Xavier Niel: the Steve Jobs of France

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Who is Xavier Niel? 

Born in 1967, France, at age 45 Xavier already has a net worth of $6.6 billion.

According to some, Xavier Niel is the Steve Jobs of France — a self-made businessman, entrepreneur and visionary who has managed to gain a fortune through various business ventures. His industry is in telecommunications and technology.

What are people saying?

Business Insider named Xavier Niel one of the world’s most important angel investors (an individual who invests in startups). Forbes has called him one of the world’s 12 most eligible billionaire bachelors. They say that his fortune jumped $2 billion just last year thanks to a spike in his stock in Iliad.

He’s angering Google by blocking their ads in his free internet service provider. That’s bold (and so French).

What does he own?

He is the founder and majority shareholder of Iliad, France’s second largest internet service provider (ISP). He is also co-owner of France’s most important newspaper, Le Monde, as well as the song «My Girl».

Now here comes our favorite project. He co-founded Kima Ventures, a fund that invests in 50 to 100 startups each year around the world. To date, they have invested in companies in over 18 countries.

How did he do it?

At age 19 he founded and sold his first company, providing an erotic chatting service for Minitel, a pre-world-wide-web internet service. He didn’t bother with university but proceeded to launch France’s  first ISP, World-Net, in 1993. He sold it for $50 million just as the internet boom ignited. Investing in start-ups would soon become his most powerful business strategy.

In 1996 Niel founded Free which created serious competition for other providers.  Free not only offered free modem services but also set the benchmark price of 29.99€ per month for a broadband package. He created Free by taking over Iliad and trading under the new name. Iliad remains the parent company of Free.

In 2012 he launched Free Mobile, once again stirring up the competition by providing unbeatable rates.

What can we expect?

One can only expect that Xavier Niel will continue to invest in startups around the world, and we thank him for that. Yes, he’s making more money than we can imagine, but at least he’s helping propel other like-minded and potential business entrepreneurs into the global arena, launching new projects.

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