December 9th, 2011
12:17 PM GMT
Paris (CNN) – Clearly, it takes a lot to dampen the spirits of Silicon Valley tech types, and neither rain nor economic uncertainty could do that at the Le Web conference.
For the past three days, the world’s digerati have converged upon Paris to exchange apps and ideas - and, if their fancy takes it, invest a few million dollars or two, give or take.
As Hal Bringman, president of digital media consultancy NVPR in Los Angeles puts it: “I think at least half of Silicon Valley is here in Paris sipping champagne while we debate the future of digital media. Overall, in our meetings we detected remarkable optimism, which just underscores the fact that nothing can slow down the pulse of innovation."
While European heads of state continue thrashing out their plan to save the embattled euro in Brussels, a Nespresso-fueled spirit of optimism surged around the conference. Nearly everywhere I looked people were huddled in networking booths and lounges plotting potential business deals and forging new alliances.
Even Eric Besson, French Minister for Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy was in upbeat mood. I managed to grab him for a quick chat during a visit to the Renault stand Thursday where he posed for pictures inside Renault's electric car, the Twizy. (pictured) He talked up France and Europe’s “digital assets” and praised Le Web founder Loic Le Meur for bringing some of the world’s tech heavyweights together.
He said: “This conference is very important for us. It shows that there are startups and entrepreneurs here and also in the whole of Europe. Things are booming here. Of course, Silicon Valley and San Francisco is the place to be for the digital economy, but we also have some assets to promote in France and Europe.”
He dismissed fears that the euro crisis would deter investors from coming to the continent.
Airbnb founder Brian Chesky was in similarly positive mood. He said:"Everyone here is incredibly optimistic and passionate, I don't think the gloom that overhangs the economy has pervaded startups. I think it's still a land of opportunity."
Israeli-based venture capitalist Malvina Goldfield said the European tech market was ripe for investing. “What’s important is that they are building an eco-system here.
“A lot of people are pessimistic about Europe because they say there has not been a huge industry-changing startup. People generally say that a lot of other people do things to try and copy successful models in the U.S," Goldfield said.
“But you need to have great advisors and mentors to help young people build their companies. What’s great about Le Web is that it brings these people together.”
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