I have been building products for as long as I have had a home computer and a modem.
From the nascent online computing culture of the 80's to the early days of the Web and its renaissance ten years later as Web 2.0, I have loved creating new products.
“Think Muji but for Software”
I believe in products with clean design, empathy and a greater sense of purpose, those that respect the delicate balance between what technology has to offer and what humans really need. Since Netvibes, I have introduced three rules in each product I was involved in: no logo, a calm UX and an easy way to leave with your data (portability).
Widgets that sit in our phones, Web-based laptops, always-on cloud synchronization, are some of the innovations we have worked on with my different teams. Sometimes we were ahead of the curve, sometimes right on time. Our work has even been an “inspiration” for a particular Silicon Valley company.
Here is a Selection of products/projects I have started or been involved in.
MP3, Web 2.0 and Cloud era
In 1999, I launched the first technological blog around digital music in France. It was initially called mptrois.com and later renamed Generationmp3. It focused on indie MP3 players and the new digital music culture, gathering somewhat of a cult following in France. Some people believed that because it reviewed alternative MP3 players, the market share of the iPod in France was lower than in other European countries.
Investors: Marc Andressen, Martin Varsasvky, Index Venture, Accel Partner
Netvibes formalized the concept of a personalized web start page. As a blog creator and avid reader, I was concerned that each of us would soon be exposed to an avalanche of content. Netvibes gave our users one superpower, to be able to focus on a selection of curated content.
Built from a coffee place in Paris, the project grew to become the third start page in the US. Used in more than 150 countries, it was serving half a billion widgets in 2008. It was also one of the first projects to integrate the nascent Facebook API.
While I wanted to grow the product into a social and mobile platform, my business team and investors wanted to focus on the white-labeled version of the product. I decided to leave the Company in April 2008 to start Jolicloud.
Netvibes is to this day one of the most loved, and internationally awarded French startups.
Netvibes was acquired by Dassault Système in 2012.
Investors: Atomico and Mangrove Partner
Nominee Crunchies award best international startup, voted one of the five best netbooks of 2010 by Engadget.
Jolicloud was a pioneer in ethical cloud computing. Our mission was to make the cloud simple and affordable for everyone. Over the years, we developed a range of products that have set the standards in this field. Even if Jolicloud didn’t acquire the same traction as Netvibes, I am still, to this day, proud of what we built, with a team of fewer than 20 people based in Paris. Unfortunately, the iPad and the Chromebook left no oxygen for an independent company like ours to continue to operate in this space.
JoliOS was the first HTML5 and cloud OS designed for netbooks and recycled computers. It lead the path to a new generation of browser-based operating systems like Google Chrome OS.
The Jolibook was the first personal cloud computer sold in Europe, where it preceded the first Google Chromebook. Released as a limited edition, it sold out instantly and is now a collector item. Engadget voted the Jolibook one of the five best netbooks of 2010.
Jolicloud introduced a Web OS 2 years before Google released the Chromebook and pioneered cloud synchronization years before Apple would allow iOS devices to sync with iCloud.
I wrote a more extended version of the story of Jolicloud here.
Here is a selection of oldies from the early days of the Web and before. A fun ride!
My first online server using a Commodore 64 and the French Minitel. The Minitel was a free terminal given away to replace the yellow pages. Some of us figured out how to connect it to a home computer and create our own server. This was my first interface design experience.
T Blue Box
For a few years, I was into Phone Phreaking, meaning finding a way to connect computers to overseas servers for free. I've built my own blue box inspired by Steven Wozniak and Guru Josh.
UNNAMED Mbone Pirate online radio
This is probably one of the first radio to stream electronic music on the Multicast Mbone servers, a precursor to online streaming used mainly by Nasa. I was asked to stop streaming 24/7 by one of the system administrators at MIT, who told me "streaming music on the Internet is stupid and has no future." Thankfully, I didn't follow his advice.
This was an irregular publication online. In 2004, I was asked by Le Monde to become one of their official bloggers, so I relaunched the service.
Editorial and content advisory. I helped Christian Perrot and Marie France Perez that I met at Radio Nova, to create one of the first portals dedicated to digital cultures.
Minirezo and REZO.net
I worked on the very first version and helped launch with a small group of independent web creators called Le Minirezo (Mona Cholet, David Dufresne, Les Ours, Le Menteur, Arno, and many more) the Independent web manifesto "Manifeste du Web Indépendant". Rezo.net was aimed to become the underground French Yahoo but has been taken over since by another editorial team.
Perdu.com is a website that I created with Gille Boccon-Gibod. I found the domain name idea, and he designed the website. It gained a cult following. Yahoo even awarded it one of the weirdest websites on the French Internet.
With N@rt, a french company, and Maître Binoche, one of the most famous auctioneers, we launched the first-ever art auction online at Drouot. It was a collection of writings by Dreyfus. The second auction was a selection of Man Ray photographs. An experimental Java computer lent to us by Sun Microsystem was used to take the real-time bids.
I was part of the original team that worked on the first iteration of the fund before it became a full-time operation.