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French Tech News: How LumApps Kicked Down The Exit Door

Also inside: XMOBILITY CEO Magali Alix-Toupé revs up the engine of her new Le Mans accelerator.


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🔎 Inside this week's newsletter:

Tech Talk

⬇️ 🤯 The Grim Reaper ☠️ continues to collect French startup souls. According to a study by investment platform ScaleX Invest, French startup bankruptcies rose in 2023 to 44 seeking court protection, either through liquidation or restructuring. That was up from 22 in 2022 - compared to the historic average of 4 over the previous decade. The pace continued in Q1 with 11 bankruptcies. “The pace will not slow down in 2024,” Sébastien Paillet, president and CEO of ScaleX Invest, told Les Echos. 🙏

⬆️ 🇫🇷 Is France's love affair with Unicorns 🦄 finally at an end? The latest edition of the French Tech Next40/120 was unveiled just in time for Viva Tech, and the new crop of Chosen Ones is perhaps more notable for HOW they were selected. Following the 2023 edition, there was criticism that the criteria were too focused on funding raised and valuations. In response, the government overhauled the criteria to emphasize revenues, growth, diversity, and environmental impact. For the Next40, 20 slots are based on total fundraising while the other 20 are open to startups with €100 million in annual revenue and 15% annual growth over 3 years. There is a similar breakdown for the other 80 companies in the broader Next120 tier. The selection is more than a popularity contest: Those selected get bespoke services from the French government. The upshot: 35 new names among the 120 selected.

That includes 11 start-ups who climbed the ladder into the Next40, including adtech Equativ (formerly SmartAdserver), Pennylane (accounting), Malt (platform for freelancers), Qair (energy), Chapsvision (security software), Ekwateur (greentech), Ilek (greentech) Mistral AI (artificial intelligence), Addguests (traveltech), Weezevent (events), and Mistertemp (digital temporary work). Alas, Pigment CEO Eléonore Crespo is the only female co-founder in the Top 40. 🧗‍♀️

⬆️ 🤭 Oussama Ammar is back. Though to be fair, he never really went away. The Family Co-Founder remains in a legal tussle with his former accelerator amid accusations of fraud. But in a LinkedIn post, Ammar announced that he plans to "recreate The Family" but in English and "come back to the startup game in Paris." The new new thing will be called "Labyrinth," and will be a virtual accelerator, according to Maddyness. The focus will be AI 🤖 with Labyrinth providing coaching, a network of advisors, and fundraising assistance using an AI-driven tool. As Wikipedia notes, the mythical Labyrinth "was an elaborate, confusing structure designed and built ... for King Minos of Crete. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, the monster." So, an interesting choice for a name. 🤔

The Deep Dive:
Exit Lessons From Bridgepoint's $650M Buyout of LumApps

LumApps Co-Founders: CTO Elie Mélois and CEO Sébastien Ricard
LumApps Co-Founders: CTO Elie Mélois and CEO Sébastien Ricard

In a French ecosystem starved for exits, a beacon of hope arrived with the announcement that Lyon-based LumApps had been acquired by PE firm Bridgepoint for a cool $650 million. To put that amount in perspective, advisory firm Avolta reported that €5.3 billion was the total value of all exits by French tech companies in 2023 – about in line with historical averages.

While founders and VCs like to dream of splashy IPOs, the reality is that acquisitions are by far the most common exit. One of the strongest categories of acquisitions now is buyouts of venture-backed companies by Private Equity firms like Bridgepoint.

Indeed, this is Bridgepoint’s second PE buyout of a French company in the past 12 months, following its €338 million acquisition of Equativ in 2023. Of the 10 largest exits of French tech companies in 2023 tracked by Avolta, 5 were PE Buyout Deals.

The bar is incredibly high to attract the attention of PE buyers. Given that PE buyouts are likely to remain a critical source of exits, it’s worth understanding the criteria a firm like Bridgepoint applies to such deals – and how LumApps delivered the right metrics for a deal like this to make sense.

Spotlight Interview:
Xmobility CEO Magali Alix-Toupé

XMOBILITY CEO Magali Alix-Toupé
XMOBILITY CEO Magali Alix-Toupé

Magali Alix-Toupé, former community lead of La French Tech in Le Mans, is now CEO of XMOBILITY, a new innovation hub dedicated to driving developments in the New Mobility and Energy sectors, that is set to open its doors this November.

Located across from the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race track, the hub is housed in an old factory currently undergoing renovations. The sprawling 4,200 m² space will contain state-of-the-art facilities including an 800 m² shared and equipped factory for building and testing prototypes, 30 secure private workshops, and a workshop area featuring a materials library, experience lab, and electronic and mechanical workshops. Additionally, the hub offers office spaces, an events and conference area, a coworking zone, and a dedicated social space where everyone interested in the future of mobility (researchers, entrepreneurs, corporations, politicians etc.), can meet and mix.

Alix-Toupé takes us inside this project and the impact she hopes it will have.

“Long term, we will have succeeded when we have found and helped launch the pioneers who will drive the decarbonization of transport," Alix-Toupé said.

The Big Deals

Imagino Co-Founders (l to r): Arnaud Chapis, Thomas Boudalier, and Stéphane Dehoche.
Imagino Co-Founders (l to r): Arnaud Chapis, Thomas Boudalier, and Stéphane Dehoche.

What: Imagino, a Customer Data Platform for marketers.

Why: To provide brands with clear and actionable insights to enhance their marketing campaigns and improve ROI.

Funding: €25 million
Who: Co-Founders Stéphane Dehoche, Arnaud Chapis and Thomas Boudalier

Investors: Cathay Innovation & henQ

What's Next: The new money will enable the startup to accelerate its growth in the UK and support its US launch.  

What: Gireve, a digital platform for electric charging interoperability.

Why: To connect e-charging operators through its digital platform to enable roaming charging and facilitate contractual exchanges between different operators. The startup also provides data and analysis on charging stations and driver behaviors to government bodies and private actors.

Funding: €20 million
Who: Chairman Eric Plaquet

Investors: Partech (impact fund) & Demeter 
What's Next: The new cash will go towards powering the platform’s European and international expansion and developing new services such as Plug & Charge and Clearing. It will also enable the company to expand its range of data and consulting solutions. 

Supervizor | Continuous Quality Assurance For Finance

What: Supervizor, a quality assurance platform for accounting teams

Why: To help error-proof accounting and curb fraud, building a world where accounting can be trusted.

Funding: €15 million
Who: Co-Founders Alban Clot & Cyrille de Gastines

Investors: Orange Ventures, Wille Finance, La Maison Partners, NewAlpha Asset Management, Adelie, ISAI

What's Next: The new cash will go towards fuelling the company's US expansion.

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