Andrew Keen (who spoke at LeWeb last year) interviewed both Michael Arrington and myself about the european versus american cultural differences controversy and just published a piece that will appear in the paper Independent next monday. While I find Andrew’s entry good, balanced and reflecting the facts we discussed, I am a little disappointed that Andrew quoted me on how I agree it is difficult to be an entrepreneur in Europe (YouTube versus Dailymotion launched at the same time but not the same result after a few years) but not on the rather new examples of extremely successful startups in Europe such as Meetic and Vente Privee. Vente Privee is not a copy cat of any US company, it has created a space that now got more than 10 american copycats. I am just insisting on the fact that if it is tougher to build a successful and international company from Europe, I feel the space is changing and true innovation and world class entrepreneurship is growing there. I do not blame Andrew as I know for a true journalistic piece in the paper you have not much space to transcribe what you heard.
Think outside of the Internet about Richard Branson or Stelios Haji Ioannou, I am very confident that the european tech space will get unique leaders like them very soon. I just had to say that I am very aware of Europe’s issues, but not negative at all, look at how LeWeb is growing as a proof there is huge hope in Europe. I was lucky enough to have dinner with Richard Branson and I remember very clear me he told me “the problem with you, French Entrepreneurs, is that you speak too much french and not english enough, it slows you down dramatically if not restricts your action to your Country only”. Fortunately luxury and fashion successes such as LVMH or Chanel are here to prove Richard is not always right and there is hope.
Truth is Countries matter less and less. Silicon Valley is not America, it is almost a Country of its own. It does not really matter where you are as long as you think international as much as possible, borders and languages are becoming much less of a problem as globalization evolves. I feel citizen of the World more than anything else. I probably sounds full of shit, but that is how I feel, who cares where we live.
update: finally controversial (coming from Andrew I was really surprised he was not in his Independent piece) Andrew just responded to my “citizen of the world” idealistic thoughts. Guess what? I agree it’s a very elitist global citizenship for now but I am convinced the more we are thinking this way, the best the world will change, starting by respecting each other more. It reminds me of a pure french fight I had against the press spreading that french jobs should be protected against globalization, like if you can stop the rain falling.