Michael Arrington makes a point

Last at Le Web 2008, Michael Arrington was invited as a speaker.

I have the highest respect for the work Michael does, and I have always enjoyed him as a member of the Gillmor Gang.

In his past-Le Web post he is *trying* to make this point:

“My response, at about 17:40: the joy of life is great, but all these two hour lunches over a bottle or two of great wine and general unwillingness to do whatever it takes to compete and win is the reason why all the big public Internet companies are U.S. based. And those European startups that do manage to break through cultural and tax hurdles and find success are quickly gobbled up by those U.S. companies.”

I think, the point he *actually* made is this: he has no manners, and not enough respect to treat the people who wined and dined him properly.

Loic’s post adds to this impression:

“There is a huge difference between being lazy and taking time to know each other. It is one of the main cultural differences I feel everyday as I moved to Silicon Valley: every minute, every coffee, every phone call must have a point. When you call someone in Silicon Valley for anything you will likely get “why are you calling me?” often presented in the polite “how can I help you” formula that Tim Ferriss in his book the brilliant 4 hour workweek book (hilarious this was written by an american entrepreneur) gives as a hint to save time. Don’t even think about starting a conversation in Silicon Valley by “how was your week-end” or “how are your kids”, they all want you to go straight to the point and no time to lose. I never thought inviting someone I really liked to know better to dinner would get me an email from his assistant “why would you like to invite him to dinner?”. I do not think europeans are lazy taking the time to know each other and build deep long term friendships that are not limited to business and I do not think this hurts Europe in any way. On the contrary.”

Loic continues to drive the point home by pointing to the commercial success of the companies he showcased, and I think that adds to my impression.

“Why there is no coverage of such a success remains a mystery for me. Sure, they have no API to connect to (yet?) and any user generated content, they do not have a Facebook application (yet?) either, but they have serious and growing revenue. They are a major Internet success in ecommerce. They are a european success Michael Arrington has never heard about so before lecturing me on how LeWeb is too American and there were no european speakers on stage it would be a good idea to read the program and show up when our european successes are on stage.”

To me, that is much more a measurement for success than the ability to raise millions of VC money. I know a few startups and I have seen them struggle for financing. While this may look sad and non-entrpreneurial from a US perspective, to me that’s more a matter of focus on success.

Facebook worth $15 billion? Give me a break.

Sometimes the US startup industry is looking like their banking industry: let’s build a house of cards faster than next guy and hope to get acquired before the wind starts to blow.

Should Mike Arrington be invited back next year? Definitely. But I think he should pay his mum a visit first and ask her what she thinks of this behaviour. My 5 year old daughter knows better than to alienate your hosts.

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