Born at Rouen, Havas can be regarded as the founder of the concept of a press agency. He translated information from abroad for the French national press, aware of their growing interest in international affairs. In 1825 he founded his own company to carry out such work. In 1835 he created the Agence Havas and began supplying news about France to foreign customers. He died at Bougival.
Bernard Wolff and Paul Reuter, two of his former employees, with his encouragement went on to found two other renowned news agencies.
Havas was also a pioneer in the area of advertising.