Publicis Groupe has succeeded where the House of Commons failed by securing an audience with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in Paris this Thursday at Viva Technology, which The Drum will be exclusively live streaming here at 4.30pm BST.
Zuckerberg will be grilled by Publicis chairman Maurice Levy during a ‘fireside chat’ at the gathering, fresh from having attended president Macron’s Tech for Good summit at E’lysee Palace the day before - part of a charm offensive to lure more tech professionals to France.
Up for discussion will be a range of topics including the positive role technology can play in improving people’s lives as well as some of the potential pitfalls, giving Zuckerberg an opportunity to promote innovation at Facebook as well as its contribution to the French tech economy.
Looking ahead to the interview, Levy told The Drum: “The last time Mark was in Paris was in 2011 for the e-G8. I had the opportunity to interview him then and it was both fun and interesting.
“Since then, many things have happened. I’d like to discuss the Facebook journey and its development. Of course, we will also cover the recent issues that Facebook faced, without focusing solely on this as it’s been covered quite extensively by the media. I’d like to offer a broader perspective on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. If I can get one or two personal anecdotes out of him I’ll be very happy.”
Zuckerberg will also be put on the spot in more difficult arenas such as its ongoing response to a data protection scandal and implementation of General Data Protection Regulations.
Facebook Artificial Intelligence Paris (Fair) marks its third anniversary on the eve of VivaTech, marking a happy confluence of timings for both Levy and Zuckerberg.
Other speakers at the event will include Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and IBM chief Ginny Rometty.
Discussing the event's success over the years, Levy said: ”When I first decided to organise the event to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Publicis Groupe and the financing of 90 startups I had no Idea what the future held. Les Echos Group was also considering creating a startup focused event in 2016 so I suggested that we merge our two events as I didn’t believe there was room for two events of the same kind. The first year was tremendous. The second year was exceptional. And I hope that the third year will beat the second on every front and that we will be short in words to qualify it. Yes, obviously, I am proud.
”Starting an event on tech, startups, innovation etc at age 74 and finding out that the concept I created was working can only make you proud. And now, seeing the international attention from key business leaders, and that Paris is attracting companies, innovators and entrepreneurs that are building the future is also something to be proud of. Seeing the continued support of French leaders- President François Hollande in 2016 and President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 and again this year in 2018 as he will inaugurate Viva Technology on May 24 is a great honour as well.”