10 Startups you didn’t know were founded by French Entrepreneurs

10 Startups you didn’t know were founded by French Entrepreneurs

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:

Pierre Omidyar, Founder of eBay-756536

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

70f6ade59bc30a95ae3c6e2c6644a531The 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

12 Responses

  1. Bernard Desarnauts (@bdesarnauts)

    you forgot the original one… aka Philippe Kahn, not only the first French tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley but the one with the most wins by far: Borland, then Starfish, followed by Lightsurf and now Fullpower

  2. Giulio Foresto

    Stéphane Dehoche, Stéphane Dietrich, Thomas Boudalier, Benoît Gaudron – Neolane

  3. foremskiTom

    Philippe khan, bien sûr. Et n’oublions pas Alan Turing.

  4. Dave Ashton

    who thinks Bernard Desarnauts is the best?
    I do, that’s who

  5. Magdolna Radosits

    Nice list, very informative – the Startupbootcamp with Alex Farcet was an eye-opener, wow, I definitely am going to check it. Our startup would benefit from that one greatly. Thanks again, Liam!

  6. Pierre Chapuis (@pchapuis)

    One that surprised me when I learnt about it: Superfeedr was funded by Frenchman Julien Genestoux.

    Oh, and yeah… MtGox…

  7. Mathieu Le Roux (@matleroux)

    Pierre Valade and Jeremy Le Van behind Sunrise App calendar

  8. adam

    housetrip.com! Arnaud Bertrand

  9. garrett

    Ventes Privées: 2000 staff, 1,5B€ revenue 2013. Created 2001 by Jacques Antoine Granjon. Not only a successfull venture but trend setter for a renewed e-commerce approach.

  10. Mathiot

    Renaud Laplanche lending club

  11. Disney Magic Kingdoms triche

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    trademark that can conquer all of the hungry green pigs.
    Once again Jane has smoked you on the Angry Birds Friends weekly tournament.
    In case you know somebody that is a fan of it
    who would be having their birthday bash in the near future,
    it’s only right that you simply organize for
    them an Angry Birds themed birthday event.

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