You may not know them but you can be sure that most of the french tech ecosystem owe them much. From Telecom operator Free and global dating website Meetic, to e-commerce giant Vente-privée.com and PriceMinister, they paved the way for the entrepreneurial momentum France is experiencing today.
Xavier Niel is a French entrepreneur and businessman, active in the telecommunications and technology industry and best known as founder and majority shareholder of the French Internet service provider and Mobile operator Iliad trading under the Free brand (France’s second-largest ISP, and third mobile operator).
He is also co-owner of the newspaper Le Monde, and owner of Monaco Telecom. In March 2010, Xavier Niel cofounded with Jeremie Berrebi, Kima Ventures, a fund dedicated to invest in 50 to 100 startups a year everywhere in the world.
Xavier Niel created, in 2013, a school named 42, which is a tech school with no teachers, no books, no tuition for 1000 people every year.
His net worth is about $10 billion USD.
Marc Simoncini is the founder of MEETIC. After founding an IT Services company in 1989 and launching in 1998 the ifrance network in France, Switzerland, Quebec and Belgium successively, selling this network to Vivendi in April 2000, he then acted as an advisor and business angel in various start-ups (1000Mercis also know as Numberly, Winamax).
Shortly after that, he set off on a totally new adventure in 2002: MEETIC. Seven years after its commercial launch, MEETIC had established itself as the European leader in online dating.
In 2011, he launched Sensee.com, an e-commerce site specialized in eyewear products. In addition, Marc Simoncini serves as Chief Executive Officer of Jaïna Capital, a venture fund dedicated to help succeed talented entrepreneurs.
Jacques-Antoine Granjon is a French entrepreneur and CEO of Vente-privee.com.
With his friend Julien Sorbac from EBS, he founded the company Cofotex which specialized in the wholesale of overstocked goods. He invented the concept of the flash sale: a sale that lasts only a few days or a few hours.
It was in 2000, inspired by new technologies and his experience in clearance, that Jacques-Antoine created a visual concept to transform the method of selling end of season unsold items. In January 2001, with his seven associates, he launched vente-privee.com in France. Since then, the company has grown to more than 2,100 employees with revenues amounting to 1.6 billion euros in 2013.
One of the main French entrepreneurs, well-known for being PriceMinister‘s co-founder and ex-CEO, Pierre Kosciusko Morizet started his career in the USA as a Finance & Marketing Manager at Capital One, the internet credit company.
This is where he got inspired to set up, along with Pierre Krings, the website PriceMinister.com, launched in January 2001.
As his successful market place was sold to the Rakuten group for 200 million euros, he went on to co-found Isai, the entrepreneurs investment funds, and is also a managing partner at Kernel Investissements.
He was awarded The National Order of Merit in 2011 by the French President.