Les Echos reported this morning that French telecom provider SFR & computing hardware company Bull will be teaming up to offer cloud computing services. With SFR having recently changed CEO’s, likely as a response to their drastic loss of users since Free Mobile’s launch earlier this year, this seems to be ex-Vodafone CEO Michel Combes’ first action as CEO. The new company has been given 225 Million euros, with SFR owning 47%, Bull owning 20%, and the French Caisse des Depots(CDC) picking up the remaining 33%. Les Echos reported that the initial offerings should arrive before the end of the summer.
This new venture, which is set to create 400 new jobs in France, comes just weeks after Orange and Thales created a similar venture, which also had a 33% investment by the state. It seems that the state is hedging their bets with these investments, which is apparently in an attempt to create competition. It is more likely that, since this ‘competition’ is created by two of the three giant telecom companies who managed to create a telecom oligarchy in France until Free launched earlier this year, this is definitely a situation where any cloud computing startup might want to pick up the phone and call Xavier Niel’s Free, as they seem to have an affinity for disrupting the oligarchy’s set up by big French companies.
With all the news around Hollande’s election and how terrible it will allegedly be for startups in France (ps: haven’t felt it yet), it’s no shock to say that there is no involvement of any cloud computing startups in any of these deals, of which there are many- ex-Netvibes Tariq Krim’s Joli Cloud, Nantes-based Clever Cloud, Paris-based Hedera Technology.