I had the plaisir of spending a few days in Paris last summer, a combination of work and fun (with emphasis on the fun). It was toward the end of July, several months before a series of coordinated terrorist attacks rocked the European city on Nov. 13. Back then, the only security risk on my mind as I traversed several arrondissements to familiarize myself with Paris’ tech scene was the possibility that disgruntled cab drivers would target my Uber ride, smash in the windows, and cause me to be en retard to a meeting.
France is no stranger to terror—the massacre of 11 Charlie Hebdo staffers happened less than a year ago. Still, the size and scope of this latest round of attacks, aimed at the social fabric of the city, have hit hard.
Ironically, just as France’s terrorism problem boils over, Paris’ tech industry is bubbling with reinvigorated energy.
According to the office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo (the first woman to hold the office in Paris), the city is home to more than 80 co-working spaces and 20 fab labs. Close to 1,500 startups are set up annually. Startup incubators, like The Family and NUMA, are popping up with more frequency. Next year, the world’s largest business incubator (at least according to the Mayor’s office), will open its doors in the renovated Halle Freyssinet building. Notably, Hidalgo is providing financial incentives for entrepreneurs to stay close to home, including aid money to compensate for the lack of local access to seed capital. Even more important, some entrepreneurs are trying to convince their startup brethren to return to Paris.
Fred Mazzella, founder of ridesharing service BlaBlaCar—one of a very small handful of local startups valued at more than $1 billion—is one of several French founders attempting to lure other entrepreneurs back to Paris. His effort has produced a web site, Reviens Leon, which posts job listings and even helps techies returning to France find schools and apartments.
To be sure, the country still has had an image problem when it comes to being a launchpad for successful businesses. In 2012, President Francoise Hollande’s 75% “supertax” on earnings over 1 million euros pretty much cemented France’s business-unfriendly reputation. But increasingly, those familiar with the local tech industry insist that things are changing. And as for Hollande’s supertax policy? It was recently dropped.
It’s too soon to tell whether the recent horrific events in Paris will affect the city’s ability to nurture its fledgling startup scene, especially when it comes to convincing more entrepreneurs to return home. As Mayor Hidalgo wrote me in an emailed response after my trip to Paris over the summer: “I want to assure the world’s innovators that Paris will always be a venue for all forms of energy, dreams and daring.”
Let’s hope so.
Your regular host, Fortune assistant managing editor Adam Lashinsky, is enjoying an extended Thanksgiving break. Michal Lev-Ram is a Fortune senior writer based in Silicon Valley who writes frequently about technology.
BITS AND BYTES
Intel poaches Qualcomm executive to lead its biggest division. Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala, who previously led Qualcomm’s chip business, is now an Intel president in charge of rejuvenating stagnant growth for the company’s legacy personal computer technologies. More important: He will lead the chipmaker’s mobile chip strategy and burgeoning Internet of things initiatives. You can add him to the list of potential successors to CEO Brian Krzanich. (Wall Street Journal)
Mark Zuckerberg weighs in on paternity leave debate. Facebook’s CEO will take two months off from work to assist his wife Priscilla Chan after the impending birth of their baby girl. That’s half the paid leave time the social network offers to new parents but more than is typical. Symbolically, Zuckerberg’s decision is a huge act of support for working mothers and fathers in Silicon Valley. (Fortune)
Charging glitch haunts some iPad Pro tablets. Re/code reports some early adopters are experiencing technical issues with the large-screen tablets—they become unresponsive after a charging cycle, requiring them to be reset. Apple said it’s working on a technical fix for the problem. (Re/code)
Yahoo blocks ad blockers. Want to see your email? Let us serve up advertisements. That’s the message Yahoo is sending to a “small number” of Yahoo mail users. As more mobile users seek ad-free browsing experiences, Internet companies are struggling to protect their revenue. (New York Times)
These retailers want shoppers to use mobile apps in their stores. Store owners used to worry about “showrooming,” when shoppers use mobile phones to find places that offer lower prices or a better selection than the store they’re standing in. Now, retailers like Macy’s, JCPenney and Best Buy are encouraging visitors to use mobile apps for better customer service while they’re roaming their aisles. (Reuters)
Controversy brews over stock buybacks. Apple, Microsoft and Oracle are among the high-profile U.S. companies spending billions on share repurchases, an increasingly common corporate practice that often enhances quarterly earnings. Is that really the best use of these tech giants’ cash reserves? (Wall Street Journal)
Workday works up steam with finance teams.
Over the next 12 months, prepare to hear Workday’s sales teams talk just as much about the power of financial insights as the power of people insights.
One of the loudest refrains sounded in the cloud human resource software company’s latest financial report (issued late last week) was the accelerating momentum behind its relatively fledgling financial management applications. Workday has been beating the drum for its own cloud financials and planning software over the past 18 months, even though several of its business partners offer similar applications, including Adaptive Insights, Anaplan, and Tidemark Systems.
While Workday doesn’t separate results for its flagship human capital management applications from its less-established financial suite, the third quarter brought its best performance this year in “new annual contract value” for the latter and some of its biggest deal wins to date. Early next year, the company is realigning its sales approach to build on that momentum. (Fortune)
MORE FORTUNE TECH COVERAGE
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Airbnb raises $100 million only months after last funding round
by Kia Kokalitcheva
Why Cisco is spending millions to upgrade video conferencing
by Jonathan Vanian
ONE MORE THING
Happy belated 30th birthday to Microsoft Windows. The still-dominant operating system reached the three-decade mark on Nov. 20. Fortune’s Barb Darrow reminisces over the company’s hits and misses during its 30-year reign. (Fortune)