France just put the guy who killed the Yahoo!-Dailymotion acquisition in charge of the Digital Economy

Apr 2, 2014
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In France this week, President Hollande has announced a suite of changes to his staff of Ministers, in an attempt to improve his approval ratings and turn around the administration. Among those announcements came an announcement that Fleur Pellerin, the Junior Minister of the Economy and Startups, would have her post eliminated and rolled into the rolls of the Minister of Industrial Renewal, Arnaud Montebourg.

For those of you not familiar with Arnaud Montebourg, you may remember him from the Yahoo!-Dailymotion acquisition, where, as Minister and thus shareholder of Dailymotion parent company Orange, he refused to let Orange sell 75% of Dailymotion to Yahoo! because Dailymotion ‘had to remain French.’

This same man spoke of the ongoing conflict between Uber & Paris taxis on stage at LeWeb Paris last December, saying,

“When innovation destroy systems, we have to go slowly.  This is what we call balance, equilibrium, balance.  We never say the world is not changing.  Beware, when we destroy sector of the economy, you have to use caution…You can innovate without destroying.  We have to protect the Producers; the Consumers are not the Kings of the world”.

While the fate of Fleur Pellerin is still being decided – she may be appointed a role of “Secrétaire d’Etat,” maintaining similar functions but, essentially, a step down the government career ladder. Among her responsibilities is LaFrenchTech, a label launched earlier this year, in order to promote French Tech in France and abroad – questions about the fate of the initiative, which was seen as a huge step forward for the French Startup Scene,  are up in the air.

For now, it seems that LaFrenchTech, which has allocated a €200 Million to the promotion of LaFrenchTech, will stay intact – the ‘mission’ is at least to some extent independent of Pellerin’s cabinet, but it will ultimately need to find a home if it wishes to continue beyond its initial budget.

Montebourg will retain his responsibility of revigorating the country’s industrial sector, a title he’s had since Hollande was elected, and has so far seen Peugeot cut 8,000 jobs and which also won him a letter from a US CEO stating that he would only buy a Goodyear plant if Montebourg could loosen the hold that labor unions have over employment conditions. Let’s hope he doesn’t have the same level of success with his new responsibility as he’s had with his previous one.