Impressions of My First Grueling Day at Le Web

P1000567.JPGOne of the downsides to no longer being young is the inability to handle jet lag as well as you once could. And beating the clock becomes almost impossible when covering a monstrous industry event. No, I’m not talking about COP15, the UN climate talks that are under way in Copenhagen, Denmark. Katie is braving the crowds at that one. I am at Le Web, which is being held in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Paris. I’ve been in the city, which is currently gray and wet, for about 48 hours and despite my best efforts have been able to snatch only a few winks of sleep.

Here is a recap of my day before the Le Web kicked off:

Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know that a cab strike affected everyone traveling on Le Web Express from San Francisco. Had it not been for a very French Jeff Clavier, we would have had a tough time navigating Paris’s complex metro network to get to our respective destinations. It was a perfect French experience — I saw magnificent department stores, among them Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

The sheer variety of people on the streets made me realize how cosmopolitan Paris can be in comparison to smaller cities like my current home base, San Francisco. My perfect moment came today when an Indian-looking couple asked me for directions in French. I had no clue what they said, but I answered in Hindi and got the job done. They were from Mauritius, incidentally.

I somehow found time on Tuesday to hold a small GigaOM meet-up. Thanks to all of you who braved the weather and transportation challenges to attend the gathering held at the offices of FaberNovel, who were our most gracious hosts. I hope to see you all in San Francisco someday.

And now for Day One of Le Web:

Panelists at the Mobile App Panel @ Le Web 2009, Paris

Le Web itself has been a great delight, despite being held in an out-of-the way location. The venue is warm and spacious, broadband is working, and most importantly, the who’s who of Europe’s technology industry have gathered for the two-day event. Apparently some 2,300 people signed up, which the packed nature of the main hall seems to affirm. Here are some of the highlights of the first day.

  • Shervin Pishevar of Social Gaming Network said that his game, Fast, brought in about million dollars during its first 90 days. He predicts that in the next 12 months mobile games will barrel past the Facebook game economy.
  • MySpace COO Mike Jones announced plans for the increasingly irrelevant social network, saying it will share some real-time data, including status updates, with others. LA-based MySpace will be giving out about $50,000 as developer prizes. (Watch Video.)
  • Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype, Kazaa and Joost, talked candidly about the state of entrepreneurship in Europe. He said that Europeans were “risk averse” but that such a trend is changing and to expect more entrepreneurs from Europe.
  • Marissa Mayer, a VP at Google, managed to dodge Michael Arrington’s persistent questions about the Google Phone. It’s still not clear if Google will make its own handset.
  • Google has seen “tens of millions” of copies of its Chrome browser be downloaded, Mayer said.
  • YouTube’s Chad Hurley dodged questions about live streaming and hinted at working with third parties.
  • Now a year old, Facebook Connect is being used by more than 80,000 web sites and other services; two-thirds of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 web sites and half of comScore’s Global Top 100 web sites have implemented Facebook Connect, according to Ethan Beard, director of the Facebook Developer Network (see his presentation video).
Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner

The best conversations, however were not on stage but on the side. Between various panels, conversations and presentations, I was “working the room.” All those conversations will result in posts over next couple of days. Stay tuned, but for now I am going to try and beat the jet lag.