European Tech Tour: Web and Communities Event in Montreux

It was not set in the throbbing new media arenas of Berlin’s Mitte or London’s Soho.  It did say “business attire” as far as dresscode goes.  And it was set in lovely but sedate Montreux.  Despite these apparent shortcomings, I found the European TechTour‘s Web and Communities event to be a real success.

Before I rant, a number of people asked for my (hastily put together) slides; so here they are.  Thank Max too — this is teamwork.

ETT is not meant to be leWeb3.  Or LIFT.  You won’t meet Stowe Boyd doing a podcast about lifestreaming :-).  It is a venture focused conference designed to put venture capitalists and local entrepreneurs in touch, and it did that extremely well. 

Photo: A stunning Chateau de Chillon shot courtesy of PearBiter

Proceedings started with a typically European “exquisite corpse”: where better to have an evening celebrating innovation than in the medieval castle that is the crowning glory of Montreux.  We were treated to a typically laid back keynote from the Archangel himself, Morten Lund, about disruption, innovation, luck and serendipity.  Imagine Morten in army fatigues pacing in front of a large screen mounted at he last moment on a wobbly ancient table, in front of a roaring chimey fire sporting a couple of roasting pigs in a room clad with ancient tapestries.  Morten stood up to my expectations with a distribution of recorders (“flutes” if you are French) and a live flute tuition course (over YouTube, of course) in the middle of his speech.  And he ended abruptly fifteen slides from the end when a page came up sporting the words “don’t talk, act”.  “I guess I should just do that, thanks for listening” and off he went.

Photo: Morten does some more talking at SIME (thanks bisonblog)

So much for the opening event. 

Set in the lovely Montreux Fairmont Palace, the conference itself hovered between a central salon graced with large fireplaces and two gorgeous old world conference rooms.  Notable by its absence despite its Geneva roots was Index Ventures, but apart from that almost everyone with money to spend was represented.  In no particular order, Bart and Olivier at Wellington, Paul, Fergal and Irina at Highland, Philippe at Partech, Par-Jorgen at Northzone, Oran at Hasso Plattner, Ian and Alain at Intel, Judy and Simon at Accel, all the folks at EndeavourVision of course, and many others.

25 company CEO’s presented.  Among them Seatwave‘s Joe Cohen, our weapon of mass disruption, who frankly stole the show, as the CEO of a good secondary ticketing company should; and DailyMotion, who just awed people with numbers (yes, top 30 Alexa folks).  I am not sure that the list is public but let’s give a warm round of applause to Philippe Collombel who managed to leverage 5 of his companies into the event :-).  Nicely done.

Here though is what struck me about the companies:

  • No companies that felt like engineered me-too’s (apart from mine of course :-))
  • Many credible repeat CEOs
  • A massive level of ambition
  • Some Eastern European gems coming of age

It felt like a solid conference with some strong opportunities; I feel good about European venture and this is part of the reason why.   It may also be because we are at the frothy end of a frothy cycle, of course.  Now, if you are feeling really frothy, go spend £6,000 on a couple of Led Zep tickets at Seatwave :-)  Go on !

Led Zeppelin Tickets

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