Le Web Europe

December 13, 2006

I spent the past two days at LeWeb3, here in Paris. People from 37 countries attended the event. It sold out. After two days talking to people, it’s clear that the European market is looking pretty good here. One venture capitalist said it looks better than it has since 1998, which struck me as a bit odd. 1998? That was the height of the web bubble. For this VC, that’s not a problem. The market is growing. A web bubble is no where in sight.

The VC’s comments reflected much that I heard from the people I met at LeWeb. Entrepreneurs want the excitement about “leweb,” so palpable in the US,  to spread faster to Europe. And so in part, there is some feeling that they would like to see some aspects of the late 1990s boom time. Perhaps not as wild but growth enough to fuel more innovation and an increase in investments.

Even with the hope for more growth, Europeans are skeptical about what may happen if the excitement is overblown. And like many of their American colleagues, the concern is clear that we may perhaps be heading for a bubble. I say no, the events that happened in the late 1990s were ones that will not be repeated for decades, not even in my lifetime.But what would that bubble look like? The VC’s can’t agree. In a panel discussion, “Will There Be A Web 2.0 bubble?,” Danny Rimer of Index Ventures said he’d be wary of micro-bubbles, the kind that can hit regions especially hard. He pointed to the video sharing market, where regions may see several companies vying for the same share of the pie. But others were not so sure as even with a swarm of companies vying for the space, there will still be those worth funding.

I head back to Portland tomorrow with a new view of the European market. I am sure I won’t be gone too long. The market is just too hot. Hey, its not just about San Francisco anymore!