Carlos Diaz, a founder of the Pigeon movement, gets a hug from the President of France and voilà: one symbolic photo captures the goal of Hollande’s visit to San Francisco: to show his commitment to supporting innovative entrepreneurship.
The Pigeon movement, a group of eager young entrepreneurs, has been ruffling the French government’s feathers since the current administration announced a plan to tax capital gains at a rate they deemed prohibitive. September 27, 2012 was the breaking point for Carlos Diaz. “I posted a disapproving comment on Facebook regarding the financing acts announced for 2013,” he explains, “and over the weekend it just snowballed. I instantly had a significant following which quickly grew to 5,000! When we hit 75,000 we had to organize ourselves obviously, but in the beginning this movement was completely spontaneous.”
Nearly a year and a half later, Carlos Diaz is a happy man. He attended the President’s round table in the company of a few other “French tech” entrepreneurs, as François Hollande himself calls them, and even had the courage to ask him for a hug. “Can you, as President Obama does with his American entrepreneurs, really hug French entrepreneurs as well?” he asked the President. François Hollande did just that, to applause from French-American entrepreneurs in attendance.
“At first we were ignored, but not for long, then challenged, and finally we were heard. It’s true that our ideas were widely spread by the media. For a while, the government thought we were part of some political scheme, but today we are committed to our work.”
President Hollande clearly directed his speech to French entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, calling on them to be proud. He particularly set out a list of promises to entrepreneurs, notably announcing that there will be “a system of incentives, which mirrors that of the United States, for the ‘collaborative financing’ of young innovative French companies.”
“I am surprised by his speech, but grateful,” declared Carlos Diaz. “He said what needed to be said, and what we wanted to hear.”
When asked what he would do if all these declarations turned out to be one big smoke screen, he declared with his unwavering spirit and confidence, “the government could count on us to ruffle its feathers if it gives us reason to do so. We have no political agenda, we are very pragmatic. I currently support the government, but if I no longer agree in the future, I will fight against this very government.”