Dec 09

LeWeb10 and Singularity University

Salim Ismail, Executive Director, Singularity University

LIVEBLOGGED – some paraphrasing, may be things missed

Salim Ismail
Photo by Adam Tinworth

Talking about neuroscience. over last 20-30 years, computers have gotten smaller, faster, better. we can do a brain of a mouse in a laptop. In 12 years, brain in a computer…that is the computing power, not the brain itself. we study the impact of computing on the brain, on the fields of medicine etc.

We are geared to a linear world, not an accelerating one..we have students looking at how these tech accelerations impact the world. At the Singularity University, we get students to look at where the world is going, what is happening and get students to think where the world is going.

Looking at a See Spot Run (picture) – a one way learning. once you learn it, you can’t unsee it…

In the brain you have 100, neurons..500m connections. On first studying brain, excited as look like computer…there is a ‘stack’ you can study, like a computer.

Many systems we have today have an AI…this is a top down approach, looking at functions of brain and how to mimic them. One of our students, looking to stimulate the neurosystem of a simple animal, through top down level.

At other levels, we know results after simulus, but not how it happens. A neuron takes in 1000s of inputs, some say there may be quantum properties involved..that’s the bad news, we don’t really know how it works

The good news is that we don’t really need to know how it works in order to interface with it. We have many ways if rewiring the brain, changing what it happens. Yoga, martial arts, therapy, NLP all allow us to impact the brain…

A classic influencer of brain is a brand..trying to get you to remember it more. The ultimate master of this are religions. They take a young person and throw ‘truths’ at it..once in there, you can’t get it out…

Now we have new brain computing interfaces…we have chips implanted on motor cortex to manage wheelchair…or biofeedback systems, FRMI, you can get realtime brain scanning…we are learning rapidly how to interface.

We are the start of a lot of changes in how we interact with brains…lots of different methods. for many, we have outsourced our memories to the phone…as we change rapidly the experience of what it means to be human, we have to think about what it means..
Nanowires..they exist today…put a wire into different parts of brain. Optogenetics…intersection of genetics, virology and optics. they fabicate light sensitve cells and then use virus to put in mouse brain. they put optical fibre mouse head and can turn on the cells..to change behaviour(Karl Diesseroth) So how can we use this?

Selfawareness – we’re not really sure what this is…when you get to a level of about a frog, it is dimly aware f itself..then it gets an increasingly aware. Can you create a test for self-awareness.
Another area is luck..how do we measure, define, create.

As our ability increases, what would you do with it? What senses would you amplify, how would you enhace experience…enhance memory. At SU, we look at Education…

Dec 09

Leweb10 and Thought Controlled Computing

Thought Controlled Computing Ariel Garten, CEO, Interaxon

LIVEBLOGGED – some paraphrasing, …some bits missed…video to follow

http://paper.li/tag/leweb10
Photo by Adam Tinworth

Our team has been developing thought controlled computing…so what is thought controlled computing. Reads brain waves, translates, then sends to device. I can use mind to control lighting, or lighting can respond to state of mind. We want to create compelling applications. So we explore things around everyday actions, like taking a bath, making it fun for engagement.
So what do the graphs mean…we interpret them and do something with it. It is a convergence of ideas from many disciplines..it is interdisciplinary field…lots of things to make it happen. Until recently, it was the domain of a small number of people…previously cumbersome and contrived..you needed to be still, with lots of equipment, it could not be used on stage. Now it’s popular and accessible….now used to display in Best Buy..the Brain Playground.
We help people experience it in many ways, fun experiences. In communicating,, we need to address fears and assumptions, we need to address fears. It can only do so much.

So the history…since 2nd century dissections, man has been interested in the connection bwtween man, brain and the universe. In the 1920s the first brain wave recorded…1970′s Jacque Vidal published paper about computer and brain connections. Now we have popular books about the brain, how we think, how it relates to the world

In 2008, there were commercially available headsets by 2 companies. Now we have a single reading sensor – down from $20k to $200. Interaxon works with partners who create low cost hardware so we can create novel applications – relaxation, golf swing or the game from Star Trek.

In the Winter Olympics, we had people controlling the lighting on Niagara Falls, CNN tower using their minds. We had 7k users. In consumer application, the Star Wars Force Training toy introduces thought controlled apps to toys and games. it brings popular myths closer to reality. Or the sleep monitor that wakes you up closer to your optimal moment. We find opps to do more and reach more people. We are partnering with doctors to create an epilepsy detector, to detect seizure. We do soemthing with kids with ADD, to help with focus. The neuro simulation, drug free market, will grow over time.

Perhaps the most important role is in closing the gap, blurring the distance between able and disabled bodies – controlling wheelchairs..then doors, windows, appliances. But in thought control contect, tech often dominates, and we lose the human connection..this is about the self., this is a personal and transforming experience…this is about the self. The new experience is an extension of the self, There is a growing interest in reaching the potential.

At CES, we will launch….an iphone app. you have to wrap a rope around an object, using your mind..the more you focus, the faster it rotates…we provide brain feedback, how your brain was doing. this is more than game feedback, it;’s a personal brain centre, knowledge about you…it’s inwardly focused…it reorientates the popular imagination. the more we look at future scenarios, we look at brain, mobile, body sensors etc. We can improve existing tasks and behaviours….they can transform tech, industries etc…every industry needs to be involved to actualise the potential. It’s more than a novel game controller…you can connect to everything your phone does…as we enter a new era of search, so how can thought control work, connect with eye tracking..the neurobiology of search is a rich area. We think it will change commerce and more…

Dec 09

LeWeb10 and SmartTransportation

Jack D. Hidary, Chairman, SmartTransportation.org

LIVEBLOGGED – some paraphrasing, may have missed things. Video to follow

Wants to talk about 3 challenges, related to mobility and energy. we are nearing 1billion cars in the world. In the US 250m, China is fastest growing market…15-20m new ones per year. Progress we have and have not made since 1908…mpg, we had about 20mpg, in 2010, the average of a fleet is 22.5MPG. it’s a little higher in EU, China looking to move up as well. If we grow this, we will run out of oil…so we have a wall, we have a market failure. We have to go beyond todays technology. I’m associated with the X-Prize. we did space and just recently did cars – 100mpg and is cheap and easily manufactured. we know this is coming. The Nissan Leaf is coming, others etc. A lot of creativity and innovation

And now we need to merge worlds of IT and MT – Mobility technology. we need to connect in a network. The charging stations in 90s were not connected to web – so did not know what the charging station was like. Now you can get a app for the phone that gives you location of charging station and it’s availability. we need more of these apps, integrated into location based services, into car apps, into nav apps. All the cars are connected, all the charging stations are connected. This is the internet of things, it will be much larger than internet of people…

Second Challenge. We will have 9b people….and how many will want a car. If a quarter do, we are done. we need new tech…we need new business models. we need to rethink car ownership. Can we do the EV commons…so all can put up charging stations…make available. so if hotel chains put up charging stations etc, retailers, etc, everyone does there part, like the internet. A distributed mesh model, like the internet. we need 100s of new business models. Ownership for 9b people is not feasible

Third Challenge – the electric. how do we generate power and energy. So let’s make this cleaner, but we keep thinking about making just enough to power waht we need. We use 18trillian kwh in a year. in one hour the sun gives us more energy than we need in 1 year. (inc wind). Let’s think about 20tkwh, how about 10x, what about 200 tkWh…what would you produce if you had this energy?

Energy is not just electricity that comes in…it’s out human mental power we need. we need to think about these kinds of things, it is not jsut tech that holds us back, it is our own imagination…

Dec 09

LeWeb10 and Zynga

David Ko, SVP of Mobile, Zynga
Q&A with MG Siegler, Writer, TechCrunch

LIVEBLOGGED – paraphrased, there may be things missed. Video to follow

David Ko
Photo by Adam Tinworth

MG: you’ve been there a month now [David is new at zynga] , have announced a new deal recently, do you want to discuss?
DK: last week was big, we announced acquisition called NewToy, they have created something unique, the best social gaming experience out there. Words with Friends and Chess with friends. one of post popular on ipad/iphone etc, use it for about an hour a day, so sticky.

MG: you are turning this into Zynga with Friends?
DK: it’s part of our mobile investment – renamed it and will keep it there, keep investing it there

MG: will they focus on mobile and then move the properties into the web
DK: huge opportunity, huge userbase we want to leverage, they have a great team, great IP that you will see soon,

MG: how about some of the other platforms?
DK: if you think about the vision of Zynga, we want to connect the world through games..we extend to any device or platform, have to create the right type of experience. we focused onthe iphone to date. we are looking to expand and to move to different platforms. we will take Mafia on to the Android platform later this month

MG: Nokia, Windows, Blackberry?
DK: we need to understand the limitations of devices..many of us create mobile experiences for smartphones…but it’s expanding. we see userbase increasing with international users, we need to look at what they are using..to offer seemless experiences to them

MG: you came from Yahoo, been there for 10 years, you were one of 3 big execs that left recently
DK: had a great time…great opportunities. can’t really comment as a few months since left…I wish them the best

MG:
why walk away from the stuff?
DK: I met Mark many months ago, always been impressed with Zynga…spent time with them, loved what they were doing..truely thought they could connect the world through games.

MG: but they did not have a strong mobile presence…you came in to do mobile?
DK: huge opp for Zynga in mobile…the next social frontier for gaming. Zynga has huge subscriber base across the PC – 200m playing every month. Yesterday there were 45m daily active users, huge potential to bring that to mobile

MG: another was to diversify away from FB?
DK: less about diversifying away….core thing of company is partnerships.,,think about what the compnay is, about social, social means FB. does not mean that we don’t have other users wanting to access on other platforms..so Yahoo deal, MySpace deal. Primarily FB has been a tremendous partner

MG: what about FB and mobile? Connect and other services etc? are you working on some of the things
DK: if there are things we can leverage that makes it better and easier from user, then we are working on it. we look at best customer experience…seemless etc.

MG: looking at international markets, you have launched Farmville in Japan on mobile only
DK: yes, mobile first experience. part of focusing on international

MG
: so why mobile only first?
DK: you will see difference in terms of regions. In Asia, many access first on mobile then move to a PC. we have to diversify away from some of the smartphones, to give right experience. not fully there, still work to do, but great start

MG: is Farmville on smartphones only?
DK: yes, but looking to extend it over time

MG: you have launched Cityville in multiple markets
DK: it has been the fastest growing game to date – 3m daily active users yesterday. 5 languages,. Shows we are thinking more internationally, thinking about user base. Our user base, more than 2/3rds are non-native English speakers.

MG: US is still the biggest country? France is huge? Is Asia the number 1 for expansion
DK: Yes..Zynga has 13 studios…5 are outside of US, based in Japan, China, India, Germany

MG: Poker is big in Tiawan…
DK: Poker was one of the first franchises we launched as a company and seen lot of success

MG: monetisation…?
DK: there are diffs in how we view mobile and PC..it is all about the experience. we do monetise a few different ways on mobile..some advertising etc, the goal is not revenue, but experience and user share.

MG: Rovio were blown away by advertising on Angry Birds? how big…
DK: so Newtoy does a lot of advertising, then they have a paid app that gets rid of that. we are experimenting..we don’t want to detract from the user experience, we want to optimise that.

MG: a lot has been made about revenues., there are a lot of guesses…mobile has to be a small part now?
DK: we are just getting started..as a private company we can focus on building an internet treasure, you can’t live without..

MG: so one of the things talked about a new dog (??) activated thing
DK: I think what he means, when you see the dog (the mascot) you think about something that is fun and social…that’s at a high level what we think about when we talk about dog activated?

MG
: are you talking about cross platform communication?
DK: speculation and you will have to wait and see?

MG: how about the Chrome Webstore, and Mozilla web store? are you going to explore that?
DK: it is part of being on all platforms, there are many different things coming out..we are exploring..I can’t comment on speculation as there’s nothing announced yet

MG: so, Google has invested in Zynga..what is the relationship like? is that a key partnership
DK: we haven’t announced….can’t comment on it…we are very partnership centric company…[note, it was announced by Marrissa Mayer in an earlier talk, but guess not officially[

MG: so why has there not been a focus on Android? was that about fragmentation? is it a pain? why have you waited?
DK: android…there is a lot of fragmentation in mobile, we have recognised we need to build for android…we are releasing a title this month

Dec 09

LeWeb10 and Social Gaming

How Social is Changing the Gaming Industry
Moderated by: Cedric Ingrand, Broadcaster, Podcaster and Resident Geek at LCI/TF1 in Paris
Panelists: Jens Begemann, Founder, wooga; Nicolas Gaume, Co-founder and CEO, Mimesis Republic; Jimmy Kim, CEO, Nexonova; Mike Kerns, Vice President, Social Games & Personalization, Yahoo!

WARNING: LIVEBLOGGED. some paraphrasing…I may have missed things. Video to follow

CI: FB users clock a billion hours a month on games..it;s a growing areas…so please introduce yourself..
JB: wooga, les than 2yrs, old, do FB games, 15m users, no 7 in world. 55 employees
MK: Yahoo are aware of trends, have partnership with Zynga, distribute games,
NG: building next gen 3d worlds, with platform for social games. have closed beta with 160k users, launching next year
JK: here to talk about games today

CI: when we say social is changing gaming..are we changing gaming as we knew it or creating a new category?
NG: used to make shrinkwrapped games…real games..that is what you say in industry. Games, console game, becomes a product, create a fulfulling service. games are a great way to engage, connect, you can learn more from playing games with someone, have unique power to connect people

CI: it is not taking away from major players?
MK: it is expanding it. games are a core desire. 10-20% were playing..we do games for others
NG: NIntendo opened it up for others, get fit, train brain etc, people play games for hours but don’t feel like playing the games
MK: the distribution has changed..it was more difficult. flash or console. can get richer immersive, in your social network..time spent changes. We are largest games provider online (pre FB) it’s early days, a couple of weeks in Zynga partnership and happy so far

CI: social games, short session, easy play, massive return, engage friends. Is this changing? are they getting longer? does experience evolve
JK: accessibility, like to look at this. Console…need game and console. then need computers to do games..SNS open it up further, embedded. key thing is to enrich..deeper immersive experience
JB: from timeframe, I bet Farmville is played longer than most video games
MK: fantasy sports, started with spreadsheet then moved online. always with friends, now online, more immersive. the market was limited
NG: how much time at movies – play games more?
JB: gameplay session designed, so can be short, little resistance, but see people spending 30min or longer.

CI: what makes a great game? what kind of games to make to address what user group?
NB: should be easy to learn and hard to master, depth. needed. In social it is about the connections, mechanics need to be about portraying social connections…35-45 women are active on facebook, teens different approach, the social connection, projecting on social is different.

CI: FPS are teens/males in the main, older have diff..do you address different user groups
MK: we want to bring different experiences…we don’t design, just distribute. Fantasy football on FB is young men, yahoo games housewives etc

CI: about paying for features?
JK: it is about balance, experience, play etc, cash and virtual cash, we look at microtransactions…we get active users, which includes paying users. have to design experience for level up, access points, mobile extensions ..think content, accessibility and system

CI: how will republic do it
NG: it will be freemium. I made games that costs 60-70million then in a box. it was fine. With good brand and marketing, then would sell. with freemium, as a game designer, it is important to convince all that is worth it, with the audience, they like to try before buy.

CI: freemium assumes 5% to pay?
NG: it is an engagement mechanism that forces you to respect that experience…respect that they are in control of costs, stop at any time

CI:
how can you advertise against?
MK: get a lot of advertising, on yahoo games. as with Zynga, see multiple lines of revenue
JB: 2 years ago on FB, theere were lots of advertising on social games, now moving to virtual games.you can build a business around virtual goods. Our audience is 70% women…hear people say makes sell weapons, women decorating! not true, have to sell functional items, that give an advantage in games

CI:brand marketing..does anyone do?
JB: we don’t at the moment, maybe 2011
Jk: blatant advertising turns people off..we look at giving value, with BMW Mini, racing games. has to be value, can’t be plain advertising. once you have that, then good opportunity.
NG: we are talking to brands for launch..have to do value add experience. look at films, you get product placement…gets connection to brand values, if mutually acceptable, then gets value for brand, can connect virtual world to real world, through brands.

CI: platforms…at least 2 of you using FB. is that the ideal platform? can you do it on FB
JB: the key to social games is the social graph…FB is moving towards a monopoly on this. it is essestial, it works like a layer and you can build a business on this. they are in big support of games and they do everything to make sure there are a good experience
MK: I built a business on FB, plus mobile. think mobile will become stronger. we see a huge opp to overlay connectability with graph and with new layers, on top of identity connections from FB

CI: is app on FB, like building on iphone, easy to cut off?
JK: Fb makes it easier to access graph but if you are rely on FB policy – they keep changing this…you need visbility of what platform will be. when stable people will stay
MK: you have to go in with eyes wide open. they want to make a profit, they are aware of need for developers. they are doing better at communicating changes,,,changes impact all.
JK: social graph and FB credits are a good move. for developers, need to see visbility of plan and stability. FB a great platform, but chapter still being written

CI
: how to address mobile? different game or cross platform?
JB: have mobile background…did ringtones games etc for 7 years. we will do mobile in 2011, we will do same games as on web, connected via FB, extending the experience, optimising interface for mobile, increasing play frequency
NG: for us, you play on web, virtual world, on PC…mobile can be for follow up experience, enhaced the full experience…
MK: on app discovery for mobile is our focus
JK: 4sq is a game, game experience is not just mobile…can play anywhere, part of lifestyle, part of worlfd designing games we don’t consider mobile version, but extension entwined with users lifestyle

CI: console games are different??? but you can’t say that , EA/Ubisoft etc, not clueless…are they a threat?
NG: it’s a DNA issue..games are a product, structured in a way separate dev and sales. social games are about connecting with uesers iterations etc, hard to shift culture.

CI: look at Nintendo online though,,,
NG: it is hard to change. by aquisition etc, opps to create new paradigm. but it is tough. shareholder expect same revenue..but it’s difficult
JB: EA tried on FB, not successful., so bought playfish instead. looks at top 10 onGFB, no big ones. IP is less important in social games…
NG: people still play hardcore, social won’t replace…

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Dennis Crowley and FourSquare

Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder, foursquare. Q&A with Loic Le Meur, Founder, LeWeb

LIVEBLOGGED: some paraphrasing and may be missed areas…video below

Dennis Crowley
Image from Adam Tinworth

LL: this is the second time you’ve spoke in EU
DC: yes, only spoke in Amsterdam

LL: how many people do you have
DC: just about to break 40 people, a year ago we were 4 people. We’re getting the pieces together.

LL: so how did you get the idea?
DC
: it’s all stuff we’ve been thinking about for 10 years. I had Dodgeball, a general idea of where your friends were, so that is what we built, to make NYC easier to use. Once Dodgeball got turned of, got talking to Naveen to resurrect this. We crammed everything together, to a mess of an app…brought to SXSW. Now have 5 million users, as of last week

LL: split?
DC: 60%US, 40% International. NY and SF are blips, the activity is world wide. we have groups of users.

LL: how is the growth? is it like twitter at same stage?
DC: It’s difficult to compare,. Our stuff spreads differently, we pick up about 25k a day. 2mill checkins a day

LL: how long did it take?
DC: it launched and was ugly, we had a peak of 4000 users and then the usage slowed. We saw people and merchants getting flyers about checking in an 4SQ and get a discount or something. The merchants thought about this, not us. Then we started to have to get tools for them, then the investors got involved. We raised1 million for Series 1, got to 8 people, got to Mar, then we did $20m for series B.

LL: you refused a FB acquistion ?
DC: yes, we talked to people, about how the company should go. this was the best shot to get things done that we needed to get done….we talked to a bunch of folks, it was distracting for company. we learnt a lesson – keep head down and focus on what you need to do

LL: you’ve not had an exit yet?
DC: yes, we sold Dodgeball for Google

LL: how tough was refusing that? (the offer – say 100m)
DC: we’re doing this stuff because we build things that people want to use…that’s the stuff that gets me excited.

LL: so what’s the future?
DC: we’ve been thinking about stuff for so long….we have a room that is thinking about this. we know what the road map looks like, we need to build

AuDQ: Starbucks integration was interesting. how can other brands work
DC: It was individual merchants, but when Starbucks came along, we needed new tools. We are experimenting with new tools, like loyalty cards.

AudQ: the cost for a branded badge?
DC:there is no firm price – who it is, the exposure, the innovation, it’s all over the place. It’s been difficult for people to work with us, so we are building self service tools now, so we can make things happen

AudQ: what’s next?
DC: it’s about paths and conections, over time. That’s what we are excited

AudQ: what about users..they check in? what about the data? games or something else
DC: I think about recyling the data and giving back to the users..we can think about building features. We have the API for people to build on.

AudQ: What would you change with the world?
DC: I enjoy building products to solve problems. We never set out to make companies, there were things that were borken about how we connect with people and things in the world. We start with things that will make our lives more interesting….

AudQ: FB are doing Places, does that make you nervous?
DC: a lot of people are doing it. There were competitors to Dodgeball, there’s more now. Generally it’s good. FB anbd Twitter has shown people how to share things online. What we are doing is about sharing the offline world with people. There are other people doing it, but not in the same way, with the fun thing.

AudQ: a master checkin?
DC: i think that may come, we are in the plumbing service at the moment, It will work itself out.

AudQ: What about the localisation issues? (languages)
DC: I think that is a problem, it feels US centric, we have fixes for language etc

AudQ: This partnership with Endemol?
DC: we have people wanting to do a TV show etc….Endomol came and asked to do this. Not sure what will come out of it.

AUdQ: So what keeps you going?
DC:
we know the checkin will be commoditised….we are enabling this etc. we have people building on it. our product looks different to others, We need to not get distracted, keep focused. we are inspiring other folks, this is good

Audq: What about international expansion plans?
DC: We are seeing activity all over the world. we doing carrier distribution deals, so it is preloaded, advertised by carriers. We are looking at it, it’s in plan.

Dec 08

Christmas Windows at LeWeb

One thing that LeWeb does is bring you to Paris in December, when there’s lots of Christmas decorations. Along Boulevard Haussman, the department stores compete for your eyeballs with their window decorations. Her’e’s the one that caught my eye – it’s dancing Teddy bears to the sound of Abba.

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Osama Bedier, PayPal

Osama Bedier, Vice President of Platform, Mobile and New Ventures, PayPal
Q&A with Milo Yiannopoulos, Technology columnist, Telegraph.co.uk

LIVEBLOGGED: Some paraphrasing and missed areas

Osama Bedier
Image from Adam Tinworth

MY: PayPal and Wikileaks…did you do the right thing
OB: we have an acceptable use policy and a team. their job is to make sure we comply with moving moeny around the world, ensure we protect the brand. On Nov 27th we had a letter from US Gov saying wikileaks activity was illegal in US, so we had to close it.

UPDATE: Osama later clarified his remarks, that PayPal had not received the letter itself – Techcrunch have more details

MY: you’re not the only one, Mastercard did it too. Their site has gone down today
OB: this is not an exception to our usual mode, we are targetted [all the time]

MY: what have you being doing since the developer conference
OB: last year, we made decision to open up the assets we have around PayPal. you have to be an open platform to have longevity. it’s not new to web, but new to payments, there was a lot of opportunity and we could only address so much ourselves. so thought a great idea to open up platform. We’re amazed at traction. it was good timing, with the demand on the payment space. We announced in Oct, we are ontrack to move over 1billion [through other apps]. there’s a lot of 3rd party apps. Including our own mobile. we see this the biggest opp for moving forward. In a good year, we will deliver 100 new products, so a 1000 new ones with partners is a success.

MY: so mobile, payments, not new, talking about it for a longtime
OB: something happened in last 18 months that makes you feel this is now happening. we’ve been here in mobile since 2005. In 2008, the first year with a significant amount $25m. this year we are on track to do over $700m, that’s huge. this is growing much faster than 95/96 and we see all of our merchants are taking a different approach to what they did with web – it’s a lot faster

MY: other things? you have had a partnership with Discovery
OB: I can’t underscore enough the significance of the next 2 years in payments. We are going through the next evolution; payments and commerce has changed things. Plastic allowed credit and online..the next phase is digital, the concept of a wallet can’t go there. It’s the wallet in the cloud, to allow you to go back and forth online and offline. we think commerce will change considerably, based on the infrastructure and you bring the best of the web to the store. You should be able to go into a store, if it’s sold out, you should be able to scan and get it delivered.

MY: you may be optimistic about speed. People have relationships with money, like the physical element. Do you think there will be a lag?
OB: Two years ago, yes, I would have said too optimistic. But I point to itunes, the largest music retailer, a computer manufacturer. the trends are accelerating, We know the trends that are occuring. we know that half the purchases in the world are influenced from the web – research, price checks etc. We recently bought RedLaser – iphone price checking. Last year, a third of shoppers were comparing prices through that. We have conversations regularly, with retailers, as they are pushing us to change the process in the store. I did not expect offline merchants to ask us to blur the lines. the most important thing in a multi-channel world is to know the customers. You have to connect experiences and offer them personalised things.

MY: Difficult to achieve. One of the things you don’t get credit for is the cross-world operations. Do you see problems with mobile payments?
OP: the regulatory environment is a challenge in some cases, a opportunity in others.. We are like the universal adpater in payments, we have 10 years, it’s a competitive advantage. So how quickly can we expand. we see the demand accelerating. How do you make sure you can reconcile the differences in environments as you chart a new route. In many countries, the rules are not written yet. In many countries, we are helping to draft the rules, there is a pull effect. For the 3billion who are coming on with just mobile, how do you help them, when no financial infrastructure

MY: the tagline for your dev conference was mobile, social, local. We’ve not talked local yet.
OB: Mobile, the convergence of the 3 is what we are alluding too, creating huge opps. Online, is attempting to hit 8-900billion mark in next few years. globally theres 30-50trillion dollars. so the key is the other 96% of commerce that is not online yet. that is about to change.

MY: Your vision for the future?
OB: all of this brings commerce to where it should be, where it was. Local, people who knew you. it felt like a closer relationship a 100 years ago, and it could be possible again. the tech will let the store know you are there, you could get an offer onthe thing you were researching, you get things shipped if not there. you can buy there form mobile…the thing nows you’ve bought it so you just take it through the door.

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Mikael Hed Rovio and Angry Birds

Mikael Hed, CEO, Rovio behind the best selling mobile app Angry Birds
Q&A with MG Siegler, Founder, LeWeb

WARNING: Liveblogged, some paraphrasing..maybe missing bits. Video at end of post.

Mikael Hed
Photo from Adam Tinworth

MG: so what was the story
MH: started off with a single drawing of birds and a concept of blocks etc. We did not like the game but love the characters and ended up designing around it.

MG: how it’s going?
MH: 12million paid, 30million free

MG: you did the android version, for free
MH: we looked at the market, we saw that not all customers were able to download through android market. we wanted to make sure all had access to the game. the paid apps not available in all counties, nor on carriers. So we did advertising

MG: was that surprising 1 mill month in advertising?
MH: we knew how much people play, we know restarts of levels, we had an idea of how well it could do. I think there will be more advertising revenue based, as a great way to capture users for a long time in 1 app, i think it will complement tv, radio etc.

MG: are you thinking of doing a version on the iphone? (ie with ads)
MH: it’s possible, but commercial model is working there, everyone can buy

MG: you posted [on blog] about performance issues for some of the android devices etc? Apple are trying to frame it as a fragmentation problem…
MH: it’s not too much of an issue. Our background is in Java, we are 7 yrs, done 53 games, we have a way of easy porting across platforms, it is familiar to us. It is an issue, takes manpower and we can’t always support all of them, eg older have too small a processor.

MG: is is the processor/memory or the Android? so hardware rather than OS
MH: anything from 2 upwards is fine

MG:
you are committed to making a second version…
MH: we may do that…less graphics

MG: the other platforms? Windows said they would have Angry birds
MH: we are actively looking at Windows Phone 7…they announced a little too earlier

MG:
the chrome webstore? anything within browser?
MH: interesting, we are looking at that

MG: advertising or payment?
MH: it remains to be seen how wide the payment coverage. as long as it works, it should be good., the revenue split is interesting

MG: what about FB?
MH: yes,interesting, now the trend to have more gameplay element, it starts to be a favourable timeto get into it.

MG: how did the toy aspect come about?
MH: a member of the advisory board, Peter Levy, introduced us to a licencing agent, we made deal very early this year and set out strategy, looking at not to overexploit. now we are seeing the first products to market. We have sold out, waiting for more stock

MG
: cross selling?
MH: we do have a button on game, very visible,

MG: are you involved those costumes that Loic wore?
MH: no, it is interesting how it has become a mainstream phenomenom, we received 100s of images from Halloween?

Loic the Angry Bird
Photo by Adam Tinworth

MG: how about consoles…
MH: next year we will move into consoles. it is a more traditional business model, but more interested in download model

MG:
are you looking at ways to tie them all together?
MH: we are, building a backend system to allow devices and people to communicate, to store progress across platforms

MG: what about movies? you made a statement about interest?
MH: we have looked at it closely..but it could take up to 4 years, we are looking at something faster. Focused on smaller screen…

MG: What about what’s next?
MH: 12 [people] at start of year, now 40 and expanding. all manpower on making different versions. Now we are working on also new titles.

MG: would the strategy be the same?
MH: yes, we are looking at game quality. we would rather do less quantity and high quality.

MG: in terms of the team expanding quickly. How are you guys doing in terms of revenue etc
MH: we don’t need more money…we could not figure out where to put extra money, one of things against investment. There is a lot of interest, maybe we figure out more ways to spend the money

MG: no doubt, there was a lot of talk about aquisition..is it insane the number of approaches
MH:
I like that kind of interest, it is good to have that kind of talks. but we want to build our own company.

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Playfish and gaming

Sebastien de Halleux, Co-Founder, Playfish & VP, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships,EA Interactive. Q&A with Veronica Belmont, Host, Tekzilla

WARNING: Liveblogged, some paraphasing, some things probably missed. Video below

Sebastien de Halleux
Photo by Adam Tinworth

VB: a lot of games out there are derivitive..how will that change
SH: there’s very few of the web people out there playing games, we try on FB to do new new types of games and there’s room for more. the first quarter next year, you’ll get a lot of new entrants with new games designs. We have already announced Monopoly. we know there are a lot more, Disney will hopefully announce a few things

VB: how many FB users engage in social games?
SH: roughly half, or so FB say. and that’s only on FB,there are plenty of others

VB: since EA bought Playfish, how do they do better with existing IP vs original IP
SH: brands are not ness to build a successful social games…to get new players, you need to touch them at a passion point. Sport is the ultimate social activity. by developing products with brands to enable a passion point you get a lot of traction, eg why we did Fifa. It is not about about power of brand to get you to buy, but to touch the passion point from outside the network.

VB: is FIFA the largest?
SH: no Pet society, about 20m active users. Fifa is the top sports property on FB.

VB: you had a quote a while back about the top 10 games being existing brands has that changed?
SH: there are some differences…you are seeing new categories growing. arcade games, sports category did not exist a year ago. Also some branded games, like Family Feud. where are your 1st person shooters, racing etc, they ahve been strong on every platform, but not present on FB

VB: is that limited by technology?
SH: yes, partly., also usage pattern – a few minutes at a time. It’s not limiting to create a great experience,

VB: curious about micropayments? what are they willing to pay?
SH: we sell about 90million items a day. about 10x the number on ebay on any day. this is just for Playfish. Why? What? It’s to do with social emotions. In WOW you buy ‘functional’ goods, on Playfish, it’s more emotional. On Fifa, you can buy a pack of players for 8eu, not really micro, but it has a meaning. so we look for things that make sense for players.

VB: how do you decide value?
SH: we are in early days, planned economy. We may eventually get demand driven economy, but now central. Some are aobut your specific spending pattern etc. very basic, but room for improvement.

VB: in console games, they pay upfront. But you have flipped..game for free then get more for experience
SH: our games catered for non-gamers. they don’t play games. we need to lower barriers to entry. no costs, one click to play. we try and respect the players, let them tell us how much they play a game. Some players have spent nothing, others 1000s. they define what value the game has for them

VB: how much?
SH: 1-5% spend, 10% in casual gaming which is more established. they often spend similar to retail. Our users have shown us they want more ways to pay, eg gift cards, upscaling the cost -they have asked for $100 gift cards to reduce transactions. Once you have convinced one that it is a quality experience, they are likely to play. the experience at retail (eg getting a console game) can be disappointing

VB: last year., you did a promotion for valentines, with flowers. Will there be more than that?
SH: yes. Most companies want to be in social, more than just a Facebook page. we have done something with DrPepper. you can get codes on bottles that give you in game enhancement. there are lots of opportunities for brands. you want to map the real world onto the social experience. We design games for our players, and only introduce brands when it makes sense. I spend a lot of time talking to brands but saying no. I think most value will come from player payments, telling us it is a good value,

VB: how tied to FB are you, do you see a shift to mobile?
SH: EA is the number 1 mobile content provider, it is extremely important…but we are thankful to FB engineering team, it has been a tremendous journey in making it a gaming platform. FB has admitted that games are a big use case…we are not a tech company, we are gaming. we try and select best network, so new one in Japan not on FB. it will be where the user is

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Mike Jones MySpace

Mike Jones, CEO, MySpace
Q&A with Robert Scoble, American Blogger, Tech Evangelist & Author

WARNING – liveblogged, some paraphrasing, some things may be missing

Robert Scoble and Mike Jones of MySpace at Le Web
Photo from Adam Tinworth

RS: so what is it like trying to save this company?
MJ: big changes. Launched new product about 15 days ago…

RS:
only 1-2% of this audience has been there
MJ: we are focused on sub35 year old…the new product is about entertainment. we want to be the best in the social entertainment experience. So far, it has been very positive.

RS: reading the press, keep reading Murdoch wants to sell. Is he going to give you anough time?
MJ: Newscorp are entrepreneural. They knew they needed to make a big change and believe they will give us the time

RS: the FB integration? so how was that, you were in a battle, you lost that and now making deals with them
MJ: we had to realise we would not win in SNS. but the web is social. the audience is connecting to bands, so we wanted to be the best platform for connecting with entertainment. So we did deal so FB users can bring their likes etc. We had to change our philosophy and we think its the right thing

RS: so what’s the next 3 months.?
MJ: we have been tentative on how we roll these out? you’ll see more changes, working with other platforms…we want to be the best platform for social entertainment

RS: new devices change how we consume entertainment?
MJ: i get focused on mobile tech, and impact business, a third of audience of MySpace is via mobile. we are creating a mobile app network. 4-5 on iphone, with ipad, with google tv, they are all about entertainment..about focusing on being best in that category. We build more and more apps…a big part of the buisness.

RS: what is the new app we get next week?
MJ: today, you can interact with content whether you log in or not…the new mobile app will allow you to connect without login in. We can create more based on your itunes on your phone,,,to create relevance.

RS:
what are you doing with tweets on MSpace?
MJ: we have topic pages…will aggregate content…we need to know what people are talking about and how to inject ourselves..we spend a lot of time listening

RS: but YT is one place for consuming video?
MJ: we want to put your entainment through a social lens, so if it’s hosted on YT or Hulu etc..so YT becomes a hosting partner.

RS: a tweet comment about horrible compression…
MJ: in some places we optimise for listening and others for discovery…but often people buy and take it with them..we are looking at this but not looking to replace itunes, but be a discovery place.

RS: what else is happening? Layoffs? New team?
MJ: my belief is we need to take an entreprenerial approach….its different…(can’t say)

RS: what are you learning on new platform?
MJ: the lapsers are becoming more steady state; for the new things like topic pages, we get more engagement. we are noticing more curators…we can connect you to curators…you then come back. If you were using MyS for social networking, that audience will be going away, this segment will decrease…we are looking at the ones we can grow, bring back and which we can let go

RS: this audience (at LeWeb)have not seen it
MJ: go and search for a movie or a show, you will see all the content about the show. you can follow these pages,. a rich content source…will become part of your daily routine…we will release new features each month etc, a new iphone app next week, more things every week. We are running as a start up.

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Jason Goldman Twitter

Jason Goldman, VP of Product, Twitter
Q&A with MG Siegler, Writer, TechCrunch

LIVEBLOGGED -some paraphrasing..some bits missed. Video at bottom of post

Jason Goldman
Photo from Adam Tinworth

MG: you’ve just launched some new integrations?
JG: yes, Instagram, full music, lots of other things

MG: do you see the right pane as a new platform for people to build upon?
JB: we are taking a measured approach. it will be a place for innovation, to build new things. We are getting initial frameworks in place, technical and deal and moving on from that

MG: So how is this effecting developers?
JG: we are building the best experience we can for the users on many platforms. But I still use apps and I think they will have a role in the ecosystem, and want to increase opportuntities. Eg promoted tweets in timeline with Hootsuite. All those clients, we try and support on business opps. We do need to look for new opps, eg verticals, eg sport. There is a lot of innovation about relevance and finding content and we’ll see this

MG: but is there things down the road that devs are working on but you’re not sure yet?
JG: we don’t know…it was resource constraint issue, most resources are still there, but we do have opp to extend, build great clients etc

MG: what is the biggest mistake you’ve made?
JB: any of the UI I designed myself..when we get too complicated. eg when we had IM as an interface. Only worked well with Jabber…idea was clever but made it impossible for users to know where they would get the tweets. We learnt not to get too complicated, to keep it simple. We should not introduce too many options.

MG: You worked at Google – they had lots of testing etc. what do you think about their social elements?
JG: we don’t know the answer yet, cannot judge at the moment. sure it wil be interesting.

MG: why haven’t they done social?
JG: search and ads are their primary business, hard to prioritise the other stuff. getting people with right DNA interested in that problem, that is harder for a big company. It’s a difference of problem and person

MG: so what’s next?
JG: Twitter needs to create a better consumption experience. we have something for everyone..you can get timelines created for your stuff. so how can we create a system that allows you to follow your interest, there is so much more to do in these terms

MG: how has product management evolved?
JG:I started at Obvious…Director of Product Strategy. one of first decisions was just Twitter or other things. moved to product management for Twitter. Had different roles, over time. Have just announced I’m leaving Twitter at end of month. Staying on as an advisor over next few years…we’ve had a lot of changes recently, new CEO, we talked about how we do things. Came to decision to step down.

MG: so has Evan moving to product has something to do with this?
JG: no, worked with Ev doing vision for a long time.

MG: twitter does not know yet? (who’s replacing him)
JG: no, we will be looking. Not sure where I’m going yet…not off to start something yet. Don’t need a long rest, bit it is a chance to take a rest.

MG: what are you leaving ..what are you most proud of? after 8 years
JG: we have an amazing product and design team, proud of team we hired. The new version of twitter launch was big and complicated…the most important thing i did was hire Kevin Change who managed this. Getting stuff out the way to allow creative people to do their stuff. I like some of the smaller things, updated status blogs…writing various company blog posts. But the building of a company is the thing I’m most proud of. We had hopes but did not expect where we are.Finding all the people that wanted towork on the same things, work together. that is what I am proud of

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Ethan Beard Facebook

Ethan Beard, Director, Facebook Developer Network, Facebook
Q&A with Michael Arrington, Editor, TechCrunch


LIVEBLOGGED: so some paraphrasing possible. Video at bottom of post

Ethan Beard, Director, Facebook Developer Network
Picture from Adam Tinworth.

MA: are you continuing to deny the Facebook phone is real?
EB: yes. I am ready to deny. The windows phone used Facebook to connect and that’s one of the things we are trying to do, provide conenction, be everywhere. I think there is a lot of development on mobile…

MA: does the Windows phone have a chance?
EB: I’d never count MS out.

MA: At Google you said don’t be evil..at Facebook, it is evil. Does FB care, is it just about the money?
EB: we try to lead with our actions, not just talk about it. The fact you can ask a question is a testament to how much people care about the users.

MA: the privacy stuff? I have not called out FB on that issue. Some people see it as exceptionally not good. It is so confusing, changing defaults. Do you have to move everyone, are the mess ups incompetence or something else
EB: it is paramount, the privacy of our users. We start with giving users Control. It is not easy, everyone has different requirements. There is a lot of subtleties about what you want to do. It is challenging to get the set of defaults that work for everyone – we try hard to get one that is right for users AND for the whole site. We have the most comprehensive set of user controls than any on the web.

MA: so let’s get to the stuff you are responsible for..after one more question…has FB been successful later? was this luck or planned?
EB: look at successful companies, they will all say luck was part of it. There is something for luck and being in right place, but I think you also make your luck, being prepared. there are aspects of plan we have executed against real well. When I joined, 60-70 million users, we stopped growing. We were not focused on growth…so we re-organised to focus on growth with a team. once we had that, the numbers started growing again. That was not luck, the team worked hard.

MA: there are 100 or more at FB from google (out of about 1500). WHy are they fleeing google?
EB: I loved working at Google, a great company. the company has changed a lot, really big. If they joined to join a smaller company, than not that. People may not be finding what they were looking for. FB is now really exciting, we are shaping and defining the web for the next few years. Still pretty small, fun and attractive.

MA: What’s next, the next thing?
EB:
Gaming is strong, across all areas. Hard to detemine exactly where, people are working hard.

MA: what about music? FB does not do much things..
EB: we are, with the platform we use (Connect and Canvas) . FB is no1 referrer of traffic to Spotify. so in many ways we are in music. Spotify traffic from FB increased 4x. We want to focus on the core building blocks of social graph, so others can build on top of it. Think lots of companies will do things on top of it.

MA: you own lots of developers…do you care about the platform..what guidelines are there about opportunities?
EB: we have been pushing hard on Connect, our goal was not to move the web inside FB, but to make the whole web social. 250m people a month are using Connect on 3rd party sites. Adding about 10k sites a day. We have a lot of good partners, Bing, Pandora, Yelp, TF1, Qype, BBC, Techcrunch, AOL, Yahoo. Asking if you build inside? we did not know the answer to this for a while, over time a few things have emerged..we think everything should used FB. FB tend to want to stay on FB, building inside of FB makes it easier to get traffic. When building with FB, you build a social experience.the expectation is different on FB then off, about sharing etc. Easier inside, people expect it to be social.

MA: FB credits. a little bit confusing. there was a switch about moving to this. Dragging your partners to this. but you have no plans to make it mandatory?
EB: not mandatory. The goal was to make it easy and fun to buy in any application.

MA: but the developer pays 30%
EB: but does it drive incremental revenue…our goals/beliefs that by having a single currency, you reduce friction, and drive more spending. But you need to get everyone using credits. We have tried to get all on together

MA: so are you getting 10s of millions from Zynga
EB: can’t do financials…we have good partnerships. We are seeing proofpoints – showing increasing revenue as inbuilt. We know having a highly liquid currency works and we’re doing a lot to get it inbuilt.

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Charlie Kindel Microsoft

Charlie Kindel, GM, WP7 Developer Ecosystem, Microsoft Corporation
Q&A with Loic Le Meur, Founder, LeWeb

WARNING – LIVE BLOGGED, so somethings may be missing. Video below

Loic and Charlie Kindel, GM, WP7 Developer Ecosystem, Microsoft

I’m trying to blog this, but as an interview it’s a little all over the the place and there’s not a lot of new information – so here’s some bullet points.

  • CK won’t tell us how many phones they have sold
  • They have 3500 apps now, the toolkit has downloaded a few 100k times…they have lots of developers.
  • they don’t have a write once/run anywhere strategy, but that devs want to build mostly once and then target
  • Application model is optimised for cloud based development
  • Don’t think MS will do their own phone. They have 9 models worldwide. Different options for people. They have tablets today, based on Windows 7. Still doing something with tablets but won’t tell us
  • CK now feels that MS is credible, and is personally proud of the product. Feels they have more mountains to climb…
  • 1000s worked on it, it’s all the different teams, like xbox, Office etc
  • When CK started, he had the full SDK team, 1.5 people, now have 100s of people.
  • they do help port apps to phone; although thinks the tools they provide are the most productive tools for mobile development

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Carlos Ghosn Renault

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO, Renault S.A. & Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Q&A with Loïc Le Meur

WARNING: Liveblogged..some paraphrases, somethings may be missing. Video below

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO, Renault S.A. & Nissan Motor Co

The car industry was started by entrepreneurs. There was lots of innovation. Renault, from marketing, knew about brand image and marketing, how car races could drive the brand. opening new branches in cities where there were rallies and get the cars to compete, like we do now in F1.

But now cars have stopped being perceived as symbols of modernity. They are 17th in Japan as a desired product. 43% of 25-34 year olds consider cars have more drawbacks rather than advantages. Now we are not about breakthrough, but about optimisation.

We hate risks, the stakes are so high. The entry ticket, the engineering and the investment, is about 2billion Euro. In Japan, there is Kaizan, the car industry does this very well. We copy each other, we design processes to the second..optimisation leads to improvements, as with Moores law, the engine performance is continously improving. In 4 yrs a car could do 1600km without refueling – we get more efficient. In the new Meganne, there is as much tech as in the first Airbus plane.

We’ve had some breakthoughs, but not as many as in the tech would. But there has been little radical changes in car.

Challenges – environment. We know we have to reduce CO2 emmisions. Cars are accountable for 12% emmisions. The other is oil price and geopolitics of access to energy sources. Cars have 25% of oil consumption. There’s a growing need for mobility in developing coutries…now we have 1billion cars, by 2020 it’ll be 2billion. The basic need of autonomous transportation will not change, this is the base platform for the future. But cars are perceived as a problem – they need to be perceived as a solution. So we should not go for optimisation, but innovation.

We look at the mass produced zero emission cars. Renault and Nissan are bringing out a new range (not just one). City, family, vans etc, Not to make it special but as a normal option. This is a tech breakthrough – the batteries, the process – as key areas are different. With little vibration, we can rethink the architecture. It is a innovation in engineering, it’s not just the engine now, it’s the battery. It’s innovation in how we interact with governments..about geting them out there. It’s a breakthough in how we market.

For customers, it’s a change as well. great acceleration, no noise, no smell. We are starting a new programme, with the Leaf. In US and Japan, in EU later.

We are investing 4billion EU, between Renault and Nissan, with 2000 people. We know there is risk but we are getting more comfortable, as we are resonating with consumers. In US, 250k for Leaf. Next year, the production is booked..people want them.

There is a lot of scepticism, lots of questions. We are at the beginning of this tech, it wil change. The cellphones weighed 1k, took 10 hours to charge, cost thousands of dollars. But scale and competition pushed price down and tech up, this will be the same for the cars. The electric cars will be a platform…the telephone is a platform, as there is a need to communicate. There is another basic need of autonomous transportation, it is not going to go away. Therefore it is a platform. It is an open platform. This is one of the new frontier. the car industry is a 2trillion business…this business is now open and needs to be rethought, with the electric car..this is a world for you here to work on. We will need a lot of outside thinking, to transform electric car.

Innovation is always reconstructing the future…we as an industry are being challenged..now we have to go for breakthrough..the environmental and energy challenge is a great one to reconcile the car as an engineering object AND an object of emotion.

Some comments from Q&A:

  • Renault/Nissan moving from TV to digital – 15% there already
  • you can buy online but few do. They do a lot of web research but want to touch and feel. a car purchase is not just an rational decision, it’s emotional, we need to up the emotion as well. You remember your first car, we need to beef up the emotional side of the car or we are a commodity.
  • Is busy hiring social marketing amd digital people – they can’t find enough people for that
  • a general call for entrepreneurs get involved, with the electric car, to make it a great product

Dec 06

Le Web 2010

It’s December, that means it’s time for Le Web, the Parisian based tech conference. This is the 7th (I think) running of the conference by Geraldine (and Loic) La Meur, which started off focusing on blogging and has expanded to cover the whole of the tech scene, not just web but mobile connectivity as well.

This is my third time attending. I was at there in 2005, 2008 and now this year. There’s a huge difference between 05 and what I’m expecting this year, from a fairly small, tightknit event to one that has 2400 participants from much of the EU, North America and a sprinkling from the rest of the world.

So what to expect? There’s definitely some of the usual suspects providing speakers- Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Microsoft, Google etc. Many more of the sponsors are also talking. The risk of this, at any conference, is all they do is a sales pitch which does not engage, so here’s hoping they bring soemthing interesting to the table. One thing I do know about this conference, is there’s usually something unusual and thought provoking as well, whether a visit from a potential President to a presentation on Love. I’m looking forward to talks about Thought Controlled Computing and Mobile and social gaming.

But if you aren’t making the trip to Paris, you can still catch up with all that is going on. The 2 days will be livestreamed by Ustream – on LeWeb and lewebplenary2 – and follow the action on Twitter with #leweb or #leweb10. There’s also a huge list of bloggers/tweeters in multiple languages, who’ll be covering the event with live blogging, videos, audio and images. I’m looking forward to having you along for the ride