Mark Bivens

My personal crib sheet for equity incentive instruments in French startups

As venture investors, we favor equity compensation in our portfolio companies for two primary reasons: i) improved alignment between employees and shareholders toward company success; and ii) the affordability of employing strong, driven people without an unwieldy up-front cash outlay. For investors unfamiliar with the intricacies of French regulation, granting equity in a French startup […]

Longevity of the firm and zombie corporations

Longevity of the firm and zombie corporations

In stark contrast to say, The Netherlands, France bemoans the moment one of its home-grown emerging champions gets acquired by a foreign company. [I have a whole blog post in my head on just this topic alone]. Corporations are viewed in France as containers of jobs, with the obligation to provide secure employment to its […]



Although the proportion of startup pitches employing a technique of name-dropping may well have remained more or less constant over the past several years, I notice that this animal of pretension has evolved. When I first moved to France in 2001, the most common variation of name-dropping from startups involved citing one’s university (inevitably, une […]

Musings on hardware investing in France

Since May is hardware month in Paris, I’ve been reflecting lately on venture capital investing in French hardware startups. I’m far from an expert on hardware investing — only a small fraction of my VC portfolio over the years has been in hardware. Despite this, I’ve noticed an order-of-magnitude leap in incoming deal flow from […]

Slush Asia 2016

I’ve written before about how European startups should consider prioritizing Asia (even before the U.S.) in their global expansion. Many overlooked Asian countries – particularly Japan and South East Asia – represent open fields of opportunity, either for customer expansion or revenue enhancement. They also represent fertile ground for innovation, which can close the feedback […]

Mobile messaging: is it (finally) the Americans’ time ?

Long time readers of this blog will recognize my fascination with mobile messaging apps for a while now (Don’t shoot the Messenger, Line vs WeChat, My personalized Line stickers, etc.). For years now I’ve argued that the modern wave of messaging rose in Asia, with the West playing catch-up. Last year I wrote about my […]

A European perspective on Japan Fintech

Yesterday I was unexpectedly invited to join a live broadcast at the Tokyo Bankers Association discussing Fintech. It appears that many of the market dynamics affecting the financial sector in Europe are similar in Japan, so I touched on these. While one could argue that the landscape for European Fintech startups has reached saturation levels […]

Weekend fun: Buy, Sell, or Hold. Silicon Valley edition.

On a recent homecoming visit to Silicon Valley I played a little Buy, Sell, or Hold? with a bunch of smart people out there. Here are the results: (For those not familiar with the game: Buy, Sell, or Hold? is quite simple. If <X> were a stock, would you buy, sell, or hold ?) . […]

There’s a new « mot de buzz » in town

Maybe it’s because I was out of France for 8 of the past 11 weeks, but it feels like there’s a new buzzword in the air: Ubérisation It’s difficult to open a French website without the seeing the word in a headline; journalists cannot get enough of it. One would be forgiven for thinking that […]

GDC 2016: Où est LaFrenchTech ?

The debate on the value of holding country pavilions at large tech conferences has merit. Whatever your views on the topic may be, France was conspicuously absent from this week’s Games Developers Conference in San Francisco. Germany, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, even Wallonia (Wallonia!) all hosted large structures at the conference, and […]