PARIS — A country hungry for massive exits can now point to a big one. Sort of.
Lending Club, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer lending service, held its IPO yesterday. It was a huge milestone for chief executive and founder Renaud Laplanche, a native of France. His holdings are worth at least $223 million and his success has been widely publicized here.
But it has also prompted an old lament: Why can’t such entrepreneurs build such companies here and achieve such exits? Especially one of its native sons.
At LeWeb 2014 in Paris yesterday, conference organizer Loic Le Meur, who is French but has lived in San Francisco for almost a decade, said Laplanche is a friend. In a conversation on stage with Emmanuel Macron, France’s minister for the economy, industry, and digital affairs, Le Meur said it seemed to be yet another example of how France’s brightest minds had to go elsewhere to succeed.
“Here’s a hero,” Le Meur said. “This is one of the largest IPOs and he’s a big tech guy in Silicon Valley. Could he have done the same in France?”
Macron said the question points to the ongoing cultural problem in France that entrepreneurs believe they can’t big build companies here.
“First, I’m very happy about this great news,” Macron said. “It’s a great success. But it is possible to create such a business here. That’s a state of mind and that’s what people think. And that’s something that I very much want to change.”
Born in 1970, Laplanche grew up in France and attended college in Montpellier in the south. In the late 1990s, after becoming a corporate lawyer, he moved from Paris to New York.
He later started TripleHop, a software company that was acquired by Oracle in 2005. Laplanche moved to California and worked for Oracle before leaving in 2006 to start Lending Club.
As the French waited for the IPO, they took to social media to congratulate Laplanche:
— gaelduval (@gaelduval) December 11, 2014
— EquityZen (@EquityZen) December 11, 2014
Renaud Laplanche is killing it > Lending Club IPO rides easy money wave http://t.co/G0WSLnFtNj
— Loic Le Meur (@loic) December 10, 2014
Lending Club seeks up to $692 million in IPO Proud for a French CEO Renaud LAPLANCHE to create new lending business http://t.co/fBqcRsPhtZ
— Olivier PERRIN (@OPERRINTwitt) December 3, 2014
— KN Jérôme (@knjerome) December 11, 2014
— Olivier Chirinian (@ochirinian) December 11, 2014