Incubators are multiplying, France seems to have a high position (and is certainly better than perceived…) in the world rankings.
At the same time, all companies are involved in one or even many “digitisation” projects. There is an ever-increasing number of smartphone and tablet applications. “Cross-channel” issues are increasingly being taken into account by traders to manage “customer experience” and increase their revenues. Uberisation is sought for each sector of activity. The concept of “disruption” is the new martingale.
No group wants to end up like Kodak.
New posts are being created, such as Chief Digital Officer (CDO).
Start-ups, often with limited resources, seek safeguards for launching their activity, their first contracts, their next fundraising, etc. by means of contracts that are generally in the form of general terms, so as to avoid any negotiation which would sometimes be difficult form them to conduct, especially against large groups.
These same large groups are all the keener to secure their investments as they are taking a significant risk by using smaller firms, which may indeed be very dynamic and innovative, but have an uncertain future in terms of client development and funding and, ultimately, the sustainability of their technologies.
They sometimes want to impose standard form contracts, with their myriad of schedules and commitments, on start-ups. Some of these start-ups are very quick to sign them without even understanding the true legal scope of what they provide because they lack the means to negotiate them and are in a hurry to obtain their initial financing and commercial references. Others, on the other hand, are determined not to accept any contractual clause that would hinder their ability to raise funds.
In this context, sometimes the language of these two separate worlds is different: a series of obligations de resultat [French obligation of result] for the large groups basing one of their strategic activities on the application of a start-up, that itself can only undertake obligation de moyens [French obligation of reasonable effort] without having any SLA to show…
With our experience with both start-ups and large groups (EY, PwC), our (non-exhaustive) approach to such problems is pragmatic.