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For young French digital companies, 2022 is getting off to a flying start – Economy

The year 2022 has started with a bang for young French digital companies, with record fundraising this week and a new increase in the herd of “unicorns”, these former start-ups whose valuation reaches one billion dollars.

The specialist in the resale of refurbished electronic objects, Back Market, announced on Tuesday that it had raised 450 million euros, in an operation which now values ​​it at 5.1 billion euros. A few hours earlier, Qonto (payment for companies) had indicated that it had obtained 484 million euros, for a valuation of 4.4 billion euros.

These groups of 650 and 500 employees respectively are now worth more than IT heavyweights like Atos (107,000 employees, market capitalization of around 3.5 billion today) or Sopra Steria (46,000 employees, market capitalization of today). ‘approximately 3.4 billion euros). Qonto has joined the French “unicorns” as well as Ankorstore, a marketplace for independent traders, which raised “only” 250 million euros this week.

Macron’s goal already achieved

According to the count of the Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O, this herd now has 25 heads, a much faster growth than expected. Two and a half years ago, when they were still less than ten, President Emmanuel Macron launched the goal of 25 unicorns … in 2025.

The announcements of the week are “a sign that at the start of the year, the French tech ecosystem continues to be extremely flourishing,” Arthur Porré, one of the leaders of Avolta Partners, told AFP. consulting company specializing in fundraising.

A new increase over 2022 in the amounts raised, between 15 and 20 billion euros, would not shock me

In 2021, fundraising for French tech had already jumped, exceeding 10 billion euros, a doubling compared to 2020 (+125% precisely, according to a barometer from the KPMG cabinet). “A new increase over 2022 in the amounts raised, between 15 and 20 billion euros, would not shock me”, anticipates Arthur Porré. According to him, France is following, with a few years of delay, the path mapped out in Europe by the United Kingdom, where fundraising reached $ 39.8 billion last year, according to published figures. Thursday in London, more than 3 times the French amount.

“When you see that the British Checkout raised a billion dollars this week, for a valuation of 40 billion dollars, you say to yourself that there is still room for improvement in France”, notes the leader of Avolta Partners . It does not exclude a first fundraising around a billion dollars in France this year, or even the emergence of a “decacorne”, a company worth more than ten billion.

Exaggerated valuations?

These rising valuations, for companies still sometimes far from profitability, are artificial or exaggerated, put some observers into perspective. But for Matthieu Lattes, one of the representatives in France of the White Star Capital investment fund, they do indeed correspond to an economic reality. “The justice of the peace, it is the IPOs”, when these companies publish their accounts and must seduce large investors, he explains. “However, we have the feeling that valuations represent” the opinion of stock market investors “and that there is indeed a market” for these companies when they open their capital to the public, he argues.

Last year, for the first time in a very long time, tech companies entered the Paris Stock Exchange with valuations above one billion euros: the French and European cloud champion OVHcloud (market capitalization around 5 billion d euros today), or the musical nugget Believe (market capitalization of around 1.6 billion today).

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