Alright everyone, here is the 4th edition of the 13 Hot French Entrepreneurs Under 30 list – except this year, it’s not 13…it’s 20. That’s right. I received nearly 60 nominations that qualified – so you can imagine that narrowing it down to 13 was not easy – and after mulling over them for a few days straight I decided, heck, I’ll just make it top 20.
I thought I would poke my head up into the blogging world again. Clearly, it’s been a while. A long while. I realized this when I attended Paris Startup Weekend at La Mutinerie this past weekend. Honestly, it was the first time I could really see how much the French startup crowd is changing. The teams all pitched in English (and did brilliant, hilarious pitches), they had killer ideas. It made me feel like France’s ecosystem is starting to grow up.
When President François Hollande took office earlier this year, I wrote a brief post on what this would mean for France – or more specifically, French startups. As a result of the President’s proposed 75% tax, many of France’s wealthier entrepreneurs and investors were rumored to be planning their relocation to neighboring Belgium, Switzerland, the UK or even the US (for those who can secure a visa) – including Pixmania cofounder Jean-Emile Rosenblum, which I wrote about here. However, naturally not all of the rumored departures are true. So here’s a look at which of France’s top entrepreneurs are actually leaving the country.
So after a period of quasi-silence, I’m back at the blogging wheel. And what better to kick it off with, than Orée’s wooden keyboard. I first mentioned it on Twitter on Monday and discovered lots of followers not only loved it but also had lots of questions: is it waterproof? Is a French “AZERTY” layout available? How do you clean it? Finally, I decided to get in touch with founder Julien Salanave and get your questions answered.
I’m sure I don’t need to remind any of you when Instagram was acquired for $1 billion by Facebook earlier this year. There were many things about the acquisition that made the world go crazy. But aside from the insane valuation for “a company with no revenue and 10 employees” and the fact that Mark Z was signing the check, the other tiny detail that had everyone going nuts was the company’s age; at the time of the acquisition, Instagram 551-day-old Instagram had not even celebrated it’s 2nd birthday.
From the moment that François Hollande became the President of France earlier this year, the international press has been waiting for entrepreneurs to leave the country. Hollande’s 75% tax rule caused quite an uproar in the French community – and even Will Smith said he found it unpalatable. However, this brilliant excuse for a little France bashing has led quite a few journalists astray, as they casually overlook the fact the entrepreneurs threatening to leave also happened to be raising massive rounds of funding to continue doing business at home (oops). I found all of this to be quite hilarious since I didn’t know a single French entrepreneur that was packing up and leaving the country. Well, until now.
As just about everyone probably knows by now, Google announced its first France-based acquisition on Friday: Sparrow. I say “announced” because according to a few sources, Google has previously acquired France-based companies but chosen not to communicate. Anyhow, regardless of what the situation is, the Sparrow team is packing their bags and heading to Mountain View to join the Gmail team in what looks more like a talent-acquisition (another rare occurrence for France).
Rumors had been turning around the French tech scene for quite a while that French startup Sparrow (which also happens to be my favorite email client of all time) had been in acquisition discussions. And there were rumors that several tech heavyweights had approached the company, which still hasn’t celebrated its 2nd birthday (yes, à la Instagram). But France still got a pleasant surprise when the news broke today that it was Google that would be acquiring the company.
If you thought that all the big US tech blogs ignored Europe except for the occasional LeWeb conference, well, you thought wrong. Actually, if anything, they’ve all been vamping up their European activities recently. TechCrunch has got back up to speed, counting several Europe-based writers and is set to host an event in – yes, ITALY - on Septebmer 27th. It may be yesterday’s news, but The Next Web managed to lure back Robin Wauters as its European Editor earlier this year (though it may seem like events-wise they’re focusing more on rolling out in Latin America). And now GigaOm is rolling out conferences on this side of the Atlantic as well.
On June 30th, France officially lay its infamous minitel network to rest. The box connected French households before the arrival of the Internet is said to have inspired Apple’s Steve Jobs – which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who knows the country’s history of inventiveness and affinity for beautiful design. Now, as the rest of the world drools over gadgets, including BERG Cloud’s Tiny Printer, Pebble Technology’s E-Paper watch or Google glasses (thoughts?), you may be wondering what gadgets are left on the French menu. Well, here are a few noteworthy French gadget companies to keep an eye on.