Dec 07

LeWeb: Morning sessions

I combined notes from the morning sessions, many of which were about new product launches.

Travis Kalanick, Co-Founder & CEO, Uber and MG Siegler, General Partner, CrunchFund

Uber have got cars now on the ground at Paris. They’ve launched here. (that’s their big news). 18 months into operations as a company…came up with the idea 3 years ago at LeWeb. Had cars on the ground since Friday. moving across Europe. Also just raised a large round of funding – just closed $32m in funding. They have 60 cars in Paris. a third to half the drivers, are fully committed. Expect to be rolling out 2 cities a month next year.

Steve Jang, Co-Founder & CEO, SoundTracking and MG Siegler, General Partner, CrunchFund

Look, another announcement. Soundtrack is a sharing music system, you can check in your music. Sharing ‘music moments’ across social networks. Now they’ve launched on Android app as well. A couple of new things, better clip integration, and better ability to share when playing songs.

Dave Morin, Co-Founder & CEO, Path and Loic Le Meur, Founder, LeWeb
Loic interviews Dave about Path.

It relaunched recently
It’s about sharing the stuff with the people who are closest to you. Took last 6 months to do the new one. Care about quality and design, design driven organisation. Launched on iphone and Android at same time. Building apps, gets complex for each platform. Can’t really do it with HTML5. Have raised about 8.5m last Jan, with long term partners. Want to focus long term, to do quality design and products. Thinking about turning Path into a platform, no real move, just thinking about it. There’s a start here on latest version, with being able to send content out to favourite platform. For new version, asked users, looked at user behaviours, eg, screenshots of notes, of others, used this to define what content should be on the version. THey asked people how they saw Path – it was a journal. So enabled people to do what they were trying to do already with screenshots. Some good advice: stay with the problems for ling enough to solve them! People get afraid and ship bad stuff, too early. Shipped v1 as min viable product and thought they could iterate…but it takes 3 weeks or so and not fast enough for people. So spent more time to get to quality version

Mike McCue, CEO, Flipboard and Loic Le Meur, Founder, LeWeb

Raised $60m for the one app. You have to beleive the iPad would be a major new platform, believe it will change behaviour. Not enough Android tablets yet, had to pick a platform to focus on. Have 4.5m downloads; (out of 45m ipads), (did not say active users).

Kevin Rose, Co-Founder & CEO, Milk with Leo Laporte, Author, Speaker & Broadcaster and Sarah Lane,

TechTV was were KR was first on TV. THis is when he started thinking about Digg. Looking at how slashdot worked, thinking about getting users to vote on them, in 2004. To surface more story. Used TV platform to promote it. Had cool people at TechTV, saw they were like him, got inspiration to try cool stuff. KR still on board, but not working at it. The first 3 years were insane, chaos to keep it going. Users often caused problems – had death threats. It was being gamed, there were problems. Gettting sorted..has about 20m monthly uniques. Highest was 38m. They had seen traffic going down before the relaunch. Agreed they should have spent more time listening to core users, instead of listening to everyone esle, investors etc. Thinks the new versions has done a good job of getting the core features back.
Now with Milk, new product is Oink. A rating system for items in places. Eg meals in restaurants. It was invite on the app store, had to get people who were passionate to create the content to open it up. Dropped the invite fairly quickly as it caused issues. YOu can like ‘anything’ in the world. IS that too broad? But people are focusing on specialist areas, to get levels in the various elements,eg sound systems, burgers etc.
This a challenge for apps like this, the users have to put energy and content in there. It’s not ‘gamification’ as stuff, it has to be utility to keep people there. Working on new features to keep helping this.

Mobile Demo: Leah Busque, Founder & Product Officer,TaskRabbit

An online and mobile market place, to outsource tasks to people in community. Eg shopping etc, They also have virtual tasks. Most popular task is ‘assemble ikea furniture’. Virtual tasks can be done from anywhere. You fill in the tabs, People will bid etc

Dec 07

LeWeb: Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld, Fashion Designer, Photographer, Publisher, Designer and Film Director & Loic Le Meur, Founder, LeWeb
During the dicussion, Karl & Loic will be joined by Natalie Massenet, Founder & Executive Chairman, THE NET-A-PORTER Group Limited

The show started off with some live breakdancing, then the first person interviewed was Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion designer. It’s not immediately obvious why he is up on stage, althoguh he’s funny and droll. He has a special bag containing 4 iPhones (each one for different sets of people), an iPad, a few iPods (he loads them up, has different music sets on different ones out of the 100s that he has). He uses these tools to help design, to sketch ideas.

He has over 300k books, a self-declared paper freak, but also uses a Kindle and the iPad for other content consumption. HE doesn’t see paper going away, but sees like TV and theatre. They will still be there.

He does 3 different collections for Lagerfeld (plus Chanel)…does not spend a lot of time on web as having to do collections.

Ahh, now we get to the reason, Why we have a designer on here.. Karl Lagerfeld is going to be online, ‘Karl’ a fashion brand entirely online for the first time. A new line from him. It’s going to be a ‘truly online launch’, from AR, mobile etc. It will be on from 25 Jan (plus netaporter). Apparently it’s all about accessibility, online with ‘accessible prices’, with women all over the world having access to Karl (yes, Natalie is quoting the marketing message) It’s ‘modern’ that is going directly to the consumer, not to the fashion press first. Shipping all over the world.

With Renault last night and this launch, LeWeb is being seen as one of the the places to launch anything…even if the tech collection is actaulyl small. For me, just because it is on the web, does not mean it is tech. The web is ubiquitous, it’s not longer cutting edge. They’re celebrating that they are on all the social networks, etc etc, that they’re being innovative. They’re not the first, they’re just one of the first with a huge name!

Yes, I’m being a little cycnical; for the people launching this, it is seen as the next big frontier, really innovative. But it’s not really. It’s all about where they are on the journey.

Dec 07

LeWeb: Early doors

I arrived slightly too early at LeWeb this morning, before they were really ready. People were running around still setting up, on stage, rehearsals were taking place, running through demos and videos, some of the ‘top secret’ that we were asked not to mention as they are big reveals for later in the day.

I’m predicting coffee problems though, there’s 4 small Nespresso machines in the main area, serving up expresso. I guess it tastes good (I never do expresso unless forced to) but I’d prefer big coffee! And service will be slow. But that’s the only niggle so far, wifi is fast, I have a seat and a table for blogging (although I’m going to have to continue to get here early for that, as only 60 seats set up), food is good and I’m expecting the usual mixture of big speeches and interesting interludes. As well as one of the best places to connect with the best tech and web people in Europe.

Dec 07

LeWeb: Kicking off with Renault

I’m here at LeWeb in Paris for the next few days, again as an official blogger. Expect the usual set of liveblogs from the main stage, plus the odd tweet and photo.

The event kicked off for us bloggers last night with a reception held at the L’Atrium Renault, on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It got a thumbs up from me by providing chocolate, champagne and a fast car in the form of a Red Bull Show car but the main purpose of the evening was to launch Renault’s new in-car innovation, what they are calling the RLink. It’s an integrated touch-screen tablet for their new cars, starting with the Clio and Zoe, providing all the usual interfaces with the car, navigation aids etc as well as being connected to the web and the ability to connect with your smartphone. But the reason for launching this at LeWeb, and what makes it unusual, is that the tablet is open for third-arty apps to be developed. They’re hoping the start-up/app developers will try some new things and provide useful apps for the car user.

I asked the head Renault person there, Patric, if they had already built the driving app to control the car from your mobile and he just laughed. But in serious, they are looking at the things like being able to connect to car park data etc so that the car will be able to direct you to empty spaces – or even drive itself. Looks an intereasting opportunity to build something in a new space. What would you like to see?

Update: Here’s a video Renault have pulled together