#Geonpi: the bizarre case of an ever shrinking France

The excellent Jean-David Chamboredon a.k.a. Chambo, arguably the best e-commerce venture guy in France, wrote a hard hitting column in La Tribune last week attacking an “anti-startup” fiscal law.

Since then there has been an explosion on twitter about the “pigeons” (turkeys) or “geonpis” in verlan (inverted French, a habit born in the Paris inner city and rap culture).  Just search for #geonpi and seem what I mean.

The French authorities are intent on enforcing a model of social equality through taxation, and as Jean-David puts it, are entirely confusing the taxation of economic creation (capital gains on startup exits, to be specific) with the taxation of wealth.

I don’t really do politics, but I do care about my beloved old continent and as a French-speaker France is dear to my heart.

What on earth is happening ?  The Frenchies seem to believe that they operate in a vacuum, that they can design fiscal laws that ignore the rest of the world.  Whilst centers like London and Dublin are doubling efforts to attract the world’s best entrepreneurs, Paris holds almost no appeal to innovative immigrants and now seems intent on chasing its best and brightest away.

France is seemingly locked into a battle with itself over whether wealth is acceptable whilst the rest of the world shrugs and moves on and many of its best entrepreneurs leave for most hospitable shores.

You can argue all day long about whether wealth is moral, but you cannot argue that capital is highly mobile.  Without capital, no startups.   As JD put it, the pigeons (entrepreneurs) are realizing that life without water (capital) may be challenging.  The French VC ecosystem is moribund, ironically kept alive by some odd tax games, a ton of subsidies that often help average entrepreneurs, all signs of a meddling state that thinks it has better answers than the startup community.

Paris is the second largest venture market in Europe.  Keep going like that and watch Berlin sail away with both capital and talent.  ”Laisses-nous faire”, Mr President.

Final word to @benwoodward: “French PM goes full-retard and tries to tax entrepreneurs out of existence. Insane”

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