This week, Tariq Krim announced his intention to create a list of 100 French hackers who have been integral in the development of the Internet as we know it today. Initial reactions to the project were mixed. The list, which is part of Krim’s work with Fleur Pellerin to help promote and encourage the growth of the startup ecosystem, will not be a “leaderboard’-style listing, but instead, is meant to call attention to an arbitrary 100 hackers influential in the startup scene.
In the same spirit, I thought I would share a list of a few startups I have come to reference when asked about France & entrepreneurship. People are generally familiar with Dailymotion, Criteo, Deezer & other France-based startups; however, whether in the Silicon Valley or Norway, French entrepreneurs are building companies all around the world, so here’s a list of 10 of them:
eBay: Pierre Omidyar
Pierre Omidyar is likely one of the ‘youngest’ expatriates in our list – that is, the Paris-born billionaire left France in grad school to move to the US. Nonetheless you know what they say: you can take the Parisian out of Paris…
VLC: Jean-Baptiste Kempf
Originally a project of Paris University École Centrale Paris, the world’s most-used video player (more than Quicktime, more than Windows Media Player) remains a Paris-based project, and the project’s co-founder, Jean-Baptiste, is still active in VLC’s development & maintenance. In the mean time, he’s started a number of companies; today, he is the co-founder of Videolabs, a startup providing development consulting on top of VLC.
AppAnnie: Bertrand Schmitt
If you’re looking for statistics on mobile apps today, you’ll look no further than this China-based startup. The gold standard of mobile app analytics, AppAnnie is not the only China-based startup founded by French entrepreneurs. Viadeo’s CEO currently calls China home, as do a number of French-run eCommece sites.
Feedly: Edwin Khodabakchian
In the war to replace Google Reader, there is no doubt that the lion’s share went to Feedly. The company, founded in 2006, didn’t make its mark until last March, when Google Reader shut down, and they saw more than 500,000 users flock to their service, which offered the ability to port Google Reader settings over to Feedly. As of May 2013, Feedly counted over 12 Million users – not bad for a couple of Frenchies, eh?
Soundrop: Johann Prieur
The first Spotify app to raise funding, Soundrop announced last year an integration with Deezer that marked an evolution in the mobile app’s strategy. The company’s co-founder & CPO, Johann Prieur, is based in Oslo with the rest of the team, and has been integral in defining a product hailed for its ease of use.
Docker: Solomon Hykes
A fan-favorite for French entrepreneurs visiting the Silicon Valley, Docker (formerly DotCloud) has built a reputation of bridging Paris & San Francisco, and has also become a fan-favorite for companies like Rackspace. Many members of the Docker team are also heavily involved in While42, a “club” for French developers around the world.
Prestashop: Bruno Leveque
Bruno isn’t the only Parisian running well-known open-source startups. SensioLabs, the company behind PHP Framework Symfony, BPM software-maker Bonitasoft & VLC also call Paris home.
Startupbootcamp: Alex Farcet
One of Europe’s most prominent startup accelerators, the German-based co-founder
….And Many more.
In addition to being founders, French developers can be found at the heart of many beloved products by Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & more – the reason is simple: French developers build better.
Feel free to comment below with proposed Additions to the list – I’ll add them here as I can:
Tariq Krim – Netvibes & Jolicloud
Renaud Visage – Eventbrite
Tony Jamous & Eric Nadalin – Nexmo