First a disclosure. I am a small investor in Netvibes and Tariq Krim, Netvibes founder and CEO is on the French Board of Fon. Now having said this let´s focus on Netvibes.
I find Netvibes fascinating. When it started it was a cool place to read your blogs. Now as it reaches the 2 million unique users per month I see that Netvibes is becoming a tool to do practically everything on the web, indeed I would say that it´s becoming a browser in itself. For those who don´t know Netvibes I recommend that you go to the site and survive the most difficult moments at Netvibes, the first 3 minutes. Yes, even though the growth of Netvibes is spectacular Netvibes is not that easy to use at first. Indeed the best thing would be if a techie friend helps you out for the initial minutes. But after that, after you learn how to program RSS feeds, how to create tabs to divide subjects (mine are blogs, news and tools) you start feeling that netvibes creates a garden out of the internet jungle that was growing uncontrollable in front of your eyes every day. At Netvibes now you can store your documents, see pictures, listen to podcasts and music, read your g mail, keep track of what happens in flickr, etc, etc, etc. If I was allowed to visit only one site per day, Netvibes would be it.
I would like to congratulate Tariq Krim for staying in France while building Netvibes. France has great talent for the internet both on the technical and at the design level but many French emigrate to Silicon Valley and understandably so as French business laws make it very, very hard to start and grow a company. Start ups are start ups. At Fon people work insane hours, and so at Netvibes. The basic idea of a start up is that you get a salary for your regular hours but you get stock options for the “insane” demands of start up life: if you like it you join, if you don´t, you work for an established company. But France, which is much more regulated and difficult for business than Spain, makes it very, very hard to start a business there. Most French are not risk takers and they expect entrepreneurs to give them security, life time employments, requests that are impossible for start ups to comply with. Start ups are companies whose future is unknown. The expectations of most French workers clash with the needs of a start up. But the paradox is that without start ups there´s no future. Failure is an integral part of success. Many French like only the second part and as a result the country has unreasonable unemployment rates and slow growth. A pity because France has amazing opportunities.
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