5 Things to be Thankful for in the French Startup Ecosystem

Dec 11, 2012
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The atmosphere surrounding France’s VC and startup ecosystem over the second half of the year has provided ample opportunities to dampen one’s spirits. Between the dearth of stock market liquidity, the potentially devastating fiscal policies of the new government, VC’s who behave more like overpaid lenders than risk backers, and the general macroeconomic malaise within the EU, one could be forgiven for turning gloomy.

The Rude VC holds himself accountable too, as I’ve written critically about recent events, not so much to complain but rather to instigate constructive action.

But as 2012 winds to a close, I assert that there are many things during this holiday season which merit our giving thanks. Here is my personal list of reasons for holiday cheer:

First and foremost, I am thankful for the entrepreneurs that make this ecosystem exist. Almost every entrepreneur I’ve met manages to tune out the negative noise from the outside and maintains tireless dedication and enthusiasm for his/her respective venture. I consider myself fortunate to be able to spend most of my working time collaborating with such angels of positive energy.

I’m also grateful that an insightful and provocative media site now exists to sniff out the saucy stuff in France tech and bring it to the world: the Rude Baguette.

Thirdly, I am thankful for the investors in venture capital funds, without whom I would not have a job. These people include the institutional investors, who place money in a VC fund for the sole purpose of generating a return, or retail investors – individual French taxpayers – who invest for a tax break or even with purely altruistic intentions of supporting innovation. Regardless of the source, a human being at some point in the chain makes a conscious decision to invest in VC, and I try not to forget how lucky I am to be chosen as one of the stewards of their capital.

Fourthly, France. Yes, the country that has been the whipping boy of the financial press, the credit ratings agencies, the markets, even some elements of the government, deserves my gratitude. My adopted country and my second nationality, France is still one of the best places on earth in my opinion. We have a high-quality public transport system, a TGV network that can whisk us from the capital to the Mediteranean sun for a weekend, a fantastic and affordable broadband network, one of the best tech conferences in LeWeb, extravagantly privileged public services like health care and elementary education, a vast array of culture and the arts accessible to everyone, fashion, food, foire aux vins, and more. When I lived in Silicon Valley many of my friends dreamed of accumulating enough wealth to go retire to France. Just by being here, we’re already living part of that dream.

Finally and most importantly, I am thankful for my wife, son, and our collective good health. This blessing exceeds all the others.