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What do a ballerina, a business angel and a winemaker have in common? The answer is they were all honored at the 6th annual French-American Business Awards (the FABAs) held in San Francisco at the end of May.
The event, organized by the French-American Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco in association with Leaders League, celebrates the best and the brightest French talent currently working in the Bay Area.
For Antoine Villata, the chamber of commerce’s president, the contribution of Ron Conway – an investor and philanthropist often called the Super Angel of Silicon Valley who picked up the French Spirit Investor award at the event – was one of the highlights of the evening.
“Ron is considered the godfather of Silicon Valley investors, for his many early-stage bets, in particularly those on Facebook, Airbnb and Twitter, via his SV Angel fund, and for his many philanthropic acts,” stated Villata who added that Conway’s presence was made possible following a meeting between the San Franciscan and Emmanuel Macron at the end of 2018. Addressing attendees at the FABAs, Conway confirmed the strong interest in France and its startups by Silicon Valley, especially in the current favorable political and economic context in France.
The business angel took part in one of the ‘fireside chats’ that punctuated the evening, with others featuring Alex Dayon, president and chief strategy officer of Salesforce, and Mathilde Froustey (pictured), a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. The latter, from Dax in southwest France, quit the Opera de Paris in 2013 to join the Bay Area company. She spoke about her new project, called La Maison, an artist-run initiative, venue and residency based in Oakland that provides a free space for artists of all practices to meet, collaborate, perform and exhibit their work.
As regards tech, startups Farmwise and Checker went away with Young Entrepreneurs in Tech awards.
Finally, as with every year, a significant part of the night was dedicated to the world of wine, where the links between France and Napa Valley grow ever stronger.
Laurence Fabre, director of the chamber of commerce, stressed that Silicon Valley was the ideal sounding board for budding French startups. “In Silicon Valley you can make a bigger splash, faster and at a global level than anywhere else. You are in the shop window, but you still need to work hard to succeed,” she said.
The French-American Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco is a non-profit, non-governmental and member-driven organization. Its mission is to foster the French-American business community and to support companies settle and develop in Northern California.