“The thirst is great at the moment for the financiers”

Ldizziness. It is a little the feeling that one feels in front of the wave of billions which floods at the moment the sector of the start-ups. This Tuesday, January 11, the companies Qonto and Back Market, created in 2017 and 2014, announced that they each raised just under 500 million euros from French and foreign investors. An operation that ensures them a valuation of 4.4 billion for the first, which offers financial services to SMEs, and 5.1 billion for the second, leader in the sale of refurbished phones.

Thus, the latter, which employs 650 people, now has a market value three and a half times that of Fnac, the leading seller of electronic products in France with 26,000 employees and 7 billion euros in turnover. What to wonder about the value of things, just a week after Apple reached the dizzying amount of 3,000 billion dollars (approximately 2,655 billion euros) of stock market valuation.

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For economists, the two components of value are price, a function of exchange, and utility, a more subjective notion. The value of a bottle of water is not the same in Paris as in the middle of the desert. And the thirst is great at the moment for the financiers. The very accommodating policies of the central banks made money plentiful and very easy to borrow. But its abundance also makes it more difficult to monetize. The investments of a father are worth nothing, the deep pockets of the whole world are melting into risky investments. First the stock market, which reached dizzying heights symbolized by the take-off of Apple or Tesla, then finally venture capital. As the name suggests, you can win but also lose a lot of money.

Fragile positions

By successive discharges, this wave coming from across the Atlantic reached the French coasts. The digital transition, accelerated by the health crisis, reinforces the phenomenon. In its ambitious development project for French start-ups, the government aimed to go from three start-ups valued at more than 1 billion euros in 2017 to twenty-five in 2025. It has reached this objective three years in advance. The digital catching-up of SMEs offers an avenue for many companies targeting this more local market and less locked in by the giants Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon or Microsoft.

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But to go faster, as long as the wind carries them, French boats favor intermediary functions and services, such as market places, without major barriers to entry. Fragile positions, at the mercy of the appetite of their suppliers and new competitors. The great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa recognized that “The value of things is not in the duration but in the intensity in which they occur. This is why there are unforgettable moments, inexplicable things and incomparable people ”. Unforgettable but ephemeral.