Xavier Niel, portrait du créateur de Free

Xavier Niel, portrait of the Internet pioneer in France



Discover the career of entrepreneur and investor Xavier Niel: his beginnings, his successes and his hobbies.

Who is Xavier Niel?

Born in 1967 to an accountant mother and a lawyer father, Xavier Niel discovered a passion for IT at the age of 15 when he received a Sinclair ZX81 computer.

Quickly, he learns how to program and develops software that will allow him to make a fortune thanks to the Minitel Rose, namely the use of the ancestor of the Internet to take advantage of erotic services such as sulphurous conversations for example.

Pioneer of the Internet in France with the Minitel Rose, Xavier Niel bought Fermic Multimedia in 1990, which he renamed Iliad, and Worldnet in 1995, which enabled him to develop his triple play offer at less than 30 euros per month and the box concept in 2002 with the Freebox.

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Xavier Niel, founder of Iliad (Free)

Founder of the major French telecommunications group Iliad, Xavier Niel revolutionized the world of Internet access with Free and of mobile telephony with Free Mobile. Created in 1999, the Iliad Group is indeed the inventor of the 1time triple-play box in the world (internet, telephony, television) which it offered at an unbeatable price in the early 2000s.

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Station F: the creation of the largest start-up hub in the world by Xavier Niel

The largest start-up campus in the world located in Paris, Station F supports the initiatives and innovations of start-up creators, so that they can become truly successful companies. Inaugurated in mid-2017, Xavier Niel has made Station F a place of iconic diversity in French Tech and a real bridge for those who wish to become players in the economy.

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Xavier Niel, entrepreneur and investor in many companies

Xavier Niel is also an ultra-active entrepreneur and business angel in many sectors of activity.

The world of Tech

The founder of Free particularly likes investing to support young companies in the world of Tech, such as through his Station F incubator and especially through his discreet minority stakes in companies before they became popular, as he did with AirBnb, Square , Deezer, Uber, Snapchat or even Sorare.

The media world

Since 2010, he has also invested in many start-ups in the media world such as Mediapart and in several major media projects such as the recapitalization of Groupe Le Monde or the takeover of Groupe Nice-Matin.

The world of education

Education is also one of the industries in which Xavier Niel invests a lot. With two other web celebrities, Xavier Niel, for example, launched the European School of Internet Professions (EEMI) in 2011. With several other partners, he also launched computer training in 2013 via 42 schools. In 2021, he turned to the agricultural sector with the Hectar agricultural school. And in 2022, the Albert School will open its doors to offer a unique business school curriculum centered on data.

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Interests and hobbies of Xavier Niel

Among Xavier Niel’s hobbies, there is a rather unusual activity: exploring the catacombs of Paris. In love with these descents allowing him to survey the kilometers of the Parisian basement, Xavier Niel speaks very little about this center of interest of a rather closed environment whose secrets must be well kept.

It would also seem that Xavier Niel has a passion for real estate, particularly for the “entrepreneurial adventure that we want to associate with it” aspect. He was thus able to build an impressive real estate portfolio with prestigious properties, particularly in Paris. His latest acquisition is that of the Hôtel Lambert in the French capital for 200 million euros. According to Bloomberg, it would be his largest real estate investment to date.

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Quote from Xavier Niel

I always follow the same idea: start small and scale up to create something big. »

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Image source: Twitter

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