Vive l. a. France — that was once the dominant message of the day all through a excursion of the French tech ecosystem. But is it time to spend money on French startups?
Around 40 companions a big gamble capital companies in addition to restricted companions got here to Paris to speak about tech in France, from Andreessen Horowitz to Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures and extra. The two-day roadshow came about at Station F, the Vision Institute, iBionext and the Elysée Palace.
I grew up in France and it all the time surprises me that the similar clichés arise time and again. When Symphony founder and CEO David Gurle spoke back questions on what it’s like to construct an engineering crew in France, it might had been simple to expect the questions — hard work regulation isn’t versatile sufficient, French individuals are lazy, they move on strike always…
According to Gurle, who is superb at storytelling, Symphony has been taking a look at round 15 international locations for his or her subsequent place of work. They first decided on Singapore however couldn’t put a crew in combination.
“We went to the board and said the next step is to invest in France,” Gurle mentioned. At first, the board was once actually reluctant, bringing up the similar considerations.
Chairman of Business France and Ambassador for International Investments Pascal Cagni has been coping with the ones considerations for years. For example, when it comes to hard work regulation, he says the regulatory framework is now predictable and restricted — not like within the U.Okay. or Germany as an example. You can hearth other folks each time you wish to have. It implies that you’ll have to pay a severance package deal, however the whole thing is laid out.
Silicon Valley is overheating presently. It’s become increasingly more dear and difficult to construct a corporate — the tech trade is getting larger and the largest tech firms now dominate the skill marketplace. That’s additionally a part of the explanation why Silicon Valley veterans are taking a look outdoor in their convenience zone.
Speeding issues up
The query wasn’t about whether or not startups in France are a factor or now not. The tone of the dialog was once about tempo and depth. Is it time to make investments now or will have to we wait?
“We’ve noticed that we started investing more in European startups without even thinking about it — not just French startups but all over Europe,” Battery Ventures General Partner Chelsea Stoner instructed me.
Depending at the find out about, France and the U.Okay. are fighting to be the primary European nation when it comes to the collection of VC offers and the entire amount of cash raised.
When I mentioned 3 and a part years in the past that France will be the tech chief in Europe, no person believed that — and it’s taking place John Chambers
But much more essential than onerous information, the momentum has been lovely shocking. A couple of years in the past, I may duvet each and every unmarried deal over $1 million. Now there are such a lot of startups valued at masses of thousands and thousands of greenbacks that it’s onerous to stay monitor of all investment rounds above $20 or $30 million.
France has one of the vital best possible engineering colleges on the planet. And now, maximum scholars need to paintings for a startup. So if France has a lot of capital and a large pool of skill, what’s lacking? Should French startups get extra give a boost to from the French executive?
“Five or six years ago, I would have said keep the government as far away as possible and I was wrong,” former Cisco CEO John Chambers instructed me. Chambers is now ambassador for La French Tech and doesn’t spend money on French startups so as to steer clear of conflicts of passion. “When I said three and a half years ago that France would be the tech leader in Europe, nobody believed that — and it’s happening,” he mentioned.
OpenClassrooms co-founder and CEO Pierre Dubuc mentioned all through a panel that one piece of law that has helped his startup slightly a lot is the French Tech Visa. Thanks to this program, the corporate can get visas for long run staff in simply a subject of weeks.
Chambers says that it really works each tactics. American staff follow to the French Tech Visa, paintings for French startups for a whilst after which come again to the U.S. It strikes the needle when it comes to converting mindsets within the U.S.
The French tech ecosystem additionally wishes time. While there are a ton of fine engineers, a couple of other folks instructed me gross sales other folks and advertising and marketing skill are nowhere close to the extent of American tech firms.
Some staff will want to undergo three or four other firms and revel in many various scenarios to become higher. At this level, they may be able to reinvest again their wisdom into startups.
Big, overdue degree VC finances too can assist pace issues up. “Many people misunderstand the value of venture capital,” Chambers instructed me. Well-established finances have sturdy processes and understand how to rent most sensible control. That’s why bringing the ones VCs and LPs to Paris may assist exchange issues.
Without turning this text into a political piece, it’s onerous to speak about international buyers coming to Paris with out citing the yellow vests motion.
LVMH Chief Digital Officer Ian Rogers had a nuanced take at the adjustments within the tech ecosystem. “It’s clear that they are [changing the mindset] and it’s clear that there’s opposition,” he mentioned. “This is a thrilling second, it is also most probably a bubble. Let’s see what is at the different facet.”
In different phrases, tech will also be a harmful trade. Nobody sought after to state that so at once, however everyone had that during thoughts.
Ron Conway even instructed me that Airbnb might be the answer to deal with inequalities. “This whole yellow coats issue, that’s about income inequality,” he instructed me. There are 500,000 hosts in France producing $three billion in income — and there will have to be extra in accordance to him. But I don’t suppose startups can remedy the whole thing, sadly.
“There are going to be a few setbacks along the way and we’re seeing that with the social movement, but we shouldn’t lose the end goal,” Chambers instructed me.
Of path, seeing France implode is in nobody’s passion. VC companies also are taking a look at other alternatives as a result of Donald Trump and Brexit make the longer term unpredictable.
But it’s unclear if minimizing social actions is wishful considering or long-term considering.
Moving as a crew
What was once fascinating about these days’s talk over with is that some individuals are already making an investment slightly a lot in French startups whilst others are utterly new to the French tech ecosystem. When you listen Tony Fadell say that he’s invested in French startups with Xavier Niel for a few years, it creates a worry of lacking out.
“You see how the valley goes, it moves as a group,” Chambers instructed me.
Bringing dozens of buyers to Paris created some type of emulation. Nobody wants to be the primary one to spend money on one thing new, however no person wants to be the final one both.
List of buyers:
- Joe Schoendorf, Accel Partners
- Martin Casado, Andreessen Horowitz
- Bernard Liautaud, Balderton
- Chelsea Stoner, Battery Ventures
- Philippe Lafont, Coatue
- Matt Turck, FirstMark Capital
- Hany Nada, GGV Capital
- Dana Settle, Greycroft
- Sarah Guo, Greylock Partners
- Irena Goldenberg, Highland Europe
- Erel Margalit, Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP)
- Samir Kaul, Khosla Ventures
- Philipp Freise, KKR
- Klaus Hommels, Lakestar
- Scott Sandell, New Enterprise Associates
- Isaac Hillel, Pitango Venture Capital
- Boaz Dinte, Qumra
- Ron Conway, SV Angel
- Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures
- Talbot Heppenstall, UPMC
- Paul Graham, Y Combinator
- Jessica Livingston, Y Combinator
+ 17 restricted companions