Disclaimer: This article is my own personal opinion and is meant in no way to criticize or judge the startups or founders involved in #ReviensLéon. It is also in no way meant to discourage anyone who wishes to come back to France or to become a Léon from doing so. It is simply offering a different perspective of the initiative. I am a huge supporter of all the startups and people involved in Reviens Léon and I would have been at the launch event if I was not on a trip.
Yesterday morning, 10 of France’s promising startups announced the launch of a new initiative: Reviens Léon. This campaign – which makes a reference to a 1985 ravioli commercial (below) – strives to encourage French expatriates living and working abroad to come back and work for France’s budding tech ecosystem. The Reviens Leon website – backed by startups like Blablacar, Sigfox, La Fourchette, Showroomprivé and more – includes numerous job offers, and mentions an organization that will also help to navigate the administrative ” jungle” for those that want to return.
My first reaction when I heard about this initiative was nothing shy of “WTF?” After all, I’m not HR expert, but it seems far more efficient for these startups to try and court people who are dying to come to France rather than those who were willing to leave. But that’s just my naive view of the subject. But I can say that as an American living abroad, I would be incredibly annoyed if the US tried to get me to come home and thought that the argument could simply be boiled down to job offers and taxes. Many who leave their country are seeking great opportunities, yes, but it’s likely they may be seeking more. And what’s the harm in having brilliant French people living abroad? Isn’t that great for the country’s international image, too (well, if they would stop shit-talking France that would help)? But honestly, I say #letthemliveabroad.
An expatriate in Japan says the offers aren’t that appealing to him.
I saw a great comment on Facebook in regards to the topic that I think captures my sentiment perfectly:
Translation: “When will we see the campaign #BienvenuLéon? To support the thousands of qualified people that want to come work in France?”
I find it just incredible that France repeatedly focuses all its energy on those who leave or have left, rather than trying to help those that want to come. It’s almost like someone who can’t get over a break-up (sorry for the horrible analogy). By focusing on those who left we are still pointing to the fact that they left in the first place. If we want to completely turn the page, we should stop looking back and just move on. I wrote an article in Tech.eu in March 2014 on how France was overly-obsessed with entrepreneurs who had decided to leave instead of focusing on the incredible in-coming talent from other backgrounds and countries. Recently I felt that we had started to see progress with the launch of the Paris French Tech Ticket, essentially a pack for foreign entrepreneurs who want to come and work in Paris (let’s just call it a step in the right direction). Yet, we’re still spending energy and resources on those who left. Come on guys, get over it.