I think the biggest challenge continues to be the lack of experienced talent, especially for later-stage companies and especially in the areas of sales, marketing and product. We just don't have the decades of large companies and start-up history that has churned out legions of people who've seen it and done it before. We will get there but some things are hard to accelerate. I think the great strength of Europe's ecosystem is the plurality of industrial background we have. While Europe may not have the depth of pure technology experience that, say, the Bay Area does, I would argue we understand finance, fashion, food, manufacturing, aerospace and more at least as well, if not better. As software eats the world, these skills and this know-how will become crucial in building companies that are about technology but also the context in which that technology will be used.
The pool of tech talent in Europe is improving quickly in quality and seniority, but there is still a way to go when you compare it with the pool in other larger ecosystems, like those in the Valley. We're attracting talent from the bigger, more established tech brands, and those bring with them experience and learning from more established markets. This is a good thing for Europe, but it will also be important to ensure European businesses don't become clones of those in, for example, the US. Europe has its own startup style, and I'd love to see that remain a strength.
We still need to see more startups convert to scale-ups. One of the challenges is that as our companies scale there is a small pool of experienced startup execs in Europe, particularly those who have taken a startup beyond a couple of hundred people. Competition to hire experienced startup COOs and CMOs right now is fierce! The European ecosystem's greatest strength continues to be the quality of technical talent, particularly those coming out of some of Europe's world class universities. It's exciting to see more and more of these technologists consider a career as a founder, or in a startup, and this creates a bright long-term future for Europe.
There is now an abundance of talent across engineering, product, design and growth. Founders don't need to move any more to build world-class teams, because they're finding that talent at home - whether it be from home-grown successes like Adyen, Spotify, FarFetch or US tech companies who've expanded here, or from top engineering schools. It's advantageous and easier to hire from your network locally, and founders are playing to their strengths.
French Tech is leapfrogging the usual ecosystem development curve in 2019. Four years ago, serious capital was hard to come by. Today, our startups are raising mega-round after mega-round. Our total number of unicorns doubled in six months. And that was before President Macron announced €5B making its way into the tech ecosystem or that he grew the French Tech Mission 10x, making us the biggest (and baddest) pro-startup team inside modern government. The best part is that thanks to another 2019 milestone, we're open: When you join a French startup, our new French Tech talent visa can get you and your family here in a matter of weeks with a 4-year residence permit. À bientôt!