Laurent Allard, CEO of OVH, during the New York, NY stop of the OVH World Tour in June 2015
Laurent Allard, CEO of OVH, during the New York, NY stop of the OVH World Tour in June 2015, I was lucky enough to attend this event where OVH shared a bit of its North American strategy / Photo (C) JG Perrin.

OVH is one of France’s unicorn. Although it is privately held, there is no way to make a public valuation, but the hosting & cloud supplier can be valued over this $1b threshold.

OVH is not well-known in the US. The company, created by Octave Klaba, as he was a student, in 1999. The well-managed company started to grow steadily and owned his first data center in 2002. International development started quickly after that with subsidiary in Poland – from where the Klaba family came to France in 1991, Senegal, and Spain. Today the company is present in 3 continents, owns 17 data centers, and is about 1,000 employees, mostly in the North of France, an area who suffered from economic depression. Wikipedia covers the history in a fairly honest (read: not glamorous) way.

What I find interesting in companies like OVH is that they are managed by smart people. When Octave felt that he could not manage both the technical and business part of the company, he hired Laurent Allard. First, Laurent has an impressive resume, but he is also coming from Roubaix, sharing the same culture that Octave discover as a teen when coming to France. OVH’s slogan, innovation is freedom, is really in sync with the company’s spirit. I like to call that “pragmatic innovation”. OVH is pretty secretive about a lot of what they do and you need to look at external sign of innovation. One of these signs is their data center in Quebec, Canada, where they up-cycled an old aluminum foundry into a data foundry, saving on building, infrastructure, and energy as it is next to a dam…

Today, OVH revealed an 800m€ ($900m) plan to create 12 new data centers, among them, at least 2 will be in the United States. This budget may grow to 1b€ ($1.15b). Each datacenter represents a budget between $5m to $10m. With this sane mentality, Octave owning 100% of the company, OVH does not need to raise money, but simply to borrow it from the bank. Another sign of intelligence…

OVH, welcome to the United States!

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