Recession at Le Web ’08

End one of Le Web ’08 in Paris ends here. Here are some citations and feelings from today Le Web ’08 that I agree with:

  • We yet have to see the consequences of this economical crisis (during the panel Getting financed in a recession)
  • I hope the market will fall down till people understand what has real value (Paolo Coelho)
  • Recessions give new opportunity. During recession times it’s harder to be finances, but you have less competitors too
  • Solo-leaders would have not built the web (David Weinberger)

If you ask venture capitalists here at Le Web 2.0 if bad periods await us during the next year, most of them don’t deny say no. They are not alone. Paul Coelho is on the same wave lenght.

Le Web ’08 – Europe’s startup scene

Mike Butcher from TechCrunch noted that year 2007 saw lot of activity concerning European startups, with Webex, Double click,Reuters, Aquantive being the more productive.

Market clearly picked last year, but then prices started to fall.

Recent investments were:

  • networks go niche (the updown, kindo, visible path)
  • advertisers get smarter (adinfuse, smaato, consorte)
  • everything goes mobile (mystrands, sreamezzo, betnow)
  • return of professional content (tvtrip, videojug)
  • media becomes immersive (superscape, payfirst)
  • shopping gets social
  • software in the sky

What next?

There is still lots of activity (such as stupeflix, floobs, rummble, second brain). Plus, Europe is getting connected

Key strenghts in Europe:

  • social applications
  • mobile/3g
  • data creation
  • first class engineering


  • fear of failure
  • smaller local markets
  • need more 2nd and 3rd enterpreneurs

On the positive side:

  • ability to deal with diverse markets
  • mobile
  • state support for startups

Mobile helps change the rules

Le Web ’08 – Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho in the past refused to give rights in order to make films from his books but, starting with the Witch of Portobello he started a project. Coelho has asked aspiring filmmakers to tell the tale from the point of view of one of the 13 characters in the book. He had an impressive response, with some hundreds of music and movies to select from.

Coelho thinks that privacy, from the book author perspective, should be stimulated. People can’t read online, so they download books but eventually buy the printed copy.

For this reason he decided to put on his site some full texts so that one can “pirate” his books. He only owns the right for the Portuguese version: sometimes readers translate books that are not translated yet.

Being tolerant about the usage of his books let him sell more.

The goal of every writer is to share his works.

He is sure that a period of recession will make people understand the real value of free and of the social networks and new ways  of communication.

Paulo Coelho – Author

Le Web ’08 – Itay Talgam

In a very interesting speech Itay Talgam, Israeli conductor of orchestras and musician, talked about leadership and “love” as seen from the perspective of music and conductors.

The idea of music and love go well together. Love, in particular, is an easy object for music. When you just love music everything is easy, but when you have to play music it’s more difficult. Even more difficult it is when there are many people that play and that you have to coordinate, or to conduct, such as in an orchestra.

Conductor in French is chef – and the meaning is similar to winner. The job of a conductor, however, is not just to lead, but to connect people through happiness. And connect not only the musicians, but also the audience.

Talgam showed a movie clip in which the conductor Carlos Kleiber doesn’t just lead the orchestra, but shows his feelings and leaves space for the whole orchestra to add value to the performance. And he doesn’t forget the audience too (and that’s not easy, especially if you are in Vienna). This is an act of love.

Compare it to classical conducting, for example Riccardo Muti. This is a different kind of love. It’s love for order. In the movie clip Muti tells everybody what has to do. Players  not only know the orders, but also the sanctions.

Kleiber instead doesn’t tell them what to do, but how he feels about the music. He opens up space for them to give interpretation. It’s about the meaning, it’s a process, not just instructions.

How to make love and keep things in control? If you are in charge in a process you need also to have the authority when somethings go wrong. In this way you are able to tell someone that he is out of line (another movie clips showed how Kleiber does that).

Kleiber is able to give space to the different elements going forth and back on the orchestra scene.

The feedback he gives to his orchestra are the kind of feedback you would like to have when you cook something for the ones your love.

Itay Talgam, Conductor

Le Web ’08 – leadership at the end of the age of information

David Weinberger suggests that the age of informations, as we are used to know it, has come to an end.
The end of information doesn’t mean that there will not be information. It’s the contrary: we will always have it. But the viewof the world will change.
Today the process of informations follows this path:

  • sociality
  • understanding
  • meaning
  • information
  • bits

The process starts with lot of informations and tends to reduce it. When information is reduces is more manageable.

Bur reducing information so that it can be standardize means that, when applied to a person, the person becomes “boring”. That’s because we’ve been required by information to throw out most of information in order to be able to manage it.

That is changing. Nowadays (Facebook for example) there is a lot of information, but also a lot of links, created without control. There is alot more of information than during the age of information. While the age of information reduces hyperlinks, this new age of information connect and emphasize

What about leadership? Leadership as we know it is based on scarcity. Consider for example Jack Welch. It was a great leader and the CIO of General Eletric. In this context leadership is tied to scarcity. Leadeship itself is scarce.

The leader is the only one that has access to all of the information in the firm. And for him to succeed he keeps the information scarced for the rest of us. But the leader is overwhelmed with information. it makes decisions like a computer, garbage in, garbage out. This id the information-based model of leadership. In thi way there is also a scarcety of people, just one isolated figure that decides, communicates, coordinates, has vision, strategy, is accountable.

It’s not natural that one person can do it, and it fact’s he doesn’t do it very well.

Compare this with crowdsourcing leadership. In this context the job of the leader gets ditributed over the network. In an environment like that decision making is a failure of leadership: if you put decision on the top that is a sign of failure of the network.

That’s why solo-leaders would have not built the web

Leadership is a property of the network, not of the individual.

Weinberger introduces also the meaning of “adundant governance” with examples taken from the recent US elections., the site released shortly after the election, is not perfect but they are changing and improving it every day.

This leads to the “reputational democracy”, a new level od democracy that did not exist before. This democracy is very dependent on very little tiny choices: small change can have huge repercussions.

So what will leadership be in the future? It’s very difficult to know, because there are so many forces into play (myth, power,ego,collaboration, money, generational change, tradition, realism, institutions).  We cannot predict it. Weinberger hopes that the notion of the leader will go away.

There are great leaders, but they are too scarce. leadership embraces abundance of connections.

David Weinberger – Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University