The past, present and future of French Internet entrepreneurship!

September 20, 2006   

With apologies the French Internet Entrepreneurs I have not met yet.

As part of my whirlwind tour of the world, I spent a few days in Paris last week. On Thursday evening I threw a dinner party with most of the French Internet entrepreneurs I knew at Noura, a good Lebanese restaurant.

The discussion was intense and fun with tons of ideas, laughter and dreams flying around. There was palpable energy in the air as we remembered the bubble days and shared our dreams about the future.

On the picture you can see from left to right: Fabrice Boutain, Mark Oiknine (standing), me, Aymeric Chotard, Patrick Robin (standing), Bertrand Pulles, Julien Babin, Antoine Mermet et Michel de Guilhermier. Gael Duval took the picture.

Only Marc Simoncini (Meetic) and Yseulys Costes (MilleMercis) could not make it.

It’s interesting to see how all the “old” Internet entrepreneurs have essentially stuck to their guns and are all still on the Internet:

  • After selling Imaginet, Patrick Robin is just starting a luxury item discount store where items go on sale for only 24 hours
  • After selling PageFrance, Fabrice Boutain is running a premium self-help service company
  • After selling the online ad agency Alpaga, Gael Duval recently created a new online ad agency

As for the others, Michel de Guilhermier runs Photoways, the Snapfish equivalent of Europe. Aymeric Chotard has been with for over 6 years and recently sold it to Les 3 Suisses. Julien Babin and Antoine Mermet recently left Meetic and Google respectively to create, a search engine marketing company.

Bertrand Pulles was a bit the exception as he has been working for France Telecom since selling his company to them in the bubble days.

As for Marc Oiknine, he’s a former entrepreneur and now venture capitalist with Atlas Ventures.

All in all, I was humbled by the energy, talent and vision that everyone around the table had. As Michel puts it: “Without a doubt the numerous talents here tonight will create Web 3.0 once the Web 2.0 bubble bursts! We live in a blessed period: the market is here, money as well, there are countless opportunities, go for it!”

For a different take (in French) on the dinner, see Michel’s blog:


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