In Europe what we often say is that the industry is full of copycats and entrepreneurs who cannot reach a world class position for their startups. Meetic has just made history by acquiring the european business of the American dating site Match.com while many thought it would be the opposite, that Match would be the clear worldwide leader and “as always” the american company would either acquire or kill its small european competitor. The opposite just happened, proving that you can be in Europe and create a world class Internet business like Marc Simoncini did (disclosure I am a board member of meetic) while being in Europe.
Americans reporters will have to change the way they see the european startup scene I think. Marc Simoncini gave a great speech at my conference LeWeb in 2008 but remained unnoticed by the american bloggers and journalists who were also present. In fact most of them have never heard of Meetic and Marc and they were not interested, well maybe now that a major american player gets acquired by a european they will pay attention, I think they should. Europe is not only made of two hour lunches. Let’s not blame my american friends too much, they came to Paris and other european events, they cover the european startups more and more, it is all good, I am confident one day they will consider Meetic is as important as Match.com.
Is this a sign that the times are changing and that suddenly european startups become more competitive? Europe has a lot to do to be able to compete with Silicon Valley, let’s quote again the lack of business angels, the 20+ languages an entrepreneur has to cope with to become a leader in Europe, the tax burden often higher than in the US and the most important being probably the lack of risk culture. Yet, Marc Simoncini made it and should become more of an hero in Europe, Marc should inspire new generations of entrepreneurs in Europe to wake up in the morning not to create copycats of anything but create new startups with an ambition that is not only their countries, not Europe, but being world class.
I have good hopes and I am really happy that Meetic sets a new tone in Europe. European internet entrepreneurs can have a model to follow and surrounded by several world class VCs (and I am lucky to be working with two of them, Atomico and Wellington but they are not the only ones) they can clearly create world leaders from Europe. I still think it is easier for an Internet business to thrive if it’s based in Silicon Valley, but this is a sign that the european scene is changing. Fantastic news.
update: happy to see how Match.com is listening and reactive on Twitter, congratulations to Match.com for partnering with the best european success of all times!