From Frederic Filloux (lightly edited):
Google is a pure product of what France misses the most: a strong and diversified engineering pipeline supported by a business-oriented education system, and access to abundant capital. France ranks in the 76 to 100 group with the University of Bordeaux; 101 to 150 for the highly regarded Ecole Normale Supérieure; and the much celebrated Ecole Polytechnique sits deep in the 150-200 group – with a minuscule faculty of … 7 CS professors. That’s the reality of computer science education in the most prestigious engineering school in France. As for access to capital, two numbers say it all: according to its own trade association, the size of the French venture capital sector is 1/33th of the US’ while the GDP ratio is only 1 to 6.
I should add: the high end of the French education system is very good on the whole. There’s more than a little irony in its weakness in computer science, given its long history in engineering and applied math. The VC environment, though, is absolutely right, it’s not part of the culture. One result: you see lots of French people in London, New York, Silicon Valley, etc. We say thank you!