It’s hard to find a sector more American-dominated than the cloud. In infrastructure services (IaaS) as in on-demand application development (PaaS), all the western giants come from the United States. In infrastructure, three of Gafam – Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud – hold sovereignty. And if the PaaS market is more open with other giants that are very well established, the latter are mainly American, such as SAP, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce or even Snowflake.
This is why the explosive growth and ambitions of the little French thumb, Platform.sh, are more than remarkable. The discreet Parisian bloc, already a member of French Tech 120, announced on Tuesday, June 21, the success of its fifth fundraising operation, with an impressive amount – in this difficult context – worth 140 million dollars (almost 133 million euros), with the ambition to become Giant PaaS.
Startup of the week: Platform.sh, the other French cloud champion
Daily management of thousands of web applications
Founded by Frédéric Bliss, Uri Beckelmann, and Damien Tournaud in Paris in 2010, Platform.sh has developed a unique technology that has resulted from two years of research and development with the goal of facilitating the deployment of web applications for its customers. In concrete terms, the company charges a fee, in the form of a subscription of 50 euros per month for SMEs / VSEs – but several thousand euros for large accounts – for access to a platform equipped with all the technical tools – development, testing and deployment – to create and then manage one or many applications on daily basis. “Our technology for digital teams saves our customers about 30% of the time by automating the creation and management of web applications, at a much lower energy cost, allowing them to focus solely on value creation and not on technology and maintenanceFrederic Bliss explains for La Tribune.
Thus, the startup competes in a portion of the PaaS market that is today dominated by US giants Red Hat (acquired by IBM), Heroku (owned by Salesforce) and even Netify. This does not prevent it from growing at a high speed: in three years, Platform.sh has grown from 650 to 5,500 customers worldwide, for a recurring turnover that in 2021 reached $40 million for 60% growth per year.
If most of the clients are small organizations, the solution is especially suitable for those who have to manage hundreds or even thousands of websites and web applications.
“Our specificity in the market is to reduce the complexity of the cloud. Our platform is undefined: it is compatible with all development technologies in the market, which is very practical when you are running a lot of applications that have not been launched at the same time and we need interoperability, eliminating the need for processes IT and cloud management, and we partner with all infrastructure hosts such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, which is valuable in an age when the cloud has become more complex” refuses the entrepreneur.
The Cloud: Amazon, Microsoft and Google increasingly dominate in France
Buy competitors to become a giant
Thus, websites and applications can be created by distributed development teams (including external agencies), in different programming languages, and using different frameworks. “Organizations of all sizes can also reduce their carbon footprint thanks to the density of our servers,” stresses the startup, who wants to obtain B-Corp certification for sustainable businesses.
If Platform.sh’s growth has been so strong, it’s also because the company has been international since its inception, believes its general manager. Adobe, Nestlé and Unicef are among the 450 “commercial” customers, that is, who pay more than 20,000 euros annually. Today, 55% of business volume is generated in North America (US and Canada), compared to 35% in Europe and the rest elsewhere.
While market conditions are currently very challenging for startups, Plateform.sh claims to have completed the $140 million fundraising process without any difficulty. “We raised a better-than-expected rating because our profile was of particular interest to investors in this tense context‘, points out Frédéric Plais. Understand: Investors are currently flocking to ‘cash efficient’ companies, i.e. those in very booming markets, that are growing at high speed and without exploding their costs.
With this money, the company wants above all else.”Support its organic growth“.But Frederic Bliss is looking for any strategic acquisition opportunity.”We provide services in all sectors of the PaaS market, but we have room for improvement in some of them, so we want to buy competing or complementary companies, in France or elsewhere, to improve our offering.Three new investment funds have embarked on the adventure: Digital + Partners (Germany), Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital (US) and Revaia (France). Existing French funds (BGV, Eurazeo, Hi Inov and Partech are back) ) in the pot.