Seesmic has always been a company for French startupers to watch. The company was founded by the infamous Loic Le Meur, who’s reputation actually does surpass his resume, having been the example of French serial entrepreneurship to the country that invented the word but lacked the spirit. Tech enthusiasts will undoubtedly recognize the Seesmic name, whether it’s from the “posted via Seesmic” text beneath their friends’ tweets, or the business-side Salesforce CRM software; however, I imagine those same tech enthusiasts would have a hard time describing exatly what Seesmic does.
It seems that over the years Seesmic has struggled to find its niche. Not quite committing to one sector, Seesmic has released a “suite” of products: on the one hand, its Salesforce.com CRM software (Salesforce.com is one of Seesmic’s early investors), and on the other hand, what may be described as “just another twitter client.” (and let’s not forget that they used to be a Video Chat Platform!) With no clear product-market fit defined, it was interesting to watch last year as Seesmic expanded into Europe with Seesmic Europe, run by yet another French entrepreneurial star, Cedric Giorgi, along with YouTube star (among other things) Michelle Chmielewski - or as I know her, the Observing Participant.
Cut to November 2011
Back in November 2011, the French internet world quietly noticed that these two Seesmic Europe stars started devoting a little less time to Seesmic Europe and a little more time towards Loic Le Meur’s other baby, Le Web. Le Web, for those who are just using the internet for the first time today, is arguably Europe’s largest startup/tech conference, attracting all of the Silicon Valley to Paris for a weekend of what Sean Parker might call controlled debauchery.
After LeWeb wrapped up in December, Cedric Giorgi quietly bowed out of Seesmic Europe, declaring himself a free Entrepreneur again. This ruffled a few eyebrows, which were then thoroughly raised this past week as Michelle also announced her departure from Seesmic to Uber, which recently launched in Paris. Now, I do not doubt that both Cedric and Michelle will go on to do great things in their next projects – their work on Le Web was incredible, and their talents have already been seen in the startup world. Loic himself congratulated Michelle on her departure from Seesmic toward Uber (one might even think that Loic played a part in Michelle’s new post at the company which launched at Loic’s event, but who’s to say?) But the question remains:
So what will happen with Seesmic?
It has seemed for awhile now that Loic was more concerned with Le Web than with Seesmic – this was certainly true during “Le Web” season. And who can blame him, honestly? The completely unconfirmed numbers I have heard whispered put him at taking in 6 figures easily, perhaps even 7 figures by some estimates – Le Web itself is a viable business option. I reached out to Loic to get his take on what’s going on with Seesmic Europe, and he told me: “it’s very simple, we’re just completely focusing on the US again.”
It seems the attempt to bring Seesmic back home to France was done too soon, and in any case, Loic assures me that he is still 100% in charge of Seesmic, and still 100% behind Le Web (as if he’d ever give up that prize gem). While Seesmic still struggles to find what it does best and how to disrupt the market of its choice, I imagine Loic sleeps a little better than most entrepreneurs in his position knowing that, if all else fails, if Seesmic can’t find its place by December 2012, he’s always got Le Web to look forward to – just like the rest of the startup world.