Startup advocates spar with French minister over job laws

PARIS -- A French minister went behind enemy lines Thursday, defending his government's policies that critics said keep startups and high-tech companies away from the country.

The LeWeb conference here unabashedly celebrates startups, venture capitalism, and technology disruption, bringing some of the Silicon Valley ethos across the Atlantic. And several participants were keen to vent their frustrations to Arnaud Montebourg, the minister for industrial renewal.

The tension between business and government came up again and again, in part because it's a pet issue of entrepreneur, conference founder, and host Loic Le Meur, who has lived in both the … Read more

CNN honcho: Second screen? That's no way to watch TV

PARIS -- CNN is a TV network, right? Wrong.

The Cable News Network did indeed get its start on cable TV, but now the news service operates on 20 different platforms ranging from the Web to Android phones to iPads, said CNN.com General Manager Kenneth "KC" Estenson at the LeWeb conference here on Thursday.

"In order to stay afloat, every television operator must have a massive digital operation behind them," Estenson said. "We made the decision to be on every platform we could as early as we could."

That was then. But technology, … Read more

Hugo Barra's challenge: Grow a Chinese phone maker beyond China

PARIS -- Selling 18 million phones this year may sound like a success, and for Chinese phone maker Xiaomi, it's better than the 7 million Android smartphones it sold last year. But it's not enough.

In China, consumers doubled smartphone ownership in the last year to about 500 million total -- including 340 million Android phones and 140 million iPhones. To find growth in a very crowded market, the company a few months back hired Hugo Barra, Google's former director of Android product development.

"I'm joining the team to help us go outside China," … Read more

Google+ technology arrives in new interactive ad format

PARIS -- Google+ advertising has arrived -- but not on the Google+ social network.

The ads, called +Posts, use Google+ technology, with the ability to combine video and imagery with the Google+ commenting system. But they're delivered through Google's display ad network, not on the Google+ pages themselves.

"It's a new means of engaging users over the Google display network," Google+ leader Bradley Horowitz said at the LeWeb show here, promoting the new ad technology that debuted Tuesday. "It allows for much richer engagement as opposed to just a display ad or traffic-generation ad.&… Read more

Nest Labs CEO advice: Startup? More like lawyer up

PARIS -- Startups whose products challenge the incumbents need to prepare not just for competition but for dirty tricks.

That was the advice at the LeWeb conference from Tony Fadell, chief executive and founder of Nest Labs, whose Net-connected, app-enabled thermostat triggered patent-infringement suits from Honeywell and Allure Energy. The company now has expanded into smoke detectors, too.

"They will throw everything under the sun at you, and a lot of it is not cool," Fadell said. In addition to patent lawsuits, they'll trash your products on review sites. Nest Labs has been able to track some … Read more

Did you like last night's episode? Facebook wants to help media companies find out

PARIS -- People who use Facebook to rant or rave about the latest TV show might soon have more of an audience than their social-network contacts.

For companies that produce entertainment content or that have brands to promote, the conversations people have about them on Facebook are mostly invisible today, said business development vice president Chris Daniels said at the LeWeb conference here. Now the company is working to give brands and media companies a better way find those conversations so they can engage.

"We know people are talking about TV, movies, and media on Facebook. We know it'… Read more

Ubuntu Touch OS wins its first smartphone partner

PARIS -- Ubuntu Touch has its first customer, CNET has learned.

Canonical has just signed its first deal to supply a smartphone with its mobile operating system, Canonical founder and product strategy leader Mark Shuttleworth revealed in an interview here at the LeWeb conference. He wouldn't say which company has agreed to use the Linux-based OS, but said it will be offered on high-end phones in 2014.

"We have concluded our first set of agreements to ship Ubuntu on mobile phones," Shuttleworth said. "We've shifted gears from 'making a concept' to 'it's going to … Read more

Twitter VP: employees don't care that the IPO made them rich

PARIS -- What was it like at Twitter the day it went public, producing an office full of millionaires? Ho-hum, according to Michael Sippey, vice president of the company's products.

"People don't care about it. I don't care," he said, speaking at the LeWeb conference here. The day of the initial public offering, the San Francisco staff showed up at 6 a.m., watched the stock begin public trading, and, at 7:30 a.m., got back to work.

He insisted Twitter's core mission is what gets people to show up at the office.… Read more

Get ready for Uber to hit overdrive with delivery biz

PARIS -- Uber's network of cars today transports people with a taxi-like service, but in the future, it'll carry more than that, Chief Executive Travis Kalanick said Tuesday.

"We need to stamp out an urban logistics fabric in every city in the world, then it's figuring out other things we can do with that fabric," he said at the LeWeb show here. "It's going to be interesting for us in 2014."

Uber, with 500 employees, recently raised $260 million in funding with a valuation of $3.45 billion. It's now concentrating … Read more

Evernote Market hits $1 million revenue in its first month

PARIS -- Evernote's online marketplace, for products like Fujitsu document scanners and Moleskine notebooks, reached $1 million in sales in its first month and now accounts for 30 percent of the company's revenue, Chief Executive Phil Libin said Tuesday.

That's a lot faster than Evernote's two earlier businesses, which specialize in storing notes and other documents online for people who have a lot of information to manage, Libin said at the LeWeb conference here.

Premium subscriptions, the first product Evernote offered, took 16 months to pull in $1 million in revenue. Evernote Business, which launched a … Read more