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40 and 5

I’m forty today and woke up with this view.

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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.

What’s next? 

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.

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A great conversation with Leo Laporte and Tom Merritt on TWiT

Thanks Leo Laporte and Tom Merritt for having me as the guest of Triangulation on Twit yesterday, I enjoyed the conversation!

 

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We just switched LeWeb to LeWeb.co because it’s cool

LeWeb is now at LeWeb.co which is quickly becoming the default and coolest extension for startups as well as Twitter (t.co) or Google using it. And you can talk to the team behind .co too, meet Juan Calle, the CEO, he’s very cool. And the good news is that the name you want is generally available… Oh and yeah, .co is also a partner of LeWeb this year and you know what? We’re really fortunate that we get to work with cool folks that support us. LeWeb London is sold out on partnerships for weeks now (you can still buy a pass, though)…!

 

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If you want to get serious about running, here are 3 tips

I was talking about a friend who is getting serious about running and asked me advice since I ran 3 marathons (which is nothing compared to the one marathon per week my friend Scott Dunlap runs, you should read his blog!)

I don’t know about advice but inspiration from those two really great books:

What I talk about when I talk about running

Born to run

and I followed the Chi Running technique to learn how to not hurt myself. It might sound a little weird but that really helped me a lot. 

oh, and I really like the Newton Shoes which are totally flat but still protect you very well for long distance.

Loicmarathon

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100% of the members of my team in Bucharest found a job in 3 weeks

Late March, I had to let go many great people in my Seesmic team, unfortunately after having tried for months to find a home for the whole team as a whole and did not succeed.

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What I decided to do was to publish on my blog the list of the employees and a link to their LinkedIn profiles and ask the Internets (that’s you guys) to help spread the word that there was a great engineering team available in Bucharest.

First, I was blown away par the word of mouth, my post got 300+ tweets and hundreds of likes, shares and plusses, so thanks for sharing to help the team.

Then, we were instantly flooded with emails of people interested to hire one, some or all the whole team.

Some of my engineers got up to 15 job offers (!!!) from top companies I can’t disclose but those are the Silicon Valley heavy hitters making the news daily. Interesting, though, most of the offers that arrived asked them to move out of Romania and go to Silicon Valley or London in most cases. I was not surprised by this given the shortage of engineering resources in SV.

I’m happy to report today that about 3 weeks after that post went live 100% of the team found a new job and for most of them it’s in Bucharest, where they wanted to stay. It’s home after all.

It’s very difficult to go public as an entrepreneur when you have to reduce the size of your team drastically. Yet, it happens frequently and what I dare to call this “experiment” shows that it can be done and end very well for everyone, the team has new jobs and my company runs with a much lower burn rate, focusing on less products and we also successfully monetized our Android app, more on that soon.

Thank you, everyone, who helped share this and find them new jobs. Looks like there is here a new way of reducing a startup size without going into a crisis for anyone, involving unions (hi, France!), lawsuits, etc etc.

Back to reducing the size of a company. No one wants to talk about that, but it’s something entrepreneurs have to do very often. It’s like the sails of a boat, you have to adapt the sales to the wind power. If you’re successful and your products in high demand, go hire like crazy and increase the sails size, get the spinnaker out. If you’re going through a thunderstorm and hell waves, reduce to the strict minimum. I know it’s tough to talk like this as we’re talking about people, and families, and jobs, and possible major problems and I am very aware of this.

Yet, I have always thought that TO BE ABLE TO HIRE FAST YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO LET GO FAST and that is a very difficult sentence to write for an entrepreneur.

That doesn’t mean you should do it in a crisis mode and you shouldn’t help your employees. I have had to reduce the size of my team many times, always sadly, and I tried to be creative this time and do it in a different way. Recommending them all on LinkedIn and going public created a whole new referential and the problem was solved in a matter of days.

Very unpopular. Think that I’m French and you get insulted in France if you dare to say that in media (as I have, actually) because people generally do not understand that flexibility is a key survival factor. If you can go light fast you can then hire fast because you’re not scared about being stuck in having to pay sometimes one year severance or more which literally kills many businesses in Europe. So you hire more and you create more jobs.

I know, this is very unpopular to say and I know, it doesn’t apply to most industries where if people lose their jobs, it’s a nightmare. I am very aware of that but I know I will still get reminded I am out of my mind writing this. We are very lucky in the tech industry that there is such a demand for engineering and product talent. We are even more lucky that instead of thinking in terms of the old “lutte des classes” in technology people think of their jobs more and more as the startup of their lives. They think as entrepreneurs with a customer, their employer and hope that one day they will have their own customers in their own business. I’m proud that tens of my former employees became entrepreneurs themselves.

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I can only recommend my friend Reid Hoffman’s book, the startup of you. And good luck to all my previous employees and to you all in the startup of you, I wish you tons of success and keep in touch, it’s a small world out there.

Oh and don’t get me wrong, I wish I would have never had to reduce the size of any team working with me, at any moment, sadly failure is often part of the entrepreneur job and learning how to fail is as important as learning how to succeed.

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It’s like fashion: Announcing a Theme for LeWeb and why it’s important (and the coverage)

I have to admit I was getting ready to drop picking and announcing a theme at LeWeb, just because it’s actually taking a lot of time every year to think about what is the core trend of the industry and then inviting speakers and arranging the LeWeb program according to that theme. As we added London to the mix, I was feeling it would be too much to have two themes every year.

I was, as often, wrong. Just seeing the coverage of our theme announcement and LeWeb London update (thanks, friends who covered it and I missed many)

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Here are our public LeWeb themes:

2012 London: faster than realtime2011 Paris:  SOLOMO social local mobile2010 Paris:  Platforms2009 Paris: the realtime web (yep, before faster than realtime!)2008 Paris: Love (yeah remember it was after the 2007 crisis so we all needed Love)2007 Paris:  not sure :-)before: no theme.

I’m taking more and more care over the years  to define the theme carefully and this year I talked to Jeremiah Owyang about searching for a theme for London and he mentioned his own research themes from AltimeterGroup and I got inspired and convinced “faster than realtime” was a great theme for London.

Scoble is already raving on Facebook about the theme and telling stories about it:

Robert Scoble Faster than Real Time is definitely a trend. On Monday night my friend showed up on Highlight before he even arrived at our party. I met him at the door, which blew him away.

Yesterday at 8:23am · Unlike ·  1

 

Robert Scoble ‎@Tyler Hurst: tech can predict the future. For instance, I’m using an app called PlaceMe. It is following me around 24 hours a day. It knows whether I’m driving, walking, or running. It knows how many miles I’ve driven since I last visited a gas station. It can predict my future and tell me where the best place to get gas is along my usual route. Yesterday at 8:58am · Unlike ·  1

I see the tech industry as fashion, it’s changing blazing fast from a week to another and finding themes to catch trends is a good exercise, I will keep working on future themes and improve the content based on them. There is definitely no shortage of new startups and innovations and that’s why we’re now doing two LeWeb events every year, things change so fast in 6 months. It’s like fashion, two collections per year.

Oh and THANKS again, Hugh for the cartoon, a great way to announce our theme!

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Do you guys know of a tool that helps developers manage all the Android Marketplaces?

Screen Shot 2012 04 18 at 10 15 26 AM

There are many Android marketplaces for developers to post apps in addition to Google Play, such as the Amazon one (second tablet in sales on the market after the iPad), the Nook, all the local carriers marketplaces (Orange in France, Telefonica in Spain etc…).

It’s a huge pain for us as Android developer with three Android apps (Seesmic Social that we just started monetizing, Seesmic Pro the ads free app and it’s going very well and Seesmic Ping) to manage those marketplaces, post to them, manage reviews etc…

It’s a much bigger pain for Android developers with many more apps, a nightmare, in fact.

Do you guys know of any service to help developers manage that and keep the apk files up to date?

Thanks!

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LeWeb London theme on GapingVoid + startup competition open and… video from Coachella

Geraldine and myself were at Coachella music festival (thanks, Shak) which was awesome and we recorded a video that was so noisy in the background (thanks for anyone who helped) that we subtitled ourselves.

Anyway our theme for LeWeb London is “Faster than Realtime” and the startup competition is open, register your startup for free and get your tickets (not free, but you will be supporting a great event and an entrepreneurial adventure if you buy them!) at LeWeb.net soon to become LeWeb.co yep we’re changing out url to our partner .com, as many startups do.

Thanks Jeremiah Owyang and our friends at AltimeterGroup for inspiring us about the theme and my friend Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid for the awesome sketch announcing our theme.

Would like to thank as well all our partners so far for LeWeb London, Evernote, Google, HP, UKTI, BOX, .co, WordPress, Softlayer and everybody helping us.

Gaping Void LeWeb theme

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LeWeb London update

(nous avons aussi une video en français cette fois-ci)

highlights:

just a few days left to register (for free) to our startup competition and get a chance to be onstage and get free expo space (deadline is may 15th)http://london.leweb.co/2012/leweb/startup-competition

Bradley Horowitz will come to explain how he will make Google+ huge vs Facebookhttp://london.leweb.co/2012/community/bradley-horowitz

but Facebook’s Christian Hernandez will also speak and hopefully it will be post IPO we can hear all about ithttp://london.leweb.co/2012/community/christian-hernandez-gallardo

London is one of the world center of Finance so it’s natural we have the leaders of new financing models, there is a revolution going on:Renaud Laplanche of Lending Club and Samir Desai, CEO and Co-Founder, Funding Circle, Errol Damelin, Wonga

Europe vs Silicon Valley will be hot again (after this ) with Uber vs Hailo Cab which both raised $20m+, one from London, the other from San Francisco. Since they might feel alone in this fight, they will be supported by their VCs fighting too:

Travis Kalanick, Uber Shervin Pishevar, Managing Director, Menlo Ventures
Adam Valkin, Accel Partners Jay Bregman, Hailocab   Oh and YEAH Pebble Watch raised $10m without VCs, this never happened IN HISTORY and yes, we have the founder, Eric Migicovsky and he never spoke anywhere before, he’s going to explain how we don’t need VCs anymore, this should be HOT   full list of speakers so far: http://london.leweb.co/2012/community/speakers   see you all in London!   Tweet

LeWeb London update

LeWeb London will happen on June 19-20 so the team is working hard on it.Had wonderful few days in London last week and it was the second time I saw the venue, the Central Hall Westminster.

I have been, again, really impressed by this venue which is a Church. It’s very important for us that LeWeb doesn’t look like a trade show because it isn’t one, we want an atmosphere that is more of a summit gathering tech leaders, successful and would be entrepreneurs, press, bloggers, VCs and business angels and large corporations composing the digital ecosystem.

Le Web London

Can’t be more central:

Methodist Central Hall Westminster London United Kingdom  Google Maps

The LeWeb team has started working in the venue for the first time last week, captured a few moments:

I am talking to many friends in London to make LeWeb London as good as possible and added some speakers and I’m looking for speaker suggestions.

Got some nice coverage also on Bloomberg TV about technology trends and LeWeb London

Thanks all for the incredible help and support we’re getting to make LeWeb London possible. More soon.

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