France

EY - France winner

Octave Klaba

Founder

OVH


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In 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Octave Klaba and his parents left Poland with their entire life packed in the trunk of the car. Once in France, the 16-year-old Octave went back to school, but he had to join an eighth-grade class as he could not speak a word of French.

As a student, Octave managed to carve out time to develop his own website. It expanded so quickly, his American hosting service struggled to keep pace before finally crashing. Octave caught the first flight to the US determined to repair his host’s servers. On his return he decided to create his own servers. He borrowed nearly US$5,000 from his parents and founded OVH in 1999.

In 18 years, he has turned his passion project into Europe’s leader in cloud computing. OVH became a tech unicorn last year when its valuation surpassed US$1b. It now operates in 18 countries on 5 continents. The company offers public and private cloud platforms, virtual private servers, dedicated servers, and an array of web hosting and telecommunications services. It remains the only non-American cloud server.

In the past 18 months alone, the company has almost doubled in size from 1,400 employees to nearly 2,500. Octave describes his workforce as “the heart of the business” and adopts a horizontal organization to maintain a startup dynamic.

In spite of this rapid growth, Octave still believes it’s important to limit the company’s impact on the environment. OVH has developed an innovative water-cooling system for its servers, which makes them much more energy-efficient. His ultimate goal, however, is to create a more transparent internet. While some web giants offer closed, restricted ecosystems, Octave wants his system to be open and reversible.