Rude VC: Losing Our Religion

Apr 23, 2013
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tribeca-parisYour Rude VC returns following a week off the grid with family. Part of my travels took me through New York, during which I indulged on two of my favorite weaknesses: authentic New York bagels, and pastrami on rye from a Brooklyn deli.

Of course, nowadays I don’t have to travel all the way to New York for a bagel. Paris seems to be suddenly crawling with snack shops selling supposedly authentic NY bagels and pastrami sandwiches (less authentically, our city’s not crawling with the most frequent patrons of the NY shops: cockroaches).

So as a bagel and pastrami consumer, I should be delighted, shouldn’t I ? Well, actually, no.

Granted, for Paris to become a more international city, importing some trendy foreign restaurant concepts is both necessary and welcome. But this American copycat phase has gone too far. First came the Los Angeles-style food trucks like Le Camion Qui Fume and Cantine California (hats off to these pioneering expats who validated a market). Then the late adopters joined the fray, renovating traditional French brasseries into wanna-be Brooklyn-style hipster cafés (TriBeCa on Rue Cler, I’m thinking of you). And now, in proof that Paris has finally jumped the shark on this concept, a place on rue du Strasbourg St-Denis called PNY (Paris New York) opens up offering burgers, cheesecake, and “yumise”.

If Paris reduces itself to a mere fast food follower in the culinary sector, what’s next on this greasy slope ? Next thing you know we’ll be awash in unversity sweatshirts, startup accelerators, and government-sponsored Silicon Valley replicas. Oh wait…

The danger is that an egregious absence of original thinking manifests itself in questionable projects like the French Google-copycat, Quaero, or more recently, the Commission Innovation 2030. Announced just last week, the French government created the Commission Innovation 2030 headed by former atomic energy agency chief Anne Lauvergeon and 19 other old white Enarques (grads of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, finishing school for top bureaucrats) whose mission is to identify France’s next Apple.

Maybe a daily diet of bagels and burgers will be easier to stomach.