Franz Caduc is Director of Strategy at Reed Midem and the new Managing Director of LeWeb, Europe's biggest tech conference.
He talked to us about what's in store for this year's London edition, starting on June 5th.
Awwwards Team: Can you tell us the story behind leWeb? How did it come about?
Loic and Géraldine Le Meur created LeWeb in 2004. The first edition was called "Les blogs" and it attracted 250 participants to the Senat in Paris. 400 participants attended the second edition. For the third year, to grow and develop the conference "Les blogs" was renamed "LeWeb".
The aim was to bring together, in Paris, the key internet players from all over the world in order to share their vision and experiences and to explore future trends and the impact they would have on both everyday life and the economy. By December 2012, LeWeb London and Paris had grown to 5,000 participants from over 80 countries, more than 500 journalists attending the event and generating thousands of Tweets and blog posts. It is now Europe's largest tech conference.
How is a conference like LeWeb useful in today’s world of new technologies?
LeWeb brings together the very best global players within the new technology arena. For some speakers it is the first time they have addressed an audience in Europe. The conference is inspirational due to the different talks and panels, but more importantly it is a place where participants can network, share their experiences, meet VCs... It is also an event that attracts the very best global startups with our Startup Competition. This renowned competition selects three young companies who have developed real time applications for the mobile marketplace. LeWeb is unanimously considered a unique platform to help propel these companies to success.
By December 2012, LeWeb London and Paris had grown to 5,000 participants from over 80 countries [...] It is now Europe's largest tech conference
"We have a small but very experienced team with dedicated people for sponsorships, communication and so on"
What does your day-to-day work involve? How do you go about organising such an event?
The organisation requires a lot of energy and hard work. We have a small but very experienced team with dedicated people for sponsorships, communication and so on. Loic heads up the program and defines the central theme for each edition. He also invites the most appropriate people to talk on stage. The logistics of such an event are also very important, and set up well in advance.
How do you decide on the content? Do you decide on topics and look for speakers in that area, or choose great speakers and let the content come from them?
As soon as the central theme has been defined, we look for the best stories or people to explore that theme. We also have on our website (www.leweb.co) a special link dedicated to suggestions regarding the speakers.
Some impressive speakers are present at your event: Christine Lagarde, Rania Abdullah, Karl Lagerfeld, Philippe Starck, etc. How accessible are they? How do you persuade them to take part in the conference?
LeWeb is Europe’s leading internet conference on innovation and entrepreneurship, gathering the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, innovators and investors along with tech leaders, digital marketers and press. Therefore speaking at LeWeb gives unique international exposure. Plus all sessions are live streamed on the LeWeb YouTube channel.
Can you tell us about the learning experience for attendees at a conference like LeWeb?
People often tell us about the amazing energy they feel at LeWeb. There is a very optimistic atmosphere and a desire to create, innovate and learn. There are also some great stories to hear, for instance how Benjamin Bejbaum decided to create Dailymotion during one of our conferences. It is also a place where people meet and create business partnerships to enable them to attain international success.
The “share culture” on the internet will be the theme of LeWeb London 2013
What are your predictions for the future of the internet?
Tough question! Some emerging trends are likely to change the way we live and work in the future. One of them is the “share culture” on the internet, which will be the theme of LeWeb London 2013. During the event, we will welcome major players on this such as Airbnb, Etsy, Zipcar, Blablacar, Burning man... A new generation is growing up with new values such as preserving the planet, cutting down on waste and the importance of having a positive impact on society and the environment.
Apart from its size, how does LeWeb stand out from other events in the same field?
For me it is the positive energy that it generates and the networking possibilities.
Our audience are web designers and developers. Which presentations at LeWeb will be most relevant to them this year?
There will be a great deal. In addition to the conferences there are numerous networking possibilities and new products and technologies to discover. Of course, there is also the startup competition where 16 startups are selected to compete from the 600 candidates that submit entries.