Stéphane Le Viet, who earned a Master’s in applied mathematics at Harvard University, started a U.S.-based company while still living in France that helps other companies advertise jobs on Facebook. After earning a hefty round of financing, he’ll be moving to the United States on an investor visa this fall.
Stéphane Le Viet, a 32-year-old tech entrepreneur from Paris, didn’t take a typical path to become an immigrant entrepreneur. Le Viet originally moved to the United States in 2003 to earn a Master’s degree in applied mathematics at Harvard University. He then worked for almost two years as a consultant in New York, before returning to Europe to be closer to his family. After founding one French startup company, however, he knew his follow-up venture, Work4 Labs, needed to be based on U.S. soil.
Work4 Labs, which allows firms to post job ads to their Facebook pages—and target promising potential workers through other Facebook ads—would be better able to work with the social-networking giant if it, too, were based in California. “With my last firm, I felt like I was a little French company trying to sell to international partners,” Stéphane says, “A Silicon Valley company is much more powerful.”
In the initial years of his firm, however, Stéphane remained in France with his family. He hired his first U.S. employee, a programmer who had recently graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, on a Skype call in 2010, and coordinated with staff over e-mail and during his frequent U.S. visits.
Now, three and a half years later, his San Francisco-based company is booming. The firm has raised over $17 million in venture capital, and the job-posting platform has been used in more than 50 countries by more than 20,000 companies, including Intel, Accenture, and American Apparel. Work4 Labs also currently employs 70 people, two thirds of whom are U.S. citizens based in America. “We like to say we’re an American company in all aspects,” Stéphane says, “We were just founded by two Frenchmen.”
But soon, Stéphane, too, will be a full-time American. Thanks to the success of his company, Stéphane is currently in the process of obtaining an E2 visa, which will allow him to move to the United States this September as the head of a major firm. He says that being in the same office as his employees will be “transformative” for his firm, and will help it continue to expand rapidly—something that could affect a large pool of workers. Work4 Labs’s clients have already used Facebook to post almost 10 million job ads globally, many targeting blue-collar workers, a group not well represented on competitor sites like LinkedIn.