In the morning session of the Next Web there where two more interesting presentations from the venture capitalists Jeff Clavier and Saul Klein. Their presentation gained a lot of sceptical criticism, nevertheless they got me thinking. So first a summary of their talks, and than I’ll look a bit deeper in the discussion they created.
Saul Klein is missing the right mindset
Saul Klein asks the audience “Why is an area, hardly half the size of the Netherlands, the most successful tech-innovation area in the world”. What Silicon Valley has is a tight connection between VC’s, start-ups and universities, and the ecosystem to commercialize what’s next on on the web.
Europe does have the right ingredients for the formula. It’s level of education is higher than in the States. There is a lot of old and new money, and people are working on technology everywhere. The thing missing according to Saul is the right mindset to make it work. As someone from the audience said “Europeans are educated to be employers instead of entrepreneurs” And from personal experience, i can’t do anything but agree with him.
Leafar wrote an excellent post about Saul’s presentation
Jeff Claviers shares many of the thoughts of his colleague, but first gives us a broader insight on what he thinks is going on in the current world. A vision of people “The previous web was about math, the next one is about people” And although I think he is right about the people, I do have some doubts that the previous one was about math. Yes Google has huge render machines, but what they do is looking for patterns into what humans do. I think the math won’t disappear in the next web, it will probably go bellow the surface where it always was.
Another point he made in which I think he is more right is that thanks to broadband the difference between the representation of the self online and in the real world is shrinking, mixing up, matching and becoming one big bricolage. “The distance between the us and the online us is shrinking” thank to the up going speed from broadband. If Jeff didn’t do it already I would advise him to read two classics The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life – Erving Goffman and the Life on the Screen – Sherry Turkle. Besides his more social vision of the next web he also has some VC wisdom to share with us.
Tips and tricks to make technology innovation work in Europe:
- Success creates self-fulfilling prophecies. If one company has success, it can fund and help many other companies afterwards.
- Europe needs an VC equivalent of Kleiner Perkins a VC that invested in more than 300 (!) tech-startups
- Europeans should focus so much on their local market, and from the start build applications that are build for world domination (ehm scalable)
- Stop building local clones, go for the throat, forget the knock off’s
- Culture shift. Success should be celebrated, failure accepted and risk taking promoted.
- More sharing, networking and supporting.
I would add to that, more open coffee’s, more Next Web, and hey: We need an European Techcrunch!! But still one of the European problems is the big differences between languages and cultures.
The good things already in Europe
- Broadband access, faster and cheaper than whole of the us (Thank you KPN-Quest, you haven’t died for noting)
- Cellphones and mobile are here much better than in the US (Thank you Nokia and Eriksson) (We just leave Japan out of the picture here)
Herbert Blankenstein as an radio interview with Jeff online
Lessons to be learned
- Take risk, Start up, It’s ok to fail
- The Next Web are the people, contact is king (so go out and talk to people)
- Think big, don’t clone, forget the country and go for the world
Interesting is the reaction on some weblogs
According to Read/Write web it’s just the same old talk over and over again, Life of a Coder declares Jeff the first Frenchmen to like. Gary Reid thinks that Saul and Jeff should put their money where there mouth is, and actually invest in some risk taking European start-ups.
So I’m left with the question, are we really that bad in Europe, is there a need for change, and if so, what should we do?