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Iliad’s Niel, Vente-Privee’s Granjon Open Paris Startup School

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Three of France’s most successful Internet entrepreneurs opened a school for budding startup developers today in Paris, part of an effort to encourage new Web businesses.

Iliad SA founder Xavier Niel, founder Jacques-Antoine Granjon, and Marc Simoncini, who started Meetic SA, are backing the European School of Internet Professions, which will welcome its first students in September. The school will take over part of the former Paris stock exchange building, where the three founders appeared at a press conference today with Industry Minister Eric Besson, and teach practical business and technical skills to would-be entrepreneurs.

France’s government is deepening ties with Web businesses, looking to overcome an image of hostility to the field’s largest companies. President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said in 2009 that France might be “deprived of our heritage” by Google Inc.’s book-scanning project, Google Books, last month invited technology executives including Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg to Paris, where they and French officials discussed online regulation and ways to encourage startups.

Besson, who has backed efforts to force Internet companies like Google to compensate telecommunications providers for network investments, today hailed “the dynamism and success of these entrepreneurs, models of French success.” Technological education in France needs to be upgraded to sustain the development and growth of Web companies, he said.

Expansion Possibilities

The new school will offer three-year courses, with about 200 students starting this year. If successful, the concept may be expanded to other French cities and eventually to other European countries, the founders said today.

All three men are active venture-capital investors. Simoncini, who last month agreed to sell a 16 percent stake in dating-site operator Meetic to IAC/InterActiveCorp, said he wouldn’t exclude the possibility of investing in startups hatched at the school.

Iliad, based in Paris, provides broadband Internet service. Vente-Privee is an online retailer of discounted designer brands.

To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Campbell in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at

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