If I were an American…

If I were an American

You don’t have a chance.” “You’re already dead.” “You’ll get eaten alive.” For the last 21 years, I’ve heard people say these things several times a week. They’re often said by people who don’t really understand what OVHcloud does. Never by people in the field. I don’t blame them. They’re clearly thinking “It can’t be easy having Amazon, Microsoft and Google as competitors”. First of all, I’ve always sought to be a competitor, and every morning I tell myself that we are competing with the very best in the world. Next, try to name a single company in the world that will not compete with these giants, if they aren’t already a competitor. When people tell me that OVHcloud doesn’t have a chance, the first impression I get is that they have no idea what they’ll do in their own field of expertise. And just because they have no idea how to compete with these giants, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t found a way. Quite the opposite.

OVHcloud has just completed its fourth strategic plan. Between 2015 and 2019, we have at minimum doubled in size, across all of our KPIs. We are beginning this year with our fifth strategic plan, which will finish in 2024. Our strategy is centred on the 5 C’s: Culture, Customers, Cloud, Conquer, Cost. Over the next few months, we will be able to look again at this strategy, and share the details of our 2020 execution. In this post, I would like to share my long-term global vision for OVHcloud, which is based on European values. Since 1999, I have thought about where I’d like to be in 20 years — and even today, I think about where OVHcloud will be in 2040.

 5 C’s: Culture, Customers, Cloud, Conquer, Cost

There are a number of consequential factors:

  • OVHcloud designs and builds its own datacentres, and operates its own fibre optic network in Europe and North America, rather than renting services from operators.
  • We design and build our own servers in a frugal, short-circuit economy. And by building them instead of buying them from major global manufacturers, we can make them match exactly the needs of our customers.
  • OVHcloud comes from an open-source culture, and develops software products that comply with market standards. It offers its customers interoperability, reversibility and control over their data, rather than blocking them with retention and making them dependent on our services.
  • We also invest in frugal disruption to find alternative ways of building products, rather than following pre-established industry rules or copying our competitors.
  • We rely on human talent and company culture to work intelligently and foster profitable growth, rather than raising money and diluting ourselves with financial investors until we lose control over our destiny.
  • We capitalise on our ecosystem to collaborate with hardware, software and business partners. We build with them, and consider their constraints and ambitions rather than systematically acquiring them, integrating them and imposing our strategy onto them.

OVHcloud chooses to do things differently, and this is why we have a real value proposition in the competition with web giants. If you compare OVHcloud to its competitors, some of our cloud products and solutions are better, and others aren’t as good — and the same goes for companies everywhere. On the other hand, we have three key characteristics that our competitors lack:

  • Firstly, for a long time now, OVHcloud has been aware that customers need different types of cloud: Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, Multi Cloud, Web Cloud… We offer them all.
  • Secondly, since the cost of cloud solutions is a significant aspect of their business models, our customers are keen to seek predictability and competitivity in the cloud they use — and we are able to deliver what they need.
  • Finally, since our customers are keen to maintain control over their data, we guarantee data sovereignty all over the world.

With this ‘Next Gen Cloud’, we offer these three characteristics on top of all the other standard requirements associated with cloud solutions. This is what sets us apart on the cloud market.

To be a giant, I could dilute my shares in OVHcloud’s capital by progressively increasing the capital by several tens of billions of euros. This would make us able to acquire several companies across the globe, consolidate markets, then create a European giant that could be compared to US and Chinese web giants. If I were to make this decision one day, it would be an admission of failure to follow the common vision that we have developed for Europe. It would mean that Europe does not have its own economic model, and that all we can do is adopt the US model. It would also mean that it is impossible to create an ecosystem of companies that can collaborate together, and that the only way forward is to make them submit to funding, forcing them to work with one another. This would mark a failure to uphold our values, what we believe in, the reason we get up every morning, and the dream we build together. It would mean that Europe is stuck in the 20th century and is incapable of innovating, leading the way, or inspiring other nations by offering a new model of capitalism.

I may think like this because of my personal background, but without a doubt, it is also because I think like a European. Freedom is particularly important for OVHcloud. Our motto, “Innovation for Freedom”, is a symbol of this vision. If I were American, I would probably hold just 15% of a company worth several tens of billions of dollars, as opposed to 80% of a company worth several millions of dollars. If I were American, I would think that a smaller slice of a bigger cake would be better for me than a larger slice of a smaller cake. But because I’m European, I don’t think in terms of cake slices. I think about the long term, I think about Europe, I think about the ecosystem, and I think about ‘us’. Today, OVHcloud is the only European cloud enterprise that has reached a critical enough size to operate worldwide. For me, it has been a responsibility to strengthen this vision for Europeans over the last 20 years without exposing OVHcloud to tender offers, strategic changes, governance crises and financial crises.

OVHcloud is a tool I offer to Europeans to help them enter into this new, digital world while maintaining their values and dreams. This is a 21st century tool because of its ecosystem-based DNA and its opportunities for collaboration. Even if OVHcloud acquires other companies, my main aspiration is not to become a capitalistic conglomerate that looks like a cloud version of Airbus. OVHcloud aims to foster the creation of an ecosystem where companies can unleash their talent, collaborate together, stay independent and control their destiny. OVHcloud aims to support the emergence of digital enterprises that will make 100 to 200 million dollars in annual revenue. To be strong, organisations constantly influence each others’ identities and core values, so that they don’t go extinct. To be strong, the European cloud must work as a living organisation made up of several thousand companies that evolve or fade out. This way, it can continuously adapt to reflect the current reality. It’s different to the US and Chinese models, and I think it is truly our own. This is the European model.

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Founder & Chairman OVHcloud