Various topics have been tumbling around my brain about which to write in this last post of 2013 on France’s startup ecosystem. There’s the alarming passage of a wide-reaching French surveillance law, or yet another French fiscal flap like the Eckert proposal, and of course the depressing pronouncements by Arnaud Montebourg at LeWeb last week.
But let’s end on a more upbeat note, for there were several items in the French tech sector in 2013 worthy of holiday cheer. Here are my top five:
1. Fantastic products and services from several French startups: Bankin, Kelbillet, Keyyo, Invoxia, Rude Baguette (as I’ve written about previously), as well as Kwaga, Withings, Bunkr, and Mindie which I’ve more recently come to discover and appreciate.
2. An abundance of quality tech conferences this year: France Digitale Day, Web2Day, the Video Game Economics Forum, Dreamforce, E-virtuoses, Flow, Game Connection, and the grand-daddy of them all, LeWeb, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary last week.
3. An unprecedented number of new VC funds raised, notably of the FCPR (i.e. institutional LP) structure. This bodes well for the future financing of startups, especially as France’s traditional sources of funding via tax breaks and subsidies are under pressure.
4. Two major VC-backed success stories which helped restore some of France’s credibility in tech: the $600 million acquisition of Neolane by Adobe, and the laudable IPO of Criteo reaching a $2 billion valuation. These transactions represent tremendous wins for the ecosystem, and I applaud the efforts of the entrepreneurs, VCs, and stakeholders of both firms.
5. The startup infrastructure, yes still. I’ve said it before and still believe it. France still offers many assets: regional startup incubators like Cap Omega; increasingly sophisticated accelerators and angel groups like TheFamily and 50 Partners; a pool of ambitious and talented entrepreneurs; ubiquitous and affordable internet; a high-speed train that can whisk us from Paris to London, Amsterdam, Geneva, or the Mediterranean within hours; top-notch health care and paramedics; accessible arts, culture, and design.
Happy holidays and see you in 2014.