The hunt for the next government is on. Whatever the future contours of the position, one thing is certain for the Secretariat of Digital Transition and Electronic Communications: Cédric O will not be back. The current minister indicated a few weeks ago that he wanted to leave politics. His next adventure is not yet known.
His departure thus opens the way for bets on his successor whose arrival date could take place after the parliamentary elections (if the secretariat is still dependent on the Ministry of Economy and Finance). Several names regularly appear behind the scenes.
Philippe Englebert, advisor to Emmanuel Macron
He knows all the members of Next40/FT120 and the local venture capital funds. But not everyone knows Philippe Englebert, who is more of a man in the shadows. Since September 2020, this graduate of Sciences Po, Polytechnique and ESCP has been advisor on business, financial services, attractiveness and export to the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.
Previously, he was a business and technology advisor in Cédric O’s private office. This former investment banker also spent a year and a half with the General Directorate of the Treasury. In particular, he collaborated with Philippe Tibi on a report on the financing of French technology companies. His different experiences led him to publish the book “Les Start-ups en France” in the summer of 2021, published by “Que sais-je? And to be very courteous, according to La Lettre A, he was approached by Morgan Stanley, but did not respond.
Its advantage: He knows very well the files related to French Tech and is generally highly valued by the ecosystem.
Rania Belkahia, entrepreneur and investor
At the beginning of this year, La République en Marche entrusted him – together with Deputy Eric Bothorel – with the task of assessing the needs of the French digital ecosystem in view of the presidential elections. Rania Belkahia has been immersed in the ecosystem for ten years. In 2013, she co-founded Afrimarket, an e-commerce platform operating in West Africa, which went into receivership six years later. She then entered the world of venture capital by joining EQT Ventures, a branch of the Swedish management company EQT Partners. This engineer by training is mainly a member of the board of directors of the French insurtech Luko.
Its advantage: its dual role as investor and founder of start-ups and its French and international network.
Eric Bothorel, the specialist deputy
Along with Rania Belkahia, he is the other member of Emmanuel Macron’s digital campaign task force. When asked “are you interested in the position of Secretary of State?” ‘ he replies, ‘who wouldn’t be? Born in Paimpol, this Breton has been deputy for the fifth constituency of Côtes-d’Armor since May 2017. He specializes in digital issues and has prepared several reports on issues in the sector: mobile and digital coverage of the territory, the future of European cybersecurity, digital taxation…
He is one of the few French MPs, along with Pierre Person, Jean-Michel Mis and Laure de La Raudière (now president of Arcep), who supports the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem. This Twitter follower was elected to the General Council of Côtes-d’Armor from 2011 to 2015. Before his political career, Eric Bothorel chopped his teeth into IT distributor Infopoint (purchased by Econocom) and GE Capital.
Its advantage: he knows all the political cogs and has strong territorial roots.
Alexander Zapolsky, the defender of sovereignty
As soon as he left school in May 2000, Alexandre Zapolsky founded Linagora, a publisher of open source software (secure file sharing, calendar, video conferencing, office automation, etc.) of which he is still the president and largest shareholder. Some of its tools are used by major French administrations. This native of Toulon also founded the SS2L Association, which became the FNILL (National Federation of the Free Software Industry) and, together with more than 15 African professional federations, founded the Alliance for Digital Development, with the aim of organizing and developing the African digital .
Alexandre Zapolsky has been with us since 1 . member of En Marcheer day. “I support the President of the Republic and his action. I totally take it (so don’t come bickering with me on this subject!). I can proudly say that we have been friends for over 15 years,” he wrote on his LinkedIn bio.
Its advantage: his perfect mastery of the free software world and therefore his defense of digital sovereignty, a highly political topic.
Henri Verdier, the digital ambassador
Henri Verdier is a well-known figure in the digital world. He has been an ambassador for digital affairs since November 2018. A position consisting of representing France in international institutions on all digital topics (cybersecurity, freedom of expression, network management, etc.). This graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure previously headed the Interministerial Directorate for Digital and the State Information and Communication System (Dinsic).
He was also general manager of data, whose role is to monitor and improve the use of data by the administration and its operators. From 2013 to 2015, Henri Verdier led the Etalab mission, which in particular coordinates the policy of openness and the sharing of public data. His entire career was not made public. He was responsible for innovation at the business development director of Lagardère and managing director of Odile Jacob Multimedia.
Its advantage: his expertise in technical subjects and his diplomatic cap.
Frédéric Mazzella, the iconic boss of French Tech
He is one of French Tech’s best known personalities, if not THE best known. Frédéric Mazzella is the founder and president of BlaBlaCar. Since the end of 2018, he is also co-chair of the French Digital Association, which brings together more than 1,800 French tech entrepreneurs and investors. In recent years he has also invested in numerous start-ups such as Le Slip Français, Zenpark, Onoff (telecom) and La Vie (alternative proteins).
He is also a member of the board of directors of Polytechnique and Renault. Among his many hats, he lacks that of politics. “I want to go back to entrepreneurship, but I’m working on one subject at a time, stay tuned! he entrusted the “Echos” on the occasion of the publication of his book “Mission BlaBlaCar: behind the scenes of the creation of a phenomenon”. A book that naturally looks back on the success of BlaBlaCar, but which above all turns out to be a guide for starting entrepreneurs, with advice and winning methods from other start-ups.
Its advantage: his fame and his involvement in France Digital. But if he takes the position, he will have to step back on certain points.