Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And the LeWeb3 2007 start-up competition WINNERS ARE...???

The companies selected as winners for this year's LEWEB3 start-up competition are:

1st place - Goojet
2nd place - PLYMedia
3rd place - G.ho.st

The honorable mention companies are: erepublik and Splitgames.

In addition to the main competition, there was a special jury prize awarded by competition sponsor, TF1. The winner of this prize, Holistis, will be granted a consulting session with senior leaders from TF1's Internet and Innovation team to help provide guidance on messaging and presentation skills.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Participating to Le Web 3 in Paris, december 11 & 12, 2007

Again this year Orange is one of the Le Web 3 event sponsors.
I am particularly glad to work with my friend Cathy Brooks and be for the second time one of the judges of the Start Up Competition. The results will be given on Day 2, december 12 at 10am.
See you there...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Soundtribes goes live on Second Life !

When the band Clint, Soundtribes member, goes live on Orange Island /Second Life, it sounds rock ! Clint goes Live on Second Life
Visit Orange-Island on Second-Life :
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Orange%201/191/134/30

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Partnerships between start-ups and big corporations

Please contribute to the Poll to better understand how innovation and partnerships are managed (or not) in most major corporations

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The ultimate multimedia and real-time resume

I am talking about my Facebook profile.

The following struck me recently when i got head hunted for a job by a search consulting firm. Within the standard approach of such a consulting firm, after a first contact by phone or mail, they usually request you to send them the good old form including your education and experience fitted in an A4 page. It is then up to you to add or not a 'hot or not' nice corporate picture of your face if you have one and if you decide to enrich this conservative format: probably a black and white picture would actually be better if you think positive and bet many paper photo-copies of this great candidate profile will be made. In addition you can always try to show your wild side by writing some of your fun hobbies in the 'Interests' section with a series of boring and generic key words such as Music, Cinema or some exotic sports.

Of course this standard format is part of a traditional and efficient process where HR consultants have to look at tons of resumes and most of the time only spend a few seconds with their sharply trained eyes to analyze your potential out of these one or two pages.
Nevertheless, when i look at the amount of real time and multimedia information i put on my Facebook profile, the gap strikes me.
The same level as in their standard A4 i.e.
- my personal info: may be not my year of birth but up to the current status of my relationship. The 'it is complicated' status might not help by the way.
- my education and current job info.

But the 'pic' section is when it gets a bit richer with the tons of pictures i can put. And not only pictures of me but sometimes of my family and friends.

And it gets full multimedia when my interests are described with my favorite music the 'Hunter' can listen to and hopefully enjoy (now he or she can even discover music while working thanks to the search for candidates) and the UGC video of my favorite sports.

But it gets much more powerful when looking at my network of friends and contacts (the 'entourage' application would not look so good in the A4 form i guess) and the threads i either posted myself or commented, luckily when they are business related.

And all this content is updated in real time . I admit that posts made during office hours might be an issue...
My profile is therefore complete, multimedia, social network enabled, and real time. It's all there now.
With this is mind i do believe a whole new area of opportunities should appear for start-up companies, beyond Linkedin, either in the technical side or the service side to narrow the gap between the already available, self-structured and not yet analysed to its fullest potential data on each candidate and the traditional HR organisations and processes which have not yet changed to capture the new values generated by the 2.0 trends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Speaker at Telco 2.0 in London on Oct.18

Agenda
Creating Propositions for High Value Segments of the Digital Youth market?
18th October, The Guoman Tower Hotel, London


New Opportunities and How to Address Them:
Social Networking, Mobile Internet, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Music, User-Generated Content: Understanding the End-User and Creating User Experiences that Sell
> Stimulus Speakers and Panelists:
- The Opportunity from Social Networking - Martin Duval, Director of Social Media & OSUP, Orange/FT Group
- Understanding End-User Attitudes, Lessons from the ‘Worldwide Lab’ - Liza Noonan, European Strategic Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent
- How are Students/Young Adults using ICT equipment today, How will they in the future? - Dawn Nafus, Research Anthropologist, Intel Labs

Saturday, September 29, 2007

France Telecom launches 'Orange Vallee'

Jean-Louis Constanza (Orange Vallée) : "Chez Orange, je suis un patron de start-up qui dispose de la puissance d'un groupe"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Orange Next.com team contribution to Soundtribes

Did you ever wonder what was the missing link between Claude Francois, a friday afternoon at the office, Sex Pistols and a 1m90 Wolf, we have an answer and it has been recorded !
Here is the coolest Orange Next.com team contribution to our dear Soundtribes.com service !!

Special messages to members from my team:

- Thomas: what were you doing in my office with these sunglasses on ?

- Aida : i will definitely do it your way next time i ask you to prepare a contract !

- Gwen: simply a revelation !

They even talked about it this morning on France 2 TV, are you guys stars or what ?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

City 2.0


I participated last week in the first of a series of workshops 'Ville 2.0' coordinated by the FING to understand and imagine the transformations of a city (Paris in this case) through new and innovative services based on 2.0 and mobility trends.
Beyond the complexity of the roles and responsibilities to be shared and played by the different public bodies (transportation, city council, etc.), the infrastructure and services suppliers such as JC Decaux or Orange, start-up companies have obviously a key role to play in contributing both to the development of the necessary ecosystems and the launch of the many required user experiments.
An initiative like Tellmewhere, 'The collaborative and reusable encyclopaedia of places', is a typical and good example. Tellmewhere has developed a map based UGC platform to allow users, I shall say the 'city users', to find and contribute any information about the city. Let's also mention the sucessfull Yelp service in the US as a new generation Yellow Pages service.
Another example is Peuplade focusing on neighborhood services which in a way also closes the loop from physical to virtual and virtual to physical, when people eventually end up meeting again locally after having connected over the global web.
Also the area of mobility, interactivity and proximity marketing are obviously key ones: I for instance contributed to experiment interactive windows with the start-up Kameleon two years ago to allow citizens to download content 24h a day with their bluetooth connected cell phones as they were passing by Orange window stores. Other examples are 'smart objects' based on NFC technology developed by Airtag or platforms such as FuturLink.
Not to mention the extreme simulations of our future behaviors and expectations in virtual worlds such as SecondLife (can't wait to fly in a 2.0 City!).
We would probably imagine the city of the future offering different value added services based on our personal expectations. We can expect them to be based on basic ones like seamless, reliable and continuous connectivity, access to all (as many as possible ?) data at all times for localized tourism, real estate or employment search but also on new behaviors such as one to one real time exchange of services where one could offer ones cooking skills in exchange for painting or sewing ones. Anyone interested in preparing my sushi dinner in exchange for some kitesurfing lessons on a 2.0 beach yet ?

Friday, September 21, 2007

World Alzheimer's Day - 21 September

In this special World day against the Alzheimer disease , i am glad i have contributed through the world premiere i launched with my team at Orange Mobile France 2 years ago with Medical Intelligence and PasteurMediavita when we developed the Columba bracelet .

Thursday, September 20, 2007

L'OSUP est sponsor des 4eme Rencontres des Start-Ups Europeennes des Telecoms et du Multimedia du 3 au 5 octobre

Le 'Orange Start-Up Program' est sponsor des
4ème Rencontres des Start-Ups Européennes des Télécoms et du Multimédia.
Les 3, 4 et 5 octobre 2007 à la Porte de Versailles.
J'y animerai une table ronde sur les relations entre les start-ups et les grands groupes et deux start-ups partenaires de l'OSUP - SongSong et Mob-It - presenteront leurs offres.
Une occasion exceptionnelle de rencontre et d’échange entre investisseurs, entrepreneurs et industriels focalisée sur la dynamique d’innovation et sur la croissance.
Vous trouverez le programme et la fiche d’inscription sur :
Inscription et programme

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fund raising strategy...EASY! ;-)

I know now how to raise funds from VCs...brilliant 'UGC' video ! ;-)
How to raise money from VCs...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Speaker at :

Mobile Web 2.0 conference, 17-19 September 2007, London, UK

The presentation i made:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The return of the Incubators...

No, this is not the title of a new low budget summer sci-fi movie where some out of space hardly creepy creatures would attack a fun group of bored teenagers in a peaceful californian small city. Instead i am talking about this organisational specie which supports entrepreneurial projects and got quite famous during the dot-com bubble with some private U.S. based structures such as Idealab or Garage.com (they still exist by the way) even though the formal concept appeared in the 1960s in the USA and got followed by many public initiatives worldwide. Some pan-european private incubators were also developed such as GorillaPark or SpeedVentures (they don't exist anymore by the way). I actually entered the bubble myself opening and managing the French subsidiary of SpeedVentures before being hired by Orange to manage for 2 years Inventmobile, the Orange mobile focused incubator which then got merged with the France Telecom VC fund Innovacom .
But let's look at the definition of 'Business incubators' from Wikipedia:
' Business incubators are organizations that support the entrepreneurial process, helping to increase survival rates for innovative startup companies. Entrepreneurs with feasible projects are selected and admitted into the incubators, where they are offered a specialized menu of support resources and services. Resources and services open to an entrepreneur might include such diverse elements as :


- provision of physical space (offices, labs)
- management coaching
- help in preparing an effective business plan
- administrative services
- technical support
- business networking
- advice on intellectual property and
- help in finding sources of financing. '


Focusing on supporting the very early-stage phase of a project, incubators used to value these elements as sweat equity rather than providing seed capital. For instance, we valued Inventmobile's incubation support at 150k€ to take a share of 10% of mobivillage back in 2001, our first investment out of 6 over 2 years. Mobivillage was acquired by the japanese For-side 3 years later at 15m€. Not to mention the other 5 investments were not as successful...
It seems that a new wave and breed of incubators is now appearing and yes i will resist the temptation to call them Incubators 2.0.
Based on the assumption it requires little investment (from 20 to 50k€) and a short phase (about 3 months) to develop a standard web 2.0 new service to be Alpha tested, initatives like ycombinator in the U.S. or seedcamp in Europe, bring virtuality to the incubator concept mainly by not providing physical space, even though SeedCamp plans to provide office space in London. Another key difference is that they provide seed financing (up to 50k€) and strong networking rather than the above mentioned set of elements, a structured business plan being less and less of an issue at this stage, for up to 10% stake of the company.
I would also like to mention the notion of 'Business Accelerators' focusing more on international business development support. In that category, I met few month ago in San Francisco Michel Ktitareff, the co-founder of French Business Accelerator (FBIA) providing great support for French young companies to enter the U.S. market through the Silicon Valley ecosystem.
Finally and to a certain extent, i consider the 'Orange Start-up Program' (OSUP) i launched a year ago within the Orange group as a contributor to the incubation models thus providing a Corporate version of it. The OSUP's purpose is to develop an innovative ecosystem around Orange and mainly focused on web 2.0 business opportunities through partnerships with start-ups and VC funds. In less than a year, this global program has identified more than 200 start-up companies, contacted 100, flagged 30 potential partners, signed 10 MoUs to and launched 4 new services/products with more than 2m€ early-stage fund raising support from VCs (+ 3m€ round currently being negociated, summing up +5m€) . Next year's ambition is higher for these KPIs in order to broaden the areas of expertise and partnerships beyond 2.0 to domains such as Contactless, Mobile TV, Content, Broadband, Location Based Services, Health Care, etc. A similar Corporate version is the Microsoft IDEES program developed in France by Julien Cordorniou.
However successful these different models are, there are all great ways to propose constructive solutions to the lack of early-stage financing and support for innovative projects, that is still not solved at least in Europe and particularly in France.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Summer story: 'UGT', the first time i made money in Second Life....

I am not here going to talk about what happened again in Second Life (SL) : just read the newspapers or listen to the radio to keep updated about which company did what lately as the buzz keeps going daily. Working on Virtual Worlds related projects, i recently felt that i had to understand more about the behaviors and user interests within SL. Even though i registered in October last year, it is only during these last few months that i often left my RL (Real Life) to dive into SL and become more of an SL 'resident'. One thing that strikes me most of the time is the friendliness of most of the people there, very patient at explaining features you don't know about or new places to discover. Another one is how much they are concerned about keeping their SL separated from their RL: i realized that especially when i asked to some of them their opinion about opportunities to bridge communication between SL and RL, and they made it clear that keeping anonymous is fundamental.
But let me now tell as a summer story how i managed to make some money in SL for the first time.
I met a girl in the Hall, a place where new residents are often starting their way into SL, and we had a friendly conversation. At some point she proposed to take me to a great island with a beautiful beach. "Wait for me here and then you'll TP" (TP stands for TelePortation !), she said: not even time for me to tell her that i had no idea how to teleport, she disappeared. After few seconds a pop-up invitation to teleport appeared, and i clicked 'yes'. I arrived then in the most beautiful island, with an amazing beach area, the waves (and the sound of the waves), and another area with confortable seats on the beach. Actually, as i was getting closer, i could see residents seating around a girl dancing in the middle. The chat got very active, with people congratulating the moves and applauding (not easy by chat) the dancer. As i was getting closer, i realized i even didn't know yet how to sit on one of the beach sofas: a request for help later, and someone told me i just had to point a place to sit, click on it then click on 'sit', and here i was confortably joining this fun group of avatars. After just few seconds, one the friendly avatars asked me to go and dance , 'your turn ....' (i respect the SL confidentiality rule by not giving my avatar name here to just anyone!). Well i then sent messages for help since...i had no idea how to dance. Few tips later, here i was shaking my avatar body on that virtual beach with supportive chat messages from my new friends. Until i got the scary message from one of them "t-shirt off! t-shirt off! ". Not the time to get virtually shy i thought, couldn't find the blushing feature anyway, therefore i asked for extra support to find out how to get my t-shirt off. And i did it. And as a cherry on the top of all the learning and training process, i couldn't believe it when i saw poping up some messages asking to accept 5, then 10 and even 25 Linden dollars from my supportive admirers. I clicked 'ok' of course and therefore you know now how i first made money into Second Life. Beyond this for the least interesting new experience, i also though i experienced a new dimension of the 2.0 behaviors that i now call the 'User Generated Training'!
Have a great RL summer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Speaker at the California Tech Showcase in La Baule, France on June 27 and 28

I participated to the 'Wireless panel' on Thursday June 28, the California Tech Showcase and had the pleasure to meet Ajit Jaokar, author of the book Mobile Web 2.0
Thanks to Ajit for this post on his blog: Opengardensblog

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bebo, Facebook and Bulb 2.0 ?

When we look at Venture Capital activity, it is now obvious that the web is back in vogue again. The difference with 5 years ago being probably that 1) most of those projects are based on strong business models, 2) are developed most of the time by successful entrepreneurs and not first timers, and 3) that the whole ecosystem is strongly pulled by the huge web and heavily capitalized champions, the big GYMs (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft).
In this short attempt for a quick bulb diagnosis through the prism of the Social Networking sites, such as Myspace of course, definitely Facebook, and now the Bebo case following rumors about its valuation at $1 billion, i will therefore make the assumption that Facebook and Bebo are still in a start-up phase.
When it comes to the business model, it makes actually more sense to talk about modelS, given the number of them, going from audience, advertizing (sometimes through deals with GYM like for Myspace with Google or Facebook with Microsoft), premium services and contents, distribution deals with telco operators (like Orange in the UK), etc...The issue would rather be to pick the right ones at the right time, the same goes for partnerships with strategic players, as the community grows virally without alienating the users on the way. I guess this "anti-churn" ability, to use a wording more familiar to Telco operators, is definitely the know-how, if not the secret science of Bebo's team, as Barry Maloney from Benchmark Capital, Bebo's key VC, would say. It definitely also requires science when it comes to managing the cold start phase of a start-up community service at launch, but that phase has now been far passed by Bebo. On the other hand, the Facebook open APIs strategy is so impressive that it would require a specific posting and analysis.
Beyond my slightly provocative title, I will not actually try here to decide if a valuation of $1 billion is worth or not. But i admit that the accumulation of business model options, proven science to start and develop a community especially within the complex youth segment, a cool and strong brand, international ability to expand and develop partnership deals, cross-synergies with multi-channel (web, mobile, TV) and multi-content (music, photo, video, TV) platforms and related business models, good timing considering the change of life styles of the new generations, dynamic open APIs strategy and the first mover advantage being back with this 2.0 era, are definitely able to generate huge goodwill values.
And if no one is interested on the buying side at this amount, let's bet that IPO remains a great option for companies like Bebo or Facebook.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Speaker at iNNOVATE Europe' 07 from may 8-10 in Zaragoza, Spain

http://www.innovate-events.com/2007/

Stealth-mode or Open ?

The increasing number of start-up launching services on the web and especially within the 2.0 trend is bringing a new issue: should web services be developed in stealth mode or not? Thanks to both Mark Fletcher and Paul Kedrosky for their disagreement which i summarized herebelow.
Stealth mode is when a company is operating in secret for some length of time before launching their product or service. Is success of a web service inversely proportional to the secrecy that surrounded its development ? There are both supporters and opponents to this approach. Here are some good reasons for not going Stealth but rather go fast and be open as early as possible under the assumption that most web services should not take more than 3 to 5 months from conception to launch:
First mover advantage gives the opportunity to define the new space and have competition compared to you.
There is no such thing as a unique idea. It is indeed highly probable that someone else has already thought about your wonderful web service, and is actually way ahead of you.
It forces you to focus on the key features of the service thus shortening development cycles.
Being perfect at launch is not only impossible and unnecessary but probably detrimental. The rule should be ship early, ship often since the service can be continuously updated and fixed.
The sooner something gets out there, the sooner it will start getting feedback from users. In a way, users could be seen as the most valuable asset of a web service if not the only one. They act as advertizers, providers of new feature ideas, quality testers and most of all help find out extremely quickly if the service is actually useful or not. But the price to pay to develop a strong base of passionate users is the high level of customer support responsiveness required.
Final point, launching quickly probably doesn't require a lot of money and ressources, thus avoiding an heavy and disturbing fundraising process happening too early in the company's life cycle.
But other could argue that Stealth mode is the way to go because :
Even though first mover advantage is important, there are many advantages to be follower when it requires heavy infrastructure investment. As an example Google was not the first search tool in the market.
Entrepreneurs stay in Stealth mode sometimes not so much because they think their idea is unique but rather because they think there is no need to prematurely advertize.
Launching early with the key functionality of the site carries the risk of not reaching an acceptable quality level.
Shipping early and often is great but doesn't necessarely means ship wide. Opening can be progressive with a viral approach from a predetermined and limited list of early testers. Thus avoiding to upset many people not ready to handle bugs and a too minimal level of features.
Feedback from users can be obtained without exiting strealth prematurely.

I leave it up to you to favor or not the Stealth mode vs Open approach from a start-up standpoint. As you may have guessed, i would rather recommend to go Open mode but with the difference of a progressive launch such as Joost when it come to opening it to testers and users.

European internationalisation models for Web 2.0 U.S. start-ups

I spent the week of march 5th in the Silicon Valley meeting about 10 companies and start-ups, thanks to the SF Orange Lab team support. Among them, we met successful ones in the area of Social networking, Virtual Worlds and other earlier stage projects realted to Music and e-commerce. I also met an "acceleration incubator" project aiming at helping French start-ups develop their business in the U.S. capitalising on the strong Silicon Valley ecosystem.
Beyond the cliché where we all think that U.S. start-ups have a unique way of developing their business in Europe through a first implementation in the U.K., it has been interesting to see how some of them have different european expansion strategies.
One of them is planning for instance to start from scratch an local subsidiary on a country by country basis: the idea is to use the "code" and the Brand of the mother company and then create a local legal entity with a local marketing team owning a share of it. It almost sounds like a franchising approach. The assumption here being that a local motivated team will have more chances to quickly start the take off of a local community of users and the implementation of local partnerships with Telco operators and industry players.
Another one in the same area is more relying on stronger focus on technology and in house knowledge of Telco mobile operators messaging systems (sms, mms) to ease connectivity with Telcos technical platforms. Thus making it possible to define mobile deployment strategies at Corporate level with their telco partners and accelerate then implementation at local level.
Another is more counting on leveraging their local early adopter user communities (French, Spanish, Italian..) from a US based community management team providing online dedicated support for service, technical and networking.
Finally others are aware of a time to market issue that they are already facing with their existing ressources within the US. They know it would take them more than 6 months or a year to define and implement a strong European strategy. Therefore they are keen to almost "outsource" to a powerful European Partner (like Orange) the management of their European local presence and developments.
Let's also emphasize that some of them raised funds from VCs to specifically accelerate their European development.
It is obvious that there is not one single way for a US start-up to develop itself in Europe and there shouldn't be one standardized way either for Orange to consider Partnerships with them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

MIDEM 2007

Introducing the Orange "SMS Juke Box" (Orange Wifi Café) at the Midem Net 2007 in Cannes.
A new service which is being premiered at the Wifi Café Orange during Midem 2007. A playlist of songs is presented in a menu with a code for each one. All customers have to do is select a song and send the corresponding code by SMS. They then receive a message specifying the waiting time before the song is played... in the restaurant or cafe. Orange, in partnership with the start-up www.YCD.net is reinventing the jukebox, with a new mobile dimension.
Article in Music Info Hebdo : http://netft.francetelecom.fr/recurent/default/EN/all/rp/article0107/UPL6561_a_005/a_005.pdf
http://www.francetelecom.com/en/financials/journalists/press_releases/CP_old/cp070117.html
http://www.servicesmobiles.fr/services_mobiles/2007/01/services_musica.html