Here's why Silicon Valley CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Dara Khosrowshahi decided to hang out in France

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft boss Satya Nadella, and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty were among the millionaires and billionaires headed to France this week to meet President Emmanuel Macron and take part in events.
  • Collectively the executives are worth around $US80 billion or more.
  • Their presence is testament to France’s star rising as a tech hub within Europe, thanks to its strengths in AI, its wooing of international startups to Paris, and the UK’s impending exit from the EU.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella are all having a lovely trip to Paris right now.

The trio are some of the biggest and wealthiest execs in tech, and they’re joined by other high-net worth CEOs including Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, among many others.

Collectively, the execs are worth around $US80 billion, and perhaps more. Most of that wealth belongs to Mark Zuckerberg who is worth more than $US70 billion alone.

It’s pretty unusual to see this kind of collection of tech CEOs in one place – normally Silicon Valley’s millionaires and billionaires hang out at the annual Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, or at the Burning Man festival.

So it’s testament to the rise of France’s tech scene and the dynamism of President Emmanuel Macron that they have made the trip to Europe. (Zuckerberg, in fairness, was due to visit anyway to apologise to European politicians in Brussels about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.)

France, and Paris in particular, has long been considered a European tech hub to rival London and Berlin, but its star has risen in the last two years. That’s thanks to the startup supercampus Station F, which hosts up to 1,000 startups allocated to accelerators run by the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, and ZenDesk. That was founded by Xavier Niel, a French telecoms billionaire who is considered to be the country’s Steve Jobs.

It’s also down to the youthful Macron and his determination to turn France into an international tech hub, partly through economic reforms which would allow the wealthy to keep more of their wealth. French investors and founders told Business Insider last year they were relieved Macron won the French election – the major alternative was “fascist” Marie Le Pen.

Paris has also developed a reputation for its artificial intelligence talent, one of the fastest developing areas in tech right now. Facebook and Google both expanded their AI hubs in Paris over the last two years, and Uber is about to launch a flying taxi research centre in the city.

The CEOs all gathered for a photo at the Tech for Good event on Wednesday, and Zuckerberg, Nadella, and Khosrowshahi are all due to speak at the VivaTech conference on Thursday.

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