Perspective from Scality CEO Jerome Lecat
Our own Jerome Lecat sat down with the French-American Chamber of Commerce to discuss how European tech companies can thrive while balancing the shifting landscape of global power structures during a time of great change.
Having split the last 20+ years between Silicon Valley and his home country of France, Jerome has a global line of sight into the tech landscape. Running Scality from dual headquarters in San Francisco and Paris keeps him grounded in the broader implications of industry trends across the world.
Economics is based on competition but, in the end, the tech ecosystem is global and evolving. We cannot be naive if we want to succeed. – Jerome Lecat, CEO Scality.
Jerome has managed companies through three serious crises, navigating massive industry shifts and downturns. Here, he shares four key insights on how the tech industry in European countries like France can stay buoyant while weathering the storms.
1. Balance digital sovereignty with reciprocity.
There is now less cooperation between the three big global tech powerhouse regions: the U.S., China and Europe. The U.S. undisputedly leads the tech industry, but China is closing the gap with its own sovereign versions of Google, Facebook and Amazon. They will soon have microprocessors, too.
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The opportunity for Europe lies in building a balanced sovereign approach with protections for R&D and investment within Europe. Increases in French tech investment in just the past five years are already yielding positive results. No less than 13 French tech unicorns are vying to secure their place in the global market.
It’s time for European nations to follow America’s tradition of creative investing to drive product development in new directions, resulting in viable, valuable products. And now is the time for reciprocity with China. Let’s not close our doors to opportunity. Let’s learn, lead, and balance our investments within Europe while building new, stronger relationships with our longstanding U.S. partners and emerging allies in China.
2. Utilize ‘soft power,’ and favor patriotism over protectionism.
Europe is full of economic liberation and freedoms for tech companies across the globe. We are open to everyone. But we are not taking care of our own.
If the U.S. were to stop shipments of tech infrastructure and software, Europe would be in serious trouble. But here’s the thing: I’m an optimist, and I believe in patriotism over protectionism. We can utilize the ‘soft power’ of the consumer by building and buying locally. For example, there are great European electric car companies—buy from them! And let’s promote good government policy, taking notes from U.S. models like the Small Business Act that favors American companies with incentives for growth and investment.
We can encourage the government and the public sector to buy locally. Let’s find a way to direct more public spending to French and European companies. It’s OK to be proud of who we are, to give preference to supporting our home countries, and, at the same time, to be good citizens of the world.
3. Focus on data sovereignty over regulation.
Over-regulation can make things difficult for companies like Scality to succeed. GDPR was not practical for a company of our size. The focus should be on building our own digital sovereign data solutions here locally rather than enforcing broad, restrictive regulations with potentially unforeseen consequences.
On top of this, the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act allows American federal law enforcement to compel U.S.-based tech companies via warrant or subpoena to provide requested data stored on servers regardless of whether it’s stored in the U.S. or on foreign soil. We need to re-evaluate where we store data, and that may mean building our own digital sovereign infrastructures for protection.
You can read more about data sovereignty in our recent article by Scality’s Senior Director of Digital Marketing & Community Stefano Maffulli: The Privacy Shield Fell—Now What?
4. Stay focused through crises.
The world is upside down right now. As business leaders, it’s more important than ever that we stay focused. When you’re the head of a struggling business and the world is falling apart around you, it’s extremely difficult to tune out the noise and make sense of the advice bombarding you. But the truth is you must. When the pressure is on, it’s essential that you purposefully detach and spend time in solitude. For me, meditation is an invaluable tool that allows me to get grounded and really listen to my intuition. Take some time and ask yourself the hard questions: Is your business still meaningful to the world? Is what you created still viable? If so, then do not waiver. Find a way forward. There is always a path, even if you must be the one to forge it.
To watch Jerome’s full discussion with tons more interesting conversation, be sure to check out his interview here!