(Bloomberg) — What began as a micro-loan from a billionaire, a moving van, and the name P19, now intends to push into the U.S. and rival Amazon.com Inc.'s $12-billion-plus cloud business.
The name stands for Paris and its 19th district, where 42-year-old Octave Klaba set up his first data center after borrowing money from fellow entrepreneur and one of France's richest people, Xavier Niel, and moving equipment back and forth from hometown Roubaix in the north of France.
Started in 1999, OVH Groupe SAS now has a valuation over $1 billion and is expanding to the U.S., with KKR & Co. and TowerBrook Capital Partners as backers.
"It's too late for new players who'd want to enter the market at this point, but for us everything remains possible," Klaba said in an interview in Paris. "Now is the crucial moment for us. We have three years to become a giant, or fail."
The company builds servers that it assembles into huge cloud computing data centers, leasing out storage and processing power to customers such as tire-maker Michelin, insurer AG2R La Mondiale and British rail ticket retailer Trainline.
But unlike Amazon Web Services, which both hosts and competes with Netflix Inc.'s video content, OVH is a pure-player, avoiding the uncomfortable position of being a threat to customers, Klaba said.
In Europe it has been able to grow sales 30 percent per year and generate profit, flourishing as everything from vehicles to factories become connected
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