I love Loic Le Meur; I suspect everyone who’s ever heard him speak does too. Yes, he’s a successful entrepreneur with a track-record, but I guess it’s more his mix of beaming smiles, Gallic charm and accent and his positive, upbeat and enthusiastic manner which combined has contributed to making Loic one of the influential people in tech world-wide. He talks of his passion for what he does, and it’s that which motivates him and not money. The passion comes across clearly.
Loic is the founder and CEO at Seesmic, which provides a multi-platform way to communicate and “manage your brand online” (an “obsession” of his). Along with his wife Geraldine, he founded one of the World’s major web conferences, Le Web, which takes place every December in Paris. (It’s well worth going for the 2 day event, it brings the best of Europe and Silicon Valley together. Here are some of my blogs from Le Web 09).
But as a significant figure in Europe why did he relocate himself and family to Silicon Valley three years ago?
“It’s more difficult in Europe, but in the bay area there is easy access to everyone within a short drive. Everything is central, Silicon Valley feels like one big campus and it’s full of energy.” Settling in was easy as “most people in Silicon Valley are not from Silicon Valley and [unlike in Europe] they are genuinely willing to help”.
In Europe are we just not willing to pay it forward? Later on, during a discussion about funding, someone elegantly illustrated the difference between US and Europe; in the US there is a “virtuous circle” of US entrepreneurs who later become investors, and keep going through this process again and again. In Europe – for whatever reason – after succeeding and exiting, entrepreneurs seem to retire with their money and the cycle is broken.
Investors and Pivots
Getting under the hood a bit more of Seesmic, Loic explained that it started out as a video chat platform – a medium he still firmly believes in – but there was a problem scaling it beyond their initial hard core of 100,000 users. Quite simply, a lot of people are not very comfortable with video as a communications medium. So despite the initial success, Seesmic made the move to another product.
He explained, “Good investors know its not what you start with that matters but where you end up”, and added, “The crucial element is the trust and relationship that you have with your investors.” He also acknowledged that he was in a fortunate position in being well-funded which allowed him to do that, build the platform and grow the community ahead of monitising.
In his closing remarks he asked us all simply to think, “What can you be the best in the world at?” and to build a community around that.
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