LeWeb '09 kicked off in style with Loic Le Meur telling the packed conference room that there are over 2000 attendants from over 50 different countries.
Seeking to capture the zeitgeist of the tech world, Loic called it an historic period in our industry, with real-time changing the face of the web irreversibly. Combine that with the onward march of mobile, throw in geolocation and connected objects and these are truly exciting times.
So highlights from Day 1
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, tipped up to talk about his new project Square, a nifty piece of hardware that attaches to a range of mobile devices to enable the user to accept credit card payments. Despite an inevitable few hitches with the live demo (first rule of conferences, even if you've practiced it 300 times back stage, it will never work live), he eventually managed to show it in action and there's no doubt it's innovative. He admitted they have a fair few issues to iron out and the issue of fraud protection is a mammoth one.
TechCrunch Europe's start-up competition revealed some gems most notably:
Friendbinder, an aggregator of social networks that allows you to see conversation trends and search just within your friends.
Tigerlilly, a really neat app that makes it much easier to customise the tabs on a Facebook fan page. It takes away the requirement for FBML plus it's makes it much easier to change the tabs once set up. Marketers will love it.
Tasky:ly, a streamlined task manager, that made me think "that's exactly what I've been waiting for".
Sokoz a real-time auction system – think ebay but snappier
In the afternoon YouTube founder Chad Hurley seemed fairly underwhelmed about the idea of real-time (perhaps his new passion for racing cars is occupying his mind). He did throw out some astounding facts and figures about YouTube though, most notably that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube EVERY MINUTE; that's a lot of cute cat videos.
Scoble introduced pearltrees , which helps you 'organize the web' and definitely deserves a closer look (if for no other reason that it will make it much easier to find previous links that you've shared on Twitter).
And of course, (my hero) Marissa Mayer showed once again why she's the right hand girl of Larry and Sergey and a worthy winner of woman of the year. Articulate, knowledgeable and with an inside track on one of the most influential companies in the world, she talked about combining social search with real-time and the algorithm Google are working on to better assess which of the real-time web content is most valuable; effectively sorting through the volume to get to the gems.
Roll on Day 2……