Discover more from European Straits
The World Economic Forum's Digital Leaders of Europe
European Straits #93
It seems that last week was just the right moment to visit Venice. Just two days after we left, the city was hit by the worst floods in the last ten years, with the water rising almost 1.5 meters across the city. You can see some spectacular pictures here.
The WEF Digital Leaders of Europe
Back in London, yesterday morning I participated in a workshop as a member of the WEF Digital Leaders of Europe. I already mentioned this initiative in past issues, but now seems the right moment to share more:
As you may know, the World Economic Forum is the organization that grew out of the famous annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland. It has since expanded into a global network, with Prof. Klaus Schwab’s concept of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” as the main intellectual guideline.
Today the WEF is the rare organization with a clear European identity. And far from running from that identity, they’ve decided to double down by launching the WEF Digital Leaders of Europe. It all comes from a genuine worry about Europe’s lagging behind in the digital economy. And it’s starting with a promising reflection on how Europe could position itself so as to play on its strengths rather than constantly trying to catch up to the US and China—which are both, for very different reasons, very different from Europe.
It’s too early to share details of exactly what we’re up to. However the deadline is quite close, as the report coming out of this work will be published at the next Forum in Davos at the end of January. In the meantime you will find echoes of the ongoing discussions in my various publications—here and in Forbes, as well as in other outlets.
Reading more from The Family
The avid social media users among you may have noticed that we’ve been intensifying our content production and distribution lately. This comes out of a very simple idea: As an ecosystem, Europe doesn’t have the density that exists in other places where startups thrive. In this context, it’s critical to hasten the discovery of best practices and to build solid digital relationships. And this starts with producing more European content related to entrepreneurship, venture capital, policy, and other tech-related topics. We at The Family certainly aren’t pretending to take charge for the entire pan-European ecosystem. But we intend to do our share.
In case you’ve missed them, here are a few recents pieces that I highly recommend:
Camille Dubreuil, who’s in charge of everything related to The Family’s visual identity, wrote an article to help entrepreneurs find their swag. From the beginning our firm has stood out by creating the strong visual identity that you find on our website, other websites that are related to us (such as Koudetat, Reverse, Pathfinder, Lion), our offices in London, Paris and Berlin (although we’re still in-between offices in London), and even the cover of my book Hedge! Well, let me tell you: there’s a lot of work behind it all, and it’s all quite methodical and sophisticated. Camille shares a few insights in her article: Let’s Find Your Swag.
Charlotte Multon dedicates herself to finding the very best advisors and service providers for our portfolio entrepreneurs. If you want to find the best lawyer, the best designer, or the best team to boost your sales, she’s the one with the short list. But since we believe in pay-it-forward, we’ve decided that this list should be public, as this makes it possible to exert pressure on entire sectors and radically increase the value that startups get for their money when they need to rely on a third party. Here’s Charlotte’s article about the best lawyers you should work with in Europe, How To Choose Your Legal Partner, and here’s one about specialists able to boost your startup’s sales in no time: 5 Salespeople who will make you a selling machine.
Emilie Maret, who’s part of the deal-flow team at The Family, was rightfully upset as she realized that our most recent cohort was devoid of female founders. So she decided to tackle what is probably the most difficult challenge in the startup world worldwide: understanding why so few women found startups and how to reverse that situation. The article she wrote is fantastic. It goes well beyond the idea that it can all be explained by the education system and digs deeper into individual behavior and the relationship to taking risks. You should definitely read Emilie’s take on Dear female founders, where are you hiding?
Mathias Pastor, who joined us as a director in September, wrote an article a few weeks ago to remind readers that you can actually make money by joining a startup as an employee. It’s a reality that’s too often overlooked, as European startups are less well funded that their US counterparts (which means lower wages) and are less often blessed with successful exits (which means less cashing out thanks to stock options). But the maturing of the pan-European ecosystem means that there’ll be more opportunities to make money in startups in the future, and potential employees should learn to spot them. Read Mathias’s article here: The £$€ Case for Joining a Startup.
Finally, Maïté Hourcade dit Bellocq is part of the team, along with Illan Glaubert, that works on launching new subsidiaries to provide world-class services to startups. The Family is not only investing in startups within its portfolio. Through these subsidiaries, we’re also serving all startups in the entire ecosystem. There are two goals to this strategy, which my cofounder Oussama Ammar and I explained two years ago in great detail. The first is to generate cash flow to finance The Family’s proprietary infrastructure. The other is to correct market imperfections that startups encounter in Paris, London, and Berlin. Read Maïté’s insights here: Our Secret Plan to Make The Family Independent & Free.
Please read those articles depending on your interests, and if you like them please clap—even 50 times, if you really liked them!
Next week in the Bay Area & more readings
🇺🇸I’ll spend next week in the Bay Area for various book talks (at Facebook, Uber, the local World Economic Forum office, Airbnb, Bloomberg Beta, and a local college of which a good friend is the dean) and additional meetings. The calendar is full now but I’m still interested in relevant intros as I’ll be back there sometime in Q1 2019!
🇪🇺 My latest article in Forbes is about Nick Clegg, the former British Deputy Prime Minister, joining Facebook as head of global policy. I met Nick a few months ago in London and he was kind enough to read the Hedge manuscript and write a short blurb that was included in the book. Basically I think that his move signals that Europe is emerging as more of a powerhouse in the tech world, which is good! Read the article here: Nick Clegg Joins Facebook And Signals A Power Shift Toward Europe.
💸 Finally, last week I published an op-ed in Politico Europe about corporate taxation in a more digital economy (a topic I already covered in a ). The argument is quite radical: I think that the challenge is not merely getting tech companies to pay more taxes. Rather, given the current state of technology, my idea is that we can now move toward a system in which all taxes are paid by individuals (as shareholders, consumers, workers) rather than by corporations. We invented a new tax system once for the age of the automobile and mass production. It’s time to reinvent it, this time for the Entrepreneurial Age. Here’s the article: Europe needs tax system overhaul for digital age.
Warm regards (from Copenhagen, Denmark, where I can now heartily recommend the spectacular experience that is dinner at Noma 😋😍),