Last week, Back Market wrapped up another round that was as creamy as a bottle of Baileys. We would have loved to share the news with you lightly – as for our previous tricks. But this capital increase has a bittersweet taste for us, at a time when the French government is threatening the activity of our historic partner reconditioners.
We often reproach the companies of our glorious startup nation to be above ground, as if disconnected from “the lives of real people”.
As the founders of one of those scale-up-in-phase-of-hyper-growth-it’s-truly-incredible-what-you-are-building-(to paraphrase BFM -business) we obviously wonder about this possible disconnection: how to bring more diversity and parity to key Back Market positions? How can we better distribute the value created in our company? How to internationalize our business while consolidating local sectors, etc. ?
The terms of these questions, as well as the answers to them, are often more complex than they appear. But there are times when there is frankly no debate. Times when we realize that yes, indeed, the boastful declamations of the French Tech are totally out of step with the reality on the ground.
The announcement of our new fundraiser gives us the unpleasant impression of being part of it.
Because at the time when we signed a capital increase of 276 million euros with extremely reputable funds (including that of Al Gore, excuse us of the little) an unprecedented threat hangs over the economic model of French reconditioners – for most of Back Market’s historical partners. We will try to explain the content here, without overwhelming you with legal terms.
When the French state asks us to choose between culture and ecology.
The threat in question has, as much to say it from the outset, been a real good idea for almost 35 years. This is the private copying levy, which dates from 1985. This consists of paying financial compensation for a right from which everyone benefits on a daily basis; that of freely duplicating protected, legally acquired works for strictly personal use. In simple: for every phone, computer, hard drive, etc. sold new, a fraction of the price goes to finance the beneficiaries of the world of culture.
Where the shoe pinch is that the French government now wants to apply this royalty to reconditioned products. Which constitutes a double injustice. For consumers first – who will see their purchasing power eroded by a new tax, which will also sometimes be paid twice (when buying the new product, then again once this product is sold repackaged). Then for reconditioners – because this fee (€ 14 per device reconditioned on average) will obviously cut their margins and reduce their competitiveness.
The irony of the story is that the government is trying to slip this particularly dangerous provision for repackaged players into a package of law aimed precisely at reducing the impact of digital technology on the environment.
On our side, we tried (almost) all means to explain to the legislator that he was on the verge of endangering hundreds of jobs throughout France and cutting off everyone’s wings. part of the circular economy remade in France. But it seems that we are still a bit less strong in lobbying than Monsanto.
The window of fire to prevent the vote of this law is narrowing day by day, it is difficult for us to slash the champagne to celebrate our new fundraising. We can certainly be delighted with what it foreshadows for Back Market, both in terms of international development and that of the services offered to partner merchants and our customers. But the promise of these future successes also reminds us of our first successes – and to the companies to which we owe them: the very idea of our model, unique in the world, was born precisely from the discovery of these reconditioners that the State puts today in peril.
If you want to relay this article to give it some echo, it shouldn’t hurt. And if you add a little #saving the occasion with it, we’ll send you some Schokobons *.
* Absolutely non-contractual offer
And I promise, if the government withdraws this dark provision at the last minute, we will give you a great enthusiastic article, full of anglicisms and ping-pong tables to the glory of our scale-up and his future all dressed in light. With a nice unicorn photo in addition.
Thibaud, Quentin and Vianney
Co-founders of Back Market