Posted In:

France, Macron, Unicorns

The Land Of Love… And 100 Unicorns?


Jul 02, 2022


Roxy Horrie

Posted In:

France, Macron, Unicorns


Jul 02, 2022


Roxy Horrie


In 2017, when newly appointed French President Emmanuel Macron said, “I want France to be a startup nation,” his detractors used his phrase to mock him. If anything, France was struggling to attract venture capital, with the annual number of investments into startups falling in 2016, lagging well behind both the U.K. and Germany.

Fast forward five years and now France counts over 25 unicorns - a target Macron had set for the country to achieve by 2025. The apparition of these unicorns in a country that only had three in 2017 may certainly feel magical, but it comes on the back of a decade-long process of governmental support towards the national start-up ecosystem and key legislative reforms that have radically transformed the ease of doing business in France.

Key initiatives included the formation of BPI France, a public investment bank which was paramount in kickstarting the French funding scene, and the Business Growth and Transformation Act of 2019, which cut France’s corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 33 percent and introduced a 30 percent flat tax on capital gains. Macron also simplified the labyrinthine labor code, making hiring and firing easier. His government channeled billions of dollars into retraining programs and made it tougher to keep receiving unemployment benefits.

As a result, local and international investors alike poured billions into the ecosystem. In the first half of 2022 alone, French startups attracted €8.9b of funding, €2.1b of which went into Fintech. Paris has now become the largest Fintech hub in continental Europe and is fast closing the gap with London.

In April Macron was re-elected as President of France. At the VivaTech conference in Paris earlier this month he launched a new objective of reaching "at least 100 French unicorns by 2030". Was his post-election exuberance or will France continue to turn its thoroughbreds into unicorns?

The Land Of Love… And 100 Unicorns?

Portfolio News

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The Land Of Love… And 100 Unicorns?

25 French unicorns, 25 French unicorns, do I hear 100? - It isn’t new for Macron to set unicorn-related goals for the country. He famously already did so in 2019, when he wished for the country to count “25 unicorns by 2025.” And despite some debate around France’s exact unicorn tally, the consensus is that Macron’s goal has actually been reached this year. Read more

How France ramped up its capacity to innovate - France came 11th in last year’s Global Innovation Index (GII), an annual ranking of the innovative capacities and strengths of most of the world’s economies. That might seem less than impressive compared with some of its near neighbors, such as the United Kingdom in fourth place and Switzerland in first (see ‘Global Innovation Index 2021’). It is, however, a big improvement on its rankings of 16th in 2019 and 22nd in 2011. Read more

How Emmanuel Macron pulled off a French fintech boom - The French Tech Mission was created to provide support for the development and growth of the startup ecosystem in the country and is part of the Ministry for the Economy, Finance and the Recovery. It now has a network of 13 hubs internationally, with 108 community satellites located 45 French cities and territories, as well as 63 foreign cities. Read more

Industry News

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Pinterest gets a fintech CEO - Pinterest announced this week that Google's president of commerce and payments, Bill Ready, will join as its CEO — with founder Bill Silbermann transitioning to executive chairman. For years Pinterest bulls have said that the social media company could unlock so much more potential by adding e-commerce to its ad-centric business. That transformation, however, has been slow and lackluster. Read more

Goldman Sachs sees losses from consumer push exceeding $1.2b this year - The losses stem from the addition of new business lines, pandemic effects and expense bleed. New accounting rules will also force the firm to set aside more money as loan volumes grow. The figure is also greater than the roughly $1b hit Goldman estimated for 2020, saying it would be the low point for the Marcus venture. Read more

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Private lenders are offering cheaper debt than Wall Street banks - As banks get pummeled by risk aversion and sinking asset values, direct lenders are lavishing risky companies and private-equity firms with capital at rates below what’s available in the volatility-lashed high yield and syndicated loan market. Read more

FTX closes in on a deal to buy embattled crypto lender BlockFi for $25m in a fire sale - The $25m expected price tag is 99% below BlockFi’s last private valuation, having last been valued at $4.8b, according to PitchBook. The fire sale comes a week after FTX provided a $250m emergency line of credit to BlockFi. FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said at the time that the financing would help BlockFi “navigate the market from a position of strength.” Read more

Voyager Digital issues default notice to Three Arrows Capital for failing to repay its $660m loan - Last week, Voyager disclosed it requested 3AC repayment of $25m USDC by June 24, and repayment of the entire balance of USDC and BTC by June 27. Voyager is now saying that 3AC has defaulted, and that it “intends to pursue recovery from 3AC and is in discussions with the Company’s advisors as to legal remedies available,” according to a statement. Read more

Goldman Sachs approached to broker deal for crypto lender Celsius’ assets - Goldman is considering helping an investor raise approximately $2b to snap up distressed assets stuck in limbo from troubled digital asset lender Celsius, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The deal — which one source said likely would occur via the investment bank’s asset management unit — could see investors purchase assets from Celsius at a discount, even if the lender does not declare bankruptcy. Read more

Apple eyes fuel purchases from dashboard as it revs up car software - Apple wants you to start buying gas directly from your car dashboard as early as this fall, when the newest version of its CarPlay software rolls out, accelerating the company's push to turn your vehicle into a store for goods and services. Read more

Federal Reserve delays ISO 20022 cutover by two years - The Federal Reserve is to delay the implementation of the new ISO 20022 payment messaging format by two years to 2025. Read more

GoCardless to acquire Nordigen - GoCardless has announced its plans to acquire Nordigen, a freemium open banking data provider. This move will open GoCardless to a wider covering in its account-to-account network, more than 2,300 banks in 31 countries. Read more

Select Financings

April - New York based embedded personal income tax platform raised $30m in Series A funding led by Treasury. Read more

Cleo - London based Gen Z-focused fintech startup raised $80m in Series C funding led by Sofina. Read more

Entrepreneur First - U.K. based investor and startup program raised $158m in Series C funding from a long list of tech entrepreneurs and investors. Read more

GetVantage - Mumbai based revenue-based financing startup raised $36m in equity and debt funding led by Varanium Nexgen Fintech Fund. Read more

Givebutter - Washington, D.C. based operating system for nonprofit fundraising raised $7m in Seed funding from investors including Ardent Venture Partners and Hyper. Read more

Hokodo - London based BNPL startup raised $40m in Series B funding led by Notion Capital. Read more

Kaiko - France based provider of digital assets data raised $53m in Series B funding led by Eight Roads. Read more

Keyway - New York based commercial real estate sales platform raised $25m in Series A funding led by Camber Creek. Read more

Long-Term Stock Exchange - San Francisco based rival to the NYSE and Nasdaq raised $100m in growth funding led by James Walton. Read more

MoHash - India based DeFi protocol raised $6m in Seed funding led by Sequoia India & Southeast Asia and Quona Capital. Read more

Ophelos - U.K. based debt resolution startup raised £5m in Seed funding led by AlbionVC. Read more

Pave - San Francisco based compensation platform raised $100m in Series C funding led by Index Ventures. Read more

PolySign - San Francisco based provider of digital asset infrastructure for institutional investors raised $53m in Series C funding led by Cowen Digital. Read more

Progcap - India based provider of SMB financing raised $40m in additional Series C funding led by Creation Investments Capital Management, Tiger Global and Google. Read more

RLabs - Austin based impact-focused NFT company raised $5m in pre-Seed funding from investors associated with Softbank, AGF and Prodege. Read more

Sava - Cape Town based spend management platform for African businesses raised $2m in pre-Seed funding from investors including Quona Capital, Breega, CRE Ventures, Ingressive Capital, RaliCap, Unicorn Growth Capital and Sherpa Ventures. Read more

Stake - New York based cash-back and banking startup for renters raised $12m in Series A financing led by RET Ventures. Read more

System 9 - Los Angeles based digital asset market-making firm focused on the alt-coin market raised $5.7m in Series A funding led by Capital6 Eagle. Read more

Tenet - New York based startup that offers EV-specific auto loans raised $18m in Seed funding led by Human Capital and Giant Ventures. Read more

Zilch - London based BNPL startup raised $50m Series C extension funding from investors including Ventura Capital, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Gauss Ventures, DMG Ventures, M&F Fund and Limited Ventures. Read more


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