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French Tech News: AB Tasty's AI Gets Emotional

Also inside: Seventure Partners' Bruno Rivet talks Sportstech; and meet Speedinvest, the European fund making a play in France.


👋 ... to the latest edition of The French Tech Journal. As a reminder, this newsletter is free. Upgrade to a paid membership to get full access to all the articles.

Inside this week's newsletter:

  • Deep Dive: AB Tasty's Co-Founder and Co-CEO Alix de Sagazan explains how the 12-year-old French tech startup has boosted its growth by expanding its mission from optimization to personalization with the help of its EmotionsAI tool.
  • Spotlight Interview: Seventure Partners' Bruno Rivet explains why the firm created its pioneering Sporstech fund and how the Olympics might shape the future of this sector in France.
  • International Investor Intro: Meet Speedinvest, a leading European early-stage venture capital firm with more than 40 investors, which has been making a push into the French market.
  • The Big Deals: Logivolt, Fluid Topics, & Hive.

Tech Talk

↔️ 🌊 Early-stage fund New Wave has been making waves recently, and the results are not exactly Good Vibrations. Les Echos broke the news that co-founder Jean de La Rochebrochard had been given the boot on March 15 by co-founder Pia d'Iribarne just as the firm was closing its second fund. In Frenchtechland, de La Rochebrochard looms as a giant thanks to his role running Kima Ventures, the pre-Seed fund of Xavier Niel which has been one of the pillars of the surging French startup scene over the past decade.

So, what happened? On his Substack and in a series of interviews, de La Rochebrochard said the duo hadn't been simpatico for some time and earlier this year, he told her that he planned to step away and focus on Kima. "When you launch a fund, you commit to building a functioning partnership," he wrote. "Sometimes, along the way, you might realize that it’s unfortunately not working."

In his telling, d'Iribarne did not take the news well as New Wave had not quite closed that next fund but had already received €65 million in commitments. Things spiraled amid legal threats until she fired him, according to de La Rochebrochard. Because d'Iribarne controls 60% of the fund's shares, she had the authority to make the decision. It sounds like de La Rochebrochard is still negotiating the terms of his departure, with his carry and management fees still to be resolved. Meanwhile, he's been flooded with support on Twitter from founders he has backed over the years.

In a statement, d'Iribarne told Sifted: “In addition to his expressed desire to refocus on Kima, a number of reasons made it no longer possible for him to stay at New Wave.” She is now searching for a new partner and is tasked with trying to close that second fund. Stay tuned. 🥊

⬆️🦄 Pigment, the financial planning SaaS platform founded in 2019 by Eléonore Crespo (former Index Venture investor) and Romain Niccoli (co-founder of Criteo) raised a funding round of $145 million to become France's newest unicorn. Even if being a unicorn doesn't necessarily have the halo it once had, Pigment has still emerged as a notable success thanks to its aggressive expansion in the American market. For more on Pigment, read our interview with Crespo here. 💸

⬆️ 🚗 🚌 🚆 BlaBlaCar reported that it had revenues of €253 million in 2023, up 29% from 2022, and that it is now profitable. The ridesharing company carried 80 million passengers last year via its car sharing and its bus networks, with strong growth in France and its international markets. The company also secured a €100 million revolving credit facility for additional expansion opportunities, including M&A. 🚀

⏫ 🤖 It's been literally weeks since Mistral AI raised a garbage truck full of money. So, the news from The Information that the Paris-based GenAI wunderkind is raising "several hundred million dollars at a valuation of $5 billion" feels almost overdue. In the fast-moving GenAI world, the $415 million the company raised way back in December only goes so far. No word on who the investors are (though the cap table already includes the aforementioned New Wave). But no doubt the fighting in the VC mosh pit is intense. And table stakes for this round are likely enormous. 🤼

The Deep Dive:
How AB Tasty Wants To Personalize Digital Experiences Using EmotionsAI

AB Tasty Co-Founder and Co-CEO Alix de Sagazan speaking at a customer event. Photo courtesy of AB Tasty

After almost 12 years, AB Tasty decided it was time to give itself a fresh coat of paint. The French startup recently unveiled a new brand identity to reflect the evolution of its business from optimization to personalization.

Beyond just a new look and feel, the makeover comes as the company and its 300 employees appear to be shifting into a higher gear. During a recent visit to the company's Paris offices, New York-based CEO and Co-founder Alix de Sagazan said the company is now profitable, experienced 35% year-over-year growth over 3 quarters in 2023, and signed some big-name clients such as Puma and Audi to compliment a roster that already includes L'Oreal and Disney.

The acceleration of its business has been boosted by two key acquisitions, including an AI-driven emotional targeting tool. The company now plans to leverage its position of relative financial strength to seek out more acquisition targets that could enhance its personalization capabilities. The goal is to allow its customers to improve their ability to experiment and collaborate.

At a moment when the ebb tide of the recent funding frenzy is revealing the business model weakness of many French startups, AB Tasty’s co-founder believes that its steady approach to building an international business has placed the company on a much more solid foundation.

“Sometimes, the problem with raising too much money is that you focus a lot of the business on hiring a lot of people. And when you do that, you can lose a little bit of your soul,” de Sagazan said. “For the past two years, we’ve been focused on our customers and that has created more sustainable growth.”

Spotlight Interview:
Seventure Partners'
Bruno Rivet

Bruno Rivet, Director of Investments at Seventure Partners
Bruno Rivet, Director of Investments at Seventure Partners.

Seventure Partners is one of France's earliest and most influential tech investment firms with €1 billion under management and over 40 funds, including 10 currently active. Over its history, Seventure counts 465 investments, 150 exits, and 26 IPOs.

Four years ago, Seventure launched a Sportstech fund to back startups from Seed to Series A. Bruno Rivet, Director of Investments at Seventure Partners, oversees Sportstech investments. We caught up with him recently to talk about why Seventure entered this turf and what role the upcoming Paris Olympic Games are playing in the evolution of France's Sportstech ecosystem.

"We believe that the Olympics will serve as a catalyst, encouraging the growth of new and emerging startups, and we're excited to see how it will shape our journey moving forward," Rivet said.

International Investor Intro

What: Speedinvest is a leading early-stage venture capital firm with more than 40 investors based in Berlin, London, Munich, Paris, and Vienna. Speedinvest’s dedicated sector-focused teams are the first to fund Europe's most innovative technology startups and its in-house operational experts are on hand to offer founders ongoing support with growth, HR, market expansion, and more. Wefox, Bitpanda, GoStudent, Wayflyer, Open, CoachHub, Flowdesk, Schüttflix, TourRadar, Adverity, and TWAICE are among Speedinvest’s portfolio companies.

Where: Berlin, London, Munich, Paris, Vienna

Founders: Oliver Holle, Daniel Keiper-Knorr, Werner Zahnt

Investor type: Seed and Pre-Seed

N° of funds: 4 flagship funds

Amount under management: +€1 billion

N° of portfolio companies: +300

Sectors of interest: Deep Tech, Fintech, Health & TechBio, Marketplaces & Consumer, Climate Tech & Industrial Tech, SaaS & Infrastructure

Notable French investments: Lemonway, Flowdesk, Finary, + Simple, MyDataModels (learn more about its French portfolio here)

How to pitch the French team: The firm's French investors span the spectrum of Speedinvest's six sector-focused teams. Andreas Schwarzenbrunner, Partner, and Namratha Kothapalli, Principal, are focused on Climate Tech & Industrial Tech investments in the French market. Estelle Botbol is a Senior Associate investing in Health & TechBio. Alexis Majos is a Senior Associate with a focus on French fintech. Associate Audrey Handem concentrates on Saas & Infra startups in France, and, Maximilian Wilhelm is an Associate working with French Marketplaces & Consumer startups. French startups can either pitch the above investors directly via LinkedIn or submit an official funding pitch via an online application form at

Anything else notable: Speedinvest recently announced the final close of its fourth early-stage flagship fund at €350 million, which was oversubscribed by €50 million (more here). That's no easy feat considering access to capital is the scarcest it has been in the last decade for both tech startups and venture capital firms. Several new and influential limited partners joined this final close, including Aviva, PwC Germany, Bitburger, ODDO BHF, and Abeille Assurances Ventures. The final close comes on the heels of Speedinvest being named VC Fund of the Year by GP Bullhound, a leading global technology advisory and investment firm.

The Speedinvest team

The Big Deals

Logivolt sur LinkedIn : Bornes de recharge pour VE, 3100 copros ont fait  confiance à Logivolt.
Pierre Eymard, Logivolt CEO
WAAT partenaire Logivolt

What: Logivolt, a financing solution for the installation of individual EV charging stations for collective residences and parking lots.

Why: To enable all French people with access to collective residential parking to equip themselves with an electric vehicle charging station.

Funding: €70 million
Who: CEO Pierre Eymard

Investors: La Banque des Territoires

What's Next: This latest funding round will enable Logivolt to further accelerate its activity to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by a third in the mobility sector by 2030.

Fluid Topics Reviews 2024: Details, Pricing, & Features | G2

What: Fluid Topics, an AI-powered content delivery SaaS platform for complex technical documentation.

Why: To make dense, technical documentation easier to navigate for maintenance and repair technicians by breaking it down and delivering it in a contextualized, simplified, and personalized manner through business applications and digital communication channels.

Funding: €15 million
Who: Founder & CEO Fabrice Lacroix

Investors: Kennet Partners, Ventech, and Crédit Mutuel Innovation
What's Next: The new cash will go towards strengthening Fluid Topics' position as a global market leader by hiring a US team and introducing AI in its customer support systems.

What: Hive, cloud distribution solutions for both businesses and individuals.

Why: To provide a concrete solution to the challenges posed by traditional cloud computing models by promising an independent, secure, and energy-efficient cloud that converts 70% of the unused capacity of devices worldwide into a global "supercomputer".

Funding: €12 million
Who: Founder & CEO David Gurlé

Investors: SC Ventures and OneRagtime, along with private investors.

What's Next: The startup will use the new cash to finance product development, strengthen its teams, and accelerate its international expansion by focusing on the needs of businesses, particularly startups and SMEs.

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