Big things can come from small countries, and so can ‘big’ people.

First, a little background in case you’ve never heard of Bart Decrem: he was born and raised in Belgium, but emigrated to the United States at the age of 22. He got a law degree at Stanford and moved to the Silicon Valley area right after graduation, where he started Plugged In, the nation’s first digital divide program that Bill Clinton once called a model
for the rest of the country. When he left in ’99, he co-founded Eazel and was actively involved in the creation of the GNOME Foundation.

In March 2001, Bart moved to Korea and worked as VP Business Development for Linux One and Hancom Linux. He later headed marketing and business affairs for the Mozilla Foundation, where he was responsible for the Firefox launch and business partnerships with Google and others. He went on to co-found Flock, for which he served as CEO until he stepped down in September 2006. Full bio can be found here.

I got the chance to ask Bart a couple of questions, you can find the transcript of the interview after the jump.

So, what do you do now?

I’m working on a couple of projects until I find the “next big thing” for me. I’m helping a friend who is starting a Fund of Funds (that’s an investment company that invests in Venture Capital firms) where the profits will be donated to innovative educational non-profit programs. I’m working on a couple of political projects. I’m advising several entrepreneurs and an investor or two. I’m blogging. I’m brainstorming with friends about a bunch of startup ideas. Oh, and I’ve spent more time with my family and worked on my Chinese, which will be my 8th language.

Are you still actively involved in Flock?

Being a founder is like being a parent. You always stay involved. I no longer work at the company, but I’m still a friend of the company, stay in touch with people, and chime in with ideas.

Where do you think Flock is heading?

I’ll let the company’s team talk about their specific plans, but let me comment more generally. What I love about Flock is that it really innovates. I love Firefox and use it alongside Flock, but Firefox has really been about making the browser work again, get rid of all the nuisances. Flock is about looking afresh at what the browser can be, and answering the question “if we were to build the browser from scratch today, what would it look like?” Nobody else is really doing that.

So I think there are a ton of interesting things to do in the browser space, and Flock has really been a leader in that. And as “attention” continues to move from the desktop to the web, the role of the browser in being the dominant client portion of that experience will only become more important.

Can you predict some emerging trends for 2007?

There are people that are a lot smarter then me for that, so let me just list a few of the things that I’m interested in. I think value will continue to “flow to the edges” meaning that there are tremendous opportunities for people who create hyper-specialized services/communities, and then there are great opportunities for people who create value bundles and get right in front of the user (like the browser), so it’s fun to be at the edges, and tough to be squeezed in between. I think power will continue to move towards the individual. I was going to say “consumer” but they’re now producers, editors and aggregators too. So people will more and more own their content, and their attention, and you’ll see individuals be able to capture more and more of the value stream that generates.

Attention will continue to migrate from the desktop computing platform towards mobile, handheld devices. Communicating (other then talking) and creating content from those devices is still painfully hard compared to PCs, so that creates opportunity as those devices become more powerful, bandwidth increases, and the iPhone shows what can be done.

And lastly, open source, web services, outsourcing etc. will continue to drive down the cost of starting a company, while capital is in abundance right now. So it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur.

Do you follow-up on Belgium and its technology industry?

Does watching In De Gloria on YouTube count? If so, absolutely!

Which advice would you give young Belgian startups?

I think there are a ton of exciting opportunities in Europe. At the same time, it’s hard to beat the ecosystem here in Silicon Valley. So I think there are great opportunities that come from combining your presence in Europe and understanding those markets, with links and connections into Silicon Valley and the raw entrepreneurial energy and resources here. And while it’s always exciting to think up brand new ideas, one of the weak spots of many American companies is that they are not as good at understanding markets outside of the US, so “Fortress Europe” strategies, where you pick up on a trend that’s starting in the US and execute really strongly on that in Europe, locking up this huge market, will continue to be a success formula for many a European startup.

Thank you!