Category Archives: The Book

Start-Up, a culture of innovation

I just published a very short essay. A summary of my activity in the start-up world: “Almost 10 years ago, I wrote a book entitled Start-up, what we may still learn from Silicon Valley. If I had to do a second edition, I don’t think I’d change much despite all the flaws and blunders of the exercise. Yet one morning in February 2016, I had a look at ten years of supporting start-up entrepreneurs and decided to send again old and also new messages to those that the world of innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship puzzles or interests.”

It is also available in French. If you wish to obtain a pdf copy of the books, just send me an email!

Startup-A_culture_of_innovation_Amazon Startup-A_culture_of_innovation_Kindle
Startup-Une_culture_de_l_innovation_Amazon Startup-Une_culture_de_l_innovation_Kindle

A French start-up goes public on NYSE

Sequans is a wireless chip company which went public last month. This is a rare enough event to be worth a post. All the more as the start-up is French and it went public on the New York stock exchange. It may not look like a great IPO but for a non-US company, it is a real achievement (there had been Ilog, Business Objects and a few other French start-ups). What is also interesting is that it did not have US VCs and the company was founded in 2003, less than 8 years to go public.

What else worth commenting?
– the company had raised more than €50M prior to IPO and $66M at IPO.
– the founding team had experience with another US company (Juniper)
– VCs come from France (i-source, SGAM) and the UK (Add Partners, Kennet). Later on, it added strategic investors (Swisscom, Alcatel, Motorola).
– All shareholders sold a little piece of their stake (about 3-5%)

When a cap. table is a nightmare!

As I wrote recently, IPO filing is accelerating (just check my recent post on LinkedIn and Pandora). Maybe, it should not be so much. Too much may mean a speculative bubble A recent one is Active Network. I tried to build the cap. table. Piece of cake, usually, even if I am sure, they have some mistakes. And I was lucky, Active had filed but failed in 2004 (a sign?), so I also have the 2004 cap. table. But it was a nightmare. I could not find anything about the founders, not much about how much the company really raised, even if I have full disclosure on liquidation preference.

So here is first the 2004 cap. table (once again I must mention that information given is subject to possibly many inaccuracies)

And here is the 2011 new table.

Not very sexy, not to say awful! I do not talk only about the pictures themselves that you can download and enlarge, but also about the messiness of the structure! But still interesting…

Start-Up in Russian

My book is now available in Russian. You can find more info by clicking here or on the picture below. Using Google Translate you can read what the people who publish it say about it:

Dear readers!

We are glad to present the book “Start-up. What we may still learn from Silicon Valley, by the author Hervé Lebret [1]. The book is a translation of the English-language original. In Russia, it is published as a joint project company “Corporate Edition” and the Russian Venture Company. The purpose of the book – to provide start-ups information with a different perspective. The book begins with the author’s story of Silicon Valley start-ups, which gradually becomes a description of the region. The second part is devoted to Europe, where start-ups as a phenomenon have been less successful. Analyzing the causes of successes and failures, the author cites numerous examples from real life, considering the history of building successful companies from ideas.

Hervé Lebret tells of his personal vision of Silicon Valley and its culture, describes the companies and the individuals through the prism of fascinating stories of success and failure, of which the reader is sure to extract useful lessons. In presenting his individual views, the author demonstrates a remarkable ability to penetrate into the essence of things and see the difference between “old Europe” and “Young America.”

The book is unique in terms of number of analytical and reference material and, according to Alexandra Johnson is the best book, that tells of Silicon Valley. This book will be of interest not only to experts on innovation and entrepreneurs in high tech, but anyone who is interested in history and economics of startups.

Currently, innovation ecosystem of Russia is still in its formative stage. Innovative infrastructure sometimes patchy, new venture capital firms are perceived as extremely risky. However, there is an intentional movement to build “smart economy”: in the country, there are business incubators, venture funds, lobby for the interests of small and medium businesses, Russia is amended its laws relating to intellectual property and copyright, to increase the number of successful innovative projects.

We believe that the book will help us one more time “to learn from Silicon Valley”, to understand the secret of her success, to adopt its competitive advantage and bring them to our Russian reality.

You can buy books related to the formulation by phone or email. Cost of the book is 300 rubles
Contact: Olga Morozova
Tel: 8 (495) 783 44 07

[1] Hervé Lebret his entire life engaged in high technology. After spending several years in academic research, in 1997 he became a venture capitalist, joined the fund Index Ventures. Since 2005 he manages the Innovation Fund to support entrepreneurs and start-ups in high technology at the Polytechnic School in Lausanne (Switzerland). Has a doctorate in electrical engineering, a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique in France and at Stanford University in the U.S..

iPad vs. Kindle

As I just mentioned in my previous post, I converted the English version of the book Start-Up to the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad/iPhone formats. I will describe here what I faced as challenges and output.

The Amazon Kindle first.

It was relatively easy to do the job. I just add to save my Word version of the book into an HTML file. Well, almost. First, the table of content did not have direct hyperlinks, which I had to build. And at the end, it was not really a meta-table of contents so that you can click on the links (on the iPad version of the Kindle) but there is no real table of content. Second, the tables of data were just awful, so I had to convert them to JPG pictures. Then I just had to become a member of the Amazon DTP platform, fill in my details and upload the file. Their validation was fast and the Kindle version is available since late July. As I wrote in my previous post, the main weakness I saw is that on the iPad version of the Kindle, I could not enlarge the pictures (whereas I can do it with an iBook). Other weaknesses: the table of content is not good; and the chapter titles are small. Finally, I still do not know why they sell it for $11.99 when I asked for $9.99.

Now the Apple ibookstore. This was much more challenging!

Preparing an ebook is not as simple as I thought. In my simplistic views of electronic books, I thought that PDF would be an ideal format. I was naïve! If you want to read ebooks on a laptop, Adobe Digital Editions ( as well as Calibre (see below) provide a good reader for your laptop.

Now Apple was tougher. First I had no clue if I should become a developer or a content provider ( Fortunately enough, being a content provider is good enough and free! Once you are registered as content provider you just have to let Apple validate your file. Well one minute! To become a content provider, I had to download iTunes Producer which works on Apple computers only!

Then you have to do much more work than with Amazon! First they want a EPUB format. You need to create such a file from the same HTML file required from Amazon (you can use Calibre, and you need to validate it with epubcheck ( I had many bugs and had to use an epub editor. Sigil was good ( But I still had to do some hand work and I would quantify it as a few days of work of editing whereas Amazon only asked me about a day.

Finally, Apple annouces it takes them up to 10 business days to do the quality control and it is about what it took. I do not have a Kindle so I cannot judge the result. There were a few buyers but I did not get any feedback yet. I have an iPad with the Kindle reader so I could check the results as I said previously. The experience was better with iBooks but better than I feared on the Kindle platform provided for the iPad.

Finally, the iBook seems to be available through the USA, Canada, UK, Germany and France only and apparently the countries which have agreements with those. Switzerland is not part of the group so I would not be able to buy it from home… too bad for Swiss residents!

Start-Up on iPad-iPhone and Kindle

It’s done! I just made the book Start-Up available on both platforms, the Apple iBookstore for iPad and iPhone and the Amazon Kindle. I also checked bother versions so let me share with you a few things from the experience.

The process with Apple was the most painful (more in my next post). Is it because they have a higher quality control? I am not sure. The main difference is that you can click on the pictures with Apple whereas on the Kindle, I could not find a way to enlarge them. It is a weakness in my case given the amount of data in the tables. I also noticed I did not master well the tables of content for the Kindle…

There is also a small mystery, a mistake I may have made: both versions should sell at $9.99 but Amazon sells it at $11.99 and I have no clue of the reason why!

More about the experience of publishing an eBook in my next post!

The Google Story

This was the first chapter of my book! I have no real insider information about Google except my brief adventure with the Start-Up logo (that I use in this blog) when their people told me yes, no and finally yes about my right to use it. The book went out inbetween so it has a different cover but I obtained the right! I also failed in selling them a patent as they claimed they buy start-ups but not patents.

Still, I read so much about Google, it was sufficient material for my chapter but also for many presentations I made to students, entrepreneurs and in fact anyone interested in high-tech entrepreneurship and Google in particular… so after a few years of such presentations, I thought it was a good time to put online the Google Story which I hope you will find of some interest!

Start-Up, the book: a visual summary

Start-Up, what we may still learn from Silicon Valley is two years old. I still make presentations of it and I hope to share my passion about this world.

By clicking on the picture below, you can download an extensive presentation inspired from others made in places such as Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm, Marseille, Antwerpen, Geneva… It’s never easy to follow slides without any comment, but I hope you will enjoy some of them… have fun and contact me if they are not clear!