Published on : 02/14/2020 – 13:15
The economic portrait of the week is that of Octave Klaba, the founder of OVHcloud. A company that has become in twenty years the European leader in the cloud, cloud computing. OVH plays in the big leagues, that of Amazon, IBM and Microsoft.
Like many tech bosses, Octave Klaba looks like a teenager. At 45, this big fellow with a chubby face, at the head of a group weighing one billion euros, is rather relaxed. He also allowed himself to play the guitar at the last annual summit of his company.
His model : Steve Jobs
He’s cool as was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, and one of his models. And this is not a posture. The opposite of snobbery, he chose to set up his business in Roubaix, one of the poorest cities in France.
And not just because the land is cheap there. ” Somewhere, it was funny to imagine that we could do something from Roubaix, where we say ‘There is nothing, it is disaster’. Well no, there are good people, he explains. And today when we look at the impact we have, it gives hope to the city, it gives people hope, and I like this typology of impact where the ‘we are the opposite of what is being done. And since we do things that people don’t usually do, we are successful. “
A claimed paranoia
The Klaba family history explains the qualities of Octave. His sense of solidarity, first, but also his claimed paranoia. Because Octave grew up in Poland in a family watched over by the communist regime. When he arrives in France after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he already has a strong sense of protection of privacy, and of users’ personal data.
” The KGB, the different typologies of the persecution, we experienced them quite strongly, and therefore we were very happy to come to France, and to be able to free ourselves from this paranoia in which we live with the Communists. On the internet, if you’re not paranoid, you get hacked, you get your data stolen, and so it helps me run the business. “
The protection of personal data is a permanent concern, it has also become a commercial argument, especially against the Americans IBM and Microsoft, whose data are likely to be monitored by American intelligence agencies. According to Octave Klaba; Europe is therefore the continent that best protects personal data. But Europe is also a profession of faith for Octave Klaba.
” I created OVH in 1999, as early as 2004, I defined that we had to be a European company, so I went to Germany, to Poland, I created a dozen subsidiaries in three or four years. And I lived this Europe from the inside with a concern, it is that in fact, there is not Europe but populations. You have to be close to them, you have to work with them and understand them, in their differences but also in their similarities. And create products that look like them. I have the impression that there is a share that must be contributed by the entrepreneurs. Because this is where there is hope in relation to their job, in relation to the impact that we can have. “
The story of OVH and Octave Klaba is that of a web host, which has become a cloud giant in two decades, that of a company that grows by 20 to 30% per year , that of a family too, because Octave Henryk’s father invented a data center water cooling system for his son. Finally, it is the story of a man who conquered Europe, America and Asia and who now looks to Africa.
” Doing business is fun. Making money is necessary. But doing it with people is my daily life and I want to continue it as long as I can do it. “