- Mini Bio
- Name: Xavier Niel
- Born: 25th August 1967, Maisons-Alfort, Paris, France
- Occupation: Entrepreneur and businessman
- First taste of success: His first business success was on France's fore runner to the internet called Minitel, he used this service to create a cybersex environment for patrons to chat on
- First big success: His first big success was selling Worldnet for $50 million at the height of the 2000 tech boom. Worldnet was France's first internet provider which he had started in 1993
- Source of wealth: Self made through telecoms and internet
- Philanthropy: He spent $50 on a free to learn coding centre in Paris called "42" it caters for 1,000 students each year. He also splurged a further $300 launching the largest startup incubator in the world called "Station F", with both located in Paris
- Business portfolio: Iliad, Free Mobile, Monaco Telecom and Orange Switzerland (Salt)
- Trivia: In 2002 under the umbrella of Iliad he revolutionised the French broadband market with the introduction of the Freebox which was to provide the worlds first combination package of telephone, television and internet
"In life, you need a house and a car. After that, you have a choice"Xavier Niel
"I’ve never suffered aggression, neither on the street nor in the newspaper. And I read the most communist newspapers in the country"Xavier Niel
"Look at our difficulties getting a mobile phone licence in France. If we hadn’t been French, it would have been impossible"Xavier Niel
"France makes enormous gaffes, like setting a 75 per cent tax that affects nobody but gets the whole world talking"Xavier Niel
"I’m a little French entrepreneur. I once said, ‘Steve Jobs is the American Xavier Niel,’ but that was humour"Xavier Niel
"First I made software for all the big French groups that used Minitel. Then one day I did it for myself"Xavier Niel
"Telecoms is a national business. There isn’t a European market. There’s no Telecom Italia in France"Xavier Niel
"You can spend your money on art works and sit down and look at them. Or you can use your money to help people"Xavier Niel
"If you are worried about the risk to your reputation, you don't launch a telecoms firm in an aggressive way"Xavier Niel
"The real force of Silicon Valley is the mentality, the spirit. There's no reason at all that can't be replicated in Paris"Xavier Niel
"The French are always complaining. That’s the malaise: that they’re always complaining"Xavier Niel
"If you know how to make software, then you can create big things"Xavier Niel
"When you love competition, you don't want the market to consolidate"Xavier Niel
"The smallest things I've done speak the loudest about me, but I like that"Xavier Niel
"A free, analytical and questioning press must be helped survive"Xavier Niel
"I'm not unusual; It's the others who are strange"Xavier Niel
"I always follow the same idea. Start small and disrupt to create something big"Xavier Niel
"They think that if you make the rules, you’re not subject to them"Xavier Niel
"France didn’t obstruct me but it didn’t help me either"Xavier Niel
"We saved Le Monde! I adore this phrase"Xavier Niel
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Xavier Niel Biography
Xavier Niel organised his very own French revolution in the business world as he became one of the most successful business disrupters France or any other country has seen. From starting with nothing he single handedly built up a business empire that even the shining lights of Silicon Valley look upon with admiration.
Back in the day French business empires used strategies to keep prices high thinking it was not in the French culture to usurp their business models, but in reality they were ripe for the picking and Niel was just the man to come along and introduce downward price competition to his advantage.
After Niel's initial success with Worldnet he had already set up Iliad and this was used to provide unrivalled broadband packages to French consumers under the Free network. Next in his sights was building a fiber network around France and then completing his master plan by entering the mobile market which he did in 2012.
It was not all plain sailing for Niel though as a TV rival informed one of his colleagues;
"I am going to nail you down on the wall in blood". Indeed, slightly rattled by the various threats that were implied Xavier Niel was quoted as saying;
"If I commit suicide, or if I die in a car accident in the next three months or so, you will know the threats were serious, because I am not feeling at all suicidal and I drive very slowly".
These days he is a legend in his home country with France having some of the lowest internet and mobile charges in Europe coupled with his extravagant philanthropy by lavishing millions on tech education and budding French start ups.
Xavier is a hero to the French people with maybe the odd person being an exception to this, but these people can only be found in his rivals boardrooms. He was also good for a one liner, so this is my compilation of 20 of the best Xavier Niel quotes
Quotes About Xavier Niel
A fellow French entrepreneur Florian Herve summed him up thus:
"He started with practically nothing and created an empire"
A major Telecom rival at France’s third largest mobile network Bouygues Telecom spoke quite pompously of Niel's network 'Free':
"I have no intention of letting the gypsies on to my chateau’s lawns"
The journalist Simon Kuper shared a simple description:
"He has an outsider’s view of France’s problems – which he thinks he can help solve"