The Netflix Invasion of France



Netflix is preparing to launch its Video-On-Demand service in several European TV markets in September – including France.

The buzz in Paris is a mix of “can’t wait to get access to better VOD” from French TV consumers who are currently limited to two main VOD operators: Canal Plus and Orange TV. Meanwhile, in the circles of Canal and Orange TV execs and the government officials who regulate the French TV market, the mood is less upbeat.

First, they will have to forgo their oh-so-important August vacation to prep for the Netflix onslaught in September – such an ill-timed “faux pas.”

Second, they are madly scrambling to counteract the onslaught from the Wild West. They sense that Netflix’s success in the U.S. is at least partly driven by these irritating tech innovations that only Silicon Valley can produce. They are clearly scrambling to get up to speed with the latest and greatest TV platform and services – and that is a great opportunity for us, TV tech entrepreneurs, who have developed innovative techs that can help bridge the gap. Thank you Netflix!

As a French entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and cofounder of the TV startup, based in San Francisco, I found myself in an interesting position when discussing tech partnership opportunities with French TV providers in the past few weeks. The French media goliaths and their government supporters have a natural tendency to use cultural arrogance to intimidate foreign partners – but they can’t do that with me, we have the same ‘French DNA’ and I know all their tricks.

At the same time, my activities as a tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley – a place they view as a scary source of disruption for their comfortable Canal/Orange TV duopoly (rightly so) – forces them to pay attention. It’s fun to watch the behind-the-scenes mad scramble to catch up with the latest innovations from the land of Netflix.

The bottom line is that while they are in catch-up mode on the tech side, they also have lots of Euros in the bank to acquire whatever innovation they need, quickly. Plus, the French TV audience is still very French. While they enjoy a night out to the movies to see the latest US blockbuster, a good night at home for French families is this: whip out a good bottle of wine, turn on the ‘tele’ and watch a good French comedy.

That’s the market Neflix is going after. In the short term it will be hard for them to compete on French content. Their market advantage lies in the key features derived from the superiority of their tech platform, such as their famed “recommendation” feature.

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The Gender Gap in Silicon Valley

Let’s Apply Some Common Sense

gender gap silicon valley, tv of tomorrow show, anne-marie roussel

Typical day in tech-land: lone woman on 6-member panel.

Every now and then, the Silicon Valley gender gap issue makes headline news. The Kleiner Perkins harassment lawsuit, Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller Lean In, Google’s recent self-flagellation about not having enough women on staff, and in a lighter way, the season finale of the HBO series, Silicon Valley. These are examples of a complex issue which illustrates the ‘’darker side’ of Silicon Valley. It’s not the all-inclusive, cool and innovative meritocracy that outsiders dream of. Quite the opposite. It’s more similar to the rampant nepotism that one finds in “Old World” societies where a male-dominated tech elite calls most of the shots. It reminds me of the bankers crowd in my hometown of Paris where it would be hard to match the traditional, un-imaginative approach to diversity. But Silicon Valley’s tech crowd has managed to do it.

Granted, my perspective on the Silicon Valley gender gap is influenced by who I am and where I come from. Full disclosure: I am a woman, born and raised in France. I have been working in tech for 15 years in Europe and the U.S. I am not an engineer. I am a business type. I am the cofounder of a tech startup. In the recent past, I held executive positions at Gartner in Europe and Microsoft and Sharp Electronics in Silicon Valley. I’ve been a VC in a Silicon Valley firm. I have been based in Silicon Valley for the past eight years.

The following is my perspective, based upon my background. It’s uncommon in the sense that I am a French transplant in the Silicon Valley system. Take it as such.

The thorny issue of the lack of women in tech (especially at executive levels) is being over-engineered and thus becoming more complex. Let’s break down this vicious circle by applying a bit of common sense. In other words, let’s think outside the Silicon Valley box.

Not enough women coming out of science schools for tech companies to hire? Nothing new here. We all know that there are few girls in engineering and computer science programs. This is a long-term problem. It will take years to resolve and it is a symptom of complex underlying societal causes that Silicon Valley tech companies have very little control over.

I realized this eight years ago when I joined Microsoft as one of five women executives on their Silicon Valley campus which was composed of several-hundred employees. I talked at various recruiting programs in engineering schools and was struck by the small number of female graduates. (European engineering schools have much better gender stats). Meanwhile, there are more females than males graduating from MBA programs now. I wonder why they are not swelling the ranks of female hires (and female execs) in Silicon Valley tech companies?

All companies, tech and otherwise, need business leaders, as in people who run the business and market the products developed by engineers. People like CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CMOs, Chief Legal Officers, HR chiefs, and many other business functions. One “worst best excuse” I sometimes hear goes like this “Only engineers can manage a tech company.” Really? Do you also need a coffee grower to manage Starbucks or a model to manage Chanel?

I would love to see the male/female tally of the top business roles mentioned above (C-level and their direct reports) in top Silicon Valley tech companies. Perhaps the info is available somewhere? Based on my own experience of being the only woman in the room in 95% of my meetings, that ratio is dismally small. This applies to corporate executives and VC circles but also, unfortunately, all the way to the startup founder crowd.

Here’s a recent example from the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). My tech startup, SeeSpace exhibited there, in the CES Eureka Park startup zone. I walked the floor around our booth. The sad truth is that during my five days there I met a grand total of ONE woman who was part of a founding team. ONE! Now, I am realistic; I didn’t expect to find a majority of women as tech founders. But such a dire state of affairs baffled me. So I decided to litmus test my own walk-around by investigating the numbers.

During CES2014, TechCrunch ran a hardware startup competition. They had filtered dozens of hardware startups to come up with their 14 finalists. I figured that taking a look at the gender composition of these 14 founding teams should yield interesting data points. As it turns out, the exercise sadly reinforced my own experience. The table below represents the finalists for the hardware competition. It speaks for itself:

gender gap silicon valley, techcrunch startup battelfield

So, here is a simple common sense approach to help bridge the gender gap in Silicon Valley’s tech companies until more girls graduate from engineering programs: hire more women in business roles. They, in turn, will hire more women because “people like to hire people like them” (yet another contributor to the male/female imbalance, given that most hiring managers in tech companies are men). There are plenty of exceptional women in financial, legal, marketing, strategy, sales, etc. roles out there in healthcare, entertainment, retail, food and beverage, real estate, etc. I run into them whenever I step out of Silicon Valley’s tech sandbox. And I will be hiring them as my startup grows.


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TV Evolution is Key ‘Internet Trend’ in KPCB’s Meeker Report

I call it “Crossing The Chasm” Between Internet Streaming & Traditional Broadcast

Interesting to see that Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report presented last week at the re/code conference devoted 36 slides (over 20% of her total deck) to the evolution of television. Her main point is that the line between watching TV content over the Internet versus traditional broadcast on the main TV screen is increasing blurred, especially with the Millennial generation.

I have been calling this trend “Crossing the Chasm,” as illustrated by the infographic below. The TV watching behavior of younger Millennial viewers (age 15 to 30) and their multi-screen/multitasking habits are blending what has so far been two separate worlds (Broadcast TV vs. Internet). This will trigger major shifts among established players in the TV ecosystem, as I discussed in a previous post.

This, in turn, will be rejuvenating for the TV business because it will bring opportunities for new players and innovative TV products that bridge the chasm between traditional and Internet TV.

Click on the infographic to see it larger:

Streaming TV, Internet TV, Second Screen, Social TV, Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins, KPCB, SeeSpace, InAiR, Zeebox, Beamly, Anthony Rose, Anne-Marie Roussel

We will be discussing this topic at the TV of Tomorrow conference in San Francisco June 10-11, on a panel called ‘The Future of the Living Room’, plus showing demos of innovative TV interfaces with the CEO of Beamly (ex Zeebox), Anthony Rose.

To see Mary Meeker’s complete report, click here: Of special interest: slide #122.

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The TV Ecosystem Is Shifting

I agree with GigaOm in their recent article that Social TV is dead. The warning signs have been around for a while – it was ‘a solution without a problem’ and  it was just too complex an ecosystem (as illustrated in a previous blog).

Another trend is starting to emerge. I call it “back to the first screen.” I noticed at CES last month how conversations were shifting from “the potential of the second screen” to “how can we bring viewers back to the first screen?” In other words, we need to figure out how to bring Facebook timelines, Twitter feeds, for player stats, etc — all to the main television screen, without disrupting the TV program.

One of the CES announcements by TV market leader Samsung showed that the Back-to-the-First-Screen movement is underway. Many missed the announcement of the Multi-Link screen because it was shadowed by Samsung’s glittery new curved TV. But it was a step in that direction- albeit not the most innovative (or elegant) way to bring on-screen multitasking for TV viewers.

Amidst all the tumult and the announcements, a little startup in the CES area reserved for startups (called Eureka Park) began getting a lot of attention. The company is called SeeSpace and I know it well because I helped the founders Nam Do and Dale Herigstad get it off the ground. While working with them I became so impressed with their project that I actually joined the founding team.

At CES 2014 SeeSpace launched its product, called InAir, a small HDMI pass-through device that combines slick UI design with ACR technology to serve related Internet content overlaid on the main TV screen. Finally, a way to use the web and watch television without juggling the second screen. The press who covered the inAiR launch called it “a Minority Report” – style interface.

I spent most of my 5 days at CES in the SeeSpace booth and two things struck me:

1. The Snowball Effect: Every day the number of people who came to see the demo increased until there was actually a crowd around the booth. Word was getting around that “something cool is happening at SeeSpace” (as one TV executive put it) and attendees were telling other attendees to stop by and check it out.

2. The Wide Spectrum of Interest: The folks rushing over to see the demo ranged from corporate execs on their scouting missions to individual geeks just looking for cool stuff.  The corporate types came in waves and it became an amusing pattern. First came the advance reconnaissance troops. Then, the lieutenants (i.e. product VP’s). Next, the generals (i.e., Sr. VP’s) always accompanied by their entourages. All were thoughtfully watching the demos and pondering whether this was the answer to the question “How can we bring viewers back to the first screen?”

What was even more amazing was the fact that the SeeSpace Kickstarter campaign that launched on second day of the show blasted out of the starting gate garnering $30k in backing in 3 days. This was a clincher…people backing a HW product that is 1) still in prototype stage and 2) displaces many established ways of doing things…to me that meant that early adopters (the toughest crowd to please) see market value, and that’s a good sign that a new ecosystem is finally emerging around a new TV-watching paradigm.

2 Responses

Dear Anne-Marie,

I discovered SeeSpace and InAiR today. I am an independent non-fiction television writer, producer, director and wed media content consultant, based in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

After reviewing every single word and video available in the Kickstarter profile and SeeSpace website, I can’t stop thinking of the wonderful possibilities that InAiR could afford content creators. The first word that comes to mind is ELEGANCE … conceptual, structural, functional, technological, aesthetic, ethological, narrative … elegance. In science, elegant equations are strong equations.

I think that high-quality cognitive and emotional attentions are far more linear than some people argue them to be — the latest work by Daniel Goleman offers a brilliant insight into “Focus.” Instead of multiple screens as gates into low-intensity, shallow experiences, I think there is power in the single screen as a gate into more narratively focused yet conceptually and sensorially diverse, intense and powerful experiences.

From Kickstarter: “We would like your involvement, whether to provide feedback or to create cool apps/content that will take the InAiR augmented television experience to the next level, opening a new frontier for Television.” … I’d love to participate in that creation.

In my modest opinion, your comments about the evolving TV ecosystem are spot on.

Congrats on SeeSpace and InAir. I will endeavour to contact you, Nam Do and Dale Herigstad in the near future. I’d love to learn more about your strategy insofar as the creation of InAir-optimised content, from narrative (STORY), visual, UX/engagement and functional design perspectives.


Federico Capulino

Thanks for your support, let’s continue our conversation over email, I will follow up with you.

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Social Media: TV’s Secret Sauce

Social TV, Olympics

The 2012 Summer Olympics was the most watched TV event in history (see this article in the Huffington Post). What made this year’s Olympics so successful? Social Media.

The impact of Social Media on the Olympics shows how much television viewing has evolved in just a couple of years. We used to sit back and “watch” – the couch potato experience. Today people used a second screen to engage with athletes, broadcasters, and friends while watching the Games – the social junkie experience.

It’s simple: how can you resist flipping on the television when you see something like this come across your newsfeed? OMG! #MrBean is running on the beach in Chariots of Fire! #Olympics (By the way, the opening ceremony inspired over 9 million tweets.)

Despite complaints about NBC’s coverage across social platforms (as exhibited by the popular hashtag #NBCFail), online comments by Olympic athletes and average viewers resulted in a type of engagement around the games never seen before. One post by Michael Phelps was retweeted over 14,000 times!

Here are some illuminating stats from Bluefin Labs:
- The Olympics completely dominated the primetime social TV conversation.
- Over the 17 days of the Games between the hours of 7pm and midnight, 99% of all social TV buzz was attributed to primetime Olympics telecasts.
In total, there were more than 82M comments on Twitter and public Facebook about the Olympics from July 27 through Aug 12.

My take: Social Media is the secret sauce that is going to generate new revenue streams into the TV industry. At the same time, it will accelerate the consolidation that has already started in this market, which has too many small players. As larger players such as studios, networks, TV platform providers, device manufacturers, and the like, become more aware of the potential of Social TV to engage further with consumers and grow revenue, they will acquire the innovation from the outside that will help them do that quickly.

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Social TV: Shazam-ing the Olympics

olympics shazam

To “shazam” a song has become as much of a popular expression in the music sphere as “to google” directions on a map in the search world. I have been “shazaming” the Olympics on my TV since they started in late July, and the results have been interesting, especially as seen through the lens of the Social TV ecosystem. Through a deal Shazam signed with Olympics broadcaster NBC, U.S. viewers can use the Shazam app on their smartphone to access additional info such as extra content on athletes, updated info on event results, and medal count. They can also share on Twitter and Facebook. Below is a screen shot of what the Shazam Olympic app looks like on my iphone:

The basic job of quickly recognizing that I was watching the Olympics was done flawlessly, although I wish it had taken me directly to the event I was watching rather than the general “Tag” page showed above. The menu on that page was intuitive and well-designed, but the “Watch Live Video” option linked to the NBC app, which had to be downloaded and then did not work well. Tighter integration between Shazam and its content partner to instantly launch videos from the Shazam app would enhance the viewer experience. Also, I shazamed an ad at one point, it did take me to additional content related to the ad – but it was in Turkish! In other words, the system did not receive information about my geo location.

(Note: My comments above are based on randomly watching various Olympic events, on different days and at different times in the U.S. Pacific time zone.)

There is still room for improvement, but “you need to walk before you run” and Shazam is definitely “power-walking.” Try it: download the Shazam app on your phone (it’s available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile), point it to the TV while the Olympics are on, hit the Shazam icon and voila! Check out the results.

For those who don’t already know Shazam, it’s a London-based company that launched a music recognition service in 2002. It became the 10th most downloaded app in the iTunes store and currently has 200M users around the world (70% in the U.S.). The app can identify whatever piece of music you are listening to, in whatever context. Say you hear a song you like while having a drink in a bar, or on the car radio while cruising, or on your couch watching a TV show; pick up your smartphone, hit the Shazam icon, and the name of the song comes up with the option to buy/download it. Very cool service, I have been using it for years and I can’t remember it ever failing me, even in super-noisy environments such as crowded bars.

I met with Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher in London in late June, a few weeks before the Olympics started. We discussed his vision for pivoting the business – from solely recognizing music to also recognizing TV content. Building on its music recognition algorithms, Shazam has been developing Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology to listen to and identify what viewers are watching on TV and serve them more information about the program or the featured ads. Fisher says that a recently updated version of their product can recognize TV shows in less than one second.

ACR, which has also been developed by other companies such as Audible Magic, Flingo, IntoNow, and Civolution (see my roundup of the Social TV ecosystem for more information), is used by second screen providers (such as Miso, GetGlue, or zeebox) to identify what is being watched on TV to enable interactive services, such as voting or viewing more information.

Shazam launched its TV-oriented service last year and since then has Shazam-enabled various mass audience TV events in the U.S., such as:

• The Super Bowl 2012: During the game viewers could get up-to-the-minute stats on both teams. The halftime show was also “shazamable” – during Madonna’s performance, “Shazamers” could get a set list and a free LMFAO remix of Madonna’s latest single. The app also covered the REAL Super Bowl attraction – the ads. About a quarter of Super Bowl ads were Shazam-enabled, meaning that when viewers shazamed the ad being showed on TV, they were taken to additional second screen content. The best, in my view, was this video synched to the Pepsi commercial. Watch it, it’s funny:

• The 54th Annual Grammy Awards: Shazaming the show gave viewers additional information (on a second screen) around the night’s nominees and performers. One of the night’s most popular features was a contest for viewers to win tickets to attend next year’s awards.

My view is that Shazam’s main asset is its existing 200M-strong user base. That represents an enormous potential to reach new audiences for studios, networks, brands, handset and TV manufacturers, app platforms, wireless carriers, etc. Based on recent discussions with execs at U.S. studios and networks (an industry that has been ambivalent about embracing new digital technologies because of the inherent security risk around digital access to content and the disruption these technologies could cause to the content providers’ existing revenue model) there is a growing awareness that to capture younger audiences they will have to increasingly play with digital trail-blazers, like Shazam. Same for brands – if they want to sell products targeted at the “digitally-fluent” they will have to serve their ads where these eyeballs are. As for CE manufacturers, adding ACR to their devices would enable new revenue streams beyond the single sale of a device.

Another strength of Shazam: it is well funded (received $32M in 2011, see my earlier blog about Social TV funding) and the lead in the latest round was Kleiner Perkins (KPCB), Silicon Valley’s top VC firm, who has backed some high profile winners in the past – such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Zynga, etc. This should enable Shazam to finance further development in the U.S. market, where the window of opportunities to partner which content providers and other TV industry players is now.


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The Biggest Investors In Social TV: INFOGRAPHIC


It’s interesting to see that despite the lively ecosystem around “everything social” funding activity in Social TV — the intersection between social networks and TV viewing – is still limited. Only a handful of investors have several portfolio companies in that space.

However, that limited activity is counterbalanced by the fact that “smart money” – such as Google Ventures, Khosla, Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital etc. – got involved early. Always a good sign.

Below is my latest roundup of the most active investors in Social TV, either by the amount they invested or the number of deals they made.

I welcome your comments.

Note: Please click on the chart to access links:

Biggest Investors in Social TV


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Facebook and Social TV: Limited Steps

In May I posted a blog entitled Facebook and Social TV – In Stealth Mode?. I felt that it was odd that Facebook, which has shown it can move fast in other domains, had yet to position itself as a key player in Social TV. Facebook has so far let Twitter be the driver of social conversation around TV shows and except for integration with second screen applications such as Get Glue and Miso, it has not really staked a claim in the growing ecosystem that is Social TV.

Oddly enough, Facebook’s leadership position in social networking has not yet translated into formulating a coherent strategy around the other two fastest growing tech segments: mobile networking and socially-enabled TV. The fact that it has signed a couple of deals with CNN and NBC recently to facilitate social conversations around the US Elections and the Summer Olympics respectively, is a sign that Facebook is conscious that there are opportunities in Social TV, but it is amazing that it has yet to fully leverage its 900M user base to derive new revenue from the large overlap between that user base and the mass TV audience.

Facebook could be the platform around which audiences engage with TV programming – thus enabling Facebook to generate significant additional advertising revenue from brands that are looking for more-trackable campaigns around TV shows than the ones currently provided by broadcasters.

Yet Facebook’s cautious steps in the Social TV space so far indicate that, as in the mobile space, Facebook may still be in the process of defining its vision.








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The Social TV Puzzle [Infographic]

The Complex Social TV Ecosystem

Back in March, I posted an infographic that illustrated the complexity of the Social TV ecosystem at that time. A mere three months later the landscape has changed: some companies have been snatched up by larger ones and new players have emerged on the scene.

Below is an updated version of our earlier graphic and my take on the current landscape of the Social TV ecosystem:


New categories and companies have appeared, others have disappeared. The market is moving on. (Note: Lost Remote does a good job of keeping track of the comings and goings of Social TV companies, it’s the most up-to-date directory I have found so far.)

This infographic is not meant to be a comprehensive list but instead my view of the most relevant and interesting players in the complex puzzle that is Social TV today.

I welcome your comments.


One Response

Hi Anne-Marie,

I’m deeply involved in a social/mobile youth sports project that will have social TV content delivery elements. I’m just starting to get my head around the social TV ecosystem in recent weeks and was lucky enough to recently discover your blog and family of info-graphics. Bravo!

Best. Mike

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Social Media Infographics Tell an Interesting Story


I ran into a couple of interesting infographics last week:


On Facebook

Facebook’s IPO at the top of the news, here is a cool graphical representation of some key Facebook stats including:

  • User Penetration by Region
  • Revenue
  • Age of Officers (and even compensation levels)

These numbers were officially disclosed as part of Facebook’s original IPO filing in early May and it’s so much more eye opening to see them displayed in graphical form. One more proof that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”


malcolm york facebook stats IPO infographic

On Social Media Marketing

This infographic is useful at the macro level; it gives a good bird’s eye view of the overall space. Although one might disagree with some of the categories and notice that some key players are missing (for example: no YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest), this graphic shows how over-crowded the space is.

To me, this screams “consolidation.” It will be interesting to revisit this in just six months and see how many of these companies are still around.


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