My Summer Homework: What Will the European Startup Scene look like in 2025

Aug 19, 2013
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I spent last week using a bit of the news downtime to catch up on some of the uglier sides of running a company, namely projections. I’m not a huge fan of making plans any further in the future past what I can imagine in my head – luckily, Trista picks up the slack on that part for me. This week, we planned out all of 2014 (Spoiler Alert: it’s going to be awesome), and it seems that Rude Media weren’t the only ones planning for the future.

A few leaked documents from the French government reveals that François Hollande gave “summer homework” to each of his 38 Ministers to write up what they think France will look like in 2025, due this morning on his desk. Full employment, housing for all, and innovative business models to inspire the planet – all these & more unrealistic measurements squarely confirm what any analyst could’ve predicted : that this exercise would be both utterly futile & very illustrative of the disconnect between the current cabinet’s France and the France in which its people live.

At first, I was going to write an article about the inherent idiocy of asking public figures to give their opinions of what the sector the country they manage will look like almost 10 years and two administrations after they are no longer responsible for it – it’s as if you asked a young child what they would like their grandchildren to be when they grow up.

Upon reflection, I decided to simply follow suit and share my thoughts on what the Paris ecosystem, and perhaps the greater ecosystem will look like in 2025.

The European Startup Scene in 2025

I’ve talked in the past about the pro-business revolution happening in France, and I believe that in 12 years, France may not have internationally eliminated its ‘lazy’ ‘anti-business’ stereotypes (dear Joe Weisenthal, thanks for writing the same article as everyone else has), but I believe that, nationally, we will see a turnover in who runs the country, runs companies, and makes decisions about the values of the country. Criteo will long-since have IPO’d (hopefully), and the country’s largest companies will be tech companies. Don’t expect Orange to go anywhere; however, management will have to change, and the company has shown its ability to adapt to the changing global business/startup climate already.

There is no “European Silicon Valley” by 2025. Paris acts as one of many hubs, a knowledge hub for the Sharing Economy (Airbnb, Blablacar, etc.) , AdTech (both Criteo & Publicis Omnicom reside here); however, don’t expect anything drastic like a “European Google” (good luck on that one, Merkel), unless you consider the only company which Google seriously considers to be a competitor in the AdTech space to be a competitor (Criteo).

Berlin may in fact be the closest thing to a European Silicon Valley by 2025 – after all, what is the Silicon Valley, if not a bunch of people building B2C mobile/tablet/Glass/VR apps with no sign of a business model beyond acquisition. Meanwhile, by 2025, I’d like to think that London would have invested enough in building a European IPO market so that, once the inevitable 2020 US market crash happens, European Tech companies will get scared enough to consider IPO-ing in London. London also rivals New York, calling itself home to many major digital brands & FinTech companies.

Oddly enough, if you read closely, there isn’t much difference from now to 2025. I don’t believe in magical jumps from one echelon to the next. We’ve spent nearly 2 years now testing the theory that, if you throw enough PR at a city, its startup ecosystem will grow faster. I think Brad Feld could’ve told you that doesn’t work, but Berlin (and its VCs) continue to make the push, piling on item after item to the to-do list in order to become Europe’s center. I’d sincerely hope that by 2025, Berlin will learn not to market itself as “the cheap startup city” and will focus on some of its core strengths – a respected university by 2025 is a nice goal, as is the ability to attract businesses to put their European HQs in the city.

Paris, too, will have to go through a few presidents in order to work on how attractive it is to businesses. Will France ever be as disconnected from its people & as tolerant of companies as the US? Doubtful. But, as the Internet Sector follows the Automobile sector and every other innovative industrial sector before it, the Tech Market will disperse itself around the world, with local hubs cropping up in capital cities and strategic locations, and in order for Paris to get to next logical echelon, it’s going to need to attract global companies to put their European, and even Global HQs in Paris – companies that aren’t French, that is.