the news and it also filtered based on the prerferences of the ediitor. And then you have Twitter that allows networks to decide what the news is based on the people they follow, the retweets they do and the way they interact with messages that make it news. News is created by the interest of the crowd and at great speed. The first place we have seen this was in the field of media. But we now see it in hotels with Airbnb and others. We see it with Kickstarter and others. It is in learning with Codecademy and others.

The second big megatrend Fred names is unbundeling. It is a bit about the first trend, but it is even more about how products and services are delivered. In the traditional world, it was expensive to get things packaged up and delivered. But now we are unbundeling that and you can buy products that are much more focussed on what you need. And you pay just for the things you need or want. The product is usually better as well, as it is created and provided to you by people that are doing the things they are best at. Which means that you get the economic news from the guys that specialize in economic news. Or the sports news from the people that are specialized in sports news.
Fred also names the banks as one of the examples of this. And I completely agree with him on that. In fact, back in 2009 I was on a table with a number of bankers in Zürich, Switzerland with a number of bankers and they stated that we would never be able to do without the banks. And at the time I told them that we could if we were to pick separate banking functions from separate startups through the internet. At the time they thought that I was kidding. And now Fred Wilson also states that the unbundeling of banking services has started. You used to go to a bank and then get everything from that single bank. Now you might do international payments through PayPal, get money for a project through Kickstater etcetera. You can now pick parts of what the bank has been providing you as a complete service from other service providers. The same goes for education where you no longer need to have the building and all the equipment for research, but you can also bring those things together from various sources and get to a better result than you could have before.

The third trend is that we are all nodes on the network. We are all connected to each other all of the time through our smartphones. Look at Uber where we are a node on the network and so is the driver. You can connect together and get a ride. Or get transportation. And that will change the way things and people are going to be transported in the future. And that is the same thing with many new services.

Fred obviously sees more opportunities. One of them is on money and new money systems like Bitcoin. Another opportunity will be the way devices are going to monitor our health and wellness and change the way in which we live our lives and improve on our health. Another opportunity is in big data. However, Fred has a very different angle than what we would normally hear. Fred calls big data the pollution of the information age. Our data leakage through online services is also what allows organisations to spy on us. And as trust and identity are big things, or at least should be, this is something that we ought to be aware of. If we would have realized at the start of the industrial revolution that polution would cause so much damage, we would have addressed it from the start. Yet we are allowing Twitter and Facebook our identity services on many other services. We are allowing data leakage that way. So Fred sees a huge opportunity for a identity system that is set up in the same way that Bitcoin has been set up. Not controlled by anyone, but a place where we are the one that controls our own identity and the related data. He has not seen that solution yet, but he is looking forward to finding it.

Guy Kawasaki on the future and entrepreneurship

LeWeb-GuyKawasakiFor the first time, Guy Kawasaki has made it to the LeWeb stage. Fortunately, Loïc and Guy reached an agreement that he is going to be back next year. And that is a good thing as this session had great content and it also as a great laugh.
Guy looked back on the past 10 years and said that back then everyone said that myspace was going to be the operating system of the internet. And some 7 or 8 years ago nobody really thought we needed twitter. In fact, I personally remember a conversation I had with some Dutch early adopters back in 2008 when we said that Twitter was probably not going to be there in three years time. And as Loïc and Guy reminded everyone, Twitter is worth about 20 billion. And Guy went on saying that if we would look at his past at Apple, who would have thought that they would have become the most valuable company in the world. It is really hard to predict the future. That is hard for the next 10 monts, but impossible to do for the next 10 years.

Guy feels that Bitcoin is a lovely idea. Even if for nothing else than that it is completely outside of the grasp of Goldman Sachs. There have been people questioning the Bitcoin because it can be used to fund illegal things as it is not traceable. However, Guy says that there are a lot of technologies that are coming up that will be enabling that. And they will have a balance where some of what they are used for will be for good, and some will be used for bad things. But all of that technology is important to have as that helps us grow and develop new things. And sometimes it can even evolve from something that starts without control and evolves into something that grows something that goes into a control situation. It is when we started with Napster which grew into a movement which has then helped a whole new industry grow. Including iTunes which is very controlled.

Loïc triggers the social media card stating that Guy is a social media powerhouse. Guy answers that his approach is very different from most ‘experts’. And he adds that he uses the term experts very lightly. Social media for Guy is a means to an end. He is not looking to make more friends and more relationships. He says that he has a wife and four kids and that is enough for him. He is not looking to meet new people and have more friends. Social media for Guy is about building a platform. He has embraced the public radio model. At NPR they provide great content 365 days a year and then they gain the privilege to run the telethon once a year. So, his model is to constantly provide great content. He also has a team constantly curating great content, so that he is constantly able to provide his followers with great content. And that also gives him the opportunity to run the Guy Kawasaki telethon, because he has earned the right to do that. That is why he is constantly sharing great content, so that when he publishes a book, he has gained the right to promote his book. Or a new Evernote function as he is an advisor to Evernote. He does read all the interactions and every response from the account is done by him himself. Nobody on the team does that. Guy also repeats all of his tweets four times eight hours apart. The reason for that is that he does not believe that everybody is going to be awake and looking at Twitter at the moment a tweet is posted. Plus, he is not assuming that people are going to be scrolling back through their timelines to find that one awesome tweet. And even though that might piss people off, his reasoning is that if you are not pissing off people on social media, you are not using it hard enough. Also, he has found that posting a tweet with a link four times, really does deliver four times the clicks. He is not using different links for those four links as people rarely see that same tweet and that same link twice. And with a smile he adds that if you see that same link more than once, you probably do not have a life.

Loïc asks Guy to share some tips on entrepreneurship with the audience. He believes that the most important thing an entrepreneur can do, is to make a prototype. If you build a prototype you may never have to prepare a pitch, powerpoint deck or a projection. Because at a pitch, everyone everyone says is that they are going to be doing 100 million in 5 years. If you say you will do 500 million investors feel like you are overestimating yourself and if you are saying you will do 25 million, they think they do not take yourself serious. So, the best thing you can ever do with an investor is to show them a demo that is already in use with actual users and signup numbers. His second tip is that the challenge for European entrepreneurs is to create a product or service that is so good that American entrepreneurs want to copy it. Not to make your own local version of a great American service, but to create something awesome yourself. And there are a few European startups that have made that status like Soundcloud or Spotify. The fun part was that then Loïc took this as an insult to European entrepreneurs where he felt that Guy was saying that European startups just copy American startups. Where Guy is just saying to look beyond the Americans and paying a compliment to the companies that did just that and are defining the playing field they operate in. And his third advice to businesses is to never ask anyone to do something that you would not do yourself. Because that will never work.

Guy shared that the richest vein for Sequoia investment is two guys of girls building something in a garage that are building something they want to use. That is very different from people that build something from a business point of view to earn money. Again, I personally agree with that and that has been a point I have been pushing since 2008. If you want to build a startup, make it something that you want to use yourself and that addresses a problem that you have yourself. If you are just doing it for the money, you will have a hard time making it.

A guy from the audience asked Guy what he thinks about an investor offering to invest money if the startups would move to their area. And Guy said that if this would be the decisive factor on whether or not you can get the investment, they ought to drop the investor and find another investor that will work with them However, he does offer a middle ground where you keep your developers local, create a Delaware corporation and a west coast head office in Silicon Valley. Because it allows you to have the best of both worlds for both parties as investors do not really want to fly for 11 hours for a board meeting. And that is a factor for Guy himself as well. He is not specifically looking for opportunities that are far away. His statement literally was “why fly 30 hours to loose money there, when you can loose the same amount of money closer to home”. Mich Atagana came back to that statement and asked Guy whether he thought that not investing further away from your home town is a potential for lost opportunity? Guy agrees, but from the investors perspective it is a slightly different issue. They do not know a thing about the financial laws for investments or IPO’s and then the board meetings are 30 hours away. That is just throwing up speed bumps while you are the one looking for investment. But he does agree with Mich that the next Google might be in South Africa for instance and an American investor would not know about it.

LeWeb – And we are on!

leweb1Yes, it is the start of LeWeb. I will be enjoying my time here. Hope you will as well. There are a number of speakers that I am looking forward for. If you don’t want to wait to see what I am seeing and hearing here, you can follow the live stream yourself. Check it out at live.leweb.co.

The next 10 years – LeWeb 2013

Ten years of LeWeb, how time flies. I have been at LeWeb for the past four years and it has always been a privilege. The theme for LeWeb for this year really triggered me to think about the future of technology and naturally of startups. As ever, I still strongly believe that startups are the best option to turn our economic processes on their heads. And the past ten years more than prove my point. Startups like Google, PayPal, Facebook, eBay, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, Uber, AirBnB and many others have changed our lifestyle and our habits in amazing ways. However, for the next 10 years, I believe that technology will not be the primary driver of innovation.

In the past twenty years, a lot of innovation has come through the fact that we finally could. The world shrank as we finally could easily connect and keep up with friends around the world. New cell phone technology allowed us to move around and still access the same online resources as at our offices. Computers in everything have allowed us to automate many processes and make them much more efficient. But times are changing. I am not saying that technology is slowing down, because it is not. However, I strongly believe that we will see more and more technology that is driven by social developments.

I believe in the collaboration economy. And I believe that that is the track for the future. Technology that allows us to share with each other. So we can share knowledge, but also resources that we have to our disposal and that we do not use 24/7. Like the extra bedrooms we are offering on Airbnb, the rides on Blablacar, the communal bikes in cities like London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Kopenhagen and others. I believe that in the next ten years, we will see technology integrate more and more into our daily lives to make it more a part of it than an attachment.

Take Google Glass for example. It is one of those developments that can change the way in which we interact with technology in relationship with others. But it is not the glasses themselves that will trigger us. It is the things they can do for us that are becoming more and more important. So, I do not believe that wearable technology as such is going to be a technology driver. But I believe that the way it will allow us to interact with our friends and our environment, will be the driver for technological innovation.

That is where startups come in. The next ten years are a time to reassess all the processes that run in the world to see whether we can replace them by a combination of individual masses and resources. Because there is a lot to gain in a revision of our daily routines to make them more fun and more effective through new technology. And startups are the ideal vehicle to question these daily routines.

What are your thoughts? Add them in the comments, or talk to me at LeWeb next week. I will be interviewing interesting people at LeWeb and hopefully posting some blogposts and some videos. See you there?

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