Video of the Week: LeWeb 2008

I am in Paris this weekend and I always love being here. I am reminded of attending LeWeb back in 2008 and having dinner with Jeff Clavier and Reid Hoffman and our wives.

And I remember meeting with Alex and Eric from SoundCloud at LeWeb that year. We didn't invest then, nor the first time Alex pitched me, but a little more than a year later Alex sold me on the third pitch and we are very happy that he did. I mention an entrepreneur pitching me about 22 minutes into this video. That was Alex (and Eric).

I've been going back and forth with Loic about coming back to Le Web this year. I would very much like to do that, schedule permitting, and hope that it happens.

So in the spirit of all that, here's a video of a panel I sat on at LeWeb 2008, moderated by AVC community member, Ouriel Ohayon.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. andyswan

    I don’t think a lot of startups realize that “keep in touch and let us know as you get more traction” is 1) a NO 2) smart investing and 3) sincereYou don’t have just one shot to pitch investors. Keep growing, keep them informed. It’s just a “no”, not a “never.”

    1. fredwilson

      exactlyalex played that so well

    2. Richard

      Great point. Let us know when you get some traction = = I need more data before I can make this king of investment.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Pushing back a little. In the midwest, sometimes that means, “We don’t take early stage risk. Come back when everyone else wants to invest.” Being able to read the difference is a time saver for startups. Knowing the VCs past track record of when they invest, and how often helps startups read between the lines.

        1. Richard

          You bet! Sell seed to a farmer and flour to a baker.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        More data, deeper or further proof of concept, and “I don’t trust you yet” probably fits into it too.

    3. kidmercury

      generally true, but in my experience multiple people have told me that when in fact what they really meant is “you’re too crazy and potentially mentally ill but it’d be weird to tell you that and who knows how you’d react if i did so here is my canned response.” so sometimes it is not sincere, though it is polite and professional, so i can respect that.investors need to be great at reading people quickly, but entrepreneurs need that skill as well.

      1. andyswan


      2. Matt A. Myers

        Summarized as ridicule..

      3. LE

        “multiple people have told me””what they really meant”Hypothetically if you were talking about yourself it wouldn’t surprise me if you actually had a way to not come off like that but get something out of the negative reaction even perhaps exaggerating the behavior to make it even more of a certainty.Almost like the high school kid who knows he won’t get the pretty girl so he becomes even more annoying to her.

        1. kidmercury

          my kookiness is already fairly exaggerated, i know most people cannot accept 9/11 truth and its far-reaching implications and so they will never be able to buy into my vision to the degree that is necessary. so i might as well continue working on my own and have some fun with folks 🙂

        2. Brandon Burns

          you really need to start some sort of confidence self help thing. maybe a book, and fakegrimlock can help you soundbite it and do the illustrations? or just a blog? weekly email? something?really. i’m not kidding.

          1. LE

            “you really need to start some sort of confidence self help thing.” [1]”fakegrimlock can help you soundbite it “Who wouldn’t welcome collaboration with FG? He is a well known entity and any association with him would be a positive in terms of getting attention and acceptance.But otoh I’m exactly the opposite. A devil is in the details type of person. That is I’m more into granularity than I am into broad strokes. He is also into detail (by his actual employment) but it doesn’t show in his “characters” presentation.FG comes up with good entertaining comments in caps that people enjoy but they are good many times because they are a kind of a Rorschach. That is they tend to be whatever you want them to be. And in ways it’s like hearing a joke from Seinfeld that is funny because Seinfeld delivered it. (Halo) But FG also has a “shtick” just like Dangerfield or Joan Rivers did. Actually Kid Mercury is more like Dangerfield in Caddy Shack and in general like Joan Rivers.Re: Kid and other people who actually make comments here on a regular basis. They fall into at least two categories. Most either are highly confident of what they are saying or they don’t give a shit what other people think. Or both, have confidence and don’t give a shit. But in a sense not giving a shit what people think is a great way to build confidence and not mentally stutter. This works with dating and life in general by the way.[1] Similar to what the untrained Vaynerchuck did for wines.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Eventually I learned that, at least with girls,just keep pushing until it is just totally clear,maybe even from a slap in the face, thatshe is saying “Not only ‘No’ but ‘Hell no,now and forever'”.A slap in the face is not so bad, butgiving up too soon is! Besides, thenice, sweet, little, pretty girls can’thit very hard! Besides, it took mea while to figure out that, really,a lot of girls are passive, don’t reallyknow what the heck they want, andneed stimulation and leadership!Besides, for her “No”, clearly she’sthe one losing out! Besides oftenthe girls try very, Very, VERY hardto be attractive to the boys! E.g.,read the current ‘Rolling Stones’ sad piece on the 15 year old SVgirl who hung herself over embarrassment over some of herpoor judgment, and there noticethe descriptions of what the ‘cool’girls wear in SV!For VCs? The girls are MUCH morefun! Of course, now, for the girlsI’m working only from memory,but WHAT memories!

          3. LE

            In dating and in life the visually good merchandise gets snapped up right away by the most aggressive and most persistent males. Along those lines I’ve always been glad that my daughters are attractive, but not so attractive as to attract men who place a high value on the most attractive women and go after them with a vengeance.

          4. Brandon Burns

            being confident in what you’re saying doesn’t necessarily make you a confident person. @kidmercury:disqus’s probably confident in his theories, and will voice them assertively on AVC, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be super confident in the physical presence of someone he’s trying to, i go back and forth on the confident vs. not giving a shit. sometimes i have a soapbox to jump on, a message to promote (design thinking is a common one). other times i’m engaging in conversation to help my crystalize my own thoughts and get feedback on thoughts i’m only ~60% confident i have straight in my head.

          5. LE

            Shows why details matter.You said: “but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be super confident in the physical presence of someone he’s trying to impress.”Agree. Or of course they could have some other axe to grind or oxe to gore whatever the saying is. That happens in life and it’s entirely reasonable to want to present an image consistent with a particular objective. A guy who dates Fred’s daughter might be careful of what he says here, right? Or a guy who wants to pitch Fred. In that case a safer strategy would simply be to say nothing.Note that I said, with emphasis on what I meant (which actually doesn’t dispute with what you are saying):people who actually make comments here on a regular basis. They fall into at least two categories. Most either are highly confident of what they are saying””Here” – -“people who make comments here are highly confident of what they are saying here”. They could also be confident everywhere but that’s not what I said.By the way the obvious other factor would be a) they have the time and b) they give a shit enough to even want to make a comment. c) They are able to with whatever device they are using. So someone could be highly confident (once again in life and/or here in what they think but not give a shit enough to type a comment). Or they could be on mobile and not want to make a comment that way. For example I never ever comment on mobile. Always at a keyboard.I will state again that if Disqus did some research in this area they woulda) get publicity for that research andb) the research would allow them to figure out a way to increase the amount of people who make quality comments and grow the service.

          6. Drew Meyers

            “In that case a safer strategy would simply be to say nothing.”I don’t think most people in this audience care much about the “safe” route 🙂

          7. LE

            I don’t think most people in this audience care much about the “safe” route :)According to the metrics that Fred gives most people here don’t say anything they only read the blog.Which is why my comment was qualified with “make comments here on a regular basis”.The “audience” otoh consists of people who also don’t make comments. Among the audience of people who don’t make comments many of them are following a safer strategy.

          8. Drew Meyers

            Yea – I buy that argument. The people not commenting are taking the safe route.

          9. Drew Meyers

            “Most either are highly confident of what they are saying or they don’t give a shit what other people think. Or both, have confidence and don’t give a shit.”I fall in the both category, though probably slightly more toward highly confident of what I’m saying.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Just realizing that I’ve heard “keep in touch” and “stay close” more in VC circles than anywhere else (in response to a proposal or inquiry). Is this language from a VC Playbook somewhere? Maybe I’m naive but I’ve always assumed they meant it. But then I probably would have interpreted a “no” the same way. 😉

      1. William Mougayar

        In Paul Graham’s last essay on raising funds, his advice was to always ask what’s next, after you end a meeting with a VC.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          That’s a good way to put them on the spot, which I guess is what you want to do when you want to get a more detailed, serious response – and especially if you’re unsure.

          1. William Mougayar

            It’s for your benefit mostly. Every piece of time has its objective.

    5. Brandon Burns

      “no doesn’t mean never” can be a good way to live life in general.i’m jotting that one down.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        It’s all about prioritizing..

        1. Brandon Burns

          or mind reading. ha.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I knew you were going to say that..

    6. sigmaalgebra

      > I don’t think a lot of startupsI only slowly started to suspect that.Suspicions confirmed!

  2. JimHirshfield

    Still saying “no” 12 times a day? More? Less?

    1. fredwilson


      1. JimHirshfield

        Trending upward?

        1. fredwilson

          it feels like it

          1. JimHirshfield

            Aw man! Couldn’t even get a “yes” outta ya on that one. Dang.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            We’ll have to play a game where we cheer and/or clap whenever we hear Fred say ‘yes’ … even if it’s ‘yesterday’ …

          3. Aaron Klein

            My six and four year olds have a hard time accepting “no” from my wife, so she made “yes” and “no” magnets that they get to put on the refrigerator throughout the day.Darned if she isn’t a 4:1 “yes” mom. They never knew they had it so good. 🙂

          4. LE

            One of the best ways I’ve noticed to get someone to do something they don’t want to do is to start off with a sure to fail request followed by a less likely to fail request and end up with the actual request that might fail but probably will not if preceded by the first two. The contrast makes it more likely for the third event to happen.Example:———–“Let’s go to the Opera” – No way opera is boring.”How about we go to a play” – Sorry I don’t like plays and it’s in the city and expensive.”What about a movie?” – Ok I’ll do that.

      2. William Mougayar

        If you say No and give a reason, even giving one reason is helpful to the entrepreneur.

        1. pointsnfigures

          It’s important to always try and to be transparent. They appreciate that and in my opinion, deserve it.

          1. William Mougayar

            Yes. They deserve it. 100%.

      3. Matt A. Myers

        Uh-oh… about to send an email to see if you and/or Albert have time to meet to do a show-and-tell since I’m in NYC for the week for the meetup.

        1. fredwilson

          I will look for it

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Thanks. You found it 🙂

  3. kidmercury

    just watched the video, chromecasted it. man is chromecast awesome! i’ve used plex before but it had too many buffering problems, chromecast is nice and smooth.nothing has changed since the 2008 crisis, we are still in an inflationary environment that is prone to producing bubbles and has the effect of transferring wealth from the bottom up. the no tapering verdict from the fed is not surprising and reinforces this, they will never start tapering because it will create a big crash if they do. bond market will be sacrificed which will be bullish for stocks, perhaps enough to produce bubble 3.0, though i wouldn’t count on it. in my opinion it will eventually come down to who has real assets and free cash flow generation.

    1. Harlowe Thrombey

      i’m a huge fan of your kookiness, but you always lose me at inflation. if stopping the taper will create a big crash, doesn’t that suggest that the problem is deflationary pressure not inflation? usa: the new japan — we’re going to pump money into highway construction till kingdom comes with no upward movement in the labor participation rate. i wonder if the the problem is that deflation is to kooks what 9/11 is to “the rest of us”: too real ever to take seriously, so the kooks go to great lengths to create inflation fantasies, like “the rest of us” go to great lengths to create fantasies about how the gov’t is on our side.

      1. Guest

        the terms inflation/deflation are sometimes confusing. so i will use some examples to illustrate how i see things:1. assuming no stimulus from the fed and all other things equal, stocks crash, bonds eventually crash, and the US dollar eventually crashes too — this will result in deflation followed by extreme inflation.2. if the fed removes stimulus and the government balances its budget and cancels debt, this will result in deflation followed by a healthy economy. personally i find this extremely unlikely.3. if the status quo persists, we’ll have low unemployment while prices head higher and bubbles emerge. this is stagflation that could turn into hyperinflation.4. if a new monetary agreement is reached that involves debt cancellation on a global basis and the issuance of a new global currency of some type, i believe the dollar will be devalued, and asset prices will go up as a result in nominal terms. so this is inflationary based on how the term is commonly used. i regard this as the most probable eventual outcome.5. if the cybercurrency stuff comes to save the day, crypto-currencies take the place of the dollar. this also results in dollar devaluation and is inflationary in common parlance, though in a way that is likely to be more equitable than in scenario #4. i regard this as the best possible scenario, though it will require the right startup to lead the way.

        1. kidmercury

          not sure why disqus is registering this comment as “guest,” but it is from me, kid mercury

  4. Donna Brewington White

    Wow you get around.And is it just me or do I detect a hint of retrospection in this week’s posts leading up to AVC’s Big 1-0?

    1. fredwilson

      Not conscious but clearly subconscious

  5. jason wright

    a courtship – quaint, old fashioned, but it often works out if there is genuine compatibility.

  6. Brandon Burns

    Is that normal, to give someone a second or third meeting after saying no at the first one?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      It depends what your “no” meant..It would piss me off if they genuinely mean no, but just keep meeting you – whatever their motive.

    2. Aaron Klein

      I think it starts as an email that says “Here is what has changed. Seems like we should talk.”Could be a change in strategy, or product, or just simple traction that proves you were right in the first place.

    3. fredwilson

      It is at USV

  7. William Mougayar

    I love these historical perspectives because the passage of time makes you learn so much from them.The dynamics and working relationship between an entrepreneur and a VC are a fascinating topic.

  8. daryn

    The good old days 🙂 We just passed the 5 year anniversary of the first web 2.0 expo in NYC, and my first taste of shake shack, too.

  9. jason wright

    will $30 million be the sum USV looks to invest in the year 2014?

    1. fredwilson

      That’s about right

    2. fredwilson

      Not including our Opportunity Fund which is hard to predict because it is opportunistic

  10. Youssef Rahoui

    Bienvenue à Paris 🙂

  11. OurielOhayon

    brings back memories. had less white hair!PS: relocated to the USA…we re nearly neighbors now

    1. fredwilson

      really. are you based in NYC?

      1. OurielOhayon

        Not exactly. West coast :)But will be in NYC oftenNot sent from a computer

        1. fredwilson

          got it

  12. Denis Bulichenko

    Hope you will be able to get to LeWeb 2013. Such sessions are very important for entrepreneurs. It is very important to educate and talk (and show where to read) 🙂