Xavier Niel is one of France’s most successful entrepreneurs most renowned for being the founder and majority shareholder of Iliad, the country’s second-largest internet service provider and third largest mobile operator. He holds the position of chief strategy officer and deputy chairman at the company. As of 2019, Niel ranked at #478 on Forbes list of billionaires.
He sold his first company, a Minitel service company, at the age of nineteen. Minitel was considered to be one of the preeminent online services before the invention of the world wide web. He incorporated Iliad in 1990. The company is still headquartered in Paris and actively operating in approximately 35 countries. Its subsidiaries include Free, Wind, and 3 Italia.
Niel is the perfect example of a long-standing and successful entrepreneur but what is most astounding is what he is doing with all of the wealth he has accumulated since his success began. He has already invested in more than 400 start-ups and founded 42 Silicon Valley, Station F and two educational institutions dedicated to technology in Paris.
Station F is the world’s biggest start-up incubator with over 1,000 start-ups working under one roof and 42 Silicon Valley was set up for $57 million and in operation teaches 2,500 students to code. Outside of it, there are hotels and apartments being built to house around 600 entrepreneurs.
Xavier Niel holds a close relationship with young president Emmanuel Macron and together they are invested in breeding a culture of entrepreneurialism in France.