There was an interesting article untitled “Pourquoi Apple, Google ou Microsoft ne sont pas nés en France ?” – Why Apple, Google or Microsoft were not created in France ? – in the La Tribune newspaper, a French newspaper specialized in Economy and Finance. The selection of companies in the title might be a little bit over the top and it probably would have more appropriate to mention names such as eBay, Skype, Red Hat, JBoss, MySQL, …
Philippe Hayat, CEO himself and professor at ESSEC, one of the top French business school, sums up that France cumulates 2 majors handicaps: “France is not able to transform a technological innovation into a profitable business, nor develop small businesses (PME)”.
Hardly breaking news for anyone actually having experience with the French way of doing “business“, but still.
Some other key areas for developing companies that have been mentioned in the article:
- Soften labor laws (more flexible employment contracts)
- Retain talents and wealth in France (Reform the ISF – wealth tax for people having wealth greater than 732 000€)
- Rehabilitate the no pain, no gain culture (Do not force small businesses into the 35h law)
I doubt Marc Fleury, despite having graduated from Ecole Polytechnique (which is basically enough in France to set someone’s career as a top manager for the rest of his life without moving a finger) would have been able to create and develop JBoss Inc. in France as he did in the US. That would be interesting to hear his opinion.
A typical French organization on the other hand is ObjectWeb.
Indeed, despite initial innovation (ASM, JOnAS, JOTM, C-JDBC, …), it does not seem able to take off and get to the next step (adding more projects and members does not solve that but create the illusion). The Red Hat deal in 2003 did not boost at all the JOnAS community and visibility of ObjectWeb and they were evicted in profit of JBoss AS 2 weeks ago.
Some may argue that ObjectWeb lacks PR resources, but considering the prestigious and wealthy companies such as Bull, EDF, France Télécom, Thalès, etc.. that are part of the consortium, this argument does not hold water. So there is something else..or lack of.
As François Letellier mentioned in his ObjectWebCon 06 session (PDF), there is a paradox where members would like ObjectWeb to have more visibility, yet few of them communicate about it. On the business side, members expect actually assistance or more opportunities, yet they keep ObjectWeb out of the loop for any business opportunity confirming a somewhat narcissic attitude and lack of trust. This is clearly what needs to be solved first before adding new members and serve as a dumping ground for midly successful products and alliances. A spirit where pride, teamwork and realization are the core foundation of the community.
Good luck to create such an atmosphere as it’s not easy afterwards.
NB: I’m speaking for myself (and incidently a few others as I know a fair number of people who think alike)