LeWeb is hands-down France’s biggest tech conference. With the last edition in 2011 hosting over 3,500 participants from over 76 countries and speakers like Karl Lagerfeld, Eric Schmidt and Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, there are very few conferences in Europe that measure up. At most, some would say the only other conferences on the content to measure up are Dublin’s F.ounders conference and Germany’s DLD. Combined, these two invite-only events have included the likes of Ariana Huffington (HuffPo/AOL), Trip Adler (SlideShare), Shai Agassi (Better Place), Jim Breyer (Accel), Bono (U2/Elevation), Sean Parker (Founders) and more.
France, Germany, Ireland…what about London?
Ah yes. What about the city considered to be one of Europe’s leading startup territories, London? Well, for the past few years, TechCrunch/Mike Butcher have been behind one of the city’s leading tech events, GeekNRolla. GeekNRolla has been much more Europe-centric than the likes of LeWeb, F.ounders or DLD, with past appearances including Reshma Sohoni (Seedcamp), Robin Klein (Index), Michael Birch (Bebo/AOL) – and my all-time favorite, Morten Lund (LundXY).
Despite the incredibly impressive crowd, London’s GeekNRolla has traditionally attracted fewer attendees than the other a-list conferences in Europe as Mike Butcher has been running the event almost single-handedly. This year, however, he’s teamed up with F.ounders’ 27-year old organizer Paddy Cosgrave to transform his famous GeekNRolla conference into the London Web Summit.
Already, the event set to take place on March 19 in London shows progress, aiming for 700 attendees as opposed to the traditional 300 or so (personal estimate). Naturally, the price tag also reflects the change in calibre – aka an increase of several hundred pounds (it’s just under £1000 for a standard ticket). And the 30-person speaker line-up includes some of the previous GeekNRolla list, as well as Niklas Zenstromm (Skype/Atomico), Ben Parr (Mashable) and Shervin Pishevar (SGN/Menlo).
All in all, it would seem as though the London Web Summit is headed straight for success. A fabulous speaker list, more cash, more attendees and even a £35K prize for the startup pitch.
But these improvements happens to coincide with the very same year Loic and Gerldine Le Meur’s LeWeb conference is also set to make its debut in London.
There were rumors last year of London and Paris “squabbling” over LeWeb, after they had been invited to discussions with the British government and attended meetings with UK PM David Cameron at 10 Downing Street. Loic went on to post a simple tweet to his followers, asking if he should move LeWeb to London for the 2012 Olympics.
The discussion died down after the 2011 line-up was announced but just recently, the team announced that event would be taking place 2x this year – once in London on June 19 & 20 and again in Paris on December 4-6. Regardless of the fact that no speakers have been announced to date, I’m guessing that LeWeb will remain true to some of the trends that we see in Paris each year (minus the freezing temperatures!).
For the moment, attending the 2-day London is substantially cheaper than the 3-day Paris event (£750 vs. €1,150). However, a special London-Paris bundle deal is available (£1,590 or €1,895 to attend both events) through March 15. And let’s not forget that there are special discounted rates available to students (£120/€300 to attend each event), freelance developers (£350/€600) and startups (£750/€1150).
As Mike Butcher correctly pointed out in TechCrunch, London is definitely getting spoiled by tech conferences this year. And even though we would love to see more France in LeWeb, we’re very pleased to see France’s leading conference conquering new territory AND keeping a stronghold in Paris.
You can check out the announcement video from husband and wife team Geraldine and Loic Le Meur here:
In the meantime, if you have any speaker suggestions to make, you can do it here. And yes, I’m pretty sure Pinterest (which is pronounced “PIN-TREST” and not PIN-IN-TREST) has already been requested, oh, 2089 times. 🙂