Thoughts From Le Web

It snowed in Paris today and the cold was air was felt in the large spacious and beatiful event space in the 19th arrondisement where Le Web is being held.

Apparently the wifi didn’t work very well in the event space either. But neither issue got in my way as I managed to have about a dozen ‘meetings’ with entrepreneurs and a few investors between 9am and 5:15pm when the venture capital panel started

Spending a day at Le Web bouncing from meeting to meeting is a great way to take the temperature of the european web startup world. The temperature was cold in the building and people tell me the funding environment is even colder

That’s a shame (and an opportunity) because there are a lot of good companies working on building web businesses in europe.

There are some areas where europe has advantages over the US.

Linquistics/semantics is one possible area of advantage. Europeans have been living in a world with many languages and I believe they have a more native understanding of language structure and analysis

Energy and the environment is another. The ‘green’ movement has been alive and well in europe for a long time now and the european economies have been working on reducing their reliance on expensive carbon based energy for longer than the US has

Mobile is another area where the european consumer is ahead of the US consumer and where the carriers are more open to new technologies and business models

I am sure there are areas other than these but my point is that the european startup scene is not simply a poor cousin to what’s going on in the US. Its a lot like the NYC startup scene except that its distributed across a big geography

And that’s why Le Web is so great. It brought this startup scene together for a couple days in cold and snowy Paris. And I am happy that I could be there to catch the snow falling and re-open a lot of conversations I started this summer.


Comments (Archived):

  1. fredwilson

    Actually we closed it last week and planned to announce it this week. I thought we were announcing it today but apparently not

  2. Julien

    Enjoy Paris!

  3. David Noël

    I’m curious what company you closed a deal with today. I saw you announce it watching the livestream. Do you plan on announcing it anytime soon?

  4. arikbenedek

    Good luck

  5. fredwilson

    Thanks. Its way more valuable to read those who see the world differently than those who see it the same as you do

  6. Adriano

    hi Fred, thank you very much for your contribution to the LeWeb panel discussion. At the session just after yours, Marc Simoncini ( said that the most essential (and costly) INVARIANT across countries is BRANDING. Could you comment further? As a VC how do you deal and think about porting sites internationally? [Have a great time in Paris!]

    1. Sylvain Carle

      I would skew this perspective a bit by saying that most startups (and esp. those doing social media app/sites) don’t need that much branding besides a good name, logo, url.What’s really hard to do is to break out of your natural/geographical circles to expands to markets where your product/service might be really succesful but to do that you need “relays”, you need to find people who become spokespersons (power users) for you. That’s the hard part (takes time and effort). I really like the neologism “friendraising” to describe that, not in the classical definition from… but more as process of building your social capital with existing social media. I think Branding is a problem for later stage startups, around series B is my educated guestimate (but I’m a technology guy, so my view is skewed towards tech/product first, I’m aware of that).

  7. Charles Birnbaum

    Fred,Just wanted to pass along this article. It is loaded with hyperbole, but thought you should see it as it goes against much of your own philosophy. Safe travels.http://www.huffingtonpost.c

  8. Liz

    Saw lots of complaining about the conference on Twitter (or maybe just among the people I follow) but I was glad that the entire main stage was livestreamed on UStream…almost like being there only warmer! And with a lively group of several hundred in the chatroom it was a great substitute for those of us who can’t make it to international conferences.I liked your panel but thought it was ridiculous that you were all pressed (several times) to say how you would act differently in 2009 considering all of the possible things that could happen in the economy in the next 12 months. You were right to lay out your strategy without giving the precise answer that the moderator kept pushing you for. Making predictions on the state of the world economy in a year, especially when caught on tape and broadcast worldwide. would be foolhardy. Trends, I understand, but it seemed like he was asking for a definitive statement when you really need to be able to respond to economic changes when they occur.

  9. Roman Giverts

    I really like your continued optimism. While I wonder if it could be troublesome, it’s still refreshing to hear. I’m a glass-half-full guy myself.

  10. Mark

    Fred, would you agree that European VC seems to be a little more open to larger scale deals that would be more akin to traditional private equity here in the States? My experience there is that many of the VC funds are associated with larger buyout funds or even major corporations, serving as a PE/VC arm. As such, you will see European VC firms get involved in spaces such as biotech, pharma, medtech, energy, cleantech, etc, which typically involve larger deals. I definitely wouldn’t say the European firms are centered around Web 2.0 start-ups, even though there is definitely capital going in that direction. Most of the firms focused on that space probably center those operations around Menlo Park anyways, so overall, there isn’t as much traditional web start-up activity over there compared to the US.

    1. Mark

      As I was thinking more about this discussion, I decided to pust some of my thoughts down (shameless plug) …

  11. alexismichelle

    Hi Fred! Great panel today.– you are definitely as thoughtful and articulate “live” as you are in writing. I really appreciated your comment on learning to say no more constructively, a I think that “failure” can be an incredibly powerful and effective teacher– as long as its a learning moment. To that end, any thoughts on how those on the receiving end of “no” can make the most of the opportunity? Particular actions or questions?

  12. Christian

    Nice to see that you guys pay attention to Europe 😉 LeWeb it’s sure a good venue, we have decided to go opposite presenting at TechCrunch50. Fred, please take a look at european startups, sometime I feel you are a bit to much american centric.

  13. RacerRick

    Pick me up some macaroons at Laduree?

  14. leafar

    Nice to hear. I have also heard a European VC said that they were more and more americans here and that they should be carefull with the interesting deals ! I think this competition is for the best. Thanks for contributing to it.I didn’t manage to meet with you. But since you said send link, i decide to make a quick update on ulike using a link :'s an Personnalized EPG for french TV. We are slowly but surely reaching critical mass in various segment which enables us to deliver intersting new features that will bring recommendations closer to everyday life.Have a nice flight back to NY.Sincerely, Raphael Labbé

  15. Loic Le Meur

    thank you Fred, glad you were with us and had fun, sorry I could only shake your hand I was so busy with the stage.

    1. fredwilson

      You are a great master of ceremonies loic!