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Romain Aubert - #7: Blockchain France, Why Startups Fail, "Human Tech" Conferences, Replacing Facebook with (Tiny) Newsletters & /now

I was in France recently, below is a non-exhaustive list of what's happening there in blockchain; als
Romain Aubert - #7: Blockchain France, Why Startups Fail, "Human Tech" Conferences, Replacing Facebook with (Tiny) Newsletters & /now
By Romain Aubert • Issue #7 • View online
I was in France recently, below is a non-exhaustive list of what’s happening there in blockchain; also some other comments on “human tech” conferences, Facebook versus newsletters. I am in New York City for the next few weeks. Ping me if you are in town!

France Blockchain Ecosystem
🚧 Blockchain projects that raised equity
Acinq – working on the scalability of bitcoin protocol, lightning network; raised USD 1.7 million from Serena Capital
Embleema – a protocol to manage health data; raised USD 3.7 million from Techstars, Pharamgest
Ledger – hardware wallet; raised USD 88 million from Draper, Xange, Cathay Innovation, Samsung, Cap Horn.
Spot – cryptocurrency portfolio & market tracking app; raised USD 1.2 million from Kima Ventures
Stratumn – platform to develop enterprise-level blockchain applications; raised USD 9.7 million from BNP Paribas, Otium
Coinhouse – a marketplace to buy and sell crypto; raised USD 2.8 million from Xange, Consensys
Woleet – Timestamping & Electronic signature; raised EUR 1 million
Liquid Share – post negotiation trading platform; raised from Euronext, Societe Generale
Iznes – plaftorm to invest in funds; raised from a few asset managers
Utocat – invest in SMEs ; raised USD 2.6 million from Leap Venture, BPI France
Paymium – exchange; raised EUR 1 million from Kima Ventures, Newfund
MoneyTrack – protocol for directed money; raised from Truffle Capital
Sorare – marketplace for football crypto goods; raised from Kima Ventures, Consensys, Seedcamp
⚡# ICOs in France
  • 18 according to AMF (French SEC)
  • 16 (French team + ICO domiciled in France between 2014-18) according to Avolta Partners
Check out Avolta’s presentation: ICOs 2014-2018
Avolta's ICOs 2014-2018
Avolta's ICOs 2014-2018
💵 Venture Capitalists investing in crypto/blockchain projects
  • Serena Capital
  • Kima Ventures
  • Korelya Capital
  • Xange
  • Cathay Innovation
  • Truffle Capital
  • Otium Ventures
Also – Bpifrance (France’s public investment bank) invested a total of EUR 9 million via grants (no equity).
👛 2 Cryptocurrencies in the top 100
  • Ark, founder: Francois-Xavier Thoorens; marketcap (as of May 20th, 2019): USD 63 million
  • Tezos, founder: Arthur Breitman; marketcap (as of May 20th, 2019): USD 1.1 billion
📛 Conferences
  • EthCC (Ethereum Community Conference). This is the go-to community-driven conference in France for crypto. 1500 attendees. Organised by Asseth (see below)
  • Others: CryptoMondays Paris, Paris Blockchain Week
🌎 Non-profits & associations
  • La Chaintech – consortium of organisations lobbying for blockchain technology
  • Le Cercle du Coin – promotion of adoption of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
  • Asseth – promotion and education of Ethereum blockchain and organiser of EthCC (Ethereum Community Paris)
  • CryptoFR – a forum and a Slack group gathering 1500 people
  • FD2A French Digital Asset Association – promotion and lobbying for investments in crypto assets
👩‍🚀 People
  • Eric Larchevêque & Pascal Gauthier, Ledger
  • Arthur Breitman, Tezos
  • Francois-Xavier Thoorens, Ark
  • Pierre-Marie Padiou, Acinq
  • Ambre Soubiran, Kaiko
  • Nicolas Louvet, Coinhouse
  • Jerome de Tychey, Asseth, Consensys
  • Claire Balva, Blockchain Partner
  • Frédéric Montagnon, LGO markets
  • Corentin Denoeud, Blockchain studio
  • Gilles Fedak, Iexec
  • Xavier Laversiere, ECAN
  • Jérémie Waquier, Alyra
  • Cyril Bertrand, Xange
  • Ken Timsit, Consensys
🚢 Institutions & Corporates
If it’s not going to be completely and utterly decentralized, it doesn’t need a blockchain.
11:45 PM - 29 Jan 2019
Kudos to Ivan de Delastours, blockchain lead at BPI, for helping me put together this list; also thanks to Simon Polrot and Brian O'Hagan
You can share the above information on blockchain in France via
Replacing Facebook with (tiny) newsletters
I replaced Facebook with newsletters – incl. this one – and also many others tiny newsletters (i.e. some < than 15 people). I thought I was wasting time on Facebook and also working for free. I found myself “liking” items instead of engaging conversations, tagging instead of saying: “Hey, how are you? This might be of interest because…” or “Please let me introduce you to [insert name]” or something else. I don’t know. I left. I replaced my newsfeed’s “announcements” with emails and a bunch of mailing lists:

  • reading buddies – about 20 people I share reading suggestions with
  • Paris’ buddies – when I need a couch to crash in the French capital (same for other cities.)
  • Happy New Year friends list – where I share my intentions and thoughts for the new year
  • China list – with all my prime China contacts for work (and same for other countries/cities)
  • and some other lists, plenty.
At least when I send emails, I don’t find myself chasing “social rewards” i.e. likes or shares, but engaging in conversation. Emails feel healthier.
One more advantage: there is no algorithm. Emails rely on SMTP protocol, not on some mark-said-he-wants-to-connect-the-world algorithm. I just want to message some of my friends, not 2.2 billion people. If I send an email to you, you get it – and most likely read it. You might even reply :) There is no centralized platform playing middle man. We do not need that.
For those who FOMO deleting Facebook:

  • I still have friends;
  • they call me directly when they organise events, if they want to invite me;
  • I still catch my friends when traveling concurrently to the same place;
  • I reclaimed 183 hours per year (30min/day)
I understand some people don’t have the freedom of deleting Facebook e.g. running ads for their business.
I use Groups in Contact app on Mac to manage those other newsletters.
Why Startups Fail
I saw a presentation recently where the speaker claimed:
“One of the top 5 reasons for startups to fail is: competition.”
The truth is:
Paul Graham
Someone wondered how startups fail. In most cases, because they don't make something people want. That can happen by (a) failing to ship, (b) shipping but never getting any growth, or (c) mediocre growth combined with high expenses.
10:10 AM - 28 Feb 2019
“Competition” is the work of VCs. They always ask founders about competition because that is their homework, as investors, to pick the winner. That does not mean the losers die because of the winners – or competition.
Below are 18 reasons why startups fails by Paul Graham:
  1. single founder
  2. bad location
  3. marginal niche
  4. derivative idea
  5. obstinacy
  6. hiring bad programmers
  7. choosing the wrong platform
  8. slowness in launching
  9. launching too early
  10. having no specific user in mind
  11. raising too little money
  12. spending too much
  13. raising too much money
  14. poor investor management
  15. sacrificing users to (supposed) profit
  16. not wanting to get your hands dirty
  17. fighting between founders
  18. a half-hearted effort
And here is the full article (spoiler: competition is not part of the list)
“What are you doing now/these days?”
I get this question pretty often, so here it is: my /now, inspired by the /now movement (H/T Arnaud Bonzom.)
  • running global acquisition campaigns for a B2B platform;
  • creating a strategy to grow lead acquisition thru content by leveraging on a community of 4500+ web developers partially contributors;
  • creating content, PR, and acquisition strategy for a B2C app;
  • networking, Paris lately, New York City now;
  • writing this newsletter (I’m aiming for monthly but only manage to do bi monthly!)
  • asking my friend to ditch WhatsApp and switch to Signal app
  • reading a book on Information Architecture and a.nother Le Carré novel
  • living off a 31L hand luggage (and it is fine)
  • taking less calls, doing more conversations via emails
  • saying “no” to invitations when it is not a “hell yeah!”
  • watching Tracks documentary on ARTE’s Youtube channel
If you are interested in Singapore startup ecosystem, check out this mapping
I had the chance to lunch with New Internet Labs (and Blockstack) founder Larry Salibra who is building a browser for Web3 since no one is defending your digital rights on Web2.
For now, you can use Jumbo if you want to prevent Facebook, Google, Tinder and others from misusing your data.
If you feel like you are not productive enough, find a “focusmate”, someone to watch/stalk you.
Here is short list of conferences in Europe I would like to attend:
conference that cares about “ethics” and “humans.” What prompted me to look for those conferences/movement is a conversation between Joi Ito (MIT Lab Director) and Nicola Danaylov. They argue Silicon Valley, i.e. Capital + Technology, is not enough; actually, it might even be going the wrong direction. The two protagonists claim that Capital, Technology + ETHICS is needed.
That is a visual from “Computer Grrrls” exhibition at Gaité Lirique in Paris (H/T Thibaut Thomas). The exhibition depicts the roles of woman in the development of computer sciences.
And a “tech opera” song by Nadja Buttendorf (add subtitles if you don’t speak German):
Robotron - a tech opera STAFFEL 01 VORSPANN
Robotron - a tech opera STAFFEL 01 VORSPANN
That band was playing the other night:
Ruby Haunt - Hurt ( Full Album Stream )
Ruby Haunt - Hurt ( Full Album Stream )
And him:
Paul White - Returning
Paul White - Returning
I am in NYC for the next few weeks. Let me know if you are around.
If you hit reply, I’ll hit reply.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Romain Aubert

“The role of the organiser is to create power for others” — Saul Alinsky

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