leweb3 or why no one in Europe is ever happy

Like everyone else and their friends too, I am just back from leweb3 which managed to attract 1,000 people and apparently resulted in 1,300 attendees on the first day thanks to the most laxist door controls I have ever seen (which was nice for a change).

And guess what, everyone seems to think LeBust3 was crap (including people who did not even go) because of either:

  • logistics (what, no wimax ?)
  • politicians (Sarko, Peres, Bayrou showed up, which may have been two too many to be fair) or the fact that President Loic thinks blogs and politics go together

It has even hit the Guardian and draws comparisons to Nuremberg.  Come on !

So yes, there were too many people and too many VC’s (though only VC’s seem to complain about this).  And yes, some of the panels were poorly moderated.  And generally it felt a bit mainstream.  And bringing 3 politicians was maybe not the best idea of the new century (well done Sego for staynig away…).

But consider this: within the 30 minutes following my arrival, I ran into Jeff Clavier, Russ
Mayfield, saw Marc Canter, Chappaz and Gil Penchina and so on.
It really transcends the local.

I think being pissed off because leweb3 was such a big fest or because a couple of politicians showed up is akin to the latest Vermonters being defensive about flatlanders moving next door.  Web2 .0 has grown up and gone mainstream.  Clueless VC’s have invaded your party.  Most entrepreneurs would be better off joining someone else’s company rather than starting their own.  So what ?  Everything grows up ultimately.  I feel that all that this Loic bashing will achieve is to put the guy off, which cannot be a net positive for European entrepreneurship.  Next year I hope LeWeb3 comes back around with a new format: invite only, much more visionary, with intimate networking opportunities.

In the meantime, I say well done to Loic and Geraldine for getting together a kick ass group of people.  And since this is after all about self expression, I personally think it is legitimate for the organiser to pursue his goal of bringing politics into the blogosphere.  This is not-for-profit after all…

[UPDATE: I had not fully appreciated the "hijack" nature of the second day, as eloquently expressed here by Hans.  I will give Loic the benefit of the doubt (assume he got carried away and this was all last minute exuberance) and wait for the man to speak].

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17 Responses to leweb3 or why no one in Europe is ever happy

  1. Emanuele says:

    Fred, my point is not about the relationship between politics and blogs.

    Having well known personalities coming from the political world to a “sociotechnological” conference is an important signal, but..

    but you have to be transparent, introducing these speakers into the agenda from the beginning, avoiding to betray hundreds of international participants coming there (and paying with money and time) to get a different show..

  2. Fred Destin says:

    You are right i had not fully appreciated this aspect. i was mostly reading comments saying the food was crap or the conference was too busy.

  3. Paul Jozefak says:


    You are correct about the quality of the people there. I’ll give you that. As I already posted in response to your post over at Jeff’s site, there was a lot of hype connected with the event. This raised people’s expectations and hence led to LeBust. At the same time, why be upset about all this feedback. This is the first conference I went to that actually managed to get this much feedback out on the web in general from those attending. (And this in sleepy Europe!) You invite a bunch of bloggers who come on their own dime, you will most likely get a bunch of pissed off customers if you don’t provide what they were expecting. The political issue I feel no further need to comment on. I think it’s clear that this was otherwise motivated and was “hijacking”. Nevertheless, it leads me to my main point. Why say no one in Europe is ever happy? The fact that things were screwed up has nothing to do with the fact that this was in France or that people are posting their opinion about it. You’re playing the typical “US” angle of Europe bashing by making that comment. Should I not care about under-performance because I want to be a “happy European” (even though I’m a half-breed at most when it comes to being “European”)? Should I accept that I disliked aspects of the conference and “suck it up” because someone in Europe tried? Not my approach. I expect people to strive to “compete” on an international level. I do still fully agree with you though that irrelevant of all the bashing, the folks brought together were a very positive aspect. I had wanted to put this in my post but unfortunately crashed my computer when writing it and then forgot it in my list when re-writing. Just my view!


  4. Jeff Nolan says:

    “But consider this: within the 30 minutes following my arrival, I ran into Jeff Clavier, Russ Mayfield, saw Marc Canter”

    You could have spent the conference fee on airfare to Palo Alto and had the same experience, plus everyone else at the center of this social media phenomena.

    I have the same experience at other European conferences, and that’s part of the problem. Rather than importing names from the Valley, Europe should be fostering it’s own generation of leaders, technology and otherwise. Your point about “too many VCs” is also connected to this because far too many European tech companies aren’t finding European venture capital and instead relocating to the U.S.

  5. Sam Sethi says:

    Fred, I too think Loic did a great job getting people together but I don’t want to pay €1,000 just to meet people in a big half lite, auditorium.

    “Next year I hope LeWeb3 comes back around with a new format: invite only, much more visionary, with intimate networking opportunities.” I do too but that’s what I thought this year was about which is why I was disappointed by the event nothing more nothing less. Managing events is hard work so hats off to Loic but do it well or don’t do it at all. That’s all …

  6. Fred,
    I agree with you that for networking it was a good non-local event (and I would have loved to meet you to deliver a message from one of your friends in Brussels),we need a first class event of this type in Europe and that Le Web 3 brought some good stuff.

    I guess the whole thing will need to evolve at least in terms of:
    – quality of content (a number of contributions brought less value than a search on Google, “is XYZ dead?” is a lousy form of subject because it lacks focus…)
    – governance (to make sure no single person can actually exploit the event for their own interests and then have the arrogance of calling their critics assholes)
    – organization (chaotic welcome on day 1, lousy wifi coverage, no clear distinction between commercial communications and discussions of substance…)
    – …

    Now, Loic bashing is not something I enjoy at all as I said several times today on various blogs: everyone can make a mistake. Shimon Peres said “democracy is the right to make a mistake and the obligation to correct it”…

    The fact remains though that Le Web x is dead in terms of credibility. We need a European ETech or something like that as suggested on this blog: http://research2zero.com/blog/2006/12/13/le-web-3-worst-technology-conference-ever

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  8. Um, has anyone heard about the fallout over at TechCrunch over all this? Rumor has it that Sam Sethi resigned b/c he was pressured to support Loic rather than speak his mind.

  9. And here’s the link, which has been otherwise deleted, thank heavens it was on Fedafi: http://blog.fedafi.com/2006/12/13/sam-techcrunch-uk-le-web3-and-loic/

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  11. Fred Destin says:

    Jeff: I agree with your underlying point. We are all working hard on creating the next gen entrepreneurs. What was nice here was that the conference meshed the best from both the US and Europe (Chappaz, Martin V, Tariq and many others). What’s telling for me is that the big US names thought it worthwhile to make the trip.

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  13. TheDude says:

    If Chappaz, Martin V & Tariq are the best from Europe, then probably the best advice to next gen European entrepreneurs is to head west :-)

  14. Fred Destin says:

    Touche, I’ll take that one on the chin. “We have a situation, duuuude”. Two of them have made bucketloads of cash though (the standard Western measure ?) though of course Martin never mentions Einsteinet.

  15. TheDude says:

    Oh Fred, sorry – forgot you VCs tend to reduce everything to cash :-) Do you really think Yahoo (and the world) is a better place after they paid €475M for Kelkoo? Not sure whether Yahoo investors would share your point of view about Chappaz.

    I certainly respect Martin for the innovative ideas with Fon. But to say he’s the best we got!??! We all gotta work harder…

  16. walter says:

    Nice talks and nice page, I´ll come back and read more for sure.


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