French Smart Software Companies: Some Surprises

November 15, 2016

I read “French AI Ecosystem.” Most of the companies have zero or a low profile in the United States. The history of French high technology outfits remains a project for an enterprising graduate student with one foot in La Belle France and one in the USA. This write up is a bit of a sales pitch for venture capital in my opinion. The reason that VC inputs are needed is that raising money in France is — how shall I put this? — not easy. There is no Silicon Valley. There is Paris and a handful of other acceptable places to be intelligent. In the Paris high tech setting, there are a handful of big outfits and lots and lots of institutions which keep the French one percent in truffles and the best the right side of the Rhone have to offer. The situation is dire unless the start up is connected by birth, by education at one of the acceptable institutions, or hooked up with a government entity. I want to mention that there is a bit of French ethnocentrism at work in the French high tech scene. I won’t go into detail, but you can check it out yourself if you attend a French high tech conference in one of the okay cities. Ars-en-Ré and Gémenos  do not qualify. Worth a visit, however.

Now to the listings. You will have to work through the almost unreadable graphic or contact the outfit creating the listing, which is why the graphic is unreadable I surmise. From the version of the graphic I saw, I did discern a couple of interesting points. Here we go:

Three outfits were identified as having natural language capabilities. These are Proxem, syJLabs (no, I don’t know how to pronounce this”syjl” string. I can do “abs”, though.), and Yseop k(maybe, Aesop from the fable?). Proxem offers its Advanced Natural Language Object Orient Processing Environment (Antelope). The company was founded in 2007.) syJLabs does not appear in my file of French outfits, and we drew a blank when looking for the company’s Web site. Sigh. Yseop has been identified as a “top IT innovator” by an objective, unimpeachable, high value, super credible, wonderful, and stellar outfit (Ventana Research). Yseop, also founded in 2007, offers a system which “turns data into narrative in English, French, German, and Spanish, all at the speed of thousands of pages per second.”

As I worked through a graphic containing lots of companies, I spotted two interesting inclusions. The first is Sinequa, a vendor of search founded in 2002, now positioned as an important outfit in Big Data and machine learning. Fascinating. The reinvention of Sinequa is a logical reaction to the implosion of the market for search and retrieval for the enterprise. The other company I noted was Antidot, which mounted a push to the US market several years ago. Antidot, like Sinequa, focused on information access. It too is “into” Big Data and machine learning.

I noted some omissions; for example, Hear&Know, among others. Too bad the listing is almost unreadable and does not include a category for law enforcement, surveillance, and intelligence innovators.

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2016


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