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Five French technology numbers in the United States Example – France -Amérique

Yann LeCun: the researcher

If artificial intelligence (AI) is so trendy today, it’s in part thanks to him. New York University professor and vice president in charge of AI research at Meta (Facebook’s new name), Yann LeCun is one of the pioneers of machine learning, a branch of computer science that provides machines ’ability to‘ learn from data. After completing a doctorate in France, he began his career in the United States in the late 1980s, as a researcher at Bell Laboratories at AT&T, New Jersey. There he experienced his first success, with a handwriting recognition system used to read checks. But his method, based on artificial neural networks – software trained by analyzing large amounts of data – took nearly two decades to establish itself. Along with two other researchers, Geoffrey Hinton (University of Toronto) and Yoshua Bengio (University of Montreal), LeCun revolutionized this technique from 2004, under the name deep learning. The method then proved its value in image recognition and language analysis, which aroused the interest of Internet giants. In late 2013, Facebook asked Yann LeCun to lead his AI research lab, while continuing to teach at NYU. The consecration came in March 2019, when the three received the Turing Prize, equivalent to the Nobel Prize in computing.

Fiji Simo: the manager

What a great journey! Born in Sète, southern France, 36 years ago to a family of fishermen, Fidji Simo was appointed in July CEO of one of Silicon Valley’s most renowned start-ups: Instacart, leading delivery at home grocery, worth nearly $ 39 billion. Prior to that, this HEC graduate had spent ten years on Facebook, where he climbed all the ranks in one forced march. After joining the marketing department, he led mobile advertising, then Facebook Live. The consecration came in 2019, with his appointment as head of the Facebook application – at the time, Mark Zuckerberg praised him as “one of our most talented managers and product managers”. In the typical masculine universe, Fidji Simo imposes its accent and femininity, assuming colorful dresses, high heels and makeup instead of jeans and hoodies that comprise the Silicon Valley uniform. He also admitted his lower background: “I was the first in my family to graduate from high school and pursue higher education,” he told the magazine. luck in November. Leaving Facebook at a time when the group has been under attack on all sides, Fiji Simo has the difficult task of running another controversial company. Instacart, whose 500,000 self-employed people shop and deliver for its customers, has often been described as an “Uber grocery.”

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Jeff Clavier: the financier

American technology would not exist without venture capital, essential to fund high -growth companies. In this area, Jean-François “Jeff” Clavier was one of the Silicon Valley figures, where he arrived “by a little coincidence” in the summer of 2000, amid the Internet bubble. After working for the Reuters group fund in California, Jeff Clavier established himself in 2004 by creating SoftTech VC, since the name was changed. Uncork Capital – an appointment of his taste in good wines. His specialty? Sowing, i.e. supporting start-ups in the first months of their existence, before they grow and attract larger investors. “Every day,” he explains, “we see entrepreneurs with great ideas, we write them a check and we try really hard to help them grow.” Among the 240 or more companies it has funded (for an average of $ 1.5 million), few achievements are publicly known, such as Fitbit (connected bracelets), Eventbrite (online ticketing) or Postmates (food delivery), and many B2B -type startups (business to business). “I’m lucky to be one of those venture capitalists who has a huge appeal to entrepreneurs, because I’ve been doing this for a long time. After that, it is up to us to choose people who have the right vision of the future. This is the best job in the world! “

Luc Julia: the inventor

Siri’s father was (half) her: Luc Julia, engineer and computer scientist, was the originator of the voice assistant for the iPhone, launched by Apple in 2011. At the time, this Toulouse resident by birth was already a pioneer of connected objects. and artificial intelligence. He arrived in Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s, after a doctorate in computer science in Paris and a stint at MIT. Luc Julia made her debut at SRI, a renowned research institute near Stanford, where her work spawned Nuance, the world leader in speech recognition, and The Assistant, Siri’s ancestor, where she filed for patents in 1997 with his co -worker Adam Cheyer. In 2010, after Siri was sold to Steve Jobs, Cheyer suggested Luc Julia to join him. Well known for his straightforwardness like his Hawaiian shirts, the Frenchman didn’t admire Apple’s corporate culture. He left after a year to face Samsung’s innovation. Author of a provocative book, Artificial intelligence does not exist (First Edition, 2019), Luke
Julia was quick to criticize the “fantasies and misconceptions we have today” about AI. In April 2021, for the first time in his career, he was hired by a French group, Renault, as Scientific Director.

Bertrand Diard: the businessman

He was one of the few Frenchmen to lead a French startup on Wall Street. On July 29, 2016, Talend, the company headed by Bertrand Diard, entered the Nasdaq, the New York Stock Exchange’s technology stocks index. The culmination of a ten-year adventure, primarily held in California. Kay kung forte, a software specialist for big data, was born in late 2005 in the suburbs of Paris, its leaders quickly sailed to America. “From the beginning, our vision was very global,” he explains, “and in our industry, the center of activity was in Silicon Valley”. Bertrand Diard arrived there in late 2006 to open the American subsidiary of Talend, which became its headquarters. “It was a choice that was both careless and pragmatic. If we were doing biotech, I would have gone to Boston, but for software, California has won the day. This presence in the United States will also help prepare for to enter Nasdaq, in the footsteps of two other French software nuggets, BusinessObjects and Criteo.Bertrand Diard left Talend’s board of directors a few months after the IPO.Then he moved to Brussels, where he became an investor, with funding specializing in data start-ups. This allows him to maintain a strong link with Silicon Valley: “Almost all of the companies in which I invest will be deployed in the United States!” “


Article published in the January 2022 issue of France-America. Subscribe to the magazine.

The post Five French technology numbers in the United States. first appeared in France-America.


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