This blog has led to action - make sure to visit the

Friday, January 23, 2009

A computer in your kitchen

The mobile phone was stuck in the PC paradigm with a difficult UI until Steve Jobs came up with the iPhone and finally offered users a UI that makes sense for the size of the device. The same thing is happening with Tablet PCs, and my friend Olivier Seres is now offering a Device/UI that is really easy to use for the form factor. Imagine a pumped up iPhone, with the power of a real computer accessed through an easy to use interface:

Check it out...

Would you like to rate me?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Obama speech favorites

There was a lot of expectations, and Obama was his best self again. The full text of the speech is here (thanks to a twit from @chrisabraham) and my favorite extracts are here:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.


Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.

Today is a good day :-)

Would you like to rate me?

Monday, January 19, 2009

He is the Man, We are the Wire

From Erik Adigard on Axiomenta, referring to “Man on Wire” the high-wire walker who in 1974 walked a wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center:

As president-elect Obama takes leadership of a broken nation. He is the Man and we are the Wire.

[Read more - Watch the video remix]

Would you like to rate me?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

After, - please vote for the Entrepreneur Commons idea

The Entrepreneur Commons idea finished 7th out of 106 ideas in the Social Entrepreneurship category on

We now have another opportunity to present the idea through the website:

Please vote for the Entrepreneur Commons idea there, then send the info to 10 friends.
And if you voted - Twit it

Would you like to rate me?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Visions of Leadership - Managing Innovation "on the edge" event on 1/30/09 - mark your calendar

Please join the conversation on 1/30/09 at 8:30am at Orange Labs in South San Francisco, USA (801 Gateway blvd), or at 5:30pm on the HEC Campus in Jouy-en-Josas, France (1, rue de la Libération).
Details here
Register here

Would you like to rate me?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The End of the Financial World as We Know It

Just read this very interesting article in the NY Times from Michael Lewis explaining how a lot of people suspected that something was going on with Madoff, but nobody had any incentive to do anything about it. Worse, somebody (Harry Markopolos) wrote a letter to the SEC on Nov. 7, 2005 to demonstrate how something had to be wrong with what Madoff was doing. And nobody listened.

This reminds me very much of what is going on with another part of the financial world: the Venture Capital world. Nothing as bad certainly as what is going on with Madoff, but another example of something not working, people knowing about it (VCs will tell you privately that there are issues with the model) and nobody doing anything about it because nobody has an incentive to. Except for a paper published by Ludovic Phalippou and Oliver Gottschalg on April 2007 (already discussed in this blog) where it is clearly shown that Private Equity returns are not that great (the paper shows that on average and once you factor in the fees charged by firm it is S&P minus 3%). But also in this case, and as discussed previously in this blog, nobody cares. Up until now that is.

With the current crisis, people have started questioning what is going on, and the word is out (TheFunded presented the case that "The canary is dead")

Not all is bad with VCs, but the model is certainly working more for them than for entrepreneurs or even investors. I am convinced that 2009 will bring changes to this world as well. While Michael Lewis presents in his article the very sad picture of what should or could have been done and has not been done so far with the banking system let's hope that VCs and their investors will be more efficient in tackling the issue. And it starts with going back to the basics: providing real support to entrepreneurs as a whole to keep the ecosystem healthy.

Would you like to rate me?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Open for questions

The Obama administration is open for questions. They have announced a second round of questions on 12/29/08 in their blog on

My question to the Obama administration:

How will you spend the $250M in your program for a national network of incubators to help small businesses? Will you trust government employees or paid consultants or will you let entrepreneurs decide how they can help themselves with an open model?

Would you like to rate me?

Getting started with 2009: what has happened so far and what's next

In 2007, I met with approximately 150 entrepreneurs, worked more closely with about 30 (based on the quality of the idea but also the chemistry with the entrepreneur), and I have now narrowed my focus down to a handful that I am convinced are going to make it in 2009. The typical 1% selection rate that you also see with VCs or Angels, which inspired me to figure out something better to help entrepreneurs at large - an open model allowing peer support and transforming what is today a competitive process into a collaborative one.

In 2008, I started Entrepreneur Commons to do just that.

Entrepreneur Commons is the continuation of a similar concept that I started experimenting with in 2005 and that was implemented in San Francisco through a "Club Entrepreneur" with the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce and a "Business Booster" with the French American Chamber of Commerce. 

The Entrepreneur Commons idea is very simple: on one side provide mentors to entrepreneurs to help them mature their business plan, and on the other side provide financing resources for those entrepreneurs whose business idea is mature enough. What is new with this is the combination of mentoring and financing in the specific context of entrepreneurs in developed countries. The model was inspired by the success of Microfinance and Mutual Guarantee Funds in Europe, which are proven sustainable models. As a result, Entrepreneur Commons is a not-for-profit for and by entrepreneurs including a platform hosting a social network of entrepreneurs and which manages a seed investment fund offering loans to startups. 

The long term goal is to change the way startups are being financed, as the current model works for VCs but not really for entrepreneurs. And as a result, it is also to change the way we think about capitalism, going from individual trying to maximize their profit as the force that drives the system to fostering collaboration for a more sustainable capitalism.

To achieve this, the short term goal is to build a network of of 100 to 150 entrepreneurs on one side, and raise a fund of at least $3M on the other side, so that we can do 30 loans of $100K to entrepreneurs in the network. This will be the proof of concept that will demonstrate the model.

The idea was presented during the first few month after launch to many entrepreneurs, angels, VCs, Limited Partners, lawyers and bankers to discuss the idea and collect feedback, and has received mostly positive feedback: yes this is something that is needed, and yes the concept is good on the paper. The goal now is to make it happen, which is not a question of "if" but rather "when". The one lesson I have learned is that it will take time, and from my experience on past projects, I have only limited control on the timing :-)
So far: 

  • Entrepreneur Commons has a first chapter in San Francisco, with a handful of entrepreneurs meeting once a month to share their successes and discuss their business issues, and we have had interest from entrepreneurs in other states (Texas, Florida, New York, Germany, France, Israel) who are considering starting similar efforts.
  • Entrepreneur Commons has already received soft commitments from investors interested in the concept.
  • Entrepreneur Commons was invited to present at Socap08, as a platform that is especially useful to Social Entrepreneurs who are typically left out of the classic funding processes currently offered to entrepreneurs.
  • The Entrepreneur Commons concept was submitted as part of the idea contest running on, and collected 339 votes to finish 7th out of 106 ideas submitted in the Social Entrepreneurship category.

As for 2009, I believe that this is going to be a great year of many opportunities. The financial crisis had the benefit of bringing a lot of people out of their comfort zone, and there is enough of a mess that people start questioning the status quo. This is a good start. 
Then the presidential election in the US, with Obama getting elected by voters but also getting majority support from people from all origins in almost every country in the world has started a process that cannot be stopped. People have realized that the world needs to change, that nothing will happen unless they start doing something about it, and that Web2.0 technology gives us the power today to make it happen if we decide to. Obama has been riding that wave, and the wave is bigger than him as it is the rise of a peer to peer civilization. The coming years will see big shifts and therefore big opportunities for the people who are at the right place at the time. This is a game entrepreneurs like: 2009 will be their year.

Best wishes for 2009 :-)