The Only Thing French About LeWeb '11 Was Its Name…


Last week Loic Le Meur hosted LeWeb for the 7th time on the outskirts of Paris. Silicon Valley bloggers, investors, and entrepreneurs rode in on Uber Carriages, bringing with them French companies, European startups, and fanbois of all shapes and sizes. For three days, croissant-fueled networking and wine-induced pitches filled the air as startups pitched bloggers, VCs and potential customers.
The first day, I listened. The second day, I worked up the courage to start talking to people like Ben Parr and Robert Scoble. The third day…. well, I think Sean Parker acted like we were all feeling that day. Deezer hosted a party in the louvre with The Ting Tings playing live. President Sarkozy and Eric Schmidt became friends, hopefully ending an ancient feud between Google and France. So many things launched that I can’t even keep them straight (did Karl Lagerfield really launch an online-only fashion brand?)

What I thought LeWeb would be…

While I love seeing the Silicon Valley energy invest Paris for a week – believe me, I was PUMPED – I was surprised to find how little talk was about what was going on in France. The event felt more like a Road Show for the Silicon Valley – “Let Loic Le Meur bring the Silicon Valley to you.” While I agree that it is valuable for French/European startupers to see what a startup ecosystem is like, isn’t it about time for the Silicon Valley to make the trip out to France to see what we’re doing over here?!
One of the guests on stage, Siberian Badoo founder Andrey Andreev, spoke with Loic Le Meur about his company’s moving to San Francisco, and Loic jokingly scolded him, saying it was his responsibility to start a company in his country, in order to help the ecosystem. I laughed. Loudly — it’s nice to hear patriotism from a man who abandoned his country for the Silicon Valley.

French Keynotes – don’t be silly!

As Sean Parker, Shervin Pishevar, Alexia Tsotsis and Loic took the stage for the final key note, I couldn’t help but think “Wow, we took 4 Bay Area natives, flew them out to Paris, and watched them have a chat… what does this have to do with France?” Meanwhile, France’s most important faces got sidelined as judges for the startup competition. Why were these roles not switched? I would’ve much rather have Sean Parker judging startups and Xavier Niel, Marc Simoncini, and PKM speaking about what Le Web really is.

Some lighter notes…

There were plenty of great off-camera events at Le Web – I think Sebastien Gestiere‘s video sum’s up nicely the experience of being at LeWeb. Yves Weisselberger also gave a nice summation of all the great things you might not have seen.
For now, we only get one or two events per year where France has a direct communication line to the silicon valley’s biggest hitters. While I think it’s great that Google finally got a real presence in France and Uber is choosing Paris as it’s next city to launch, why not show off some of the great French (or hell, even European) startups that could be launching in the US soon.