Xavier Niel a billionaire decided that he would turn an old, abandoned railway depot in Paris’ 13th arrondissement into the world’s largest startup campus. StationF opened its doors in 2013 with 366,000 square meters of bright lights, art installations, and board games. Today, there are 1,000 startups who call this space home. The country’s tech headquarters has attracted worldwide attention. This includes high-profile visits by Sheryl Sandersberg to the president of Argentina as well incubator programs from major companies such Microsoft and Facebook.
Station F’s opening is a sign of the greater evolution of France’s venture landscape, which has been reflected in many ways by President Emmanuel Macron. Macron was elected to power in 2017. He has worked tirelessly to build the next Silicon Valley.
And it works. France’s former stagnant and obsolete economy has seen a remarkable revival. The country now has a thriving VC industry. French startups saw a record EUR10.7billion of VC investment last year. Macron has been able attract billions of dollars in foreign investments due to the lack of local pension funds and cash-rich investment. Google, Salesforce, Facebook and Salesforce have all increased French presences. And with Brexit uncertainty still in full swing, foreign investors are likely to continue to support French startups.
France’s venture market is booming. Software is the main focus.
France’s venture capital saw record growth in 2021. French entrepreneurs are getting off to a great start in 2022. They have secured more funding than their German counterparts. Software has seen remarkable growth. Since 2022, more than EUR3.25 trillion in VC funding has been distributed to software companies through 179 deals.
While the number and value of software deals has been declining since 2017, it has been increasing the amount of capital being invested. The total capital raised through software deals in 2021 nearly outperformed those made in 2019 or 2020. It is projected that 2022 will see a similar trend. This decrease in capital has led to significantly larger deals, higher post-valuations, as well as a growing unicorn count.
Here are the five largest VC transactions involving French software companies, since 2021.
*According PitchBook data for April 19, 2022. This list only includes companies that were tagged in the PB platform with Software as their primary business.
Softbank Latin America Fund – Lead investor
Deal Size: EUR576.42M
Verticals – blockchain, crypto
So rare founded in 2018. This French fantasy football platform allows users the ability to create teams digitally and also provides an NFT market place for buying cards of other players and clubs on Ethereum. They are the only ones who have bought exclusive rights from all 180 clubs in soccer, including big leagues like Real Madrid or La Liga.
Sorare received EUR576.42M as Series B funding, led by the Softbank Latin America Fund. This post-money valuation is EUR3.65B. This round represents one of the largest NFT startup deals to date. It also breaks the French record for largest fundraising round.
Silver Lake leads investor
Deal size: EUR470.41M
Verticals: SaaS or TMT
Mirakl developed a marketplace platform to integrate directly with e-commerce tech ecosystems. Their flexible APIs can be integrated with e-commerce websites to allow companies to manage their product offerings. In September 2021, they received EUR470.41M as Series E funding through Silver Lake. The deal valued their post-money at EUR2.97B
Softbank Group was the leading investor
Deal size: EUR411.84M
Verticals – AI, machine learning
Materialsquare was created in 2012 to optimize digital experience and help businesses understand user behavior. Their platform uses behavioral, artificial intelligence, big and big data to assess content performance, determine visitor intentions, and explain to consumers when they make a purchase.
In May 2021 Contentsquare obtained Series E funding totalling EUR411.84million from Softbank Group. BlackRock Private Equity Partners Highland Europe took part in the round. The post-money value of their investments was EUR2.3B. The funds will be used to expand the company’s AI tech and support its growth.
Groupe Bruxelles Lambert
Deal size: EUR266M
Verticals: Gaming, mobile, TMT
Voodoo founded in 2013 and is a entertainment company that specializes developing and publishing mobile gaming apps. The company assists studios in creating chart-topping mobile games through their open-source knowledge base and coaching. Voodoo, which received EUR266M venture funding from Groupe Bruxelles Lambert on July 20, 2021, has a post-money worth of EUR1.70B.
General Atlantic is the leader investor
The deal size is EUR254M
Verticals: fintech. HR tech. SaaS
PayFit provides payroll software that automates the management of human resources and payroll. The company’s platform provides features such as automated pay, expense reporting, tracking and management, and onboarding. PayFit received EUR254M of Series E funding from General Atlantic. They were valued at EUR1.82B after the deal closed.