How This French Billionaire Is Disrupting Up The Telecoms Market

Business Insider
Roxanne Varza

Jan. 12, 2012

Behold Xavier Niel, the man who may very well be on his way to achieving Steve Jobs-status in France.

Xanier Neil

It would be a first for the country that has traditionally celebrated the bureaucratic public sector to private enterprise. But Xavier, who is a college dropout and ranked amongst the richest Internet entrepreneurs, is about to change that.

This week, the man who introduced France to triple play (high-speed internet, fixed telephone and TV for €29.99 a month) via his Freebox, made a similar revolutionary offer in the mobile space that has the other operators going a little, well, crazy. Modeled after the Freebox broadband package, the mobile offer includes unlimited text messages, mobile data and domestic and international calls for just €19.99 per month.

Xavier, you forgot your black turtleneck.

For those unsure as to how the Xavier Niel and Steve Jobs comparison came about, look no further than the communications strategy. In a very obvious tribute to the late Apple founder, Xavier presented his new offer in a keynote presentation Tuesday – a practice which is still somewhat uncommon amongst French entrepreneurs when announcing new products (or anything, really). Yet, many were quick to judge his presentation for it’s commercial angle. One journalist from the Nouvel Observateur went as far as to say that the “materialist” Xavier Niel had hardly anything in common with the “utopian” Steve Jobs, calling him a “telephone salesman” more than anything else.

Ouch. Yet, this type of criticism is only to be expected, especially in a country where shameless self-promotion is borderline shameful.

Tweet, tweet.

Prior to the infamous keynote, Xavier caught some attention with a few less-than-innocent tweets. His Twitter following has grown exponentially over the last few days, from 4K to 42K in just 4 tweets.

The first one went out with a bang on December 13th.