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Le Web 2013: SOCIAL MEDIA:”it’s not width, it’s depth” DISRUPTION: “it happens because of what we do” THE MICROCHIPPED SELF: a wonder … with e-discovery issues

December 12th, 2013 |  Published in LeWeb Paris 2013

Le Web Paris 2013


12 December 2013 – It has been one hell of a week.  I managed to cram in HP Discover in Barcelona and Le Web here in Paris. My head is crammed with so many thoughts from the past week.  In honor of the 10th anniversary of LeWeb Paris, the organizers sort of “fast forwarded” to the future to imagine “The Next 10 Years”. As usual, it is a gathering of the brightest technological innovators and visionaries. The theme explored several market segments (mobile, hardware, social, etc.) and their potential trajectory, as well as technology as a whole, and what the next 10 years might hold.

LeWeb is Europe’s most established tech conference, the brainchild of French serial entrepreneur Loic Le Meur.  Le Web has been the primus inter pares, but the growing size and scale of the Dublin Web Summit poses an interesting challenger. LeWeb runs for three days and there were about 3,900 of us (I have not seen final numbers) who came mostly from across Europe but a good number from the U.S.  It is a brilliant range of speakers and presentations.  But the real reason people come:  to network.  And much like the Mobile World Congress which I attend every year, it is a networking bonanza.

Clients will receive a more detailed report, but here are my three big take-aways this year:

* Gary Vaynerchuk, the “megachurch preacher of social media”

If you haven’t seen Gary Vaynerchuk in action, it’s a treat. Enough energy for everybody in the room. He was born in what is now Belarus and is the co-founder and CEO of a social media brand consulting agency, a video blogger, the co-owner and director of operations of a wine retail store, and an author and public speaker on HIS major subjects: social media, brand building and e-commerce. He is a whirlwind.  I first caught note of him in 2009 through his daily wine video series which we were using … in of all places … Burgundy. His focus of late is VaynerMedia, the social media brand consulting agency he co-founded in the Spring of 2009.

His mantra at Le Web this year: if you’re not using Snapchat for your marketing, you’re not getting it. Snapchat (which walked away from a $3 billion offer from Facebook) is the photo messaging application developed by Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy (then Stanford University students) that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as “Snaps”. And it has been drawing teenagers off Facebook/Instagram … Facebook’s main demographic being teenagers … in droves to the point that today Instagram announced a new feature called “Instagram Direct”  to allow users to share photos directly with up to 15 friends in a desperate bid to differentiate itself from Snapchat.

And this comes just a few days after Twitter announced users can now share and receive images in direct messages.

[Note: according to a chap I met from Adobe, their social media metrics consultant says that in 2000 some 36bn photos were taken in the world, but in 2011 this had risen to 360bn. I am trying to source these figures.]

“Before you tell a story, you have to have somebody’s attention,” said Vaynerchuk. By making content ephemeral, Snapchat has created a platform that demands your attention. That’s why Vaynerchuk says it has become teens’ favorite app “the most valuable marketing tool for my personal brand right now”.

But his other biggie was that “it’s not how many followers you have, it’s how many care. It’s not width, it’s depth. It’s not how many impressions you get, it’s how much attention you get.” Social media strategies focused on amassing large numbers of page views and follower counts are missing the point. Our digital world is noisy, an ocean of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn updates. You have to ask yourself – are you catching the attention and are you making a connection?

The thing about Snapchat is that it really is for teens and only brands marketing to teens would see the point. So Vaynerchuk put it to the crowd, arguably young but 30-somethings (I may have brought the curve up by 52 years), not teens. “Who here is using Snapchat?” About a quarter of the room raised their hand. Not bad for a relatively new network. But … hell … you also have a room full of social media geeks 🙂  But Vaynerchuk’s target audience was not teens, it was business people wanting to understand social media.

And I got my “moment” of fame. I had Tweeted his remark “Twitter is still the only platform where you can jump into a conversation unannounced and no one thinks you’re a stalker” … and became a Twitter star:

Twitter star

As in all this tech, the crucial question is always monetization and it is way early. As Vaynerchuk said, execution still needs to be proven.

But watch his presentation. Outrageous, hilarious, profane … but spot on:


* Brian Solis: “Disruption is not something we set out to do. It is something that happens because of what we do”

New apps, technologies and trends … “ideas” … are a dime a dozen these days, says Brian Solis, Principal, Altimeter Group and a long-standing presenter at Le Web. Innovation is now a constant, and you need to think differently about technology to create for the next 10 years. You need to disrupt.

But disruption as a concept has been, and will be, interpreted in many ways some more accurate than others. For Solis though, disruption is technology that changes markets. The prime example he gives: sliced bread. Sliced bread created an entire marketplace for spreads, accompaniments etc. Sliced bread was a truly disruptive technology.

The way we think about disruption is important too. “Disruption is not something we set out to do. It is something that happens because of what we do,” stressed Solis. Disruption changes human behavior (think: iPhone) and it’s a mixture of both ‘design-thinking and system-thinking’ to get there. So as an innovator, where do you begin if you don’t start with attempting disruption. To boil down Solis’ message into a word: ‘empathy.’ Empathy drives the core of your vision as an innovator, or so it should said Solis.

Solis says that there are only two ways to change human behavior: by manipulating people, or by inspiring them. If you choose the former, good luck on your journey, but if you would prefer to attempt the latter with your innovative attempts, then you should start with empathy: the why of your product or company. That is how you will capture attention, and hold onto it, especially in the technologically, socially-driven world today.

It reminded me of a comment made at HP Discover earlier this week. The topic was e-discovery technology, and the e-discovery ecosystem. The general counsel of a Fortune 100 company was there. He said: “Look, we have spent a lot of time looking at the e-discovery market. We have been to LegalTech, we have been to ILTA, we have run our beauty contests. No matter what anybody says, this stuff is now a commodity. So for me, it is not the product anymore. It is the people, the execution. Remember the old adage: you don’t bet on the horse, you bet on the jockey.”

If you start with the why, before the how and what of your product or service, then you can build something bigger than what you set out to create — you can build a platform, an ecosystem. Solis argues that both good ideas and bad ideas sound ridiculous at the beginning. But if you can build creative destruction into your business model, you’re already approaching technology differently. Set out to solve a problem yes, but also aim to create a market around the idea, all from that original empathy. Show them “you”, not the product per se.

* The Microchipped self … and e-discovery (?!)

The presentation was focused on wearable tech and the future of the quantified self … oh, and smart bras. “I flew in from New York and I am about six hours behind and I tossed and turned all night. Now according to Fitbit I am operating at 60% of my optimum speed,” says Natt Garun, Features Editor for The Next Web while interviewing James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

This is our reality: devices and apps that gather data on us and tell us how well or poorly we are doing health-wise. This trend is sweeping through the tech space and every new startup wants to play in this field. It’s true of society: we first create things that might kill us then build things that could prevent it.

Through these enormous databases of biometrics being built throughout the world, companies are gleaning boatloads of insights into the user behavior. For Park and his analytics team “we have noticed that after 12 weeks of using a Fitbit device people are up to 30% to 40% more active and being social really helps. Having more friends provides added peer pressure to get active.” Park reckons that right now people are very interested in gathering data about themselves and sharing their accomplishments when it comes to getting fit.

French-based wearable tech company WiThings is also in this space. According to the company, it has created the world’s first smart scale that not only measures your weight but your heart rate and your CO2 levels. The company has also brought a clip to accompany its scale that tracks your daily activities and apps that connect directly to the devices. These devices are getting increasingly popular, encouraging people to get healthier through gamification and sharing. Almost all these devices use a form of badges or a leaderboard system to get users to do more and be more active. What’s really interesting is the wealth of data being gathered about an individual’s health and the difference that information can make.

The desire to live a longer, healthier, more productive life drives a great deal of human behavior, and this desire will soon manifest itself in the form of microchips inside the body that will monitor your health and well being, and sometimes even be capable of directly modulating your physical desires.

Proteus Digital Health already makes pills that contain tiny sensors the size of grains of sand. Swallow the pill and the sensors inside it will monitor your internal systems while they are working their way through your digestive tract. Interestingly, the sensors themselves draw their power from the acids in your stomach, not too differently from how you can use two different metals to extract a bit of electric charge from a wet potato. The sensors communicate with a patch on your skin, which uploads the data to your smartphone.

At MIT, scientists have developed a computerized device about the size of a pacemaker that can be implanted under your skin to release drugs into your body on a carefully regulated schedule. The first test of the technology, involving seven older Danish women who need daily injections of a drug for osteoporosis, was concluded last year. According to, the devices “worked as intended, releasing up to 19 daily doses of an osteoporosis drug that ordinarily requires injections. The implants proved safe, and tests revealed that they delivered the medication as effectively as once-a-day shots.”

The Internet of Things is already arriving, but in the not-too-distant future you may be able to connect yourself to the Internet. Literally.

If you have the time, read The New Yorker Magazine article “The Body Electric” which discussed the work of materials scientist Dr John Roger. He has has perfected a flexible, wearable, stretchable, implantable integrated circuit that “could harvest power from radio waves, which are emitted by cell phones, to measure skin temperature, pressure from swelling, hydration levels, and electrical signals from the brain and heart”. Roger’s device, hailed as the first ‘epidermal electronics system’…is receiving the attention of sellers of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, sports drinks, fitness equipment, fashion designers, ‘body artists’, state corrections agencies, the National Institutes of Health … yadda yadda yadda.

And as I discussed with two attorneys … one from Orrick Herrington and one from WilmerHale … these devices will be just another stream of metadata  to monitor clinical studies, provide patients a way to monitor/adjust their routines … and become evidence in legal actions about what the device is monitoring. Yet another tech issue causing implications for lawyers and technologists working in electronic discovery. And yet another “not reasonably accessible” argument in the wings.

Note: this is actually a topic at MWC next year, as well as the Medical Tech Device Summits in Los Angeles and Amsterdam.

All of this is not really “new”.  If you read the legal websites/blogs you know that Samsung’s “SmartWatch” and Google Glass … ever increasing their storage capacity and employing a bevy of developers to optimize their use … have inadvertently caused headaches in litigation (one party in California is seeking to sequester a set of Google Glass for her case). These devices will almost certainly take location tracking to a whole new level.

Discovery will need to widen the net to ensure data is collected from any wearable smart devices … or implants … to provide relevant ESI. Stay tuned.

To end, a vido from OMsignal  … “apparel that continuously tracks your biometrics to help you connect to a fitter, healthier, happier you”:




Gregory P. Bufithis, Esq.
EAM Capital Partners
Paris, France

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"The mind that lies fallow but a single day sprouts up follies that are only to be killed by a constant and assiduous culture."
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