Xavier Niel in 2014
25 August 1967 |
|Occupation||Chief Strategy Officer, Iliad|
|Net worth||US$7.1 billion (Aug 2016)|
Xavier Niel (born 25 August 1967) is a French entrepreneur, philanthropist, and businessman, active in the telecommunications and technology industry and best known as founder and majority shareholder of the French Internet service provider and Mobile operator Iliad trading under the Free brand (France’s second-largest ISP, and third mobile operator). He is also co-owner of the newspaper Le Monde, and co-owner of the rights of the song "My Way" and owner of Monaco Telecom. He currently acts as Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors & Chief Strategy Officer for Iliad.
His net worth is about $10 billion USD.
Xavier Niel was born in 1967 in the suburbs of Paris. Niel started early by developing telecommunication and data services and embarked at a young age on an entrepreneurial career soon after his father gave him a Sinclair ZX81 computer as a birthday present. At 19, he successfully created then sold his first company, a Minitel (a French forerunner of the internet) service company. This minitel-site provided sex oriented chat services. In 1995, he invested in the first Internet Service Provider in France, World-NET, created the previous year by Sébastien Socchard, Philippe Langlois and Pierre Séguret. This company was sold the year before the internet bubble burst.
After taking over a company subsequently renamed Iliad, Xavier Niel launched in 1996 the 1st reversed directory service on the Minitel. This service is still responsible for 1 million euros of revenue per year for Iliad.
In 1999, he created Free, a French Internet service provider. The name came from the fact that modem access was really free, which caused some stir among other (non-free) French Internet providers, as well as it raised some questions about Free's business model. In 2002, Free launched a broadband package at a low price (€29.99 per month), which became the benchmark in the market. At the same time, Free developed and launched the Freebox: the first triple-play multi-service box in France. The free modem service had brought to the company a strong potential customers portfolio, many of them switching to the broadband for the sake of comfort.
Niel remains Iliad’s majority shareholder, holding 63.93% of the share capital.
In March 2010, Xavier Niel cofounded with Jeremie Berrebi Kima Ventures, a fund dedicated to invest in 50 to 100 startups a year everywhere in the world. Kima Ventures already invested in 330 companies from February 2010 to August 2014 in 32 countries. Business Insider described Xavier Niel and Jeremie Berrebi as almost certainly the most active angel investors in the world.
On 28 May 2004, Xavier Niel was indicted and detained for a month for alleged procuring and misuse of company assets, which occurred in several Sex shops in which he was a shareholder. On 30 August 2005, a Nolle prosequi was pronounced for the procuring part of his indictment, but on 13 October 2006, he was given a 2 years suspended prison sentence for the misuse of company assets.
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- "3617 ANNU, toujours une valeur sûre pour Iliad". freenews.fr. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- "Boursorama article".
- "The Most Active Angel Investor In The World On Investing Everywhere And Reaching Breakeven Fast". Business Insider. 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
- "Le Monde Ousts Top Manager". The New York Times. 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
Le Monde said the official, Éric Fottorino, had been ousted from his key role as president of the management board, where he will be succeeded by Louis Dreyfus, an adviser to Matthieu Pigasse, a Lazard banker who bought a controlling stake in Le Monde with Pierre Bergé, co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, and Xavier Niel, a telecommunications entrepreneur.
- "This French tech school has no teachers, no books, no tuition — and it could change everything".
- "Prison avec sursis pour Xavier Niel". L'Express. 2006-10-27. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
Xavier Niel, pionnier de l'Internet en France et fondateur de la société Free, a été condamné à deux ans de prison avec sursis et 250 000 euros d'amende pour des détournements de fonds dans des sex-shops(...)Il lui était reproché d'avoir touché de 2000 à 2004 une somme d'environ 5000 euros par mois en espèces prélevée sur des recettes non déclarées de sex-shops de Paris et Strasbourg, dans lesquels il possédait des intérêts financiers depuis les années 80. La justice le soupçonnait initialement de proxénétisme, en raison des activités de prostitution exercées par des employées de ces sex-shops. Il a bénéficié d'un non-lieu sur ce volet.
Media related to Xavier Niel at Wikimedia Commons