December 7th, 2011
09:11 AM GMT
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Paris (CNN) –Le Web conference, the biggest tech conference in Europe, opens in Paris Wednesday.

Since it was founded in 2008 by Seesmic creator Loic Le Meur, the conference has attracted the web's best and brightest in large numbers. About 3,000 participants from 60 countries are attending this year's event.

From Google's Eric Schmidt to Spotify founder Daniel Ek to Instagram's Kevin Systrom, the list of Le Web's speakers reads like a "who's who" of the tech world.

This year, Le Web has also landed one of fashion's biggest names on to the main stage, designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and executives will make big announcements at Le Web and over the next two days CNN's Stephanie Busari will be at the heart of the action, blogging and tweeting from the event. Check back here for updates.  You can also follow Stephanie on Twitter.

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1624 GMT: That about wraps it up for the opening day. Thanks for joing the live updates. Please  keep checking CNN.com International for more Le Web coverage.

So, as delegates head off for a few well-earned glasses of vin rouge - or whatever else Paris has to offer - here is a quick summary of the highlights.

  • German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld used the event to announce the launch of an exclusive online clothes collection Karl.com, continuing the trend for major fashion houses to embrace the world of direct internet sales that they once eschewed in favor of exclusivity. Lagerfeld also shed light on his laregely Apple-based tech habits, revealing ownership of no less than four iPhones and dozen of iPads.
  • Google CEO Eric Schmidt presided over a demonstration of the deliciously-named Ice Cream Sandwich update to the Android operating system - a display that contained few surprises for tech fanatics. Chief among the new developments appears to be use of "near-field communication" - the conversationst that take place between physically proximal devices.
  • Facebook Europe executive Joanne Shields unveiled a new plugin that allows people to subsribe to a users updates on any site that they happen to be writing or communicating on. Shields followed the announcement with bold claims about how millions of users are now using Facebook as a medium for consuming news updates.

1610 GMT: George Whitesides, CEO of commercial spaceflight venture Virgin Galactic, is on the main stage performing what is more or less a sales pitch to potential customers in the audience – a shrewd bit of targeting given the millions of dollars of investment that web entrepreneurs can still generate in these tough economic times. Unsurpsingly, a few members of the audience identified themselves as among the 475 customers of the $200,000 service which has yet to launch its first flight.

1534 GMT: Dennis Crowley, CEO of geo-locating app Foursquare, has been talking with U.S. uber-blogger Robert Scoble about his company, which he says now has 15 million subscribers and 1 million check-ins every day.

Crowley says his favourite “mash-up” uses of the service include “4squareand7yearsago” which tells you where you were exactly a year ago. Another is “donteat.at” which checks health ratings in New York and warns you away from restaurants with bad scores.

1507 GMT: Allen Blue is talking about LinkedIn's plans for the future and the hope that "the next generation of professional tools are things that professionals can use to their advantage istead of being used by those tools." He is also talking about his company's aim to make the business card obselete: "LinkedIn would like to declare victory over the business card and we will someday." he adds: " Business cards are kind of a transitional technology. A great solution to a problem in 1875, but there are probably better solutions in the modern era."

LinkedIn's Allen Blue. Photo courtesy of Upstream/LeWeb

1501 GMT: We now have Allen Blue, LinkedIn's vice president of  product management, in conversation with and MG Siegler of CrunchFund.

1500 GMT: Tepid applause greets the “launch” by Wooga of a new mobile platform version of Diamond Dash which can be distributed via Facebook, thus bypassing traditional app stores. “This is the future of mobile app distribution,” says Begemann.

1452 GMT: Jens Begemann, founder and CEO of interactive gaming firm Wooga is up now. he's talking about the company's efforts to translate its online viral success with game "Diamond Dash" to the mobile market.

1450GMT: Dauchez is being pushed to explain Deezer’s USP, prompting some Orwellian claims that the website can “re-educate” people to expand their “music scope”.

1439 GMT: Dauchez says Deezer is rolling out to 200 countries but not U.S where, he says, there is not enough smartphone growth. I'm sure this is news to Spotify, which has recently launched there. He says Deezer is focused on reaching 900 million smartphone users worldwide, compared to 160 million in U.S.

1435 GMT: Up now, CNN's Becky Anderson interviewing Axel Dauchez, CEO of French music-on-demand site Deezer.

1429 GMT: LeWeb host Loic Lemur is asking Facebook's Shields if there should be a Silicon Valley somewhere in Europe. Shields responds that Facebook enables people to work as virtual teams around the world, arguing that young people prefer to cluster around cities and are not being lured into safe jobs. Shields agrees that European tech is very strong and innovative and says that in difficult economic times, renaissance happens.

She also talks about how Facebook helps people with small businesses, saying the barriers to entry are fading. People are seeing traffic ignite through connecting with Facebook, she says.

1425 GMT: Shields is talking about how storytelling is essentially the essence of Facebook. She also talks about their collaboration with the UK's Guardian newspaper. Shields says Facebook is an education tool to discover newspapers in other countries. She makes the sweeping claim that Guardian users now don't go to the publication's website, but instead use Facebook to read the paper. Four million people have downloaded the Guardian app, she says.

1410 GMT: Facebook announcement: A plugin that allows you to let people subscribe to your updates from any site where you happen to be writing or communicating.

1407 GMT: A short Q&A with Andreev, now it's the event's first female speaker, Joanna Shields, vice president and managing director of Facebook... hilariously introduced as a "small start up," by Loic Le Meur.

1400 GMT: Now on stage: Andrey Andreev London Soho-based founder of Badoo. The hugely successful social network for hook ups!

1356 GMT: Schmidt has wrapped up now, but not before making a bold prediction related to Google’s research into completely automated vehicles: “In our lifetime it is a fair statement to say that the majority of cars will be driverless or driverless-assisted.”

The last of question for Schmidt proved the most popular so far: "Why have you not bought a company in France?" Cue loud applause from audience.

1349 GMT: Schmidt is taking audience questions now. Asked rather tangentially what kind of country Google sees itself as, he said: “We’re 13 years old – so think of us as a teenager. What I’ve learned about Google is we’re not a country , we do not have our own nuclear weapons, we do not have our own police force…”

He said Google’s “values are very distinct” citing the company’s shift out of Chinato Hong Kong when faced with restrictions imposed by authorities in Beijing.

“We believe in the power of individuals,” he said.

1337 GMT: Schmidt is talking up Google's Android system, saying it is "ahead of the iPhone now" in terms of sales, availability and popularity. "Android was created before the iPhone," he says, adding - with tongue firmly planted in cheek. "Ask Bing, I'm sure it will give you the answer."

1328 GMT: Schmidt is now talking about Google's role in the political upheaval in the Middle East this year: "Our contribution to the Arab Spring was to provide a tool to people who risked their lives. They were the courageous ones, not us. Everyone is overstating our role in the Arab Spring revolution."

He adds: "It’s now easier to start a revolution but harder to finish it," making the point that while it is now relatively simple to mobilize forces for political change, technology doesn't necessarily help when coming up with a replacement for existing regimes, often leading to disappointment.

"Once you’ve started the revolution, because of mobile phones and technology, expectations are very, very high."

1325 GMT: Schmidt confirms launch of a social web platform analytics.

1322 GMT: A mixed reaction in the Twittersphere to Eric Schmidt's talk so far. Some tweets saying the Android Ice cream demo is old news from two months ago. One tweeter, Carlos Domingo writes:

What a disappointment, Eric Schmidt interview is really a useless Android demo #fail #leweb11

1318 GMT: Android's Barra  is taking us through Android 4.0. Cool features so far are Android Beam, which uses NFC, a "near-field communication" that authenticates the user. They've allowed every app to respond to an "NFC sharing tent," where users can tap phones together to download apps.

1316 GMT: Demo called Android Icecream Demo will be available in Europe in next few days.

1310 GMT: Eric Schmidt: All the interesting new applications are going to be some combination of social, mobile and local."

1308 GMT: Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, is on stage now, alongside Hugo Barra, product management director for Android at Google.  You can watch a live stream of their presentation here

1243 GMT: The first half of Europe’s biggest tech conference is now over and after six speakers, Karl Lagerfeld remains undoubtedly the biggest draw.

The Chanel designer adds much-needed glamour to what is essentially the biggest collection of geeks, er, sorry technophiles this side of Silicon Valley.

Most, including me, were expecting a remote, perhaps even haughty, fashion type. But they were disappointed. Lagerfeld spoke warmly and refreshingly honestly about his life.

There was not a spare seat in the packed auditorium as he revealed insights into his creativity and working life.

He also outed himself as something of an Apple "fanboy," owning four iPhones, each number given out to different categories of people, presumably in importance order.

Lagerfeld also owns 30-40 iPads! He uses them as diaries, photobooks and sketches. He even drew a sketch of Steve Jobs during his presentation.

Add to that collection hundreds of iPods with curated, annotated play lists and you get an idea of someone who takes his (Apple) technology very seriously indeed.

Lagerfeld was warm and funny and managed to set the twittersphere ablaze during his talk, becoming a trending topic for hours after.

He’s clearly a master of reinvention who thrives on using technology to keep himself current.

He was the first of the designers to form a collaboration with high street designers with his hugely-successful design for H&M.

As one Twitterer put it: "Karl Lagerfeld reminding me that those who are *truly* great also reflect balance of self awareness and humility.

Couldn’t agree more.

0951 GMT: Karl Lagerfeld tells the audience at the Le Web conference he will launch an exclusive online clothes collection called Karl.com.

The line will be launched in partnership with Net-A-Porter shopping portal on January 25.

"We will make fashion and technology history," he says.

The launch will include augmented reality, social media and much more, he adds.

Lagerfeld gives an exclusive sneak preview of the collection with a short video clip.

Lagerfeld tells the audience to fight banality and said he was a big fan of pop star Lady Gaga because she "hates banality."

He reveals he's a huge tech fan, carrying a suitcase with four iphones, an iPod and iPad.

The Chanel designer also charms the audience with a sketch of Steve Jobs on his iPad.

Filed under: Business


December 7th, 2011
05:09 AM GMT
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(CNN) - Last week  Olli Rehn, Europe's Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, warned the eurozone was entering a critical phrase to solve its debt crisis, which has deepened since Greece took its first bailout in May 2010. Rehn said the region has "10 days to complete and conclude the crisis response of the European Union."

Quest Means Business has been counting down the 10 days leading to the eurozone summit meeting. Some key moments so far:
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