World-brand-building mistakes France's entrepreneurs make

Traveling Geeks

On Tuesday I joined up with the Traveling Geeks (a band of journalists/bloggers/influentials who visit startups around the world, picture of them above in a Paris subway station) in Paris and we saw a ton of startups. Some of them, like Stribe, were very good. But overall they just didn’t measure up. In fact, they even got me to be rude to them, which caught everyone off guard. I’ve been thinking about why they got me so angry ever since, and that’s what this post is about.

First, if you meet with journalists, influentials, and bloggers who are coming from outside your country I assume you want to build a world brand. After all, if you only want to be big in France then why waste your time meeting with USA journalists?

So, since you were meeting with us and since we’ve spent precious resources getting there and had sizeable opportunity costs, I figure entrepreneurs should be better prepared. In this case you get to learn from their mistakes.

1. Don’t be on Twitter. This was a HUGE mistake many French CEOs made.

Four CEOs told me their companies weren’t on Twitter and that they didn’t have enough time to join Twitter. That got me quite angry. Why? Because in the room were people with hundreds of thousands of followers (and not just me). If you aren’t on Twitter I can’t follow you, I can’t pimp you after the event, and I can’t follow up with questions. IT IS A MAJOR TURN OFF. But it’s worse than that. The world’s tech press is on Twitter, so if you say you don’t have time to join Twitter you are telling 500 tech journalists who ARE on Twitter that you don’t have time for them. Well, then they’ll say back they don’t have time for you. But worse than that, I have a list of 500 tech startups and a separate list of 400 older tech companies (I will soon be making a new list of startups, because Twitter limits us to 500 accounts per list and I already know of lots of other startups). These are companies you should be watching and partnering with. If you watch them you’ll get tips of how other companies are working with influentials and also creating buzz (and you’ll be first to see when other companies are getting news, so that helps you talk with journalists).

Luckily I’ve found 500 tech company founders who ARE clued in and found Twitter to be important. Why is Twitter important? Well, it might have to do with the 422 venture capitalists and angel investors who are on Twitter or the hundreds of tech company executives (these are your exit possibilities!!!) who also are on Twitter. If you know of people who should be on this list that I don’t know about, please leave a comment here. By the way, when I told off the entrepreneurs sitting next to me a CEO whispered in my ear “I agree.” Who was that CEO? Kamel Zeroual, CEO of Stribe. Who is Stribe? The French company that won best of show at LeWeb, the world’s biggest independent web conference. He and his company are one of the few that were on Twitter.

2. Make lame and anemic marketing materials. First of all, if you really want to look lame with a group of bleeding edge tech journalists, please use PowerPoint. It puts us to sleep.It was amazing how poorly some of the entrepreneurs did at this. But, if you need to share information with us, please use Google’s Docs. Do NOT send around Word Documents or PPTs. Why? Some of us don’t have Word loaded anymore and some of us have limited email space (I know tech journalists that already have filled up their Gmail account, for instance). Also, some of us do all of our journalism on mobile phones now and it’s better to have documentation available on the cloud. It also marks you as “with it.” It also is more likely to get through my spam filters for some reason. Finally, the documents should include a link to your Web site, a link to your key Twitter accounts (you ARE on Twitter, right?), a link to your Facebook Pages (you turning down interactions with 350 million people? What, are you NUTS?), screen shots of your best features, your company logo in many different sizes (so we can copy and paste it into blogs), and contact information for ALL of your top corporate executives.

2b. Don’t do a YouTube video of your product. Look at Appsfire Contest Winner Sketch Nation’s YouTube video. THAT HELPED IT WIN (I was one of the judges, here’s a list of all the winners and here’s a video of the awards’ announcements). If I didn’t have a video I would NEVER have gotten how cool this iPhone app is. (Note that Sketch Nation is on both Twitter and YouTube).

3. Don’t do a demo. One company talked to us about their robots, but didn’t bring one to show. I’m sorry, I do videos. Seeing a PowerPoint slide presentation is NOT acceptable in today’s age. Do a demo. Compare to what Pearltrees CEO (also a French company) did. Oh, and Pearltrees is on Twitter. So is its CEO. Is it any wonder that Pearltrees got on CNN today?

4. Don’t worry if your product is on an industry battlefront. If you read any tech blog, or tech news site, or better yet, follow Techmeme, you’ll see a common set of themes. I call them battlefronts, because if you land a great product on a battlefront you’ll get noticed. Some common battlefronts right now? Mobile. Real time. HD video. New payment systems. New identity systems. Etc. If your product doesn’t fit into a common battlefront you better explain why not and why the entire tech press should consider your company a new battlefront.

4b. Don’t worry about your competition, or even better, don’t have any at all. Listen to how Deezer’s CEO, Jonathan Benassay, took on Spotify (his competition) on stage at LeWeb in the Music Reborn panel I ran (Deezer knows its competition and positioned it well, any wonder why it already has 18 million unique visitors a month and isn’t well known in USA yet?) Anyone who says they don’t have any competiton immediately gets marked as a loser in my book (see point #4a). I heard that too often this week.

5. Don’t know anything about the hot app or news of the day. If I ask you what you think of Foursquare or Red Laser (#1 iPhone app) or Gowalla (they just got $8 million in funding) and you say “I don’t know” you instantly mark yourself as someone who doesn’t care about the industry and isn’t actively looking at new things to see if there are any good ideas inside. I kept hearing this from French Entrepreneurs, which is why I got so mad. Sorry, it’s 2009. If you aren’t on Twitter you are lame. Period. If you haven’t tried Foursquare and have a reasonable explanation of why you like it or don’t like it you are lame. Period.

6. Don’t pitch to specific people. If you are speaking to Mike Arrington, founder of Techcrunch, or Dana Oshiro, writer for ReadWriteWeb, don’t read their blogs for the past week. That seemed to be the approach some entrepreneurs take. Oh, and don’t pull them aside and make a custom pitch for their blogs. No, that never works, does it? (Seriously, ask Brian Solis how he does it. Or Jeremy Toeman, who helped many companies win best of show at CES and get companies like PogoPlug and Sonos tons of great PR. The best companies ALWAYS do a custom pitch).

7. Don’t bring business cards. Worse, don’t include your email and Twitter addresses on those cards. I guess they don’t think we might have some new questions to ask once we get back to our hotel rooms and try their products? Nah, no one will ever try their products, right? The best CEOs also give me their Skype and Google Talk addresses. It’s amazing how often I’ve needed something in the middle of the night. Even right now it’s 9 p.m. and if I were writing about your company I might need more info. Mike Arrington often calls execs at midnight to complete blog posts, by the way (I’ve seen him do this and it pays off with a better blog from him).

8. Don’t visit the United States and build relationships with a good cross-section of bloggers and journalists. How did I meet Patrice Lamothe, CEO of Pearltrees (a French company)? In San Francisco. How did that pay off? He’s on CNN today and we had a great fireside chat on stage at Leweb (watched by thousands in audience and tens of thousands online).

Anyway, these are the mistakes I noticed French Entrepreneurs making. Of course, if you said that not just the French make these mistakes, you would be right, but it’s their week because of the big LeWeb conference that just finished.

Of course, maybe the deck is stacked against French Enterpreneurs. When Deezer’s CEO pointed out on stage at LeWeb that he had 18 million unique visitors a month I asked “why have I never heard of you then?” He answered “because we’re French.”

I should have answered back “no, it’s because your Twitter feed is French.” :-)

Got any other mistakes that entrepreneurs make when trying to build a global brand? Leave a comment here.

He answered “because we’re French.”

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. Hey, Scobble, why can't I find a “retweet” button on this thing? You're making it difficult to share on twitter, i mean, look at that gigantic URL up there.

    Get with the program =p

  2. While most of your post is very reasonable, item #5 is a bit of a gray area. These CEOs do have companies to run, most of which probably don't live or die based on the daily news of which iphone/facebook app is having it's 15 minutes of fame.

    Foursquare is a perfect example. It's todays' hot clone of last year's failed location based “look at me” applications… Is that really worth the mindshare of somebody who has more important things to do like building their own products?

  3. Sorry, I disagree. It doesn't take too long to keep up to date on what's fashionable and getting adoption. Just read Techmeme once a day and you'll see the fashion and learn enough about what's going on to be able to have a reasonable conversation about the tech industry. If you don't care about the tech industry then why are you in it?

    Plus, you might see something in it that might be good for your own product. I've seen lots of companies copy Foursquare's gameplay, for instance, even though they aren't doing a location-based game.

  4. Scoble,

    As a francophile who works in the international trade field, nurturing Franco-American business/technology partnerships, I found this to be a fascinating read.

    The answer “we're French” might be more telling than you'd think!

    My company literally provides guidebooks to French businessmen looking to pitch themselves to Americans. You'd be amazed at what is surprising/new/not instinctive to some of them, merely because of basic cultural differences.

    Twitter is catching on more slowly in France than nearly every other country… I think there's a certain underlying business culture that is more hierarchical, closed, traditional that will take awhile to break. It will certainly move faster in the tech sector than elsewhere, but nevertheless, will take awhile.

    Fin bref, not every Frenchman is as up-to-date on Silicon Valley business as Loïc Le Meur!

    Would be fascinating to interview you on video about this sometime. :)

    Bises,

    Alicia

  5. I agree, it takes a few minutes to know what's going on and to see any new trends in your industry.

    btw as an aside… re: twitter – was only contacted a few weeks ago by french tv to introduce twitter and talk about the Hudson crash…

  6. Thank you Scoble! This post is great.

    I don't know why here in Europe nobody uses all those new ways of communication.
    Every time I try some new stuff, when getting to the “Find friends” stage, I get a nice “You have 0 Facebook/Twitter/whatever friends using Blahblah”. It's depressing…
    More so on things like foursquare where you are supposed to, you know, tell your friends where you are at some point in time.

    I hope it will change soon…

  7. That's an unfair leap, to insinaute that someone who is too busy to read every startup gossip rag doesn't care about the tech industry. What sector specifically? Does somebody who is building a cloud computing provider really need to be up on the latest barcode scanning iphone app?

    You posted links to 2,222 different Twitter users (900 tech startups, 500 tech journalists, 400 tech executives, and 422 investors). Clearly you're on top of all the tech sectors that you write about.. Seriously, congratulations on a job well done.

    An entrepreneur's job is to set a vision, build a product, bring in revenue (or funding) and be decisive. In other word, their job is to execute. Condensing a lifetime's work into a few years. A difficult task, made insurmountable when precious focus is constantly eaten away by various life distractions (family, twitter, facebook, IM, etc). Now I'm thinking, “Oh snap! I didn't read about the latest iphone barcode scanner. I am le doomed!”

  8. “An entrepreneur's job is to set a vision, build a product, bring in revenue (or funding) and be decisive. In other word, their job is to execute.”

    I couldn't have said it better myself!

  9. You worry way too much on behalf of other people. Relax!

    Do you stop parents buying their children junk food and make sure your neighbours do their recycling too?

  10. Yes, and how can you execute if you don't keep up on what the industry is doing? Seriously. The best CEOs can talk about what a broad range of companies are doing and how they fit in. They at least keep up with the fashionable ones. It only takes 10 minutes a day to read Techmeme, which would keep you up to date on all the hot things.

  11. Where does it end? Should we spend 10 hours a day making sure we're “up” on whatever the biggest scandal of the week is, or to know how angry or aroused the Techcrunch staff is because of Twitter this evening?

    I just read techmeme for the first time in months (I really dislike their site). I now know that somebody at Mozilla likes Bing, that the PC is dead, that Woz wants an apple tablet, that Playboy has an iphone app, that some guy at Gizmodo hates ereaders, and and that Apple is giving away a bunch of crappy pop music.

    Clearly I couldn't have done my job without all of that information. Thank you for showing me the light.

  12. The best CEOs get shit done that leads to increases in revenue and decreases in cost. If their competition is on Techmeme, sure, they ought to be reading it. But if their customers and competition are on ZDnet, or eWeek, or Women's Wear Daily, Techmeme is a waste of time.

    By the way, I fail utterly to see the point of Foursquare. Where are the pain points? Who gets fired if they don't use Foursquare? Who stays up at night worrying because they don't have a Foursquare account?

    1. I agree, Iphone people need to get over their phones. Put them away for one whole saturday. (I bet you can’t do it!). It’s a tool (think hammer) and some people let it run their entire life. BTW, you better keep a Rand-McNally under your seat in the car, because if the GPS satellites go down, you’ll be lost.

  13. You have a blog with a hell of a great readership.

    I can't think of a better way to pimp a company you like.

  14. Your job, as a CEO, is to represent your company and build relationships with those who can help you out. If you aren't keeping up on the industry YOU ARE NOT doing the best job possible. And if you don't like Techmeme http://news.google.com does a great job. To learn all the stuff you posted took me 10 minutes tonight but you are being pedantic. There's a lot more there than just what you posted.

  15. That isn't my job, but I have told parents off who are placing their children in danger (like letting them play on a beach unsupervised with riptides, which kills a couple of people a year in Northern California). In this case it's my job to tell entrepreneurs how to do better.

  16. Why does everything need a point? Electronic Arts makes many millions of dollars a year (in typical years) selling games.

    But Foursquare tells me where my friends are, which solves a lot of problems for me, and it also gives me tips about cool things to do in the area I am. That came in VERY handy this week in Paris.

  17. Robert, in the end, you're in the business of sensationalizing tech news. The rest of us aren't, we're actually busy building companies. There is nothing to be gained from me keeping up on trends in the latest me-too social networks and iphone sales trends. That doesn't mean I'm not “keeping up on the tech industry” like you insinuate, it just means I have work to do, but I still make sure to know quite a bit about the industries that are important to me.

    1. The fact is Mr Scoble is biased by his position. He’s like a sensational journalist who can’t understand why people made some encyclopédia when publish the last Paris Hilton fact is so easy and ‘fun’. Mr Scoble need all the craps of these social network because he speak about that, lot of other CEO build real things, who are not specially the last high-tech one but who work and make some decent money ;)

      Mr Scoble, like M.Arrigton or P.Cashmore, are the last “celeb” of the Internet reality-show ;)

  18. @balavoine To be fair to Scoble I was only there interning for the summer… not sure we would have crossed paths in person. That being said, Scoble, I do believe I almost got you to dance once back in the days of Seesmic alpha… God I miss those days!

  19. Quite. In the light of an otherwise (mostly) spot-on post, that is a shocking oversight on your part Robert. :) If I can paraphrase you, “It takes 10 SECONDS to add a Tweetmeme button to your blog!” ;)

  20. David Spark here. I was one of the Traveling Geeks in the room and I wrote that post that included the description of Robert's incident. Please feel free to read it (http://www.sparkminute.com/?p=1301), but it just boils down to Robert swearing at the entrepreneurs to get on Twitter. When another one of the Traveling Geeks asked him if he could have couched it in another way, Robert said, “No.”

    That is the issue that concerned us. Robert, I'm glad you recognized it as rude. But I don't think it needed to be done in that manner. As I mentioned, you're not normally a rude guy. :)

    Repeating the comment I left on my blog.

    Robert, two things at issue regarding the incident with the entrepreneurs. First, we weren't trying to stop your opinion, we just wished you weren't so rude to people who were being so nice to us. Hence Eliane's comment, “Could you say it in a nicer way?”

    But, as you assert that the mere fact that not being on Twitter is being rude to you. I find that hard to believe, since there are many ways around it. You can still mention a company through an URL. You don't need to mention a Twitter handle.

    Also, if someone told me they didn't have a phone number or an email address, I don't think I'd swear at them to get one.

    As for the other stuff mentioned on this post, had you stuck around you would have realized that they didn't do these things. I saw plenty of demos, no PowerPoints, got business cards, and had one-on-one interactions.

    The one issue that is talked about a lot is the need to come to the U.S. I agree, but that costs money. Smart for Pearltrees to do it, but they've obviously got money given the volume of sponsorship they did at LeWeb.

  21. Wow! couldn't agree more on that!
    I keep on telling these to a bunch of French startupers-friends of mine – I'll keep you posted on how things move on that front here :-)
    my favorite remains #1

  22. Yeah, I could have behaved a bit better, but in Paris I had just had three CEOs tell me they didn't have time for Twitter. To me, that is the same as saying “I don't have time to talk with you.” THAT was rude (and the other travelinggeeks didn't see all of it). I'd be even more rude if a company didn't have a phone number or use email (it's been years since I've seen a company without one of those). Sorry, not being on Twitter +is+ rude, and there aren't ways around it anymore. I want to have conversations IN PUBLIC with companies. That is best done on Twitter, as demonstrated by more than 500 startups in my list alone (and I figure I only have a small fraction of the actual number of startups on Twitter.

    As for the other parts, sorry I had to leave too, but there were other experiences I had in Paris that fit into this that you didn't see. I'm getting notes from tons of CEOs who tell me I'm right on and that they are very frustrated at the conservatism of their fellow entrepreneurs and that they wished their industry would raise their game, so I feel fairly justified at speaking out about it.

  23. Um, you must not travel much. When I arrived in Paris there were hundreds of tips left for me in Foursquare which made my trip much more valuable and fun.

    1. Bob,

      Congratulations about your post. Clear, specific and so true it makes me (almost) sad for certains of my fellow French entrepreneurs. That being said they also have a good point: 24h is never enough wen you start or run a business.

      So let me offer a middle ground; on the one hand, too much information to process, on the other hand a being on top of things when building a brand and managing your communication.

      Well, there is a tool for that (god bless the Internet!): it’s call Red Panda. It’s a Real-Time Discovery engine analyzing on the fly each page you’re browsing and displaying the related content (News, Tweets etc.) on the side.

      That way, the busy bee entrepreneur (almost a pun here) can get access to the mainstream news WITHOUT having to do anything special. And since their browsing activity reflects their current interests, this is a cool and non-intrusive way to get fairly well informed on topics that matter.

      For those interested: http://www.rdpnda.com (US) or http://fr.rdpnda.com (Fr) this is a completely free add-on for Firefox. I’m very eager to get early feedback so feel free to do so! :)

    2. With such a thought, the mhalligan is already a loser, it just does not know. This type of arrogant person does not survive long in the market. I even like when I find a competitor with this behavior, because I’m sure it will pass over it. Congratulations about your post.

  24. Surely it's a different culture than a US startup? I have to agree that I'm sometimes left dumbstruck by companies not being on Twitter or Facebook (and as long as you only have a Mentions column open, you'll stay on track).

    I do agree somewhat with what you're saying, I dabble in tech journalism on the side of my startup and it does help keeping abreast of the latest tech news and features my competitors are building.

    The problem is the audience. A French company who (whilst hoping to hit the fan and go global), will still be a French company, and if France hasn't clocked onto Twitter yet, there's no driving factor for them to get an account, and it's not the *done* thing. Heck, if I were focussed on my local startup scene in my part of the UK I wouldn't be on Twitter either, it was only because I saw the need to follow the US scene rather than my own (which has provided massive benefits BTW).

    Lack of startup education about the benefits of a potential revolutionary social media service, as opposed to them deliberately trying to be rude by not wasting their time with it.

  25. @scobleizer – Hello ! I'd just like to mention that the link to pearltrees twitter account is wrong in the post (same link as the youtube one). As I'm a big fan of this company and their product, and they really deserve to be widely known, it'd be nice if you could correct it :-)
    thnx in advance ! and congratulations for this wonderful post (which I'm gonna save right away in my pearltree Web 2.0) ! I didn't realize french were like this…although I'm french myself :-)

  26. You sound like an arrogant, attention-deficit child. Your lengthy whine amounts to little more than, “Oooh, why aren't you trying to appeal to shallow, self important people like me???”

    If you product is another flash-in-the-pan Internet craze, then I suppose you have little choice but to use every opportunity to reach people through Twitter or making viral You Tube videos. Great. Hope you make a bit of money before the next pan flash comes along.

    Do you think Sergey & Larry spent their time on Usenet pimping their product? How did Bill Gates manage to start a company without You Tube?

    Marketing and communication are important, but ultimately far less important than having a good product and a good business plan. Time spent engaging with your echo-chamber treadmill is time wasted.

  27. Right. That's why every other company is on Twitter. Because I'm a spoiled arrogant ADD child, right? They all joined Twitter because of ME! Geesh. Get a clue.

    As to Larry and Sergey: actually they used ALL the tools of the day to get word out about their new startup. Including Usenet (I saw tons of posts from Google employees there back when they were young). Bill Gates used all the tools available to him, and now even has SEVERAL video channels and a multimillion dollar TV studio. Why? To tell you about their products and, yes, they use YouTube and Twitter extensively. But I agree that having a good product is most important. If you have a pile of poo it doesn't matter what you say about it.

    Most entrepreneurs totally disagree with you that this is time wasted, though, including ALL of the best French companies!

  28. I also find it interesting that you don't feel comfortable using your own name and posting the name of your company and you used a fake email address. That tells me your opinions are defacto not worth listening to and even if they were aren't nearly as strong as those that are being left by real CEOs who are using their real names. You sound like an arrogant child who loves throwing barbs from behind anonymous accounts. Lame. Even lamer than entrepreneurs who don't use Twitter.

  29. Not now – but when I did (1980 – 1990) travel on business, agendas were packed and the hosts generally arranged restaurants, sightseeing, etc. IIRC you're coming to my stomping grounds (PDX) in the not-too-distant future. I'm sure your friends here would be just as happy to use more primitive communications tools as they would to use tech gadgets.

    Really – it is possible to survive and thrive in PDX without a smart phone – I still have my LG ENV and don't suffer in the slightest from Droid envy. Maybe when they get a dual-core 64-bit 4 GB netbook, I'll get something smarter to carry around. ;-)

    Reminds me of the old story of Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto at a spring training camp in Florida. After the game, Yogi said, “Phil – let's go out to dinner. I'll call you when I get out of the shower.” And Phil said, “But Yogi, I don't have a phone in my room.” And Yogi replied, “that's OK – I've got one in mine!”

    Oh, yeah – you *have* to see the Christmas Ships!

  30. Steve: that argument just doesn't wash anymore. Especially when the world's biggest independent web conference is in your backyard. I've been around the world and most tech entrepreneurs in almost every country are now on Twitter. Even France radio is rambling on about it this morning.

  31. I wouldn't have known about LeWeb until about a week before had it not been because I was following Loic on Twitter. How did I discover who Loic was? Via TechCrunch, your tweets etc..

    However, there is a culture among a lot of people involved in the space we're in as seeing Twitter as unimportant, friends talking about what they've eaten for breakfast whilst sat on the toilet. Saying I've got a Twitter account among my friends is seen as a stigma, and they're all rocking iPhones with the latest apps, and are learning to code their own.

    My point is that their arugment is invalid, based on a fallacy that Twitter is pointless. They're uneducated as opposed to rude – something we should be looking to change via showing them the light as opposed to telling them to do it, just “because”.

  32. ah, you're mad at them because they don't know you ;)

    besides, all true. but it isn't forever. take them to US or Asia and they'll change in minutes (the good ones, I mean).

  33. I really believe that what you are saying is fundamentaly right, even though some points are relatively minor and i'm also certain that you have met American CEO's that did not stick to all your rules but that were amazing.

    Having lived in France for 20 years, can I maybe also hint that more then the not adherence to your rules it's the whole attitude that sometimes stinks. “Because we are french”.

    When I saw you chat with the guy from Pearltrees at Le Web, I thought it was interesting, but also cringed when I listened to the english of the (very smart) Pearltrees CEO. Here you are, meeting an important american opinion leader in your industry and your accent and vocabulary makes it hard to focus on what you are saying.

    Don't get me wrong I don't want to frenchbash here, but couldn't the guy have prepared maybe a bit more ? Loic speaks with a thick accent, but his vocabulary and pronunciation are clear.

    I work in a completely different industry, for a top 50 behemoth with 320 000 employees and our CEO and shareholder is one of the richest guys out there. And you know what ? He adheres to all those rules, reads all clippings from all operating countries (27) and chases his comms department about exactly all those aspects that you describe.

    Too many Europeans are whining about the lack of visibility of their start ups. And you know what, some of those are exactly as innovative as their US counterparts. But the rules of the game, the art the engagement, they don't want to follow them. And yes, they have been dictated by the American's. That's just a fact, not an opinion.

    So if European entrepreneurs are not capable of dealing with it, it's their tough luck.
    If you look at what the CERN is doing in physics, what Airbus is doing with the A380, you see that when you stick to the rules, you can win.

  34. Although I agree in general with our suggestions I think you are being ignorant of your own dependency of what you promote.

    I felt a little bit the same way at the Gilmore Gang yesterday when it came to the talk about a lot of people not having a voice. It was somehow scourned at by Steve Gillmor and really shows how out of touch you can be when being deep into an industry

    Your way is just one of many ways to achieve success its not the only one, even for the tech industry.

  35. Actually I'm surprised that no one has pointed out that Apple isn't on Twitter. So that proves your point. But that's sort of an outlier too.

    But, seriously, almost EVERY other tech company is on Twitter, so the rule is: be on Twitter unless you're Apple. Or French, I guess.

    As to having a voice I'm listening to Gillmor Gang right now.

    I follow 16,000+ Twitter accounts. How many more people can I listen to? Not many, let me tell you. But all you have to do to tell me I'm wrong or tell me something that needs to be heard is to include @scobleizer in your Tweet. THAT is why Gillmor scourned it, I'd bet.

  36. Sounds like that negates a large part of Scoble's post. Really it all boils down to whether the companies in France want to enter the US market – does that mean they need to communicate the way US startups do.. I think the answer really has to be yes.

    Also not everyone needs to be on Facebook and Twitter today. That is like saying everyone needs to be on Myspace a few years ago – and I think we'd all agree that not everyone should be on myspace today. If the people you need to communicate with (or they need to communicate with you) are there then you should be there. Otherwise it is a waste of time and money. Given these are cutting edge internet startups though – I dont see how the majority should not be on Twitter.

    Of course, none of that excuses Scoble's behaviour..

  37. Awesome list! Actually this whole post is about startups doing it right. I didn't name a single startup doing it wrong. Glad to see there are 157 startups doing it right.

  38. I think this whole article applies to European Business People / Entreponeurs and not just French.
    It's the conservatism and fear of the new that plagues “our” continent!

  39. Poor Alex. You are ignorant about what is now- not what used to be. You're not a newspaper publisher, are you?

  40. Hello, I'm an American girl (a designer) working for a start-up in Paris. I understand your frustration but the problem is more complex than what could be resolved in a checklist. Nonetheless, your tech tips are valuable for any startup, French or American.

    I find stevefarnworth 's post about “audience” to be an interesting one. Perhaps the key problem that you (Scobleizer) are trying to underline is that French companies waste a lot of time trying to appeal to their own people… but isn't this only natural? Try to tell an American start-up (a start-up I stress) that the key to success is to ignore Americans, learn another language, and target most of their efforts at Europeans. Blasphemy! A generalization (perhaps a fact): the French love Facebook, the French don't use Twitter. Because the French don't use Twitter, (at present) they are unlikely to grasp Foursquare. You should have known this before landing at Charles de Gaulle.

    I was laughing the other day because mapping the chronology of my “social networking” experiences on the web, I remembered dear old Friendster which is now (though defunct in the Western world) apparently the cat's meow in Asia…whodathunkit?

  41. Until then, does that mean you're lame? …or just unRT-able? :) btw, great post that is relevant far beyond the entrepreneur world.

  42. The centralized aspects of the “new means of communications” you speak of make them feel very old to me (I still remember the French Minitel). Why the hell should I follow people on *twitter*? Can't they just set up a mailing list or an RSS/atom feed, so I can follow them *period*?

    It may not apply to all of us, but I am personally wary of centralized networks. Facebook, for instance, feels like a second inbox merged with a not-so-private blog. So, instead of having one centre of communication, I now have two. This is unacceptable.

    About branding, however, I understand the absolute need for companies to be on these shiny, faddish, networks: journalists use them and care about them. If you don't speak through the pipes they glued their ears on, of course you won't be heard.

  43. Scoble: So given how much of your (and other American journalists') time was wasted – does that make Le Web not suitable as an event for American journalists going forward? Will you be going back next year?

  44. All good points if you want to build a US centric “Global” brand and there's no doubt about it that's where it's at right now in web start up.

    I just don't like the tone of your article you talk about French entrepreneurs being rude for either not using Twitter or god forbid writing in French on Twitter. It's not the French being rude here.

    You have written this article with absolutely no understanding of the culture that you have you just visited and obviously targeted it at your “global” audience, of whom only 30% have a passport.

    I am sure Loic is really grateful for your comments about your visit to Le Web. (it was “Le” Web by the way, that should have given you a hint that it was going to have a French flavour to it)

    I was in Alpine Meadows in 2003 when the US invaded Iraq, seeing “freedom fries” on the menu was quite amusing but the world has moved on since then and it's probably time they came off.

  45. Cultural differences play a big part in business. And they do not keep pace with tech globalisation although it might seem so to many people since we all use the same twitter and other tools. In the end you have to adapt to the person you want something from. And he might be just emphatic enough to feel that you might do things differently.

  46. I hesitated to make the reference but the tone of the article had a hint of ” “freedom fries” in it. When I return to the States to visit my parents (in the South I might add), I still see “Boycott France” bumper stickers. I'm not sure if a Twitter account can correct this phenomenon.

  47. Very well put. Anyone who disagrees is a moron. I seriously CANNOT believe some of these startups are denouncing twitter and facebook. They must be complete jokes. Halfway through the article, I stopped and watched your entire 30min video with the pearltrees CEO and promptly created an account and started messing around. Very, very cool.

  48. LeWeb had people attending it from 46 countries and is the world's largest independent web conference. It now is a +must attend+ for anyone interested in the Web. Did you see who was there? Not just French startups, either, but a TON of big names from Silicon Valley/SF (Twitter, Google, Facebook, et al were there).

  49. I hope we're doing it the right way round. As a pre-startup we are concentrating on the product almost wholly but beyond that we have my @costs2 twitter presence and the linked blog on posterous – no website yet, we're just briefing graphic design. But I have to say as putative CEO of a startup involving half a dozen really influential people in UK Legal and Legaltech I wouldn't dream of not trying to be across this stuff. And what we learn is going back into the product while it is being designed. And I'm not even a techy

  50. Richard,

    As a French person I can tell you that Bob is right to the point. French entrepreneurs are often extremely provincial in their attitudes. For a long time most high-tech / web start-ups have been Califonian born. As a result the US way of communicating as become a De Facto standard. So what?

    Take the food or the art-de-vivre industry for instance: American companie are trying very hard to import the French image (since obviously it sells better). But when it comes to building start-ups, the whole French eco-system is still in the early 90’s era and very much Gallo-centric: French VCs want French no-risk investement and seek for US copycats, Angels want to follow VCs but are reluctant to get in board for seed funding, entrepreneurs want French speaking markets and local/traditional communication and the French governement subsidizes early-stage start-ups but prefer those who already have cash (presumably from angels) on hand …

    Go figure… Argghh, wanna have lunch to talk about it? :)

  51. Good point – its great for us Europeans – Le Web is a must attend. Let me rephrase – has your experience made you change the way you approach interviewing european startups now so that you use your time more efficiently. Will you do more background research prior to agreeing to meet?

  52. I agree with your points; it's necessary to know the environment to know how to succeed in it. If the environment mutates everyday thanks to techmeme so be it. One's cultural heritage and normed behavior, however, does not mutate as quickly. ;)

  53. Jean-Marc

    I acknowledged he was right on many of his points right at the beginning. I just didn't like the sentiment that it was couched in.

  54. This is one of the most interesting comments here. The work and research has to be done on both sides and if that had been done properly those that went to visit the French start-ups would know that Twitter is not working in France. If your based market is in France why should you allocate resources to interact with… no one? With the reach that you have you could have just tweeted @jack and ask him for the Twitter stats for France. That would give you valuable information.

  55. Again, I assumed that since none of the journalists/bloggers/influentials were French that these were companies who wanted to build a world brand. So, FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE whether or not Twitter is popular in France does NOT matter one whit!

  56. That is not really the same, is it? They actually had the time to talk to you and let me tell you as a CEO of a company that deals with French clients that is a lot to say already :-)

    Things can't be black and white and I am sure that if you worked on that relation you would be always very welcomed in Paris.

    Just out of curiosity: Did they give you their business cards with their e-mail or the general e-mail from the company?

    Mind you, I'm a strong advocate of companies using Twitter to make their communication, damage control and what have you but as an European I also know how things work in here: And that is, in a nutshell, not like in the U.S.of A.

  57. I am curious: Was the invite made by the French Start-ups or did “Travelling-Geeks” contact those companies in order to visit them? There is huge difference between these two and I could not agree more with you if the French Start-ups invited you to visit them. If it was the opposite I can already imagine the talks at the offices “Oh merde, les americains arrre coming herre” ;-)

  58. On another note, to be on Twitter doesn't make you available and your own modus operandi is the perfect example for that: I have tried to contact you via Twitter almost 10 times regarding a R&D project that we have going in Barcelona and you didn't get back to me. That proves my point I guess ;-)

  59. … and its very laudable, only my experience is that French people are very diligent when it comes to criticizing the US as well.

    I shuttle quite often between both sides of the Atlantic and find myself defending France when in the US and the US when in France; they are probably the 2 most arrogant nations in the world and they don't even have the excuse of being an island :)

  60. So I just took a quick look at Deezer. Even their “/en” page is mostly French. Being English, I can figure out what “Découvrez le boudoir Carte Noire, une radio en accord avec vos désirs” is trying to tell me, but why bother when I can go to Spotify or Last.fm (to name a couple). The thing is, French companies tend to assume that they will own – or get a financially viable piece of – the French market (and possibly that for Francophones globally) because they're French. A view confirmed at least in part by my two French colleagues here in London. And they're probably right about that.

  61. It's simple Robert.

    New entrepreneurs don't have the time and resources of larger startups. Yeah once you spend a couple hundred hours marketing you'll learn all about your competition, the channels you have to have a presence in, etc.

    But founders are generally working on
    a) building a product or service that does something without exploding
    b) the tiny scale of personal relationships of early alpha testers, getting their feedback, and proving that they have real business potential

    The explosively awesome marketing comes later.

    You'd be a perfect test candidate for our Twitter list view clouds but yours are so big that our API limits screech in. I'm gonna half to do something outrageous to get whitelisted.
    I have a biz Twitter acount (victusmedia)
    plenty of demo videos (on our site http://victusmedia.com)
    And our competition is semantic ads and search engines (LazyFeed, Google social search, Facebook ads)

    I haven't played Foursquare- but I'm pretty darn familiar with it. I have played Farmville though- the mega dollar printing creation of Zynga though ;)

  62. By the way, the Portland CVB (Convention and Visitor's Bureau) @travelportland is very social Web savvy and active on Twitter. Use hashtag #inpdx in your tweet and they'll roll right in to help you. Same with @SeattleMaven, while we're looking at the Pacific Northwest.

    On the other hand, I couldn't find the Paris tourism board on Twitter at all. They should have been monitoring the #leweb hashtag (especially in the days before/after the conference and evenings, when people might sight-see) and stepping in to offer tips, deals and guidance.

    That's called doing your job with the best tools available, and that requires a heads-up, plugged-in approach to your job and industry. I'm with Robert on this one.

  63. Well Seafarer, you migt be a bit off on this one. There are are many reasons to agree with Robert, but your example about the tourist board is most unfortunate.

    France welcomes some 80 Millions visitors each year (more than its total population) and Paris accounts for a majority of those visits.

    So really the problem is not really to attract more tourists or even to make them happy since they keep coming back despite our reputation for impudence and rudeness (an illustration below).

    But gosh, Oregon?! I can understand why relying on Twitter is a necessity … :)

  64. Not seeing your point here, Scobe. If it is that you don't have one, then I've survived almost 50 without. Would getting either a Droid or an iPhone imply I'm going back in time? Explain yourself, kind sir. Thanks!

  65. I remember when FriendFeed was the be all and end all for you, Robert. Good to see you've finally come to my way of thinking :)

  66. These are great points, however, most understand that not everyone is on Twitter for the same reason. Your friends rockin' the iPhone, (it's either i.e. or e.g. here, you choose) should be persuaded to download the Twitter app, and give it a try. The Scobe probably has a list they might be interested in following to get them started.

  67. I would argue that Bill Gates doesn't have a good product, but that's probably another post for an entirely different site. You could do worse than to keep The Scobe in the loop, if you're a tech industry startup, product, or company. He's the guy right now, and until someone usurps him, I believe your insults are falling on deaf ears… Will be interesting to read his reply to you.

  68. I think we're pretty much in agreement here. My only concern was that moment of rudeness that really affected everyone, and you acknowledged that.

    You're right that we didn't see your interaction with the other three CEOs and that this caused you to stir to a boiling point. And if not being on Twitter is being rude to you, I'll accept that's how you feel. I do understand it's critical for communications with you.

    As for your other points, I had talks with some other entrepreneurs that echoed many of your sentiments. These were entrepreneurs that had experience in both U.S. and France and they expressed their frustration with the French entrepreneurs essentially following (the do nots) many items on your list.

    And come to think of it, by your swearing at them, it's forced this discussion. So to some level we have to say thanks. :)

  69. Apple itself isn't on Twitter, but I'd be willing to put up a small part of The Wayne Billions that almost every employee there, is.

  70. Apparently my comment was deleted but I will try again:
    The fact that someone is on Twitter doesn't mean that that person is available. Case in point: I've tried to contact you via Twitter around 10 times to talk with you about a R&D project we are developing in Barcelona and you didn't get back to me. You are on Twitter, I'm on Twitter and still we can't communicate. What do I have to do? Send you a fax? A tip on FourSquare? Do tell! :-)

  71. I'm agreeing with most of your post, as it translates well to the film industry, however, I'm not fully on board with your Google Docs recommendation, simply because there are times when I want to edit a screenplay, or video, offline. Yes, there are those of us that have the ability to be disconnected from the web for long periods of time. Who knew? :0)

    If I can't create a doc in PowerPoint, and then post it to Google Docs, then that's their failing, not mine.

  72. Just qualifying for everyone.

    My only concern was Robert's single moment of rudeness. I too believe Twitter is valuable as are the other points you mentioned and they need to get on board.

    If I were in Robert's shoes I'd be singing the praises of LeWeb as well. Robert's on stage for the event. He's a good friend of Loic. So to say something negative about the event would be shooting himself in the foot.

    As someone who has never been to the event, but heard about it a lot and has been reporting on tech for 14 years and attended endless shows, this is the most overhyped conference I've ever attended. That's not saying it's not valuable. It's just not as good as you might believe it to be. I had plenty to say both positive and negative about the event. Again, see my post “The cool and not-so-cool of LeWeb.” http://bit.ly/7ENbbx

    Robert is right. The room is filled with a lot of heavy hitters. But as an attendee, that doesn't necessarily translate into value for you. I know it's up to the individual to get the most out of it they can. But the real problem is the main stage (which is not all of LeWeb, but a major part of it) seems to be predominantly paid for.

    If I had only one hope for LeWeb is that they would disclose what is and isn't paid for on the main stage. I honestly don't know, but it seems to be egregious.

    Also, as for Robert not joining the Traveling Geeks in the future, I'm sorry you feel that way. But just so your readers know, the Traveling Geeks spent five days together. Robert was with us for about an hour. We know that you were busy with other things, and we appreciate your time. I just want your readers to know that.

  73. Hi Jean-Marc, Thanks for your thoughts.

    I seem to remember cries of distress from European tourism-related organizations when American tourist visits dropped precipitously after 9/11 (and they've dipped a bit again in the face of the current financial crisis.) So, I'm not sure that blowing off visitor engagement simply because you're normally a big, popular tourist city/country is a very wise move, and a tech component to that engagement is becoming more and more important.

    Of course, a smaller town like Portland is going to use every tool at its disposal, and kudos to them for it. That doesn't mean that Paris should think that they never have to hustle for traveler attention. “Too big to fail?” :)

  74. I was on the first two Traveling Geeks, and on this trip was with you from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. which is a lot more than an hour. I disagree with you about the conference, but that's OK. Personally I go to conferences for the networking now, especially since most of the good ones stream their content for free and the networking here was EXTRAORDINARY.

    Regarding Twitter, it's not just critical for communications with me, but with more than 500 of the world's tech journalists.

  75. Robert, I accept the correction on time. My apologies. Four hours, not one hour. Yes, but that's still different than five days. And I can't speak to any previous experiences you've had with the Traveling Geeks. If you're not satisfied with the experience, that's fine.

    As for conferences, networking is very important to me as well. And I did a very successful amount of it. I try to do a balanced mix of watching presentations, talking to new companies, seeing demos, and chatting with other journalists. I hope that my round up reflected that. (You'll have to click through to my end of day video show reports to see my reviews of companies.)

    But it's impossible for your readers to duplicate your experience at LeWeb. You're a lightening rod for attention. People flock to you and want to network with you. You're also on stage. While your insights are valuable, your experience can't be easily translated to others.

    And I'm not disagreeing with you on Twitter. Again, all I was pointing to was your behavior, and I don't want to beat a dead horse on that. I'm not arguing the value of Twitter to you or other journalists. I like you am a strong proponent of Twitter.

  76. Please stay accurate. I was with the Traveling Geeks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday. 4x more than “about an hour.” And I was on the entire first two Traveling Geeks tours, so have a lot more experience than even the four hours would give.

  77. Lets see if this works now: As I said on Twitter in that case they should've been prepared and aware of what you were all about and try to be more professional in the way they did things.

  78. I was the first American manager to be promoted to the Paris headquarters of a software company I was working for. I've had a chance to understand the French culture and see how things work on the inside of French tech companies.

    On the use of twitter:
    Here's one example of the response that I got from my management after proposing to launch a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter to engage with our global users last year: “If we do that, our customers will complain about us and then others will be able to see it.”

    I have no doubt that France is filled with extremely talented and visionary individuals. It seems the challenge for European entrepreneurs is to create a real culture of innovation that disassociates itself from some poisonous tendencies that you can find prevalent here:

    1) Command and control hierarchies in organizational design which kill innovation.
    2) Not enough clarity on the purpose or vision of companies which makes for disengaged and uninspired teams (Conversely remember presentation from CEO of Zappos.com http://bit.ly/5dZHfW)
    3) Reluctance and contempt for having to speak English. (I have met Chinese people who have never traveled to an English-speaking country, but they speak perfectly -all because they know mastery is imperative in order to get into the game.
    4) Inattention to the importance of strong engaging presentation. (I know what you are saying about powerpoint. Here people like to compete to see how many words can be fit on one slide. It can be a nightmare.

    There is one book that has some great insights into the cultural aspects of these issues: French and Americans – the Other Shore by Pascal Baudry.
    http://www.amazon.fr/French-Americans-Other-Pas

  79. Its rather a constrain than a deliberate strategy: managing two languages on the same Web plateform is quite tough for a early stage start-up. A pretty good polishing requires relentless efforts from developers, marketers and even designers, whereas language maintenance can hardly be the main objective of the team…

    I think the only clair work-around is to build the plateform in english and translate it later in you native language. But its only possible if the start-up very early objective is international reach. In many cases start-ups discover their international potential once they make it locally… and this might well be the case of Deezer.

  80. Robert, no offense but you have a backward view of the world.

    Most of what you say is your typical “I'm on top everything and do nothing but read tech news” (while a little unfair to you as you do interviews and meet with tons of people), and you can't imagine how people could miss things that are in your face all the time.

    But you live on hype. You're trying to come across as one of the people who wisely pointed out to people in the 90s that companies shouldn't ignore the web. But you sound more like the people in the 90s who were hyping Pointcast, god that whole wall of hype was annoying. Eventually that stuff evolved into RSS feeds that were somewhat usable, but the point is that a CEO who “wasn't even aware of Pointcast” in 1998 wasn't out of the loop, they were probably focused on building something relevant to their business.

    So I disagree with the entire premise that a successful CEO needs to keep his eye on the newest shiny thing in Scoble's tech playground.

    That said, what you really have a point about is “a startup looking to drum up U.S. blogger attention should read up on the bloggers they are talking to and expect questions about their latest shiny toys”

  81. Silicon Valley startups are about as insular and provincial as they come. It's nothing different, they rely on cultural imperialism to tide things over, and smart VCs and partners who actually understand the world help them out.

  82. If Bill, Larry and Sergey were to start MS & Google today, they will definitely use every possible social media to get the word out. That's what smart businessmen from all ages do, making the best use of whatever marketing tool available.

    Oh yeah, why do you think Eric Schmidt joined Twitter this week?

  83. If Bill, Larry and Sergey were to start MS & Google today, they will definitely use every possible social media to get the word out. That's what smart businessmen from all ages do, making the best use of whatever marketing tool available.

    Oh yeah, why do you think Eric Schmidt joined Twitter this week?

  84. Here's the battle front shaping for Brand Thunder (http://brandthunder.com). Browser Themes. Firefox 3.6 builds in light themes. Google Chrome is pushing themes through its ad campaign (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=googlechrom…)

    Brand Thunder adds content and functionality into the theme making it an active experience and not just static.

    The insights of the post are definitely helpful. I don't disagree with #5, but there are times when I ignore it. Going off the grid temporarily has its merit too.

    Sorry for leading with the promotional info, it's related to #1 and putting start ups on your radar. And the battlefield reference seemed relevant (and helpful to me).

  85. why on earth must we use the word “pimp”? it's really not a good word, not a good phenomenon to celebrate as a metaphor. Celebrate, promote – lots of words are better. Pimping is a sad, exploitive practice that relies on violence and bad circumstances for women. Yuck. Robert, would you consider replacing that word, so often used in our industry?

  86. Robert – I think you hit the nail on the head previously when you made a comment about “Europe being stuck in the texting age” a while ago. The non-use of Twitter, the non-investigation of the latest hot apps, ….. is a reflection of that. My friends, my colleagues, my bosses don't get it. And it's hard to break out of the rut – your own world works fine without – until it breaks and you find someone with a different world view has stolen your lunch. So I think you latest rant get two things right – the first is the obvious one, the second is that a lot of Europe is really behind the wave in exploiting the wonderful new tools that Web 2.0 / the-real-time-web has brought us.

    Oh by the way, I don't think that large US companies are immune to this problem either from what I've seen. I was in The (frozen) Valley last week and it seemed to me that all the front line twitters had left – maybe they were all at Le Web?

  87. here is a tip: find someone Robert knows and might be easier to reach, get him or her excited. Be perseverant.

  88. Arrogance has its limits. I do agree with folks posting that a CEO's job is do a CEO's job. His team should be on top of it all and keep him in the loop but his time is more valuable than you make it seem.

    Your own job and brand equity is based on the latest in the industry. CEO's isnt.

  89. Robert,

    I was the one who managed to arrange the Paris Incubator meeting at the last minute, to help the #tg2009 team fill out its agenda with a couple more local startups. The Incubator was asked this on Friday Dec 4th and managed to have 10 startups to present on Tuesday 8th. That was quite a performance.

    I suggested that these companies have #1 some international ambition #2 CEOs with good English speaking skills and charisma and #3 favor demos over prez. Not all matched these features for sure. But at least had we the winner of Leweb startup competition in these 10 companies (Nyoulink / Stribe)? The usual ratio : 1 (sort of) winner out of 10… :). Not that bad!

    Otherwise, most of your points are valid regarding the (lack of) use of social network tools by local entrepreneurs, and particularly the willingness to become international players and play by the related rules. The whole local entrepreneurship ecosystem, particularly BAs and VCs, is indeed reluctant to play a WW or US game, thus hampering the chance to create WW leaders. That definitively has to change. I'm fighting for that locally. It takes time to change it. And I'm not sure it's just a French problem. Seems it happens in other places like Germany for example. The local market seems “big enough” to start. Companies in these markets should behave as if there were in Denmark or Israel, where the local market is definitively too small to create any kind of successful IT company.

    At last, your point although valid was quite “chilling” in the room. The right attitude? Probably not the optimal mix. Some pedagogy on top of some initial rudeness would have made the point more efficient. But it stirred this controversy, kind of a follow up to the one initiated last year at Leweb by Mike Arrington. There are though many more reasons why not enough French web entrepreneurs succeed internationally. It boils down a lot to education, training & skills. To the narrowness of the local ecosystem.

    But still, we have Lemeur, Krim, Grinda, we had Kelkoo (probaly sold by its VCs to Yahoo way too early in its growth path), Simoncini and Meetic, and some others. Let’s not just look at the half empty part of the glass!

    Olivier Ezratty, @olivez

  90. Nice to see how there is nothing on the quality of the product. No one cares ? I don't care that Deezer is or isn't on Twitter. Deezer is a great product.

  91. Resolving The French Other Paradox
    December 7, 2009 – 9:00 am | Edited by Frédéric Filloux

    Last week, we looked at the two components of the “other” French Paradox.

    First, the Valley aura helps a tiny Palo Alto start-up sell its technology in France. But it doesn’t work the other way around: a Lyons high-tech company will get a polite reception but no orders from the likes of HP, Google or Oracle. While the Valley does sell in France, to sell in the Valley you need to be of the Valley.

    Second, French taxpayers unwittingly subsidize VC-backed Valley startups. Graduates from public universities or grandes écoles such as Polytechnique, Centrale and many others come to the Valley and contribute their skills and energy to the companies we, American venture capitalists, invest in. (In passing, thanks to a reader who reminded me HEC, one of the leading French business schools is a private institution.)

    By Jean-Louis Gassee, From Monday Note | http://www.mondaynote.com/2009/12/07/resolving-

  92. Resolving The French Other Paradox, Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

    Last week, we looked at the two components of the “other” French Paradox.
    First, the Valley aura helps a tiny Palo Alto start-up sell its technology in France. But it doesn’t work the other way around: a Lyons high-tech company will get a polite reception but no orders from the likes of HP, Google or Oracle. While the Valley does sell in France, to sell in the Valley you need to be of the Valley.

    Second, French taxpayers unwittingly subsidize VC-backed Valley startups. Graduates from public universities or grandes écoles such as Polytechnique, Centrale and many others come to the Valley and contribute their skills and energy to the companies we, American venture capitalists, invest in. (In passing, thanks to a reader who reminded me HEC, one of the leading French business schools is a private institution.)

    The French speak of “refaire le monde au Café du Commerce”, the phrase refers to a suitably lubricated theorizing of the World As It Ought To Be. In moderation, a healthy way to pass the time with friends and to keep one’s debating skills sharp. With little risk of dealing with the “mere matter of implementation” – the one I’ve decided to address today.

    read more: http://www.mondaynote.com/2009/12/07/resolving-

  93. To focus so much of this discussion entirely on Twitter seems limiting. And I say this as a Twitter fan, an active user and someone who wholly agrees with Robert on the fact that if you’re in business and not in the Twitter game, you may as well tell people you still send faxes for communication. Really. It’s one of the most powerful ways to communicate and engage with an audience period.

    And, you better be everywhere else your customers and potential fans are online as well because if you’re not taking the time, remember that your competitor is or will. And, your customers will be listening to them, not you.

    So, that message did need to get across in some shape or form. As their guests however, there are other things to also consider. The value of a troupe of us coming to Paris or any city for that matter is to listen, learn, absorb, share and report, which we did, but also to educate and mentor.

    Getting on Twitter is only one lesson we can teach them since there’s a lot more involved to making a company successful: do they have a product or service that solves a real need, an easy user interface, the right business model, a solid product but in the wrong market, a missing feature that could make or break them, bad timing, too late to the game, or are they entering a crowded market with no chance of survival……and on and on and on.

    Also, reality check: meeting one dynamic company after another with polish is rare. Sure, it’s incredible when you come across a new idea that is earth shattering or a smart new CEO who stands out from the pack and knows how to present his idea like Steve Jobs. Frankly, that’s not the majority of cases, even in the Valley, so it’s not a European-only issue.

    Getting it right out-of-the gate requires experience – doing it again and again, access to the best and most powerful people so you can learn from their mistakes and having the right personality to make it a smooth non-salesly pitch when frankly, you might be someone who would rather just be building the damn thing with other smart engineers behind a closed door. And, even among the polished I’ve seen plenty bad PPT presentations. (despite how often I recommend PPT pitches, they still keep comin’).

    I also think it’s important to remember that the value is a two-way street. Letting entrepreneurs know how the game is played is one thing we can bring to the table collectively as a group. The French Traveling Geeks team was multi-cultural bringing a wealth of experience and perspectives from 7 different countries, including entrepreneurs from Paris and we nearly had an Israeli on board. Bringing that kind of diversity and energy as a group to sprouting companies in another country is incredibly powerful.

    We can act as a sounding board and give back not just by blogging and tweeting about their innovations but also by the time we spend and the advice we leave behind, such as getting on Twitter and countless other valuable insights to what yields success. In return, we learn about the way another culture’s entrepreneurs view the world AND the issues they face that wouldn’t be relevant or even have a market in the states.

    If we tout community, then the game should be played on and offline. After all, isn’t it often what we give back that provides the most magic in our lives? And, when we all return to our own worlds, I hope the conversations continue. It would be great to keep the dialogue going with French companies we met with, get regular updates and have them visit us in the states.

  94. If you want somebody from an Investment Bank to read your material DO NOT post a link to Google Apps (or most other cloud hosted document repositories). They are mostly blocked by their compliance departments and will not be accessible.

  95. Just curious, are you getting lot of high quality presentation with Google Docs Presentation? I would be curious to know if the average CEO can do a high quality presentation in Google Docs?

  96. really? so, with Rule # 1, Apple doesn't have to be on Twitter? well, maybe because generally Apple only caters to a minuscule niche market, that's why.

    twitter.com/GOOGLE. Name A Googler. Location Mountain View, CA. Web http://www.google.com/support/ Bio News and updates from Google

    twitter.com/MicroSoft. Name Microsoft. Location Redmond, WA. Web http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/default.mspx. Bio The official Twitter account for Microsoft Corporate Communications.

    but Apple is on Twitter!
    twitter.com/apple. Name Apple. Bio apple dot twitter at gmail dot com

    (also, with its uber profits, Apple doesn't sponsor too many tech conferences, but I'm sure it gives back to the community in so so many ways)

  97. — No “ReTweet” button on your posts
    — No link to your Twitter profile anywhere on this page
    — The World is not revolving around the USA, and Twitter is not “THE shit” in most part of it, sorry to disappoint you (but how would you know?). Some of the sparse valid points you had in the middle of all your bullshit would have been even equally relevant if you had replaced “Twitter” with “LinkedIn”.

    Twitter is just a tool, a brand, but not even a business as of yet (no profit, no business model, should I go on?). What's the point of having 106,378 followers on twitter when what you do is basically tweet shortened URLs to your blog or to some websites you deem interesting? If I were interested in reading this blog I would subscribe to your RSS feed. If I wanted to find shared bookmarks I would end up on Digg. I 100% agree with the faulty CEOs you mention in your first paragraph: Twitter is a gimmick, with an added cost and no ROI.

  98. Well… I was.

    I know several people at the tourist bureau, and they happen to be rather clueless and massively overwhelmed. I live near the Louvre, so I give directions to couple dozen people a day (that's twenty times less then anyone at the official tourist desk on a quiet day); in case I notice something beyond my ability, I know a few concierges, including the best ones — and because I mentionned LeWeb to them, I know they are in touch with Loïc, in case Arrington (or @media1938 for that matter) throws a tantrum.

    I also spend —how many months now?— answering questions about Paris on Aardvak (twitter is *so* 2009) so naturally, me & my Gmail Talk had an interesting couple of days (I haven't found any official data, but the ratio of well-known geeks on that service is massive.)

    They are so many guide-books about Paris, all filled with tips… but the best ones you could hope for where about where your fellow participants where headed: no tourist office could tell you that.

  99. Actually, I think Scoble misunderstood that dialogue:

    > I asked “why have I never heard of you then?” He answered “because we’re French.”
    > I should have answered back “no, it’s because your Twitter feed is French.”

    Nope: what (I assume) he meant was: “Remember last year, when a 600 millions €/y. company came on stage, and no one on the Gillmore gang heard of them, or even cared? That only one guy [Scoble] was polite enough to wonder: “Wow! How come I never heard of you?” — well, that pretty much sums up how we feel about you the 363 days of the year: if we aren't in Silicon Valley, you will be too prejudiced against us for our efforts to be worth it.” Of course he is wrong not to behave properly on the two days when he can make an impression—but his reply was pretty a call for less injustice in your coverage. Instead of assuming you knew his company's PR issues better then he did, you should have asked him: Why being French impacts your coverage?

    I'm getting old, but I've learnt two important things in life. #1, I learnt from you: when seeing a new face, come with a broad smile and ask “Who are you?” like the answer will be so great, it will make the Sun brighter. #2, I learnt from being wrong: whenever someone says something you disagree with, don't try to be witty; just ask “Why ~ ?” where ‘~’ is his exact sentence. (I also tend to include #3: when asked a question, re-use the exact word of the sentence to reply, just like you do when you learnt about phrase structure & how to ask questions in a new language — but that's tedious.)

    Regarding the language of their tweeter feed: Deezer —like all music-based company— is very dependent on diffusion rights that are very different internationally and extremely hard to settle. Apart from majors & iTunes, no one managed to get close to any relevant portfolio. Because of that (and language, and peer-effects) the market is very, very much country-wide. They are trying to prove that their business model work to the authorities voting laws about music diffusion, or they are hoping to be bought by an international equivalent (rather then competitor): in either case, it is their interest to grow big in one country before spending more to go into another market. Why should they cater to English-speakers (or rather, to a handful of Californians who will never be allowed to use their service) while what they should be doing is addressing their users (remember that guy ranting about how the only people that matter are your users matter?) — well Deezer's users like English Pop, but are not so keen on English blogs. They don't read you, just like VentePrivee.com users don't read you either. (Trust me: *everyone* I know off-line uses both sites intensively; not one has heard of you.) Talking to you won't help a hundredth as much as talking to Ariel Wizman (you must have heard of him: he's a very well-known DJ — Really? No? At all?) or being featured on Elle Magazine's blog. (Both have an order of magnitude, or three, more fans & readers than you.) Unless they are planning to sell to Pandora or eBay, of course. Oddly enough, once they start thinking about exit strategies, they get invited to conferences that you attend; you stubble on an “under-publicised” company, and analysts at eBay quote you in their internal estimates explaining that the company their are considering to acquire is a hidden gem (while it actually passed its peak a few weeks before that).

    TechMeme is great: I personally read it once every hour (that's too much) like a dozen equivalent (too much, I kid you not) including non-English ones (anyone in tech not reading at least one Taiwanese aggregation site a day, preferable in Chinese, is lame. There. I said it. — What? You don't feel comfortable working in a foreign language? Welcome to, not the nightmare, but the actual daily issue everyone you've criticised in your post.) I wouldn't have any of it recommend to a CEO —especially mine— otherwise he'd change his strategy every fortnight. Unless, of course, he *lives* in the Silicon Valley and has the reality at his doorstep to help him cope and realise how developed many of those projects are.

    From my experience as a bilingual twitterer, I'm assuming the main reason twitter didn't take off here is that 140 character (minus the usual twitter codes) isn't as much in French. It's impossible to shorten a sentence like you would in English by skipping words without causing tons of misunderstandings. I'm also assuming that we, lazy as we are, are too busy uploading videos to the only credible Western competitor to YouTube, Dailymotion.

    Now that you mention it: it's odd that UStream is so heavily promoted, while videos of the event could be stored on Dailymotion afterwards. I mean: Loïc knows about them, and wants to play the Gallic Knight, doesn't he? Well, maybe they don't have US-based analysts to impress.

  100. Have you asked them if they'd have time to lunch with you?

    'Cause (as explained several times by Loïc) the way we handle pervasive information isn't through ambient awareness, but longer, more serene format that allows both casual talk, phatic claims or belonging, weird stories and not-so glorious tales that one wouldn't dare to mention on a twit but might with a friend of one-hour-and-a-bottle. If I came to the Valley and asked people to have an hour-and-a-half long lunch with me, you know, to get to know and trust each other a little, how many would reply that they don't have time for that kind of non-sense? And how many spend more time then that *every day* on twitter?

    When in Rome…

  101. There are many more startups that I haven't seen on that list, and that are very active on twitter. Those happen to focus on tech-crowd oriented services.

  102. You seemed to have a (legitimate) greif against French entrepreneurs; why are you flipping this around and avoiding (and/or being banned from) the Travelling Geeks? Because of your being rude? Their being to tolerant or non-twitterers? I missed something.

  103. > Because I'm a spoiled arrogant ADD child, right? They all joined Twitter because of ME! Geesh. Get a clue.

    Wheren't you at that SxSW that put twitter on the tech scene? We know you've tried to share a lot, and got *dunked* by Shaq's ability for disclosure, for sure — but don't hide behind His Cuteness AK or the remains of the Hudson plane: you have your responsibilities. I remember posts about not having limits to follower count. Don't act offended because @ev won't poke you back: he owes you. You are the man. ;)

    Now, about you being spoiled: you have all the gadgets; you even are allowed in Q's secr… — Microsoft Research it's called. I mean: as long as you shoot those in HD, I'm fine with it, but don't pretend like you don't have the latest cool camera when we can see it *on your pic*. ;)

    And ADD… I'm sure someone kept screen grabs of your FriendFeed streams. B^O
    The Surgeon general came that close to demand a disclamer about possible Seisures.

  104. > why do you think Eric Schmidt joined Twitter this week?

    To be on the only hot website left with actual privacy settings? ::Rimshot::

  105. > […] by a French startup incubator. So the startups […]

    See what you did there? You forgot about internal politics!

    “The French” are not a coherent, uniform group. I mean, if you've heard of any group, country, trying as hard as we are to look like a disorganised, fighting, bitching bunch, who'd hang anyone claiming to speak for everyone… Well, get out of the Open Source forum.

    It's likely that the guy behind the incubator is a TechMeme-fed internationally oriented guy (he believes in the concept of a start-up-based economy, rather then in an actual, individual idea) while the start-upers are mostly caring about either explaining their jobs to their moms, and making money fast enough (ie. without loosing three months translating everything) not to have to deal with one of those crappy meetings planned by the incubator with… “What again this time? American bloggers? Why!? Why!? — I mean: yes, we should have some visibility, but we are about a platform to simplify filling on-line *tax forms*. How can a guy who can't figure out how many numbers there is to a French phone help me with my issues, ie. incoherent government standards?”

  106. I was unusally close to make a stupid remark on reading texts as long as 140 characters and the (presumed) literacy rate in your home town—but that was the cheapest shot I could imagine. Plus, bumper stickers are actually incredibly wordy, especially in the South were they tend to have several.

    So instead, let me use this opportunity to thank for for coping with our lame red tape, strikes, and constant bitterness to bring us your talent for design. I know for a fact that (as long as you explain your accent is actually because you come from Wichita) Southeners are the most welcoming people in the world, so I appreciate your sacrifice.

    (And, yes, I have a very witty and offensive punch line, starting by “They'd better be welcoming, because […]” in my head. But it'll stay there. Better for everyone. ;^)

  107. Hi everybody,

    This text just shows to me how difficult it will be for americans to get in the next step of globalization: the end of the empire. Tomorrow, things are not going to turn around the US, it will turn around asia's giants.
    And I am a bit afraid, seeing that kind of reaction from someone who is supposed to be more than the average plugged to the world, of the reaction of the “average educated american”. The psychological shift will come quick and will be violent. And seeing this I better understand the conclusion of this conf : http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_asia_s_ri… . Risks highlighted are 1) War.
    Best regards

  108. Hi Robert,

    As a frenchman, I agree with you on a lot of things you say.

    But you know, while we can theorically have access to the same information as you do, the place where you live still matters. We, the french start-up entrepreneurs, would love sometimes to be able to go in a café or a bbq party in Palo Alto and accidentally run into the big guys of the internet. I'm sure that the place where you start and run your business, even in a globalized world, is still very important and that's on of the reasons why american tech companies are doing so well : because they start in a 300 million people market with one laguage and one currency. If you suceed then you have the critical size to go anywhere else then. That's why Loic le Meur for instance had to move to California to start his new business and have a chance to succeed on a global scale. I think that's what Jonathan from Deezer meant and he knows that if he wants to succeed in the US they might have to move there sometimes.

    My company, ooprint.fr is still very french-market focused for the moment, even though we have a .com website and ship everyday to american and other countries customers. Meanwhile, to answer your #7 about business cards, I can assure you that many people here put their twitter, facebook and so on on their business cards, and we even launched a special category of free business cards with the theme “social networks” : http://www.ooprint.fr/socialnetworks
    and you know what ? it will be very soon available on the ooprint.com website too !

    Vincent

  109. How influential are you all.. self-proclaimed journalists more interested by marketing than by products? This really is a joke. And how blind are you to pretend leweb is independent when it is obviously just a PR exercise for Microsoft, twitter, and a few of L Lemeur friends.. If you only wait to hear from PR people to test new products you really are clowns, not journalists.

  110. To focus so much of this discussion entirely on Twitter seems limiting. And I say this as a Twitter fan, an active user and someone who wholly agrees with Robert on the fact that if you’re in business and not in the Twitter game, you may as well tell people you still send faxes for communication. Really. It’s one of the most powerful ways to communicate and engage with an audience period. And, you better be everywhere else your customers and potential fans are online as well because if you’re not taking the time, remember that your competitor is or will. And, your customers will be listening to them, not you.

    So, that message did need to get across in some shape or form. As their guests however, there are other things to also consider. The value of a troupe of us coming to Paris or any city for that matter is to listen, learn, absorb, share and report, which we did, but also to educate and mentor. Getting on Twitter is only one lesson we can teach them since there’s a lot more involved to making a company successful: do they have a product or service that solves a real need, an easy user interface, the right business model, a solid product but in the wrong market, a missing feature that could make or break them, bad timing, too late to the game, or are they entering a crowded market with no chance of survival……and on and on and on.

    Also, reality check: meeting one dynamic company after another with polish is rare. Sure, it’s incredible when you come across a new idea that is earth shattering or a smart new CEO who stands out from the pack and knows how to present his idea like Steve Jobs. Frankly, that’s not the majority of cases, even in the Valley, so it’s not a European-only issue. Getting it right out-of-the gate requires experience – doing it again and again, access to the best and most powerful people so you can learn from their mistakes and having the right personality to make it a smooth non-salesly pitch when frankly, you might be someone who would rather just be building the damn thing with other smart engineers behind a closed door. And, even among the polished I’ve seen plenty bad PPT presentations. (despite how often I recommend PPT pitches, they still keep comin’ – the tips Robert provides are spot on).

    I also think it’s important to remember that the value is a two-way street. Letting entrepreneurs know how the game is played is one thing we can bring to the table collectively as a group. The French Traveling Geeks team was multi-cultural bringing a wealth of experience and perspectives from 7 different countries, including entrepreneurs from Paris and we nearly had an Israeli on board. Bringing that kind of diversity and energy as a group to sprouting companies in another country is incredibly powerful.

    We can act as a sounding board and give back not just by blogging and tweeting about their innovations but also by the time we spend and the advice we leave behind, such as getting on Twitter and countless other valuable insights to what yields success. In return, we learn about the way another culture’s entrepreneurs view the world AND the issues they face that wouldn’t be relevant or even have a market in the states.

    If we tout community, then the game should be played on and offline. After all, isn’t it often what we give back that provides the most magic in our lives? And, when we all return to our own worlds, I hope the conversations continue. It would be great to keep the dialogue going with French companies we met with, get regular updates and have them visit us in the states.

  111. Such a French attitude :)

    So now that you have supposedlyunderstood how things were working your conclusion is that you should insult journalists and bloggers? Pursuing on your line of reasonning I'd argue it would be more useful to get yourself a Twitter account and to Loic a galss of wine! :)

    See, that's one important difference between French and American people. When there is a bump on the road French people tend to be vocal whereas S.Valley people tend to focus on fixing it …

  112. Hello
    I am really surprised how arrogant are people from the US… One example, but all the article is in the same spirit: Deezer is twitting in french for 1 reason… the followers are french… And if you don't know this service this is because you didn't do well your journalist work …

  113. Yeah, and with *only* 200,000 US visitors a month you would really wonder why they would take the pain to communicate in English on Twitter … Maybe the mistake of the journalist is precisely to have thought that such traffic would command good PR/communication …

  114. Hello rdpnda
    In fact this post, but not only, the discussion about mid east is also a good example, rise this question to my mind: do the us people understand that they represent only 5% of the WW population? And further than this do they understand that following the last year economic crunch their economic power (but further than this the one of the whole western world) is going to decrease dramatically? I am not sure of this. And even if this is understood, I am now sure that some of the top known blogger/journalist understand that there will be a big psychological move to be done. The world is going to not be US/western centric anymore. This means that if you are not able to understand and support that kind of LITTLE cultural differences, you will hallucinate when you will see (and have to adapt to) that 90% of the world is just not thinking in the same way (it is not a matter of using twitter or not, it is a matter of how you see life…).
    Get back to the middle east panel, there are some starts there (even if I promise you that for people on the middle east this guys are more americans than something else).
    Best regards

  115. Hello mister Scoble,

    I was the first speaker Tuesday, I was in a hurry, going to London just after.

    I stopped listening you when you first said “fuck”.

    I’m Sorry to say that, but I don’t read you, I don’t know you and I have a hard time believing you are much more important than our clients.

    Who are you exactly? From here you’re just a random guy ranting on his blog…

    Now I don’t think our communication is that bad, really, we’ve been approached by Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Verizon and a few other small brands, we’re doing business with Korean Carriers…

    And that’s not because of Twitter, that’s because we’re doing some real work, products and tech, that people want.

    By the way, we do have a twitter account and some followers…

  116. Never forget to be gracious for what you have been given. You grew up in the Valley and saw technology bloom from a very early age. It's easy for you to “get” it because it's been a part of your life. That's not the case in France. You are acting like a art snob would act to people who don't grow up around art. It's not their fault that they don't get to speak directly to executives and startups like you do.

    You know I share your frustration, but we'll have to be patient and inspire them to make these connections on their own. Maybe you could go tradesies. If I were you and in France, I'd have some startup take me to the nicest restaurant in Paris, buy a big bottle of wine and a good dinner, and then I'd teach them what I knew. They could teach you about French wine or food, or maybe art. It's hard to deny that French food, wine, and art are amazing. Then you both win.

    There is more to life than technology. At least for other people. Don't forget that.

  117. I have to agree with Robert on this. If you are in the tech industry and want to grow your brand, you have to spend some time each day keeping up on what is happening in the industry. Even if that means just scanning the headlines on your favorite blog.

    I can't tell you how many times a light bulb went on for me after reading about a company that on the surface, had nothing to do with my company.

  118. I can't believe how much push back Robert is getting for stating something that is so obvious. If you are a CEO of a tech company and don't think you need to keep up with the industry, then you should reconsider your role.

    It takes literally 5 minutes a day to read the tech headlines and is time well spent.

  119. So you have to be on Twitter to be successful? Says who? You? I disagree with this Twitter BS. Michelle said it best, “There is more to life than technology. At least for other people. Don't forget that.”

    Twitter isn't the do-all of the universe. To say such a thing and spout about how “everyone should use it or they're incompetent” shows the same incompetence of you. If it works for you, great, have at it, but don't tell other people they have to do the same.

  120. No, RT buttons are lame. whover regularly shares stuff on Twitter has a tr.im or bit.ly Bookmarklet.

    If you put buttons for all services on your page that is just noise. ;)

    whoever whines for a RT-button just shows he/she is not a geek ,)

  121. not really. i share stuff all the time. i have multiple browsers on multiple computers. this one for example doesn't have a reshare addon currently installed, therefore i won't retweet

  122. I can definitely understand the urge to justify your tantrum, but have you apologized yet to the people in the room? You didn't in this post.

    It seems to me that what happened here is that you made a trip and it turned out to be different than you'd expected. You'd assumed this was going to plug-and-play quite nicely into your normal modus operandi, and thus be an efficient and productive use of your time. What you discovered was a group of people who were not quite “with the program,” and who — if you were going to figure out what's up — would require a lot more work.

    So I'm glad you decided to share your tips so that they could learn from your experience and improve along their own goals. But I truly don't understand why you have to do it while being angry with them because they made mistakes.

    There's an old-but-good term I'm sure you've heard, “Learning Culture.” Silicon Valley was once one vast learning crucible. Such cultures don't yell at people for making mistakes; it's about creating and tinkering and learning to do better. It seems very not-with-the-Bay-Area program to travel the world espousing rigid behavioral judgment. I'd have rather seen you foster some useful discussion about why a way that is dominant in so many places has somehow not caught on, despite a desire to play in the same playground.

    And there's a question involved on social media adoption where Paris is specifically noted as a place where social media adoption is unusually low – maybe you could've asked these people who are clearly leaders of THEIR community about this, and then you might have learned something useful. (Not my blog: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/05/21/c…)

    I'm glad to hear that you're not normally belligerent, but I'm surprised then at your blame-the-victim attitude. It's not their fault that you flew off the handle. You did it.

    And all that said? Being a person who has wandered around the block a few dozen times, my experience is that when normally nice people are stretched the point of fury over something that they *should* be able to absorb in stride, almost invariably they're exhausted — not “tired,” but really fundamentally wiped out. Take your vitamins religiously, and plan some downtime, soon.

  123. I don't know why you'd get so angry about this.

    Not EVERYONE has to be on Twitter. They just don't. But you think they do.

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/02

    Though I am not in the same league as anyone you talk about, the only reason I have Twitter is to Twitterfeed my blogs and delicious links to the feeds, to add value. That's it. I hardly ever login, barely ever follow anyone.

    It's not killing me, that's for sure.

  124. With what I've seen over the weekend about the Nexus One, I'd hate to be Apple's marketing team right now. Between AT&T being unable to deliver acceptable service in San Francisco and New York City and the Android handsets now providing better user experiences than an iPhone according to some (fairly) impartial testers, I think Apple is in trouble.

    Of course, I'm still holding out – neither an iPhone, Verizon Droid nor a (T-Mobile) Nexus One is in my 2010 budget. But I'll tell you right now – I'm seriously considering biting the bullet and learning Android development. Because I think it's going to be a replay of VHS wiping out Beta.

  125. Sorry, Michelle, but I'll have to graciously disagree. If you are trying to build a global brand you've gotta play a better game. I'd agree with you if this were 2007, but it's not, it's 2009. Twitter has been here for three years and if you can't see that there's 500 tech press on a single list (and I don't have them all) then you aren't paying attention and you should have your cage rattled a bit. People rattle my cage when I'm clueless and I always learn something from the process. Can I be nicer about it? Absolutely and I will try to be nicer about it in future.

  126. I guess I feel for the French and am just a big softie. They have to speak the language of a country that was their sworn enemy for centuries.

    I just felt the tech was lacking at Le Web. A lot of the companies created something that already existed or didn't seem to think everything through. For a conference that is supposed to be among the best, I didn't “discover” much. Mediocrity is a greater sin than not being on Twitter.

    Maybe you had access to companies I didn't though.

  127. Yeah, there's that problem too. But maybe the technology was mediocre because they still haven't caught up to 2007, much less 2009 yet? But, seriously, there are some good things. Particularly in music. Spotify and Deezer rock. Plus lots of other stuff we love comes from Europe. TweetDeck, for instance, comes from UK.

  128. I can't imagine being pissed for someone not using Twitter. I mean, I love Twitter. I think it's valuable for my work and my brand. But I don't think I'd lose my shit and feel insulted if somebody wasn't using it. I'd just assume they didn't see the value of it. Not that they were personally offending me.

    It'd be an opportunity to graciously show how it could work for them.

    I guess when you become big, you don't have to be gracious anymore? I hope that's not the case for me when my career takes off.

    By the way, Portland is wonderful. And @travelportland rocks . And if you're insulting Oregon as a travel destination, you haven't been here. I'm sorry, Jean-Marc, that you've missed this gem. I hope you'll find time to visit us soon. I'd be happy to show you some amazing sites.

  129. Yeah, I know what you mean,

    Sounds like some people are behind the times, the biggest obstacle I encounter with business people is that they think Twitter is for teens only, how wrong they are.

    They have no idea how powerful Twitter really is.

    Plus I have noticed if someone have learned a few things, like word processing and presentation software, they think they know everything. Their know it all attitude blinds them to further new information.

    It is sad, but true among many people I meet.

  130. Very interesting blog post, and I found it has a personal resonance to me: I am French, work in London in social media and my girlfriend is American. As I might at some point trying to go to the US and work there for a couple of years, I feel I am well placed in this debate.

    Robert, I think everything you say is true, and I left my country that was for some reasons that you showed here: the reluctance to embrace change and innovation (especially when it comes from the US) being the main ones. But I feel you should understand that having such a confrontational style does not help you, especially with foreigners. Many countries have a complex of inferiority with the US (France included) and if you present anything too blunty they will reject it. On the other hand, and let's be honest, America also has a complex of superiority and the Valley does not escape from this. I know that people of the Valley usually have a point, but sometimes as a European, when I am listening to some American entrepreneurs or tech people, I feel they look at us we are retarded or stupid and I have to calm down in order to not to strike back.

    So if you are really serious about all the social media and community ethics you put forward, one thing, on both sides, would be helpful:humility.

    BTW Robert I read from you once you would talk to any geeks being around, I am coming to SF in early January, so let's have a coffee.

  131. Fantastic article. I find that many Estonian startups are making the same mistakses: not leveraging social media enough, no video, no demos etc.

    btw, what do you think – should the French (or any other non-English language country) entrepreneurs have one or two Twitter accounts ? Ie should the account be bilingual or should they use one account in French and one account in English ?

  132. you sad sad sad techno obsessed man. Not that I want to defend the french but creating and writing about creations are very different. After 4 hours sleep a night and coding for months on end to create something maybe you dont have time to tweet… and if you do it is while laying on your back with a glazed expression on your face and smoke coming out of your ears before softly mumbling 'tweet this'

  133. Good comments. yep, too confrontational. An angry angry man. I might register for twitter just to tell him…. nah I have friends in real life.

  134. Hey Robert,
    Does startup are even a 100% french? meet us at Intruders TV, half-french-english-asian whatever… we have business cards, twitter account and even a gtalk adress! tbezier@gmail.com …We know about tech industry cause we are filming them…. so are we supposed to raise tons of millions?
    I think all your advices are good, BUT startups like deezer does profit & money even if you don't know it… there are huge internet services serving millions or hundred millions of people that you don't know like in China, Japan or south korea… that doesn't mean they are not good, it just mean you don't know them. Many startups lives and makes money without the “help” of techcrunch or you…

    I have no auction in deezer… but think about it, they serve ads and they got paid for the audience they serve…particulary french… it's like if you ask to a french guy if he know pandora… well no… cause there tweeter feed is in english… and that the service is only available in the usa… the world is not flat, people makes money everywhere and having your picture in Scobleizer or Techcrunch don't get you eternal glory or money… Innovation still rules.

  135. Thierry: I know Deezer is a successful business and is headed toward making a global brand. I interviewed its CEO on stage at LeWeb and you don't get on stage at LeWeb if you aren't doing something significant.

    But it isn't well known in US yet. Partly because it hasn't used Twitter to build relationships with tech journalists, plus its feed is in French so it's hard for English speakers to get value out of that feed (not impossible, but hard).

    Deezer definitely wants to compete globally, not just in France, by the way. How do I know that? The CEO told me and its competitor, Spotify, is definitely making a global brand (Spotify built a relationship with most of the US tech press six months ago or more. Spotify is doing it right. The others? Well, not so well.

  136. Deezer had to struggle a lot of time with french restriction about the music copyrights (same as Pandora some times ago) it costs them tons of money and time, during that time Spotify took advantage of this to launch the great product we know today.

    It's a race and in Europe, particulary in France, the worst ennemy of the entrepreneur is its own country and its governemental ****.

    The money will never be in France, because it's small, and only few people on earth speaks french, but when you start a startup in France and that you need money, it won't be a business model targeting the USA that'll get you what you need to start, we have no business angels compared to London or elsewhere… so the few banks or people lending money are also expecting that you target first the french market… and those people believe me…they love crappy ppt

  137. And so, why didn't you here about Deezer ? Shame on you ;-) You don't speake french ? Why do you thing we, french people, would so speak your language, and you not our ? Hu ?
    Ok, bad question… ;-)

  138. Robert,

    It's not only about start-ups using Twitter, but the market has to follow. Yes the press talks all the time about twitter, (they're bored with terrorism) but try to find out how many Belgians use this service actively.
    A couple of weeks ago I created a new Twitter account as a test and started following only french users. No reactions… Then the next day I decided to follow a few Americans and suddenly I got spammed by hundred marketing gurus!

    It's another world. Yes I think Twitter and the other platforms are important, but the USA and Europe are just too different. Another important detail: in some countries such as Belgium, surfing on your mobile is still very expensive and only a small percentage of the population use this service or even care about it.

    Twitter has what, 30million users? How many are really active and what percentage is European. I'm sure that if you make the count you'll realize it's just a drop in the European ocean…

  139. What about Ramos, Cowon and other Asian manufacturers? I'm not sure they're very active on Twitter…
    Do you have any data about Twitter use in Asian countries, or are they using competing services (local or american)? I know Microsoft has some plans there…

  140. Robert, Graeme mentions language but there are other cultural differentiators!

    The title of your post reads “World-brand-building mistakes France’s entrepreneurs make.” Maybe “US-brand-building mistakes France’s entrepreneurs make” would be more appropriate. Or “China-brand-building mistakes France’s entrepreneurs make.”

    But how about your US-centric approach?

    “China-brand-building mistakes US’s entrepreneurs make?”

    For a little awareness and respect, start with http://bit.ly/712g2u ;)

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