Why the French entrepreneurs are coming

In France you can be a national company. In America you're a global company. It's a difference in attitude.

Besides wanting to advertise French entrepreneurs, OWF is also important for the lesson it teaches them. In a business world of grow-or-die, America is essential.

Consider a story I was told repeatedly while in France. Your opportunities at home are limited, partly because becoming big means getting into the contracting trap, partly because France is a relatively small market of about 60 million people.

So what do you do? If you're an open source company, expansion within Europe is difficult.

Take Belgium for example. You're recruiting coders for your community, but some write comments in Flemish, others in French. And then there are those crazy Luxembourgers.

So you go to a big European market, to Spain or Italy or Germany. Yes, the European Community is one market in theory, but it's not really. People are different everywhere. You need a local presence, people with ties to the local market, to have a chance.

And if that's the case anyway, why not go to America?

“It's an obligation for us if we want to be a big company,a standard” explained Jean-Noel de Galzain of Wallix (above). English is the language of business anyway, added Nuxeo founder Stefane Fermigier, and if your comments are to be in English you're half way to America anyway.

Besides, there is this, he added. In France you can be a national company. In America you're a global company. It's a difference in attitude.

Vive la difference.French open source companies want to embrace the American way very much.

NOTE: My plane fare and hotel costs in Paris were picked up by the Open World Forum upon my return.