Day Two at LeWeb

Day Two at LeWeb got off to a flying start with the “money panel” – investors including Jeff Clavier and Dave “Pirate” McClure. They discussed, among other things, the performance and underperformance of IPO companies.

Check in to see all the action on the LeWeb YouTube channel and a great roundup on Simply Zesty.

By all accounts Bill Gross (founder of IdeaLab) appears to win the informal vote for best speaker of LeWeb, with his “12 Lessons” inspiration and wisdom. Bill is a passionate creature and regularly captures great photos, some during his stay in Paris.

He’s right: the weather hasn’t been fantastic, but we didn’t get the sub-zero temps and snow storms like last year. The taxi situation is another popular whine. One thing that is greeted with joy is the arrival of the Uber cabs on the streets. Countless people used them during LeWeb.

My colleague Mark Voermans liked the passion from Italian Carmine Gallo who said “you need both vision and passion to succeed in business, and to realize that they are separate qualities”.

Another great speaker, JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at Salesforce, might be competing with Bill Gross for the Most Enlightened badge:

"The purpose of business is to create a customer. People make shoes, not money". I spoke to him afterwards: he’s so jolly and clever; I wish I could put him in my suitcase and take him home with me. JP and Bill joined the rest of the esteemed speakers, including our very own Dan’l Lewin, at a special reception at the Elysée Palace last night. AKA, Drinks with the President. Loic and Geraldine know how to organize a conference!

Talking of badges, Denis told us that Foursquare now has 15m users+ and 600,000 merchants with offers (or ‘specials’), his view that “technology aids serendipity” and that they’re really in the recommendation business: “Every time you tell us about that sushi place you like, we can recommend more”.

Check out their latest blog: Web sites are clients, too! Making our website run off our API. I also really liked their article on Foursquare: “This is Foursquare’s biggest opportunity to date, and as the data game is on, they could emerge as an unlikely winner, though the future may not be as different as they originally intended”.

Next up, Brian Chesky, Airbnb. We stayed in one of their properties while in town, Brian revealing that Paris is their #2 market. Interviewed by Sarah Lane, Brian hyped up their investment and growth in 2011 – while downplaying “the incident” during the Summer.

Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, delivered a great update (with humor and humility), announcing two new products as well as the growth in their user base. They’ve just been named Inc Magazine Company Of The Year.

Phil said they’re “more about the free part of freemium more than the –imium”. The head of Orange FR announced on stage with Phil the deal appearing in Spring 2012 where their customers get access to Evernote Premium free of charge for one year. Loic also noted they launched a Windows Phone 7 Mango app last week. [When I met Phil at the Seedcamp mentoring meet-up the day before he said he’s really glad to be part of BizSpark One and excited to see the Evernote Win 8 app coming soon]. Sweet.

The perfect segway to an update from Microsoft’s Chris Capossela.

Chris began his time on stage showing the Kinect Effect video and referring to the news from the Xbox group. He said it was all about “applications and exploration” this year and praised the myriad things developers have been doing with Xbox 360 around the globe: ”Imagining how the classroom experience might be different; in the medical field, allowing folks peruse through data without touching anything”.

Xbox has been on a 10 year journey. Chris revealed some impressive numbers:

  • · 57m units sold, connected to TVs
  • · 960k units sold in four days over Thanksgiving
  • · 35m Xbox Live subscribers

Don’t forget applications are now open for the TechStars Kinect Accelerator.

No better time to be a developer

The release of the Xbox Kinect SDK enables a whole segment of developers interested in a scenario that “lets your body be the controller”. Chris acknowledged that it looks like we’re “moving into media and entertainment” and Loic was keen to know “is Google TV the main competition?”.

Chris’ response: there are other game console providers. “We have a huge asset out there [57m]” and pointed to the new Xbox Live app on WP7, and on IOS.

Loic then moved our attention to the phone – “Nokia just released this new Lumia phone? It’s beautiful.”

Yes it is. One thing that really struck me today is the great curiosity around the new phone. From the buzz on the Microsoft stand (and one phone to be won every day on our booth) to the VC guy in the cab with me who made “ooh” and “aah” sounds when I let him play with my new gizmo.

Chris confirmed it – “On the Phone we’re working hard to get back in the game. Developers are very excited about the opportunity. Even the hardcore press – say it’s the best user experience”.

“Tell me about Windows 8. You just announced the Windows Store?”…

Chris: “Yesterday back in San Fran we took the wraps off the store. The app store is built into every Win 8 machine”. Chris was challenged on whether developers are going to respond: “Generally people start with IOS, Android, then WP7. That’s a lot of devices and form factors; is it perhaps too much? If you design an app for tablet is there a danger that the desktop experience won’t be good? Why would they start investing heavily in the tablet app dev?”

Chris: “You want to target the user base – it’s a massive audience. So if I build an app for Win 8, I am immiediately addressing those 500m copies of Windows 7. A massive installed base. All of those machines can run 8, optimized for touch, but also for mouse and keyboard. OK, so disregard this – and concentrate on the 350-400m PC’s sold into the market every year. This represents a huge run rate, customers ready for applications in the store”.

Show Me the Money

Chris also revealed some numbers:

“We think the economics are far better than our competitors. You make more money. For instance, you get to keep 80 per cent of the revenue when you hit 25k revenue for your app in Windows Store. Also, we don’t force you to use one particular ad network or payment system. Use ours or a third parties, use PayPal for in-app transactions, use Amazon. If you need a subscription service to your content you can do it through the store. This is flexibility for monetizing.

Tell Me About Social……..?

Loic meant: what about Skype?

Chris said “There’s 170m users of Skype frequently using the service. Skype is social, so is Xbox Live”. When we think about social, it’s hard not to talk about Facebook: “Bing search to see what your friends like. Most think social is Facebook and Twitter, but there’s lots of other social networks. It’s about a broader social experience. Loic was keen to show off “the other thing on the phone: the Facebook feed”. Chris said they’re “not thinking about apps in silos, and it’s the design device experience with people at the center”.

“We’ll have far more devices for developers. We’re Super Excited!”

“The Metro UI across all devices, it’s a good story”. More on Engadget.

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