Tech/Gadgets

Small French city attracts Silicon Valley talent (VIDEO)

Rob Spiro, American entrepreneur and Director of Imagination Machine and Julie Laurent, head of Communciation of Imagination Machine, work in Nantes, France November 30, 2017. — Reuters picRob Spiro, American entrepreneur and Director of Imagination Machine and Julie Laurent, head of Communciation of Imagination Machine, work in Nantes, France November 30, 2017. — Reuters picNANTES, Dec 7 — California is the home of tech with its Silicon Valley. London moved things forward with its Silicon roundabout. But can little Nantes count on a Silicon cathedral?

A US tech entrepreneur with an impressive pedigree bets the French city, famous for its church, has what it takes to compete other tech hubs.

“What I love about Nantes is, it’s a city with great values and a great quality of life. It really encapsulates what’s great about France: people who really care about their daily lives and the quality of their daily lives and celebrate it in interesting ways. At the same time, it’s a really dynamic city in terms of creative energy, in terms of economic activity,” founder and CEO of start-up accelerator Imagination Machine, Rob Spiro, said.

Venture capital investments hit new records in Europe and competition to attract tech firms is heating up.

The mid-sized city in Western France has become a haven for start-ups and growing companies and an attractive alternative to Paris.

Yale-educated Spiro left San Francisco to settle here with his family in 2016.



At 32, the former Google product manager had already co-founded two start-ups, including one sold to Google for US$50 million (RM204.1 million) in 2010.

“We don’t miss anything from Paris actually. Maybe if there are some big events, we can just go with train, it’s just two hours from here. So, life is very easy for an entrepreneur here,” co-founder and CEO of small-ads start-up Gensdeconfiance.fr, Nicolas Davoust, said.

Quality of life is certainly a winning point for Nantes.

Spiro’s company’s office is right in the centre and offers yoga sessions and table tennis for employees to relax.

He says most of them live within 5 or 10 minutes from the office. But the road ahead is long.

The Paris area drew three quarters of all venture capital investment in France in the first half this year, according to Ernst & Young, while Nantes only got less than 3 per cent. — Reuters

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