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by bart becks⎜BECAUSE MUSIC MATTERS AND STARTUPS ROCK

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Toen Bart afkwam met het idee voor deze blog heb ik toch even moeten nadenken. Degenen die me wat beter kennen, weten waarom – gestructureerd berichtjes posten op een blog is nu echt niet mijn sterkste ding. Getuige daarvan ook mijn vorige blog, die wegens te weinig tekst vorig jaar al een stille dood is gestorven.

Ma bon, nieuwe blog – nieuw begin dus. En aangezien enige trots me toch niet vreemd is, wil ik natuurlijk ook allerminst onderdoen voor Becks Sr en Becks Jr – hoe graag ik hen ook zie!

Tweede issue, inspiratie… Waar vind je inspiratie als je al ongeveer een half jaar thuis bent om voor je kleine spruit te zorgen en dit ook nog eens de volgende drie maanden zult doen. Wel, juist – bij die kleine spruit dus en in al die kleine triviale dingen die we elke dag meemaken. Aangezien zowel Jr als ikzelf van nature nogal uithuizig zijn, zullen we de inspiratie af en toe wel een handje helpen.

Voor morgen ziet het er alvast goed uit, want dan gaan we een dagje naar Parijs. Voordeel van kleine (mannelijke) baby’s is dat ze nog niet kunnen zeggen dat een dagje winkelen in Parijs met hun mam totaal funest is voor hun mannelijke ego. Alhoewel het als hij groter is, vast nog wel ter sprake zal komen – daarvoor ken ik Becks Sr veel te goed.

Knuffels en tot morgen!
Femke

PS: vanaf morgen is het in het Engels, al klachten gehad van de redactie

Charlie en PC van Femke

Over the last days, I have seen and encountered so much young talent. I believe that we are seeing a new revival in dare and will. Look at our sport women. Or Humo’s Rock Rally, where 14 and 15 year olds demonstrated a musical inspiration that is amazing. Or others in cycling, fashion, arts, etc etc. Even in business we are living a revival.

Today we had a nice conference in Brussels named www.plugg.eu – and even if the content of the seminars was not overwhelmingly good, the start-up creativity in Belgium is starting to florish. I have met so many people over the last weeks that feel stuck in their job, and want to create. A day like this inspires all. No-one is to judge besides yourself. As posted here before.

However, the day got a totally different feeling once I heard that Hugo Claus passed away… It is now 4.30 am, and I am watching vrt news edition – and it feels like a sad dream. But what inspiration has he given, dare shown, inspiration given, with his opinions and leading opinions … Difficult to express, he would have done it better.

And then I see a newsitem about Belgian politics. And now I became even sadder. But in a different way. It’s an angry sadness. The role of a political leader should be to make things better and do good for society, to help those in need, and to shape a perspective for the current and future generations. The current complete lack of interest in creating a perspective is ashaming. What one does with his or her own life is private, how they un-inspire the next generations is irresponsible, and very sad. Creating perspective and inspiration to youngsters is a key element for every (public) figure or person. I wish I could say one party is different, but unfortunately I cannot … . continue reading…

Hello everyone,

What I had explained to my colleagues some months ago, has been officialised today: I will not move permanently to Munich, and hence will leave the ProSiebenSat1 group at the end of 2007, but I will remain linked to this great company as an advisor. Here you can find the official press release. And finally, I am very happy with my succession: Thomas Houge, one of my trusted colleagues who is also in charge of new media in Norway, will take over. He survived a Muse concert with me, so the rest should be easy J

When ProSiebenSat1 acquired SBS Broadcasting, I was very grateful to have been appointed Senior Vice President for New Media and Innovation for Scandinavia, CEE and the Benelux. But from the start I explained my doubts into the relocation, and the different compromises this meant to me. John Goossens, who unfortunately passed away a little over 4 years ago but who remains a guide for me, once made me swear to always follow my heart and dreams and give it all. Munich isn’t the city Femke and I want to be at this moment in our lives, and by moving there I have to give up to much of the things I believe in, while being too far from the ones I love.

Some months later, I confirmed my destiny is elsewhere. It has been a truly amazing year, and if the last 18 months made something clear – it is that I want to keep on working internationally in the domains of technology, media and communication. Where exactly I want to live is not that important, as long as it is Brussels, New York, California, Milan, Paris, London, Rio or Madrid/Barcelona. Courtesy of my Femke ;-)

Do I already know what I will do next?Well, it is getting form and should be concrete very soon, possibly even tomorrow morning. It will be a mix of things, with 1 specific focus. But more in a next post.

And now, back to preparing the birth of our son.
He’s already late at his first appointment. That promises :-)

Bart

The CrossMedia café in Hilversum (Amsterdam, Netherlands) is a bi-monthly media gathering discussing new trends in Media in Netherlands. Monique Van Dusseldorp, the organiser of the event, does a really great job – and she is also behind the wonderful PICNIC creative festival in Amsterdam. Today I was invited to be part of a panel discussing the new media developments of ‘traditional’ media groups together with colleagues from the public channel (Erwin blom – someone much liked by many in the Dutch audience, and a very passionate guy) RTL and Sanoma.

I won’t repeat what has been said during the panel – but I think it can pretty much be summarized by Erwin’s nice presentation. Or read the report on one of the best blogs in digital trends – Frankwatching.

While being here – it reminds me how amazing Amsterdam is. I am so thankful that Patrick Tillieux – CEO at SBS and now COO of the new Prosiebensat1 Media group – gave me the opportunity to discover this city by inviting me to join the SBS Broadcasting group about a year and a half ago… By the way: Patrick and the CEO of our group Guillaume de Posch will receive the price of Belgian International Managers of the year at the Trends CEO summit in a couple of days.

To end with something completely different: after an indepth online research – our choice went to the Dutch design of the Joolz Bloom. I can know honestly say, after a night of reading user reviews, that I am ready to open a chain of baby strollers… Damn, there are a lot of these things…

Ten days to go before baby Becks says Hello world :-)

bart

I wanted to rest some days in San Francisco, but getting there makes one want to become an entrepreneur immediately. You get into conversations like: “my first 4 companies all failed, the 5th I sold for 240m USD, and now I have just started another one…”.

During a dinner with some friends over there, someone convinced everyone: “if you are born between 1970 and 1980, and you haven’t once done or participated in a start-up, you haven’t really lived.” Quite the opposite of what the Belgian universities preach.

Then- against everyone’s advice – I decided to spend some days in Los Angeles. It was very last minute booking, and everyone tried to convince me to stay in SF, but once something is in my head…. Being back from LA, I can truthfully say that … I LOVED IT! I booked a hotel in Hollywood, took the tourist discovery hop-on/hop-off, strolled Rodeo drive, slept a bit on Venice and Malibu beach, and ran into a friend (I guess the only one I know around there) in the WhiskyAGoGo, the bar on Sunset strip where the Doors once used to be the house band. He took me to Chateaux Marmont bar, we ate at The Standard (from Ocean’s Eleven), to the infamous Viper Room and some other cool places. And I met up with some guys from the Hollywood studios, and had fascinating discussion about the future of Hollywood. I’ll be back, too!

I love San Francisco’s internet and technology fever, but also LA’s movie and music drive. Combining technology, media and communication with an internet flavour have and will always be my passion I guess.

Then via Brussels to Oslo, and had some meetings with the great Norwegian team. Thomas Houge, the head of new media Norway, is not only a great thinker who achieves great things, but over the last year is becoming a good friend. Together with some Norwegians we went to … a Muse concert (yes Marc, now I am officially a groupie). Concert was ok, but nothing will beat the London tapes with my father and good friend Luc Van Utterbeeck.

After that I had meetings in Brussels, Amsterdam, Munich and Berlin. Today I initially wanted to go the MTV awards in Munchen , but instead we decided to go the Belgian coast.

Still dreaming of Hollywood, we went to the movie from Michael Mann with Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Gartner named ‘The Kingdom’. There was a lot of publicity for this movie in Hollywood, but it didn’t help here. The 22h30 movie at Koksijde Studio (5 screen movie theatre at the Belgian coast) attracted 2 (TWO) visitors: femke and me. 300p room for us alone. And yes, we enjoyed this private screening ;-)

bart

In the list of my top 25 music concerts, number 24 was a last minute discovery.

Begin 2002, I worked for a week at the SBC R&D center in Austin, Texas in the US. SBC (now part of AT&T again) was at that moment the main private shareholder of Belgacom. The focus of the trip was to study and share experiences on broadband, FTTH and Video transmission over Broadband (we were looking at BelgacomTV technology already then!). We were a small Belgacom delegation, and one of the persons I remember to be there was Johan Luystermans, one of the brightest network and technology persons I ever met during my career.

At the very last minute before the return, I decided to stop for a week-end break in Washington (we flew from Texas via Washington to Brussels). And it was amazing, in 2 days I saw the White House, many museums, got lost often with this complicated mapping of streets, watched a match from the Washington Wizzards NBA team (at that moment Michael Jordan played there!), but I also noticed (the next day) a reunion concert of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Both were at the MCI center, now known as the Verizon Center.

I knew a friend in Washington who studied with me in New York, and he was able to arrange a ticket via a colleague at Ticketmaster. This was such an amazing CSNY concert – and I am especially a big fan of Neil Young: of his music, of his attitude and of his beliefs. Here you have the setlist – of a show that took more than 3 hours. Young went completely crazy at the end, you saw the fire in him, but also the incredble friendship between CSNY.
I was so impressed that I immediately called a good friend of mine- Baudouin Meunier, a former Belgacom colleague who is now at The Belgian Post and who is also very passionate about great rock concerts – to share this memorable experience.

Only number 24 on my list, but one I will never forget.
bart

For the last 20 years, I think this is the first year that I could not attend the entire 3 day festival.
I had a workshop abroad on day1 of the festival, and friday required me to finalise some files, calls and some rather urgent work to be done before the week-end.

So in order to be able to go in the afternoon of day2 and all of day3, I pulled a near all-nighter (think I put my computer asleep at 4.30am on Thursday night) and started again around 7.30 am Friday morning. But so glad I did.

That said – Pukkelpop is every year again an amazing festival, not only because it resides in wonderful Limburg, but there are so many performances on 8 stages that each year again I discover new music.
This year I ‘lived’ mainly around the Dance hall.

My favourites of Pukkelpop 2007:
Goose, Sonic Youth, Casius, Justice, parts of Arcade Fire, parts of Sophia, (very small) parts of Tool, parts of the Shins, Felix da housecat, Juliette Lewis & the licks

Disappointing:
Smashing Pumpkins, TrenteMoller, Cocorosie, The Streets, Spoon, Kings of Leon

Things I wish I had seen (heard people raving but didn’t know them or choose something different):
Patrick Wolf, Loney Dear, Hanne Huckelberg, NineInchNails, Almond Hammer Jr
No links – just google, youtube or myspace them.

Very best of the Festival:
Jan, Jeroen, Aksel en Martine, Luc en Arianne, Lex, Mango en Wendy, Wim, Marc en Marianne, Michel, Clo, Stephanie, Peter, Gunther, Stijn, and so many many others I talked, laughed and (god forbid) even danced with. Only my little Femke wasn’t there this year.

See you next year. See you every year. 11 months and 29 days to go to enter the perfect world again.
Bart

25. U2

Aug 14

Hello world,
We had such an amazing trip this year.

But first for something different: someone left parts of a Stones concert from “somewhere” on my voicemail (no idea who) – and from their tourdates it looks like it was in Scandinavia, France or Germany. And yesterday evening I was dining with Edwin, someone I know from Bilzen but never got to really know until we met here again in Amsterdam. And now we will both be in Moscow and going to a muse concert together half October – go figure :-) The only thing is that my little femmie won’t be able to come as she can’t fly anymore …

That said: this week the Festival of Festivals is there (Pukkelpop) – and I should be at least there for the week-end. I got so many mails of sms’s of friends if I would be there, and it is true: since I live abroad concerts are probably the easiest things to meet up, and I really look forward to seeing you all. That said: some weeks ago a friend asked me about my most memorable concerts – and had to think about it. But here comes a list of “my top 25” concerts. If you were also there or like to go – pls send me a mail or comment, maybe we can go together one day.

Here’s a list that that didn’t make the top 25 (but these concerts were fantastic though):F ront242, Sisters of Mercy, Robbie Williams (even if good fun), The Scene, Daft Punk, Metallica, Noordkaap (last concert in AB was great though), Soulwax/2manydj’s (even if Femke got us tickets from the afterparty together with LCD Soundsystem), Interpol, RHCPeppers, Beethoven’s 9th, Zauberflote January 2nd in Berlin (even if this version was load of fun), Millionaire, opera in Sydney (cool operahouse, bad operaversion), the various Rock Herks or Lummenrocks, Tina Turner (with Sas not Fem – insider), Goose, Queens of the Stone Age (even if amazingly great), and many many others.
I have choosen my top 25 if the moment, location and concert were great.

Numero 25:

U2 at Werchter, Brussels and RotterdamI have seen U2 at Werchter, at Boudewijn stadium, and some other venues. But the most memorable lasted only for 10 minutes. When I still worked at FNAC, Femke and I (together with 2 colleagues) got invited by Compaq for the MTV video music awards in Rotterdam in ’97. U2 opened the show with Discotheque, and it was amazing – even if I wasn’t a big fan of their Pop album. We ended up at the after party, had a talk with Skin from Skunk Anansie (didn’t recognize her at first) – but mostly had lots of fun because it was the first time we ever were at this kind of shows. When we returned to our hotel- I convinced Femmie to walk back instead of taking the taxi, and then we ended up in a rainstorm :-)

Last week-end we visited for the first time Duvrovnik, invited by Andrej and Miki whom I had met before in Valencia, Amsterdam and Brussels. Femke and I had never been in Croatia before, and John from Adlink had told me it was so beautiful.

One reason to get here was to understand evolutions in CEE online media and what Andrej and Miki were setting up with NEO. They are working on interesting concepts, across all of Central and Eastern Europe. There are tremendous opportunities in these fast-growing markets, and a willingness to make something out of that – I already wrote about that upon returning from Hungary and Romania. We stayed in the beautiful hotel Belle-Vue, although truth being told this hotel only opened in February and has some ‘getting started’ issues: their spa, fitness and swimming pool were closed due to works but they charge like everything is perfect. The view from the balcony is incredible though, see Andrej’s blog to have a look, I read most of Robert Kaplan’s ‘Balkan Ghosts’ here.

We discussed 2 entire evenings/nights the evolution of social media, search, portals, tv, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc. Femke even told me that it is weird but great to see men talking so passionate about their work. Yep, we love our jobs and maybe even more industries J But also music, politics, economy and all other subjects passed the conversation cloud.

The greatest part of the week-end was however kind of improvised. First we rented a kayak to peddle around Lokrum, a small island just near Dubrovnik. But then we chartered an amazing 14m sailing yacht, and left for a 9h trip around the Elifati Islands.

Ed Somers, someone I know from my hometown in Bilzen, told me last year that Croatia is not only amazing to sail, that is still relatively affordable, but also talked about how clear and beautiful Adriactic Sea is. And how right he was!

The sea is intense blue – and it is just amazing to dive of a boat and swim around, stop at an island to eat simply grilled fish and have a glass of white wine while enjoyng a sunset and listening to the sea (see flickr for some snapshots). In the evening, we wandered around Dubrovnik’s old city – now completely restored after the war. This UNESCO world heritage site combines a historic beauty with a young liveliness. Dubrovnik was an amazing business trip – but tourism is about to hit again though – so I suggest to visit quickly. And to a friend of mine who asked via SMS if the girls here are really so beautiful, Femke’s answer is: “there is a flight with Thomas Cook leaving tomorrow at 6am – and there are tickets available!’ :-)

Bart

Birds flying high, you know how I feel (poor sound, but notice an entire stadium singing). Still post-enjoying the Muse concert at Wembley… I know it’s a (too) bombastic show, but if anyone they can have it, they can. Here’s the start of the concert (poor quality, but it shows the intenseness of the show)– and here a nice summary of most of the concert (even if many of the highlights aren’t there…).

And now for something completely different.
Over the last 20 days I had a rather diverse but also quite exhausting couple of days at work. Take last week. In 5 days, I had meetings, negotiations or workshops in London, Brussels, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Brussels. 7 countries in 6 days… I was invited to go to the Ocean’s race in Valencia for the week-end, but it was more important to me to have a relatively calm week-end with Femke, some Brussels mates, read magazines and books, go to a culturel event in Antwerp, have an evening drink with my former Skynet management committee just outside Brussels, and talk to my sister and some friends in Limburg.

That said, the most impacting evening was probably Tuesday. After an entire day developing our digital business in Rumania and a dinner – I was confronted with 2 choices: go to bed or take a night discovery of Bucharest.

You guessed right – at midnight I asked one of the drivers of the hotel to take my through a tour of the city. Around 1am we stopped for a while in front of the Palace of Parliament, probably Bucharest’s most (im)famous construction. Standing in front of it and looking at the monumentalism around makes you wonder about the madness of this regime at some time. The cab driver (who used to be in Ceausescu’s army) explained me the past and current political structure, the feeling of the population after entering the EU, the growing scepticism, why the locals don’t visit the Palace of Parliament (that actually was originally named Casa Poporului – House of the People…), etc… Although this is a country that is experiencing growth in some domains (in the media business: over the last years media spending grew over 50percent in total, broadband connection grew a staggering 28 percent in one year, … – these are usually indications economies are growing) – it has infrastructurally been standing pretty much unchanged. Instead of talking about web2.0 (there was no real web1.0), the discussion is about Rumania 2.0: what should the purpose and drive be of this complex 22 million country?

Some days later I read that 15 persons have died in Bucharest because of high temperature… It isn’t the staggering number of Parisiens of some years ago, but it also makes you wonder in a week where me and my environment are talking about advertising awards, football transfers, epo or Werchter… Believe me that I am not downplaying (I’m also mainly doing all of the above). Just reflecting upon it for a moment. Rumania 2.0. Wish I can contribute a bit.

bart.