Limited Partner / SparkLabs Global Ventures
Xavier Niel is the founder and majority shareholder of the French Internet service provider and mobile operator, Iliad, which is the parent company of Free (France’s 2nd largest ISP, and 3rd largest mobile operator). He is also co-owner of the newspaper, Le Monde.
Free Mobile, which Niel launched in 2012, sells unlimited calls, texts and Internet for half the price of similar services sold by France's other three telecom networks. Niel continues to expand in Europe, particularly in Italy.
Since disposing of a 15% stake in Telecom Italia, Iliad has agreed to buy assets from CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. and VimpelCom Ltd. to create a fourth mobile-phone network in Italy. His portfolio includes ownership of Monaco Telecom and Orange Switzerland, the latter of which he acquired in 2014 for $2.9 billion. Niel's first venture, WorldNet, was also France's first Internet provider. He started it in 1993 at age 25, and exited seven years later for more than $50 million.
Niel funds technology startups through his Kima Ventures. In 2013, Niel created 42, an IT school designed to train computer specialists for free. He has also financed the construction of a $216 million startup incubator, Station F, which opened in Paris in June 2017.