New musical chair game at the head of the French search engine Qwant. Its founder, Eric Léandri, leaves the presidency of the company. The main shareholders of the company – Caisse des Dépôts and the German group Axel Springer – decided to entrust the reins to Jean-Claude Ghinozzi, who until then had directed marketing and commercial activities. The teams were to be notified, Thursday, January 9 in the morning.
This change is accompanied by a strengthening of shareholder control over the running of the business. Antoine Troesch, director of investment at Banque des Territoires – one of the five departments of Caisse des Dépôts – is called upon to take the power of a governance council which is responsible for decisions relating to strategic changes or incurring expenses important will have to be submitted. Shareholders will also have more board seats.
This takeover must be read in light of the new investment that the two main shareholders of the search engine have decided to make, while the company, created in 2011, continues to lose money.
Clarify company strategy
Between the two of them, they could, according to our information, reinject ten million euros to allow Qwant to continue its development. A way for Caisse des Dépôts to secure the future of a company widely praised by the public authorities as the best alternative to Google in terms of search engine respectful of personal data of users. And which is poised to become the default engine of the French administration.
Even if the latest indicators are encouraging (turnover growth to just under 10 million euros, audience growth, etc.), Qwant shareholders' expectations of Mr. Ghizzoni are clear. He must clarify the company's strategy to focus on the essentials: improving the reliability of the search engine, which is still imperfect, and achieving financial equilibrium. In the first part of 2019, losses amounted to around 1 million euros per month. ” [Or], at the Caisse des Dépôts, we are saving the money we invest “, recalls Mr. Troesch, convinced that levers can be quickly activated to contain expenses.
The new boss of Qwant will in particular have to improve the monetization of the service. This should involve better exploitation of the shopping activity and mobile traffic. “There are still parts of our inventory from which we do not profit”, he readily admits. It will probably also have to cut spending. This could involve reducing operating costs, but also abandoning development projects that would not be considered strategic. Mr. Ghizzoni, who arrived in August 2017 after six years at Microsoft, will have to present a more specific plan to the supervisory board in the coming weeks.