Jun 05

LeWeb London: Movement of the Sharing Economy

 Douglas Atkin, Head of Community & E-staff Member, Airbnb

Leweb London 2013 - Day1 morning
Photo by: “Luca Sartoni – http://www.heisenbergmedia.com/”

Wants to talk about a movement for the sharing economy. To grow the community. Grow the collective power. To stand up against the entrenched interests that stands in their way. Why?  There is an opportunity. There is enthusiasm. The players are looking at collaboration. How can the players share customers? Is  there ways to encourage people to cross-verticals (and take trust?).

And there are the challenges. The industries won’t stand idly by. The laws work against it. Should citizens band together to push for the sharing economy. A new kind of union for a new kind of economy. Looking for your support for this. Help your users, fund the movement, show your support.

We send on the brink of a new time that delivers social as well as economic benefits. Most people are not experiencing economic independence that mass production and consumerism promises. Production and control is centralised. The sharing economy is distributed.  You can’t do sharing without community, without creating individual experiences. Life is built in. (in regards to work/life balance).  The other rewards are important -not just the cash
The movement is independent, global. social. It uses peerpower and collective action to grow the sharing ecomony and overcome the challenges. It has the possibility of making the world better.

Jun 05

LeWeb London: AirBnB

Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder, Airbnb & Loic Le Meur, Founder, LeWeb

Leweb London 2013 - Day1 morning
Photo by: “Luca Sartoni – http://www.heisenbergmedia.com/”

Joe talked about how he set up, the idea behind it.
It was triggered by a huge conference, filling up the hotels and decided to see if there was a way to connect people to the space in his living room.   They had the concept – Airbed and Breakfast.  We wanted to make it more than a place to sleep, we wanted to cook them breakfast etc.

What advice is there to make yourself available to find ideas?
It’s about connecting new dots in a new and different way.. You need to marry the problem..find something that means something to you. We had to look at ways to pay rent to save apartment. You need to be close enough to connect the dots.

What happened next?
We had the concept. Then we built the website. We showed the apartment. We showed the neighbourhood and provided a guide. The end of the second day, we had the site live. But how did we get the word out?  We emailed the conference. And they sent out to the team and we had it in thw world. We got people emailing. People sent them resumes to convince them to allow them to stay with them. By Day 6, we had people there to share a living room with them.

On Day 7 and then what:
It was a great social experiment. They entered as strangers and left as friends. ANd we made money for the rent. But the social experience was greater.  And then we thought about how we can grow this and give other people this experience.  We found a tech partner. We went off to create the next version  For SXSW, 2008. But it was a failure. The hard cash exchange seemed to put people off. So we started again – so you could pay with card via the service. We got big press – but system failed, we built up the servers. But we weren’t growing, the market and the solution were not connecting. We went to the investors. They did not believe the founding team were right – 2 designers and a coder. They also thought it was risky. We did not get initial investment

THe business tipped last year. We were doing more internationally last year. We could see the growth and started to connect with the local community. We have teams on the ground.  We think you can’t localise without the local. Tech itself does not work. We run meetups, we connect with the community team to share tips, how to be a great host. People start to help each other out.

In some places it is not legal?
The car was once litigated against. We think it’s time to change. It’s a temp problem and will change

When will you go public?
It’s a misuse of our time now to think about that. We have to grow the community. No, we won’t tell you the revenue. Yes we employ a few hundred people

Are you a threat to the hotels?
Not directly. We are taking the pie and making it bigger. Last year in London, we helped expand the room supply. Let more people come to the city.   Our use cases are also different. Hotels are great for business, we;re not really business travel -only 10%. Also AirBnB often longer stays – eg a month.

What’s next? are you moving to other sectors? What do you think of the sharing economy? Where else will it become big?
When i think about it, it is those that have connect with those that want. It’s about connecting with resources. I imagine it between 2 people, not companies. Think about any resource? It will help unlock resources, there will always be something that people will want to ‘share’.   When you look at the internet. Act 1 was about companies, Act 2, we have a critical mass of people and it’s about connecting them. Act 3 is about the critical mass of people..who trust…and how to you get them offline and connecting that way.  The next big challenge is to design the online and offline transition. THat’s what we are thinking about. How can we simplify the key exchange. How can we reduce friction across the whole trip?

What are some key tips for entrepreneurs?
Marry the problem, empathise with the people. Meet people.

Jun 05

LeWeb London: Tech City

Joanna Shields, Chief Executive, Tech City Investment Organisation & Matt Cowan, Writer & Broadcaster
An interview with Joanna, again all about London and the start up scene – the role of TechCity. (There was little actual information/evidence – just a general talk)

Leweb London 2013 - Day1 morning
Photo by: “Luca Sartoni – http://www.heisenbergmedia.com/”

Some points:

  • They have changed the investment rules, to make it easier to get equity
  • They are looking for top 50 companies to provide some direct help, who want to list and will get support and mentorship
  • The gov believes that entrepreneurship is a way of growing, it is a change agent. The Tech sector is growing at 11% pa.
  • TechCity is a group of neighbourhoods in East London. It is about community rather than gov initiative. Recognise that it is happening and providing support. It is happening across the country -there are 22 clusters.
  • There is a dramatic shift in employment – growth businesses are changing. There is no job for life. So we are encouraging looking at entrepreneur as a valid career path.
  • UK is very self-deprecating, we don’t shout out about success. Unlike the US. What is happening here…Financial, fashion, 3d printing, You start to see strength from the traditional areas.
  • Changing priorities: we support all the way from ideas through to launching on the stock exchange. We cna support on the journey. We are going to be focusing on the skill side. About how to be great product managers, define specs, to understand consumer and market requirements.
  • Learning: looking at pulling together the programmes and make people more aware of them,
  • Silicon Roundabout: we are consulting with community, to understand what the changes and upgrades should be
  • Other places: we are working with 22 clusters across the country. We can represent them to gov etc
Jun 05

LeWeb London: The London Startup scene

Welcome to London!
Moderated by Ben Metcalfe, Co-host, LeWeb’13 London Co-Founder, WP Engine
Brent Hoberman, Co-Founder, PROfounders Capital, Chairman, made.com & Founder & Chairman, mydeco.com
Eric Van der Kleij, Head of Level39
Eze Vidra, Head of Campus, Google

Leweb London 2013 - Day1 morning;
Photo by “Luca Sartoni – http://www.heisenbergmedia.com/”

BM: what changes have been happening in London?
BH: there are more startups. There are more investors. We have more US funds investing here. It’s claimed it is the most regulatory friendly environment. It leads the rhetoric! With politicians calling for people to come and start here. The talent pool is great, the buzz is better, but challenges on the route to IPO.
EV: the density of network has increased. Not until recently has it grown enough. It is becoming more normative to become an entrepreneur.

BM: how are you fostering entrepreneurs?
EK: yes, the density increasing. At Level 39, they are specialising in Financial, retail and smartcity tech. That’s what we are focusing on. London does that well, has areas that are specialising.
BH: the corporates are seeing the digital change and looking at how to get into it. One of the best ways is to work with start-ups and develop new things. We connect big corporates with the startups to bring them together. Provide a conduit.

BM: in SF, it seems to be anti-corporate. So this is different. Why would a start-up want to be involved in a corporate.
BH: for credibility, for scale. Advises startups to look for things that give them credibility. If you are in retail tech and get in with Tesco, that opens the door for everyone else.
EV: Campus is a not-for-profit option, we support all sort. Campus is a little experiment. It’s an ecosystem, it’s a support foundation. Google will benefit form a healthy system of startups and so will the city. This is an investment. We have resources and talent committed. We provide mentors. We bring thought leaders to inspire and educate startups.

BM: in an ecosystem for startups, how do you fuel the system, add investment. Felt that there are lots of money, but are they really investing.
EK: it is improving, wasn’t great previously. We are moving the needle in London, we are lucky that we have access to talent, to the whole of EU who can come here to start their businesses without visa issues. On investments, we have seen a higher number of US. True Ventures have done 5 deals in the UK. We have also improved the policy environment to encourage investment. That has unlocked a little more opportunity. We need to encourage smarter investments so Angels do not make mistakes.
EV: we’re also one of the world leaders in equity crowdsourcing. Completely legal to invest down to £10. It’s easy to start something. There are lots of company creation happenings,
EK: we should also try and take a look at the corporates. US acquire for strategic purposes, in the EU, it’s often for revenue. So how can we encourage corporates to strategically acquire, for talent, for growth, for investment, for new ideas.
BH: tech companies are good at this – the others need to take a look at what they are doing?

BM: so what next?
EV: more ambition, more aspirations. More giving back to the community, those who are making a success
EK: continue to sustain relationship with EU. So investors see us as a big market. To be seen as a single, addressable markets. So better collaboration
BH: I would echo the EU point. It needs a renegotiation of a single EU digital market. Also, change the attitudes to success and failure.

Jun 05

LeWeb London: An Intro

For the next few days, I’m at Le Web London which is all about the sharing economy. There’ll be lots of liveblogging!

Loic Le Meur introduced the 2 day programme, welcoming everyone and opening the sessions with his definition of the sharing economy.

A quick summary of his Slide Share talk:

There is a new consumer mindset, simplicity, community, participation and collaboration. There are new values. Sustainability, authenticity. Creating together. Greed is bad, but money is OK. They want to live with less. You are not what you own. New products, are they are designed to last. It’s about use availability, rather than ownership. Why own a DVD or CD, just do subscription. Access, not ownership.

Dec 06

LeWeb 12: Matt Mullenweg and Word Press

Liveblogged – so mistakes

Matt Mullenweg, Founder, Automattic & Om Malik, Founder & Senior Writer, GigaOM

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

WordPress powers 17% of top million sites. it’s fun but also a responsibility, wanted to create open source publishing but also wanted to create sustainable business. So Automattic – those are the services that pay. Growing it to be large, sustainable and independent. Some of the things that are going on with the platforms are ‘troubling’. Instagram has been a user focused company; with twitter and facebook, the primary users are advertisers. The person is just the product. You then have a conflict. And that leads to lack of user focus. Matt has always tried to set up business model that is aligned with the person, the end user, not advertisers. Does not approve of what happens with Instagram and Twitter. WordPress is kind of Swiss – works with all of the various platforms. That’s what users want, you can comment with any of the accounts. You can always come home to your blog. have used everything. But you always need that digital home, No matter what, I come back. So for my blog to incorporate some of the third party, then that’s fine. A lot of people use it to post to and then push to Twitter etc. Social networks provide distribution channels for blogs and blogs explode in popularity.

WP is open, so people can start to connect things to the blog. make their own plugins. (Om: what i see is these platforms trying to sell us ‘their’ web. But it will get to the point (again) when it is our web again. There is going to be a fight back)

Matt thinks that WP is interesting on its own, but what is more interesting is the connection between them. looking for them to help shape habits and behaviours. When there are multiple digital inputs, what intelligence can be brought into WP…it’s probably not going to be something that Matt will come up with. There are 20k plugins. They solve problems

Mobile is becoming more important for Om, so he’s asking what mobile does for Matt. Mobile makes them re-evaluate WordPress from ground up. The WP dashboard allows you to do a lot of things, but for new people,it can be intimidating. For mobile, you reduce, you get it down to key elements, and it can be beautiful. Automattic has more people on mobile apps that the core wordpress. Get about 80m uniques on mobile, and tend to generate more page views (eg with ipads), Expect a slow growth for mobile to be the main interface.

Om asks if WP wants to get into the devices (eg cameras etc). Matt is start seeing the first round of smart cameras. The Nikon one, you can run WP on it. You can get devices that autopost, but not into that. The ration between creation and consumption needs to be right.

Dec 06

LeWeb 12: Brian Solis and changing behaviours

liveblogged – with mistakes

Brian Solis, Principal, Altimeter Group

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

Two years ago, discussed the Human API, where you body is open to connections. The internet of things is not just devices and data. I like the concept of superheroes and experiences. You have an opportunity to define what we are going to do as consumers. Give an app to do something better than you did before or give great experiences. I want to talk to you about opportunities around the IoT. Data and devices are everywhere. How many of us are doing things because you can. But I want to challenge you to not just do something there is a problem..but how can you change my behaviour. That is the real opp, because otherwise it’s just data and tech

We are building an incredible human network, where people, info and experiences are coming together. People talk and worry about big data, but what are we doing with it that counts, to make something that matters. We are not even seizing the opps that we have today. Altimeter refer to this as the sentient world..it’s all coming together. But what about what we don’t see. The IoT connects devices and people…but what else. It is getting better…but it’s going to be generic. Labels that don’t mean a thing, that don’t inspire you.

What are we going to do with all of this in a way that matters. When thinking back to conversations about human API, we have the opp to make tech do something, to change things. But there has to be something more. We have devices that allow us to do things – open a door, change the temp. They are utilities. But what else can the do. It’s not just controlling things, it’s about surroundings and experiences. If the medium is the message, how can the medium influence how the message is perceived. It is the interpretation of the data that allows us to do something different. here,. we have the opp to find what that it is. Some of you will develop amazing utilities. But can you deliver amazing experiences.

THe Human ALgorithm – people are at the centre – are you making things easier, to do something, to have something. I want you to give me something that I didn’t know I want. I want you to know where I’m going when in the car…to advise and communicate. That idea and dreams are what I want you to do. It is that vision that takes you beyond the idea. It is about making the idea better in the first place. We have not tapped that human algorithm enough, it is you and me and the possible.

Jobs wanted to create an experience. He could take ideas and make them better. believe that he had cracked the code for the Human algorithm, He thought differently. The idea is to deliver experiences that ties together all of this information. All of the digital breadcrumbs we lay out are powerful, how do we connect them. So how about a fridge that knows when you are running out, to get things into your cart and have it done automatically. That is a utility, that is cool. But is that good enough? YOu have tech that is tracking you, connecting with doctors etc. But it’s still just the beginning. Fitbit helps you think about living a healthier lifestyle. But it connects you with other people to encourage you. So thinking about the experience about how it brings you closer to friends and family., You are designing an experience with the sole job of making you a better human being.

These life hacks are now just becoming part of life. As designers and investors we should look for more opps to change lives. We are getting re-wired with all this tech but who is the architect.Who thinks through the experiences. We should not be surprised when people do different things with products. It is about designing an experience to change behaviour -0 ie how babies interact with ipads and then magazines.

Experience architecture is brand new, it is something that we all get to decide. How do you make it better and change things. If you make a new experience, a life hack, that helps me become something I wanted to be or do something I could not before, then that is good. Experiences that trigger the changes…because of your designs. To change behaviour, to force new trends, to make people want to follow you.

To design the future of IoT, we need to think about filtering out the noise, There is not enough innovation and vision. How you can add social hooks that get people together, to get people to talk about it. To buy a lifestyle not a product. How we predict who people will react. Anticipate needs and inspirations.

It comes down to this. Life is about creating and living experiences that are worth sharing. It is about how people interact with the IoT. It comes down to you, as the EA. You are going to help me change my behaviour and have new experiences. You are not just developing products, services and solutions, you can be a Experience Architect to help me change the way I live my life.

Dec 06

LeWeb 12: Ramon WOW

Liveblogged – may be mistakes

Ramon de Leon, Social Media Marketing, Dominos Pizza

Markets for 6 Dominos stores in Pizza. Uses social media to drive sales! Told us his tips. Be prepared to create and share content. THat’s what people do – create and share content. He is prepared to capture all the time – has about 6 gadgets in pockets. People are in the mobile device – he organised a pizza last night via Twitter. He’s on all the time. His goal is to make people smile wherever it is. His goal today, is to inspire us. He looks for ways to make people feel good!

When Facebook hit his area in 2005, at the college. They went out and took photos at all the events, labelled them with brand and encouraged the students to post on the (then student only) Facebook. They still work hard with students. They worry about how they can help students – to keep them in business (and buying pizza). It’s about trusting your instincts – and believe in what you are doing, Be your own caffeine!!! Don’t be lazy…..Don’t be boring. If you are operating a brand and you are boring, then you need to increase your budget for advertising – advertising is the cost for being boring. Partner with the right people – go to battle with a wingman.
When he started with the tools, they defined it. They planned everything. They knew that social media fire can only be put out with social media water.

He REMEMBERS. he goes back and interacts with people who have had a problem. He still sorts out people they had a problem with 3 years ago. He goes out of his way to make experiences. The question is always ‘how does it make you feel’
Social media is all about people – not tech. Give up control, let customers speak. Throughout, you need to make sure your message is clear. Don’t get lost in the clutter, but don’t overdo it. And although content is clear, you have to get out and talk to people. You have to show the face.

RC comment: a passionate and committed marketer who loves what he does, loves engaging with his customers and giving them a brilliant time. Some great tips and brilliant examples of why he is successful

Dec 05

LeWeb 12: Mid-conference report

So half way through the conference and what are my impressions?

The internet of things is complicated. Is it just on your phone? Is it the quantified self? Is it toys? Is it switches and buttons that you put round your house? is it embedded processors in cars and coffee machines. One thing that is missing is some discussion of what do we mean. At Futures of Entertainment in MIT last month, there was time to discuss meanings and semantics and common language. Here, with the focus on show me something new now, we can be left foundering in meanings and definitions without clarity.

Just because you have a new product announcement that may have a finger in the real world does not mean that you can talk with authority about the internet of things. There are lost of short speeches, of talks from the big companies that have nothing concrete and credible to say about the theme but have something small to announce. Just because of the scale and the PR around this conference they need to be seen and need to be seen to say something. But my challenge is not to tell me about something new – as in a product – but get me to think something new. Challenge my preconceptions about the world

The internet of things is not a new topic – as Adam Tinworth says, other conferences look to the future, Le Web looks at the now and what is happening. And what we are seeing is commercialisation and the start of commoditisation. The barriers are coming down. I don’t need to be an expert in circuits and soldering to connect my cupboard to the web. I just need to buy the right part. It’s not yet open to all, but the toys and tools are getting there so that people are interacting now without considering it the internet of things, this new thing, it’s just life and how things happen. Being able to turn my lights on as I turn into my street or turn the car heating on remotely as I drink my coffee in the morning. Everything is becoming connected and the connections are becoming invisible.

So that’s it after a day and a half. Time to dig in and get typing for the rest of the sessions

Dec 05

LeWeb 12: Amber Case and Cyborg interfaces

Liveblogged – may be mistakes

Amber Case, Director of Esri R&D Center Portland, Cyborg Anthropologist & Former CEO, Geoloqi, Inc.

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

We have devices that need to be looked after, fed and comforted. With our phones, we are all cyborgs. It is a symbiotic interaction between you and a machine. It is about having devices that allow you to adapt you to environments. We have had physical extensions to self, like the hammer or the knife. Devices that look like the do something. Modern devices don’t look like they are supposed to do, the buttons are liquid. The devices are small. And they impact people in different ways.

The devices make things that were invisible visible. So what can you do if your phone knew where you were. This is an invisible button, when you go into a space then something happens. In the 70’s that was called ‘calm technology’. Tech that gets out of the way, it reacts as you go through your life, with no direct action. It has ambient imput. location, time, speed etc. Phones become a remote control for reality, your location has power. Ideas like geonotes – notes and info from people are where you are. Location based controllers. Lights on and off when go in and out of house. More invisible buttons.

One main area is about quantified self. About tracking moods and activity etc. But we have frictionless data gathering, but not interpretation. There’s lots of data but on different devices. We need a way of connecting it all, of interoperability, That is holding back the internet of things. A way of connecting and correlating things. Without needing to code. Making it easy./ When we correlate, that is when we get real meaning. That will drive insights.

Looking forward to the future of maps and location. We have all this data, how can we use this in new ways. Intelligent routing. What is the safest cycling route. What is the least windy route through a city. The best technology is invisible, ambient and gets out of the way. And that it is easy to connect with and understand the data.

Dec 05

LeWeb 12: the Data of Things

liveblogged – there will be mistakes

Dr. DJ Patil, Data Scientist in Residence, Greylock Partners

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

It’s about the data of things, rather the internet of things. The power of the things is that they produce data. The phone, the tablet, the PC. But there’s more. The fitbit, the jawbone. Things that measure sleep or activity – things that have a goal of measuing you. You can measure blood pressure and heart rate with the phone (and add-ons). We are becoming the internet of things.

Insights come from the blend of data and sensors. It starts to be about everything around you. The car, the planes. Plane engines are connected. Trains are connected. Internet of things is not just the things, it is also the processes associated with them.

Sensors are getting smaller and faster. Data we have loads, lots of information. But on Insights and Action, we score low. We are not drawing the conclusions and acting on them. We are not taking the next steps. We need to have 3 steps to make process.

We need to follow the best practice for design and interaction. So what do you want people to take away, what do you want them to do and how do you want them to feel . Stuff needs to lead us to the next step.

We need to make superpowers. We need to provide data and apps that make people feel good, that makes them feel in control. And if it goes away, it makes people feel powerless. Our internet of things needs to act like superpowers. They empower you to interact in a new way. to see the world differently. This thinking drives you to new products, a different ways of interacting with world. This is about augmentation, not just replacement. How do the devices augment you, make a superpower for us

Have to start thinking this as a new set of skills. A different way of analysing the data. Which needs a different type of Data Scientist. Who understand the things underneath the data. And how to put the human back into the data. How the human works in the lifecycle.

Dec 05

LeWeb 12: Nokia and Design

Liveblogged – there will be mistakes

Marko Ahtisaari, Executive Vice President, Design, Nokia – an Internet of Small Things

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

THe internet is everywhere around us, on a multitude of devices. With a bunch of sensors connecting them to the world. We move from multiple screens to more and more things that are on. in around us that are all connected. So what is the world we want to design and how do we interact with them. Look at the mobile – the screens are immersive, they take all our focus. We are looking at designing experiences that gets people’s heads up again. So this is tech to allow us to connect remotely but does not get in the way of us engaging with the environment.

The other is a return to the significance of place. We used to only call a place by phone. Then you moved to call a person. Every single person would have a phone. This is a critical change. But now the devices know where they are. And all of the things we will hav eon us, in us will be located in a place. So can we use location as a lens for the interactions. SO you need a model of place. And that is what we are building. We started 30 years ago, the path to build a real-time digital extraction of the world – Nokia HERE. It is a map that is calculated to you personally. It is a lot of work. Industrial, with cars mapping, with partner data from UPS etc. Need more and more data sources to build the model. And then we need the user data. How people are using it, what are they adding. We use that to enhance and improve the quality of the industrial data. Community is needed to get data for maps outside of populated areas.

For HERE to grow and improve, it needs to go horizontal, across multiple platforms and that is now happening. And we provide ways for people to build on it too. The main experience is on the phone, but we it is growing. Thinking as location as the lens, it changes what is built etc.

The goal is to make experiences that are connected to the world around us. That are personalised. Make them more heads up, more relevant to the environment. But that’s not all. So a deeper dive into what we make. We are a product of Northern EU, even though team is international. And that reflects in how we think. And one way is to refine what people do every day, making them better.

It shows in a commitment to purity. To making a product PURE. You take away everything that is not necessary. The other goal is to make products that are BUILT BETTER. Solid, well engineered. Deep collaboration between engineering and design. Then our products are HUMAN, never cold. It’s about how they feel in the hand. They are then always ADVANCED. The right technology.

(he then went on to launch the Nokia Lumia 620. looks a nice phone)

Dec 05

Le Web 12: Tuesday Notes

The first afternoon of the conference was characterised by lots of small talks – product announcements and quick snippets instead of any indepth look at a subject.

In general, my takeout from the first day of the internet of things is around household objects and toys – those are the main areas of focus. The costs are coming down and the components are started to be commercialised if not well on the path to commoditised. In the same way that web tools became easier and easier, not requiring any technical knowledge, then the connecting parts between the web and world become click and play.

Below, I highlight any interesting points from the various sessions on the Tuesday afternoon. (generally liveblogged)

Misha Lyalin, Chairman & CEO, ZeptoLab
The company have had 250m downloads; 50m+ MAU. 25% of US smartphones. It is the largest DAU in China. Tablets less than smartphones, <7% smartphnes in BRIC. Android is growing fast. They do multiple platform - web as well as phones. They take it to real world. They do merchandise - plush toys. They take the toys onto the phone (feed the toy). Do animations. Have new game. Going to do a live production (signed with Sony Pictures). Most ideas from internal process. Everyone in company can submit ideas. They prototype and test. Doing pretty well as a company. They are profitable. Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote
Have 10 countries with more than a million USA.Japan, China, UK, South Korea, Canada, Germany, Spain, Russia, Brazil. They grow organically, do little/no paid marketing. Their marketers focus on getting the audience wanting to use the the product through WOM. 66% use at work. for knowledge collection. 85% have brought it in themselves. Now they are launching Evernote business. In Phil’s opinion, business stuff is crappy. This is being launched to allow companies to discover the knowledge they have. Evernote business They are bringing in contextual searches, as you add info, then it brings out and highlights the related info in the system – hopefully to create knowledge. It’s not just storage – it’s an emergent search tool.

Tech Spotlight: Adam Wilson, Founder & Chief Software Architect, Orbotix
Uses a robot controlled by phone2 way wifi, 6 axis IMU, API and SDK, plus apps. It’s a robotic gaming system. This are games that are between physical and virtual. THer eis a whole continuum available to build games in this space., THis is mixed reality. .Nice demo!

Tech Spotlight: Carly Gloge, Co-Founder & CEO, Ubooly
Creative and educational creature. Uses iphones to control Listen and tell stories. VOice recognition. Games etc. To react with children
They get lots of data back about what the children do, so can amend the content and adapt to what is being used. They are building new content – eg travel packs, plus social elements. Building on ways for Ubooly to feed back to the parents about childs behaviour

Fred Potter, Founder & CEO, Netamo
Some things matter and some don’t. For his kid, his Teddy is important. For adults, the smartphone is important. If it’s not important, then it’s on your smartphone. Now more and more of your life goes onto your smartphone. The weather matters. Indoor matters – we spend 80% of time indoors. Air quality indoors is important. Netamo have created a weather station. For outdoors and indoors. Monitor C)2, pressure, humidity, noise, temperature. We send data to cloud and phone. Product announcement. Buildin gnetwork to help enhance wellness and help understand environment. If you don’t start by measuring things, you can’t change them

Tech Spotlight: Phil Bosoa, CEO, LIFX
LIFX is a lightbulb controlled with your smartphone. raised money through kickstarter. $1.3 in 6 days. It’s about different lights in your life. Sync lights with music. Wants to be disruptive in the lightbulb market

Tech Spotlight: Gil Blander, Founder, President & CSO, InsideTracker
So how is taking care of your body like taking care of your car..you have checkups. If you miss a oil change, it affects your car. You need to take care of the body. Body needs the same as a car – diagnostics. Building a way of monitoring your performance and whether if in your optimal zone. Then ideas to get you back to it if not there. Eg if low VIt D, then ideas to improve it. Will also give some total solutions, optimise the diet

Dec 05

Le Web 12: Google, Twitter and Facebook

Liveblogged – so mistakes

On Tuesday afternoon, representatives from Google, Twitter and Facebook were on stage. The Google talk was an interesting insight into how search works and the ways Google are thinking about ‘things’ – objects they can build search results around, where there is context. (couldn’t capture all of this due to some work stuff). Twitter and Facebook were both there to do minor product announcements. Twitter about extension of trend results to more cities and Facebook to launch Messenger for all – even those without a FB account (OK, that was not so minor)

Ben Gomes, Vice President & Google Fellow, Google – Moving from Strings to Things.

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

Google starting to understand context, synonyms, spelling etc. They have to move to understanding what is being talked about, the object. They need to start to treat key words as references to things. To start to understand this, have to create a mapping from keywords to a large number of things. Have 560m data set of people, data and things, with 18n connections. This allows you to give meaning. It is a graph that is created from things on the web etc. How do you bring them together coherently? Now when you type in something, you start to get a knowledge panel about it. If you look for a person, you get the data about the person, but also projects, the people involved and connected with them etc.

A big challenge is internationalising it. So look at US and UK. Football is different. ‘Chiefs’ means different teams in different countries. Plus languages. Launching in French, Japan, Germany, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese. A lot of it comes from free sources on the web, plus own databases. There are humans cirating underlying datasets, but algorithms bring it together. They stay objective as far as possible. Loic asks about quality, if Google are using Wikipedia. Google know there are problems – and allows you to report a problem.

Have been focusing on making search a lot richer. Eg Verbal search improving. We are working on translations etc. Building up options for natural language processing. This will help with internet of things. Eg ‘find me my keys’

Q: what is search in 5 years? The path we are on, the dream is the Star Trek computer. THat is the fantasy. But we have made steps. Speech recognition; natural language interpretation. As search gets better, then people start pushing it harder. Search will get smarter in ways that you won’t recognise as it’s happening.

Q: now trying the future? It goes from search with a query, but search where the question is implicit. We can guess with time and save you a lot of effort. You can see there is a lot of space, about predictive search. Translation can bring more information to more people….eg Hindi speakers have very little web content

Katie Stanton, Vice President of International Market Development, Twitter

Role is to grow the audience of Twitter outside of the US. So increasing discovery; working with partners around events. Build the team on the ground. Been working with media companies in France – TV companies here are ahead of many places. Being great to be working here, inspiring creativity. Available in 33 languages, accessible on many devices. In about 33 markets, you can see trends per country, and in some places cities. This is being expanded to more markets and cities.

Q: How do you guide your partners in being in the rules? There is a lot of creativity, so don’t bound this. We show best practices, what to do and not to do. The biggest lesson is to be genuine with themselves. We also share real-time analytics with partners.

Q: What diferences in cultures in how people using? Everyone comes to connect. Japanese use as SMS replacement. to communicate directly. We see Latin markets, being open and expressive and creating lots. About 60% create, 40% just consume. Latin markets over index on creation.

Q: We’ve seen lost sof things. What are you favourite examples? Like the everyday things, the human touch. Like that it humanises institutions.

Q: Does it mean that orgs\celebrities are becoming more savvy about comms? Yes, celebrities see that they need to be on these platforms.

Peter Deng, Director of Product Management, Facebook

Q: How is the shift to mobile? Big. Our product teams are now focused on a mobile first company. The teams now all take care of their mobile products now. We learn from mobile now and then bring it to web

Q: So everything is mobile first? Not going to say never (turn up on web first) but that’s the aim. That shift is as big as launching platform. We have taken the platforms..they have different affordances. The phone is different. They are always on and always with you and always logged in as you. They are interuptive. They can buzz you. That is different to what a PC can do. So as a result we are focusing on the messaging (and mobile) Affordances are about what the engineered object naturally does.

Q: Would you say the internet industry have viewed mobile as smaller desktop..but now FB is thinking different. Yes, Tradiitonally, it’s a scaled down version with less functionality., But now at FB, it is about the experiences, the mobile experiences. We’ve been investing in mobilke messaginf over the last 18 months. We have built FB Messenger etc..we see that people want more than the SMS. Up until today, we assumed that you had to be FB user to user Messenger and that it was just for your friends. Now we change it today. You can just have a Messenger account and you can use it with just a phone number (for free)

Q: So why does FB care about this? We want people to care about connecting with people, Messenging has always be care. We need to give people more than the type of messaging they are used to on the phone.

Q: So there are 2 ways this can help – it’s a pathway to Facebook. And to increase usage of existing members, to give them more people to communicate it? For dev world, a lot of times it’s just messaging and we are allowing this. This could lead to them being able to do more.

Q: now you need an email address to sign up?
yes, 6% of teen use email daily., 66% of them use SMS daily. So a different shift in comms habit. People have been known to get an email address just to sign up for Facebook

Q: Should the carriers be worried? We have worked closely with carriers. A lot of people use Facebook already – paying for the data. We work with 2 carriers to provide a reduce rate of data plan for those who just want to use Messenger.

Dec 04

Le Web 12: Muse, Soundcloud and SmartThings

Some notes from the shorter sessions on Morning 1 of Le Web

Ariel Garten, CEO, Interaxon

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

This is Ariel’s 3rd appearance. Now they finally have a product to announce. They do thought controlled devices. Shared with us about thought controlled technology 2 years ago. Last year, showed you how the tech connected you with your inner world. This year, it’s coming to everyone.
Presenting Muse – a headband, that reads your thoughtwaves and connects with your cellphone. It comes with an app and an SDK. First area is about control – goals, parameters etc. Then self discovery, about knowing more about your self. Thirdly, it’s about context. you can add emotions to your writing – it changes the font of the email (showed demonstration) . It’s available to buy now, delivering next spring. You can develop.

Tech Spotlight: Jeff Hagins, Founder & CTO, SmartThings

SmartThings – about making it easy for hardware connectivity. To make the physical world progammable. So showed how phone can be used to connect with multiple devices. (demo’d turning on Christmas tree lights from Paris). Can take same devices and use them for multiple ways. Eg contacts stuff, when things are opened. Can send text messages, or turn other things on etc. It commercialises web connectivity and makes it simple. Have IDE, app modules, arduino shield.

Alexander Ljung, Founder & CEO, SoundCloud

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

Every minute, 10 hours of sound uploaded. They reach over 180m people across the multiple platforms that their stuff is used. That’s 8% of internet population. Has grown a lot. Lots of different users. The White House (Obama) uses Soundcloud. Cousin uses it to capture the noises of his new born baby. They are hard at work on the next version They are getting +30% increased engagement. It is switching today.

First is about discovery, finding new stuff. Now has an EXPLORE section. Categories etc. Uses a lot of real time info. They have improved SEARCH. Rebuilt everything from ground up. Called it DISCORANK. Fast, relevant and personalised. They have RELATED sounds. Secondly is about how sounds bring people closer. New onboarding experience. Connects with other platforms to bring likes across etc.

Also launching section for creators, both existing and to encourage people to start creating. They are improving ways of sharing. Reposting etc. You can create sets of sounds. Finally, updating their mobile apps on Thursday.

Dec 04

Le Web 12: Scott Harrison and Charity:Water

Liveblogged – possible mistakes

Scott Harrison, Founder & CEO, charity:water

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

Will be talking about how he got into Charity:Water. The Water Crisis etc.
A little about him. Started as a nightclub promoter. Got paid to ‘promote’ things like vodka and beer – get photographed. Looked good – no heart to life. Decided to make a change. He was miserable. Had to move on, to make a difference. Decided to go help the poor – but denied by everyone he applied for. He had no skills that would be useful. He found someone who he could pay $500 a month and help them (mercyships.org). He became their photographer. Went to Liberia. Saw real poverty and issues. (lots more about what he saw). Signed up for another year. Started to learn what was making people sick – it was dirty water. Started looking at where people are drinking from – ponds, streams, dirty water. Worked with a guy who taught people how to tap into ground water. The team was doing the surgeries, the water guy was affecting 1000s people for a fraction of the money. Came back to NY..and knew needed to make up for last time. Had seen lots of problems..but kept coming back to the water. And charity:water was born

800m people don’t have access to clean, safe, drinking water. Up to 80% of diseases by bad water and lack of toilets. 40 billion hours are wasted fetching water in Africa every year. Imagine what can people do with the time. But this is a solvable problem. There are solutions. Wells, filter water, harvest rain etc. There are ways to get this fixed. If you can bring water to community, it can change everything. Healthier, more time. Chance for better life. To learn. to start businesses. UN says every dollar invested in clear water and sanitation, gives $12 back to economy.

The challenge set was to end the water crisis, to give help. But also to re-invent charity. Friends were not giving, they distrusted charities. They gave money and it went into a charity blackhole. So had to change that. Decided that ALL the public money goes to the charity, not the operational costs. Two accounts – raised money to run charity separately to the money to effect the charity. They made sure they had proof – made everything public, so all spend can be tracked. Thirdly, wanted to build a brand. There were no aspirational charity brands he wanted to be involved in. So decided to change this.

First, ran party, Then took all the money to village in Uganda, built wells. Sent the evidence back. Did product collaborations. Challenged the marketing. Did partnerships. Pushed social media. did galas differently. Everything was creative ways to get story out there. Then they stumbled on the big idea to drive support. This was ‘give up your birthday’. Donate to charity instead of presents. etc So turned birthday into a giving moment, an unselfish day THere are many, many stories about this. One such is that of Rachel https://www.charitywater.org/blog/rachels-gift/ What started out as ‘our story’ turned into ‘Their Story’. So continued to make everything transparent. Showed where all the money goes, exactly what the money that you raise builds Now we are moving on remote sensors – to connect with the things they are building. THe project is now completely funded. Have received grant. To develop and put the sensors out in the field, so you can see what is happening.

They have raised $77m. Have been growing every year. do not think of themselves as traditional charity – but as a start up. Last year, gave 725k people clean water. Want to talk about this problem being solved – go after 100m people in next 3 years. Need to raise $3billion. PLus $300m to run the projects. Are you willing to help, to make it your story? Can you get your company involved? Can you give up your birthday?

Dec 04

LeWeb 12: NASA and Mars

LIVEBLOGGED = there will be mistakes

Benjamin Cichy, Chief Software Engineer, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

Talking about Mars. For years we knew little. It could be like earth. It had seasons, polar ice caps, had winters and summers. It could have had a rainy season. It has always fascinated us. It could have looked like Earth. Was it like us, can it tell us about ourselves.

In the 1870s, that is when we started to map it. Through a telescope. There was a network of channels, these features, covering the surface. When published,d potentially a mistranslation, there were now ‘canals’ ie built objects. From this, thinking about life on mars, public got excited. Asking questions about are we alone.

But not until the space age, we finally got some focus. Across the 1960s, we started our first attempts. But the frist 12 missions failed. We did not understand the Mars secrets, how to get there. In 1965, that was the first glimpse. There were 21 images, what was remarkable, was there was NO channels, it looked far more like our moon. It did not look to be this live planet. But we still wondered, was the fly-by too fast. So we still pushed to land on Mars.

Viking programme in 70s. 2 landers – legged, to get a single point of access. It was a success. We got our first images from another planet. We saw it was dusty, barren, rocky, There was no life. And so we retreated. We did not send more. We stepped back. We looked inside now. And we learnt that life on earth could survive in far more places than we thought, We learnt all we needed was energy source, like sun, we need water and we need the building blocks. So we went back – we could still have life, hidden in the soil.

But we could not go back as before, using a lander. A different approach. So let’s have a different approach. Cushion the lander so it bounces across the platform. And let’s not just use a legged lander, let’s have e a movable robot. So Sojourne rover created in 1996. But it would be another 8 years to go back. We tried again, but in 1999 they had 2 failures.

It was 2004 before they went back. They were able to answer the second question. They found evidence that Mars was once a wet place. They saw evidence of sea. They knew they had energy and water. In 2008, the Phoenix saw there was water on Mars now – frozen water in the poles.

But what about the last ingredient. The building blocks. We had to go bigger. So we built Curiosity. It is huge. It is international. Many countries involved. It is the ultimate offroad vehicle. But we did not know how to land it, how to get it to Mars. We knew we needed a protective shell. We needed a heat shield. The biggest we had built. Then largest parachute. 15m wide, 50m long. Parachute took us to 300kph. So how to get from that to soft landing. So they came up with a ‘jetpack’. They would lower it down, under a hovering jetpack. Then cut it and fly the jetpack off.

11km above surface, we deploy the parachute, Takes us to 300kph. Then we have to decide when to cut the cord. Too late, we’ll crash, Too soon, we’ll run out of fuel. So 1km out, we cut and we fire the rockets. SLow down over 30secs. 20m above, we start the lowering. then have to get the rockets away.

So much. 76 explosions to co-ordinate. All out of touch from the earth. it’s 14 minutes to get here. there are 5m lines of codes. to control this. We had to build all the software to teach the rover to land on Mars. We also knew that only 33% of missions had landed successfully. We could not test all together…there was 1 chance to get it right. Had run millions of sims etc.

We landed (played video). We had these never before seen views of Mars…took the first self portrait. Look at the image and think of all the people who got involved. We saw evidence of flowing water in Mars. We took soil samples, investigated. It is a long mission, will take us a long time to understand it.

On the night landed, there were 1.8billion hits on the website. It speaks to something more, it is not just about the science, It is something fundamental, about ourselves. We had visitors from almost every country on earth. All looking at what we were doing.

We have a fill packet, which is sent back when nothing to say. I added names, the teams etc. And a quote from Carl Sagan. It’s not just about connected things..Rover is the most distant connected object that we have, that downloads to web. But important too to think about WHY we connect. Think about how can we flame that spirit of exploration, of curiosity. Think about that when you are building the internet of things.

Q: what is most exciting?
A: the images, Every new image goes DIRECTLY onto the web. We can inspire people to explore, to connect with us

Nov 27

Le Web. Again

It’s December, that means’s it’s time for Le Web? Not strictly true this year, as they also had a London edition in June, for the first time. But the Paris version is the main one and I’m looking forward to being one of the official bloggers again this year – and meeting up with the regular crowd and meeting new bloggers. One thing that Le Web has done extremely well is build up a network of bloggers from across Europe, ensuring a spread of reporting in many languages, even if the official conference language is English.

If you’re not able to go, then there are multiple options to follow the action. Make sure you’re following your preferred blogger of choice (and we will be blogging, not ‘live-tweeting’). Alternatively, if you have the time, check the Live streams being provided through Le Web You Tube. There’s even going to be be translations in French and Spanish.

I’m going to be doing my usual Live Blogging of sessions. Depending on the set up, this will most likely be from the main stage. If there’s power this year, I may do some from the Social Business Track as well.

Hope to see you there – in person or online.

Nov 15

Motorsports Business Forum Austin: Sponsorships

The Motorsports Business Forum holds regular events around the business of Motorsports (unsurprisingly). The latest edition was held in Austin, where there were 200+ attendees, most of them local. I went along to listen to teams and sponsors talk the business of F1, rather than the sport, which was the topic of the previous day’s FOTA Fan Forum.

The second session addressed sponsorship with Paul Hemberey Motorsport Director, Pirelli; Graeme Lowdon President & Sporting Director, Marussia F1 Team; and Pablo de Villota, F1 Sponsorship Manager at Santander

As usual, liveblogged, so mistakes possible

Motorsports Business Forum Austin

Q: So Pirelli, what was critical to bring you back?

PH: as a biz,a global business. It is unique as goes around the world. it happens every year, has focus in markets where Pirelli has interest. So fit is there. So we make tyres, not the most exciting. You don’t tell your friends you have bought some tyre.s To try and make them black and round. Pirelli has worked hard at marketing and branding, Try and looks at cool, sporting, prestigious. etc. ALl key for brands. That was a key driver. As we have changed biz strategy, to be leading in premium tyre,s to dominate in 2015. Biz focuses on prestigious manufacturers around the world, we work with the and F1 allows us to qualify that position, leader in segment.

Q: have you seen volume in sales, in OEM contracts…

PH: yes, complex, taking from sport to final sale. OUr brand value has grown (use interbrand) in 6 months, grown 300m. Has seen significant brand growth on end users and doing analysis F1 has had an impact. It is very strong. They are strange role of sponsor and tech support. We were asked to make more interesting racing, make talking points. FOr tyres, challenge, no car ever wins with tyres but they do lose., Or you have problems. Hard to sell that you make the difference. Worked with Nick for years., had to sell that we won champs with tyres. A hard sell to convince the public you had a major impact. Found that they talk about the tyres, as part of tactical decisions of weekend, we have our profile to increase presence, that gives value to us as a business.,

Q: so Graeme, tough business, sponsorship

GL: yes, but guess everyone here has tough challenges. We live in tough market place and we were a brand new team. We were effectively a start up business in 2009…when we got entry Jun 12 2009 we had a 2 page business plan and a successful Manor team. Had bought through a lot of drivers on the grid. We had a lot of experience of racing, but highly competitive market place and build strat to ensure funding. The tyres require money so have to generate income and as a new team can’t do it by asking people to play for stickers. So we create a business ecosystem around the team. Have large organisations that are partners, eg Virgin group was one of the first. Could take that association and start networking and as we got more, we could create more of a theme. A challenging team, We have not scored a point in 3 years, not a bad thing..that is the pinnacle of what we are in…if you could come in and win then reflects bad on spot. We have to balance the entertainment and costs..have to work together. to supply that. The TV coverage, we get 1.2%. Not an asset we can sell. Look at a lot of the sponsors, they do biz s is beneficial from B2B,. A different approach. In first year, brought a lot brands that had none been, and that they stuck with us.

Q: Santander, 2 teams and 4 races. Talk through relationships

PV: how do we manage both teams…have to switch the T-Shirts and jackets. From t he sporting point of view..very interesting, McLaren vs Ferrari is biggest rivalry. Amazing the different teams how they works etc..they are very close on track Amazing to see diff ways of working,not one better than the other. We start in 2007. With McLaren, good decision, started with big programme. Had to learn, we were new in sponsorship areas. It came as part of big rebranding global process. Decided in 2004 to go to single brand as so many benefits of single brand worldwide. We realised there was no better platform than F1, particularly as popular in key markets. Brazil, UK, Mexico and Spain, US, Germany, Poland. Had option of football or F1. The reason was obvious, to sponsor soccer..in UK, if you sponsor Liverpool rather than Everton..the animosity is issue. Don’t sponsor teams due to polarisation. We decided F1 was the best platform to work with. Our decision, after being with McLaren, go to Ferrari gives more flexibility with opportunities. You have so many opps to activate, more than other sports, than with Ferrari..eg in US, F1 not that popular, but Ferrari is aspirational and popular. Interesting..opens up new markets…also with Ferrari they have aspirational brand…but also have passion of fans, fans painting faces in red, like with soccer. The best of both worlds. When we started, we decided to maintain link with McLaren due to Uk being second biggest market it was important to carry on the elements. When decided to carry on rebranding in 2006, we went from unprompted of 9% to 90% just though McLaren in 3 years. It is easy to track, you can follow trend. When we do British GP, with big moments of McLaren, you can track how the trend is going up. associated with F1 and proper sponsorship package.

Motorsports Business Forum Austin

Now for Audience Questions

Q: Interested in qualitative benefits…but media metrics? hard numbers? looking at and how this gets reported. Comparative to TV etc, are you being asked to deliver that.

PH: have quite sophisticated fo measuring TV, one of easiest. Struggle with printed and internet based conversation, struggle to take in everything that is going on. There are lots of bloggers etc that do that. You have to be aware,t here are positives and negatives, you can say what you want unregulated (online..bloggers) but you can monitor what people think you are doing as a brand. If you do things, it is online very quickly.

Ian: Repucon…$10 per 1000 viewers per 30secs exposure?

GL: we are less orientated to more traditional metrics. There are lots of well utilised services. But one of the key challenges, look at future of media, huge changes going on…more trad channels become fragmented, more difficult to analyse in comparable way what is going on. Article in WSJ should advertisers measure delayed transmissions 3 or 7 days. Look at new media. A challenge for industry to come up with metrics…that are relevant. For us. our success is simple, the financial success. We subscribe, but don’t play as big a role in executive thinking as building our role as F1 team

PdV: ongoing battle in every sponsor. With tv fragmentation, decline of print, a personal view that it is not fair just to consider ROI just measurement as media. YOu get so many benefits. How do you measure the # of models that Shell has with Santander on. or Ferrari sell worldwide. The reputation is important and how the sponsorship, the investment of scholarships helps. Key elements for a company like us..ROI is often about media impact, but need to take in other measures.

Q: Can you measure difference between product and driver (eg is driver is the one who is important in sponsorship).

PdV: so Lewis has been the best ambassador for Santander. Going to Mercedes. THe driver is important, the sporting hero, the people that fans are paying their tickets for. But team is very important, we have best example. Before Alonso., F1 not popular in Spain. Looking at research, Ferrari was as powerful as Alonso..when we had opp to so Alonso merchandise with Santander….no value unless with Ferrari. IN UK, with McLaren, with opp for merchandise with Lewis alone…or with team…did not get full impact on own. What makes important is the bond…Ferrari insist the team is first.

GL: a bit of a catch 22 for F1 teams. It is the ultimate team game. THere is no other sport that has teams have quite the size. But the drivers are the heroes. The Teams works towards winning champs..you build the currency of driver, but they may go to race for rival. An interesting side effect. But fair price to pay for best team sport tin world

Q: do you share out? Or geographically specific

PH: we do find national interest driven by driver. So big interest next season with Perez. If Ferrari winning, Italian TV figures. Working with Petrov, does have huge impact in Russia. Local hero can drive interest. Would love to see US, Chinese, India etc. But also important for teams. Not ness all the big teams are good at marketing, some of the smaller out in a lot more effort and innovation and that can be successful. You have to create a system that is sustainable for all the teams. Thinking of rallying, there were teams that were not wining but still managed to create excitement. So F1 need to do this, create excitement for all teams. We see a lot of new circuits. Some new are suffering. coming into Austin, the enthusiasm is great..we are not saying that as we are here. We want to be coming back, it is important to create sustainable events as well and as a sport we have to look more into

Q: for GL, about Maria de Villota. Can you talk about the crash from marketing…

GL: Maria is a very valued member of team, well liked. Why was she in team? We offer a rare selection of services, only 12 F1 teams. Maria a good racing driver, had a career, like most drivers. Most reach stage when cannot progress further…to progress you have t learn a set of skills..you can’t jump into a an F1 car..

Q: do you think Danica has what it takes?

GL: saw Danica in junior, had great reaches, chose to take her career in one route and it has been successful. Back to skills needed…extremely complex. Maria was immersing herself in a rare environment and learning skills of trade. Accident was unfortunate…still a real part of teams, was personal setback for team. There in professional capacity, progressing her career in difficult sport. The hollywood version, you go out dancing then jump in car next day..a million miles away. Complex and highly technical. Unless you understand the complexities nad how to interact with engineers, the team…she was doing a great job of progressing in that area.

Q: F1 has spent a lot of time marketing itself…curious from a fan persepctive…so much said about F1 needs to do a better job of selling itself? Is there a unified approach...

GL: It may sound simple and it is. Listen, Listen, Listen and then do something about what we have heard. Have spent a huge amount of time talking to people, In street, restaurant, at FotaForum..These events are so important…you have to listen to me but I want to hear from you as well about what is important in your biz for F1. We have to satisfy a demand and biggest mistake is to assume we know what the demand is. We have learnt things, fascinating to learn of different perspectives.

Ian: Feels very different in Austin. Asked in Houston in customs about coming to for F1. instant excitement

PdV: when they city embraces the race, it is a completely different thing. F1 wants to be seen as the first motor racing series in world. F1 has done the right steps…the show that we are having this year is unbelievable. Different teams winning, away from top teams, other teams winning races. Think FIA has done right steps and the show is much better

GL: agree completely. I flew in through Dallas, the customs guy was coming to race etc. Giving people access is something we try hard as a team..but eveyone we met was coming!

PH: being aloof is an issue..in US they like an event, not just turn up on Sunday, not just about the race, about being entertained. See in Melbourne, Canada, Silverstone for other reasons. All the signs that the enthusiasm created..great…it is clear coming in that there is an event going on, that there is a lot of enthusiasm, we can tell the difference, Whatever is being done to start with, then clear great start

GL: the fans are very well educated on the sport. You would be surprised how many markets that know there is something but they don’t know the sport, the nuances. That is something the teams value.

Nov 15

Motorsports Business Forum Austin: Nick Fry

The Motorsports Business Forum holds regular events around the business of Motorsports (unsurprisingly). The latest edition was held in Austin, where there were 200+ attendees, most of them local. I went along to listen to teams and sponsors talk the business of F1, rather than the sport, which was the topic of the previous day’s FOTA Fan Forum.

First up was Nick Fry, CEO, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team who talked about “The Opportunities and Challenges Facing Formula One”. Nick gave a talk and then opened the floor up for questions.

As usual, this is liveblogged…so mistakes are possible!

Motorsports Business Forum Austin

To frame things..will talk about our team, but numbers apply to front of grid. All published numbers. Team is 500+ people, You can’t buy the car, you can’t buy the major parts. the rest have to be designed and released themselves. Have to do it every year. about 4000 drawn parts every year. Have about 200 people to design, 200 to make and everyone else is indirect. Budget is quite large. Spend $200m a year, around that. as there a re so many people, the technology. the speed. start designing in July, design and dev to Christmas,when start making, ready to go in end Jan, test for a couple of months, start in Australia in march, race through to Nov in 20 locations. For those in auto industry, who may thing they take shortcuts…in Ford etc would take 3 years min, then do they cut corners…the reality is that the teams design use IBM system Petia…the same as the cars company. Runs on SAP on start to finish, same as nay big company. Pay for it…50% from partners, have a number of premium companies associated…(he named a few)…The other comes from promotion of sport. The profits are split, depends on performance..( 3 year basis). 100m+ the race, significant audience on a global basis. For major corporations…eg countries, who want to advertise globally, there is nothing like it globally. Not dissimilar to Olympics or World Cup. Significant marketing opp…it tends to be national sports for many, very little has reach globally.

LEads to first opportunity..travelling around the world…we are good at going into emerging economies early on and getting a high level of interest early. We have been adding new venues regularly. That number will continue to grow. substituting for European events. Russia, easy to see in Mexico, huge demand for races, amplifying the marketing benefit. SO an example, in India, Airtel, they decided to sponsor the one race for Mercedes. They did an ad for the sponsor, got 2.5m views of video in the 2 days. ANother thing, unique, is technology. The people who watch are interested in the tech behind the car…tech is important and what we need to do is to combine tech with entertainment. Have loyal fans…with us and for us..but to get numbers then have to make it appealing, have to get to outer areas of bullseye. The tech spins off to other others, not just auto. There are about 45k people who work in associated areas, highly paid, tech jobs, significant job.s The spinoffs are into defence, space, aerospace. THe tech on cars, the composites, the electronics, the engine, the telemetry,have done a lot of work in energy recovery…is being used to sell into lots of other areas of business. Eg train industry and fly wheels. Buses using hybrid tech. In our own case, the energy recovery system, going into the SLS Mercedes car. Next version is purely electric, all the tech developed with help of F1 team. There is a direct spin off. The F1 engine changes in 2014. going for a 1.6l and turbocharge and energy recovery, 10x power of system in cars now. Important to make tech relevant to what can be used in outside world.

Challenge. Like most sports, problem with costs. THe money is difficult to raise, Teams at back..and middle…are struggling. Need to bring down costs. The benefits of winning are huge..so people spend vast amounts of money to be successful, to get more tv and publicity. PLus making tech relevant, and FIA trying to do this. A few years ago, making engines with 21k RPM, could not find home for those engines. So things like DRS, allow overtaking, keeping excitement with passing.

Lastly, why Mercedes in F. The product development benefits. Not just the teach but the process of developing car in 6 months. Plus to sell cars, Merc successful, supply 3 teams with engines at moment, plus demonstrating the tech advance of cars and that comes through in market place. So far this year, Merc number 1 market (2 last year, after Germany). Have about 23k people in US working in it. Important that successful here, so thanks to Austin…have a great springboard for future so great business opp.


Question: So huge amount of car experience, and yet Merc world titles are with smaller teams. Are there framework with smaller teams that make it easier?

NF: so issues that we face are similar to a big corp taking over smaller one. danger that kill golden goose with kindness. Diff to get balance with large corp given money resources and not smothering them with too much kindness and bureaucracy. THe people who are in small companies are there for a reason…the nimber, fast etc…the secret is to preserve autonomy and provide the support but let them get on with it.

Question: with quick decisions, etc, what challenges are there to managing expectations at Mercedes group level. How do you act small as part of large.

NF: the want to preserve uniqueness Bopard say have all this stuff…you take what you need but will not impose anything in you. They say have what you like, if you want to use sim tech, then do but they won’t come and tell us what to do. A difference to how Merc have behaved and other car companies. So performance is our doing and not Mercs.

Question: how do you feel about Hamilton joining you?

NF: feeling inside team was positive…we have had one of greatest drivers working with us..in age terms, then reaching end of team..to do well in f1 need to have the best..and best drivers. IN my view, Lewis, alongside Alonso, are the 2 best drivers. Vettell may be in that group and have alway had best car..and he has to prove it in my mind. Alonso done exceptional job. Lewis in category of giving him not quite the best car and can still deliver. THis has given pressure, as Ross has to provider the best car..he can win in not quite the best…nbut still have to bridge gap.

Q: (Red Mccombs) What are you concern about in a new venue.

NF: it’s all around the enthusiasm of the town. If you ask them in F1 which are the favourite, what the place, most will say Melbourne…plus Montreal. Because they are sports town,s everyone supports, there are bands, activity, people com in as great towns. The whole place gets abuzz. The circuit is important, but most important is the venue…you can normally see from early in gestation whether it will be successful..,but think Austin has got off a very good start…get reaction that people want it to succeed, they are friendly, the right kind of town…maybe theplaces we have raced in were not tourist, towns that people want to go to. Especially if embraced from business not just circuit.

Q: what happens to old cars?

NF: some go to sponsors..(as part of deal), some go to MErc). They can’t run or do anything with it, looks nice . The rest go to show cars…Will eventually go to second hand market.

Q: you mentioned the tech..can you add colour to FIA limiting driver track/accessibility and they are moving to simulations

NF: we are doing what is reflected in mainstream automotive…in Ford we made loads of prototypes, to get in plenty of experiences. Very expensive, something that car manufactures are sims. Final test to be physical, the rest on screen, rig, sim. F1 in the same direction, because it cuts costs. Have several as drive in loop simulators…a very expensive playstation on steroids. Sev million pounds. Driver sits in chassis. It moves around a little. most us has an understanding of the inputs needed. It is a rather dull job, darkened room, with screen. The driver has to believe they are in the environment, to get their brain around it. Such is the resolution. that most top teams will also run a sim in the uK at the same time, and doing resolution. Wil run sim during evening to find more info, most drivers spend lot of time driving round. a lot cheaper and many cases more accurate with other variables. That’s an areas where we and MErc work strongly together. Have fed off that to the f1 sim and vice versa

Q: How does the IP participate in funding the future car.

NF: kind of gentleman’s agreement that they don’t patent. Thor is an underlying undercurrent, about protection is not the sense of what they are trying to do. More practical, takes too long to protect,,,as teams copied in 3 races. Most races have got people employed that just look at other teams, Copying does not really work unless you understand the physics, you have to know what it is doing. IN terms of hybrid, the Williams have done great job with flywheel system on cars etc…prob is patented. There is stuff that may have a home elsewhere…

Q: you were discussing marketing opps…plus enthusiasm of city. WOuld you consider a US driver racing as part of marketing activities?

NF: we would consider any driver regardless of who they are….as long as they are a fast driver. Historically some team shave taken a driver for financial reasons and it can backfire if not successful….if took a US driver for marketing and not successful, then does not reflect well. Not on radar if can’t drive fast.

Q: when f1 started, safety not a concern. How do you find safety, does it hinder dev, or in direction, or in maintaining..

NF: the safety of everyone critical. incidents are one things and part of excitement but no one wants to see another hurt. Driver is relatively well protected..reduce whiplash, safety cell. Bigger concern is bystanders, marshalls etc, bit of wheels. Spend lots of time and energy in this. Certainly adds to cost but not inhibits..have improved a lot in last few years, lots of money. but think it is necessary. Some of the energy absorptions very interesting, going into road car. AN added dimension which is important.

Q: How many are in team that you bring?

NF: bring 65-70 people. about 40 directly involved in car, plus marketing, catering, support functions…that’;s where a lot of the expense is. Move 24 tonnes of equipment. Some of the bigger venues, eg Singapore..one of the sponsors had 400 guests…