Day 2 of LeWeb’s first London foray begun in typical LeWeb style, with a quick discussion on how much social activity there had been around the conference. A bit self-serving? Perhaps.
The main arena moved straight into The Money Panel – several high profile investors discussing the market. This probably set the tone for the much of the conference. Very start-up and entrepreneur focused, possibly reflecting the growing and increasingly unstable bubble.
Following The Money Panel the conference split across two arenas: Social Business Track or Faster Than Real Time Part 2. The line-up was enough to convince me to stick with the latter.
Paul Davison, Founder & CEO of Highlight, was up first. He’s a man who sees the real world as broken. Technology like Highlight means you can create a layer over the real world that connects people. He discussed the social engineering and big data challenge of creating the algorithms that drives something like Highlight.
A quick switch to Social Business Track revealed more sales pitches, so instead I took a quick trip back up three flights of stairs to see the incredible 16-year-old founder of Summly, Nick D’Aloisio. I wanted to dislike the brash arrogance of youth, instead I came away impressed by his enthusiasm, intelligence and product.
This was followed by Niklas Zennström of Skype fame, YouTube Co-founder Chad Hurley and Kevin Rose of Digg together in a session on the future, or as one Twitter commentator put it, the “Rich men getting richer” session.
Mubi, Japanese ecommerce leader Rakuten and Overblog all had their slots. But the best slot of the day had to be data scientist, DJ Patil, with his inspiring tale of how a single data scientist changed LinkedIn and ultimately every social network.
His presenting partner Josh Elman, the data scientist formerly of Twitter, also showed how they used data to discover that to get real retention they needed users who followed at least 30 people and tweet at least seven times a month. Learnings which changed the entire sign-up process.
Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation for Hillary Clinton talked of the shift of power between hierarchies to citizen networks. Something we all know, but interesting to hear how this is recognised by the government of the most powerful nation on earth.
So what stood out on day two?
- 70% of questions from consumers on brand social channels aren’t responded to - According to Socialbakers. The car industry is the worst offender while telecoms comes out on top. eBay and Blackberry were highlighted as poor performers.
- Social discovery was back again – Highlight’s Paul Davison made his case well. But does Highlight, the darling of SXSW, have a future once Facebook work out what to do with recent acquisition Glancee?
- First impressions may never be the same again – With the growth of social discovery apps in the future you’ll know all about people before you even exchange a first handshake.
- Facebook love Path – In fact, according to one member of the audience from Facebook they are copying it! Perhaps Path has the mobile App that Facebook want. So if you’re not on Path, get on it now.
- When it comes to Mobile, Windows is the new cool – Most mobile developers say the platform they intend to develop on is Windows, while BREW, Bada and Blackberry platforms are being abandoned.
- Social Media Risk Manager is a real job title – At IBM apparently.
- “How many people like Google+?” – One lone shout from the audience. A Google employee perhaps?
- “There’s been lunacy around valuations of tech start-ups” – Really? Whether at seed stage, series A or growth stage, businesses need to be sustainable. And no-one seems to know where to go post IPO.
- Successful entrepreneurs seem reluctant to discuss the future – Perhaps Chad, Kevin and Niklas want to keep their ideas to themselves, but they weren’t the oracles we expected. They did talk about Porsche Turbos though.
- There are only so many slightly smug, WASP entrepreneurs you want to listen to in 48 hours – It may sound harsh but we don’t want another sales pitch, we want insights. LeWeb London delivered a lot of the first but perhaps not quite enough of the second.
So finally, what does “Faster Then Real Time” actually mean?
According to author of Digital Vertigo, Andrew Keen, it’s when your server knows what drink you want before you do. And according to most of the speakers at LeWeb, it’s just around the corner.