LeWeb: France fights London’s appeal for startups «

    LeWeb: France fights London’s appeal for startups

    “London is No. 1 for startups after Silicon Valley,” said David Blanc, member of an expat group that helped organize a Paris-based event for local entrepreneurs called Red Carpet Day. “It’s just so easy.”

    As France gets ready to host its 10th annual LeWeb conference this week, it faces a difficult challenge. Hubs like London and Berlin have grabbed global attention for their tech scenes. But some entrepreneurs say France’s wealth taxes and complex labor laws discourage investment. In addition, the country’s coterie of startups has been overshadowed by unflattering episodes like the government blocking Yahoo Inc. from buying control of video site Dailymotion earlier this year.

    “France has had a horrible reputation among investors,” said Jean-Louis Missika, Paris’s deputy mayor in charge of innovation. “We need to show them — and show foreign startups — why they should come here.”

    The effort is in full swing. Paris is pushing a 120 million euro ($164 million) to convert a disused railway warehouse into what it says will be the world’s largest startup incubator by surface area. It will join a wave of other Parisian incubators backed by companies including Microsoft Corp. /quotes/zigman/20493/delayed/quotes/nls/msft MSFT -1.38% and Google Inc. /quotes/zigman/93888/delayed/quotes/nls/goog GOOG -0.49% .

    At the same time, the national government has been tweaking the tax code to give incentives to invest.