I’m forty today and woke up with this view.
A weird feeling as so many people think about being forty as a really big deal in your life, that only probably makes it a big deal for anyone.
A good moment to take a step back and look at your own life. Can’t help to think I’m hoping it’s half of my life, I lost my father from a cancer when he was 53 so it wasn’t half for him, I can’t celebrate today without thinking about missing him and also my sister that died in her thirties also from cancer and some remaining complications of a huge car accident she encountered when she was little kid.
Having those thoughts I feel actually even happier and fortunate that I’m having such a good life. I have a wonderful family that I love and loves me. Being 40 and having already three teenagers is fantastic. That’s how I chose to spend this day, this week, with them and my wife Geraldine. I kite surfed, played cards and spend the day yesterday pretty much hugging them and playing with them, same program today.
I’m fortunate to have so many great friends, too. Offline and online, close and not close. People say generally you make your closest friends for life around your college years, it’s true for me but our move to San Francisco 5 years ago definitely changed me a great deal. I used to interact 90% of the time in French with french friends or connections and now it’s the opposite, I’m mostly in an english or international environment all day long. That doesn’t make me less french, or maybe it does, but it clearly changed me.
“You’re defined by who your friends are” told me once Yossi Vardi.
If that is true then I feel very accomplished by having incredible friends around the World. I enjoy quality close relationships with few friends (that some tend to be on Path, which is great) but I could not leave without my broader online/offline friendship. I have extraordinary real life friends and I’m learning from them every day. Joichi Ito taught me blogging and social networking in 2003 and changed my life, I learned to live with many online friends every day and some of them I met and became really close with. I can’t live without my online friends even though it’s a weird feeling of course, I have about 90k followers on Twitter, 150k on Facebook and 1m+ on Google+ (but I was featured there so that number is artificial) that’s plenty to interact with. Definitely frustrating too, in a way, I’d like to meet them, and so many of you that I have never met helped me so much. Thank you.
It’s five years this summer we moved to Silicon Valley.
When we moved we were wondering if it was something temporary for a few years and back to France. We’re definitely in Silicon Valley for the long run and got permanent residence with our green cards, we feel more and more attached to the brilliant and vibrant entrepreneurial community that happens no where else in the World. New York is tempting us, though, we might try to live there someday but no short plans. While I still feel very european and french in the way I think, I feel more and more american in the way I work. Faster, more focused on being efficient. I don’t mind a two hour lunch from time to time though. No I won’t get here into the Europe versus Silicon Valley debate, I love you european friends and yes you’re doing fantastic, entrepreneurship is great in europe too and so on. I just feel the energy, ambition and general atmosphere in Silicon Valley feels better for me and is a great environment for my teenagers to be inspired.
Phil Libin of Evernote came to brunch at my house recently and was surrounded by my boys asking him about his incredible success with Evernote. Now they want to do the same. Ask them and they will tell you they want to be entrepreneurs and build something great. Just that is an accomplishment for me. I don’t think everyone should be an entrepreneur but I think my boys should be, or at least be inspired by being entrepreneurs in anything they do, should they choose a different life than technology startups, which would be fine, of course.
I feel very happy and fortunate.
I have not always succeeded and it’s not surprising, I have succeeded enough to feel happy. 2012 treats me great so far as we took risks to launch LeWeb in London and I think we were very successful in our first non Paris based event with 1400 participants from 50 countries, wow. I have been struggling with Seesmic for 5 years, pivoting 4 times and not reaching success yet, still trying hard (we just killed a bunch of products to focus on one, Seesmic Ping and monetized it with hundreds of happy paid customers already and a nice growth). A big change.
Success doesn’t come where you expect it most of the times. It’s unrelated to how hard you try to focus your efforts and your time on something. I have spent 95% of my time the last five years on Seesmic and 5% on LeWeb. Seesmic hasn’t been what I have hoped for (even though I’m still trying hard) while LeWeb has become a true international brand and a profitable business without me doing much more than inviting speakers. Big lesson here. I thank my wife Geraldine for LeWeb’s success and blame myself for not having been able to make Seesmic what I had in mind. I still have good hopes we can make it something good, growing and profitable. Time will tell and I don’t give up, even if sometimes I actually should. I will have to write more about the pivots, I have been thinking a great deal about them and what happened next. I think we had a lot of head wind, to take a sailing image. I have a great team and I’m thankful my business partner Bastien Vidal and my team (past and present) went through so many challenges with me.
I want to keep focusing on my sons being successful, that’s a very important one for me. I love creating products (we just did that again with Seesmic) and growing LeWeb is a daily source of happiness, especially as it became a real platform of success. There is rarely a week without a LeWeb participant or partnering telling me that thanks to LeWeb they had a business idea, started one, raised funding, did a major partnership or sold their company. Helping others being successful is the best feeling ever.
Thank you, all, for being such fantastic friends and inspiring me so much.