How California’s business culture could boost French technology

Since Hewlett-Packard’s creation in 1939 in a Silicon Valley garage, California has established itself as one of the hot spots for technological innovation. A place acquired thanks to a particular culture that still permeates the business practices of local start-ups and investors. A state of mind in which French company creators could and should be inspired to develop the full potential of French technology.

A well-established risk culture

In the mid-19th century, California saw an influx of more than 300,000 adventurers from around the world, drawn by the desire to make their fortune discovering gold. What has been called the gold rush was a time of intense cultural mixing around a common value: risk taking. Since then, this taste for risk in the service of significant gains has remained one of the defining characteristics of the region, in the business world but also in many other aspects of life, as evidenced by the love of gambling. of Californians, so many of them commute to Las Vegas as neighbors.

A state of mind that drives California nuggets

This propensity to take risks is thus reflected in the choices that Silicon Valley investors and entrepreneurs make on a daily basis. Elon Musk’s career is particularly marked by many turning points that have seen him stake a sizeable portion of his earnings to support projects he believed in. But more generally, this risk-friendly frame of mind can be seen in the trajectories of many California nuggets, from their first fundraiser to their initial public offering. In November 2013, Twitter went public when it was not making a profit and its business model was still extremely uncertain. Initially pegged at $26, the share price, however, reached $44.9 at the close of its first day of trading.

In France, a more conservative culture

French business culture is known to be more conservative and cautious. A company that does not generate profits or whose business model is not yet clearly defined will have much more difficulty finding financiers in France. French successes are often based on the excellence of solidly designed products that gradually find their audience without immediately benefiting from strong financial support. In 2021, Blablacar already had 90 million users worldwide and was valued at almost two billion dollars after 15 years of existence before considering going public. In the United States, a nugget of this caliber could have traded reasonably above ten billion dollars on the Nasdaq.

Focus on the miscegenation of entrepreneurial cultures

For the players in the French business ecosystem, the question is, of course, not only that of the importation of the American mentality, but that of the cultural mix. How to combine these two attitudes to get the best out of each one? Because French technological excellence could certainly benefit from Californian risk culture. But developing this state of mind is a long-term task. This requires, in particular, the development of internationally oriented financing models without questioning the desire for technological sovereignty of the French digital ecosystem. It is also about gradually convincing business angels on both sides of the Atlantic that the love of design and well-made products that characterizes French companies has much to gain from the financial enthusiasm of Californian investors. It is under these conditions that French tech will quickly see the rise of unicorns on the scale of those seen in Silicon Valley.