Dear Silicon Valley,
I’m writing you this letter because I too believe that you are a magical land of business opportunity that is different from the rest. But that doesn’t mean you’re perfect. I’m sure that you think the French are always striking, that they only work 12 hours a week and that they’re on vacation 40% of the year. Still, while you may not exactly understand their un-workaholic ways, please consider stealing the following French business ideas – as they appear to be doing quite well.
1. SOS Medecins. Remember Michael Moore’s Sicko? He may’ve portrayed France as a bit of a Utopia but SOS Medecins is kind of a dream come true for anyone who is a proud survivor of the American medical system. Take my word for it – they’ll send a doctor to your house within 20 minutes of your call, even on a Saturday night. For anyone without insurance, the most the visit will cost is €80, including all medical tests. What’s not to like about that? Combine this with some kind of midnight prescription delivery service and I think you’ve got a winner (think Webvan.com-goes-medical).
2. Trams, metros, TGVs. I know the cable car is pretty and quite frankly, I’m not suggesting that it go. But we can all admit that it’s not the fastest and most practical means of transporation the city has to offer. The BART isn’t exactly any better and the Caltrain makes me cry; San Francisco to Palo Alto in 40 minutes and we call that a “bullet train”? And don’t get me started on the 18th-Century ticketing system you’ve got going on. I can pay my parking tickets online but not my train or bus pass renewals? Oh – and let’s not forget that these tickets you have to offer are all made of paper. Yikes. Lucky for you, I’m going to ignore Vélib (the bike rental system) since San Francisco has a few more hills than Paris – but I’m pretty sure Google has a similar system on their campus in Mountain View.
3. Freebox. Translation: Internet, a fixed telephone line and TV all for €30/month. An amazing deal regardless of the USD-EUR exchange rate. Wait, isn’t that about the same price as Peek?