French tech is having a moment. Emmanuel Macron pledged in 2019 to turn France into an innovation hotbed with an ecosystem of flourishing unicorns. Now it seems as if the current tenant of the Élysée Palace is getting close to achieving his goal. Back in 2017, the country only had three unicorns. That number had jumped to 25 unicorns by January 2022. A steady stream of funding has seen that figure grow since.
The latest startup to ride high on the French tech wave is Platform.sh. The venture has just topped up its coffers with a $140m funding round. However, a $1bn valuation is still eluding the business. Exactly how far away is anyone’s guess, as the web application-development platform is staying mum about its valuation on the back of the Series D funding raise.
“We are well on the way but not yet a unicorn,” Fred Plais, co-founder and CEO Platform.sh, tells Verdict. “And actually, we are less focused on valuation than on growing an actually sustainable, profitable business. More of a centaur club.”
The round was led by Munich-based Digital+Partners. San Francisco-based Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, and Paris-based Revaia also joined the raise alongside existing investors BGV, Eurazeo, Hiinov, and Partech.
“The funds will be used to cement our strength in key markets for us across Europe, the US and Asia,” Plais says. “We’ll be using this capital injection to recruit new talent worldwide to meet expansion goals. We also intend to use part of the proceeds to fund future acquisitions to accelerate our organic product roll out, focusing on automation including updating websites across multiple languages and frameworks to deliver new experiences faster. Another key focus will be using the Series D raise to support us with our goal of delivering a ‘greener’ cloud.”
The French startup most recently raised a $34m Series C funding round in 2018, something the Platform.sh CEO says has been sufficient to keep it going thanks to the venture’s frugal approach to money.
“We have been able to grow fast without significant burn rate,” Plais says. “While burning a lot of money was somehow ‘fashionable’ in 2021 – at the condition that growth would follow of course – it’s much more 2022 to be able to deliver growth while remaining capital efficient. Since 2018, our revenue grew by seven times, while remaining cash efficient.”
Pais and his co-founders dreamed up the concept after growing frustrated with how cumbersome it was to deliver projects at pace. They decided to create a one-stop shop for businesses where they could build web applications “anytime without having to worry about breakage, keeping the teams autonomous and saving massive amounts of time.”
“When designing the initial minimum viable product, thought was given to making the product flexible, allowing it to support multiple applications and languages,” Plais concludes. “Since inception, we’ve continued to enhance our product and service offering. Now, Platform.sh is used by more than 62,000 developers and thousands of companies worldwide.”