Caricaturing himself, Erhmann is neither a wizard nor
a guru but a deeply committed contemporary entrepreneur and probably
a visionary in his own business field.
A hint of Citizen
Kane surrounds the Serveur group Chairman. Information-hungry, he makes
hard-hitting comments about present-day social behaviour. For him, economics
is not only about money!
WHOLESALER IN INFORMATION
Thierry Ehrmann's strength was a simple idea, nourished by hours spent
in reading and analysis. Basically, he searches public records, document
libraries, official reports and legal publications to mine raw data which
he then processes, organises, enhances and publishes to wide audiences
in a host of databanks. The European directive issued on March 11, 1996,
even gave him the specific right, known as sui generis to protect the
contents of his databases from appropriation by competitors or end users.
Founded in 1987, the
Serveur Group now has thirteen subsidiaries, tvvo of which are quoted,
and ten minority interests. The product is over 90 usable data banks and
sales of approximately 73 million euros in 2001 (479 MFRF) for a payroll
of 400 people all over the wor d. The top money-spinners in this beautiful
information industry are Artprice.com, the Legal" Server and
the Administration Server. The latter two are vital for Europes
lawyers and lawmakers, and the first is the worlds most biggest
price data bank for paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, posters and
photographs... The prices for over 180,000 artists are updated all the
time - and a million biographies. All this data is for sale. For Thierry
Ehrmann free information is a here-sy". But these are just
a start. A data trader", he is currently finalising a wine
database and dreams of buying the press assets of Drouot (the French Sothebys)
- the Gazette de IHôtel Drouet, the Moniteur
des Ventes and their web portal.
He is currently negotiating
the flotation of his whole Group on the Stock Exchange and expects to
raise 120 to 150 million euros. The financial institutions who until recently
did not take him seriously, are now paying attention. For Louis Thannberger,
French ULS Manitou, Thierry Ehrmann is quite simply someone with "
a huge future, who will peak in less than three years".
THE MAN IN BLACK
Thierry Ehrmanns problem is very simple. He always has some comment
on the world he sees under his microscope. News-hungry he spends three
hours on the papers each and every morning in his favourite bistro. Opinions
about him differ. He is thought to be very left wing because he has two
portraits of Mao in his fiefdom in Saint-Romain-au-Mont-dOr. He
is said to be very right wing because of some quotes taken out of context.
Youthful, smiling, usually dressed in black he seems friendly and honest.
He rushes you through the old coachin inn in which he has his bee-hive
offices full of young people feeding insatiable data banks and as many
beautiful works of art as computers! You cross the garden which, apart
from the portrait of Mao in the open air under a gallery, probably in
a cultural rectification phase, is quite ordinary. You enter, on the ground
floor of the family home, an old barn transformed into a vast black, black,
black, office. Even the tables and partitions are black. We discuss Alors
the monthly news and culture magazine he recently launched. He says cultural
bracket and reverts to his main business. Above all we are
information historians because we do not know how to write three lines
of our database contents. We look for deep data sources which we update
before publishing them on the network. He speaks amazingly quickly,
sprinkling his words with cyber strip cartoon sauce and legal jargon as
he says he is ready to litigate to defend his profession. Caricaturing
himself, Erhmann is neither a wizard nor a guru but a deeply committed
contemporary entrepreneur and probably a visionary in his own business
field. Far from limiting himself to break-even points, he worries about
sea-changes in society since the horse of history bolted on
September 11. Comments reporters love.
by Nancy Furer ©
2002 LYON-INTERNATIONAL Magazine