Historic Moment: Latin American Web Takes Flight

Latin American Web InvestmentIt’s been quite a week which, for myself and others such as Felipe DeConce (Chile) and Simon Olson (Brazil), marks an inflection point in the world of Latin American web start-ups. As I mentioned in the article published in VentureBeat and NYTimes.com, US web start-ups are starting to acquire Latin American web companies much earlier in their development process. For example, witness the recent actions by Groupon and Playdom in rapidly acquiring web companies in Latin America.

Also, I wanted to write said article because I’ve been observing the funding process of a few Latin American start-ups looking for funding in the states and I wanted to get something published on the Latin America web investment opportunities which start-ups could reference with international investors.  Although I wasn’t able to go too much into detail, I highlighted the fact that I feel Latin America offers what Warren Buffett looks for in investments which are defensible “moats” around great profit margins and growing competitive advantage.

Aditionally, VentureBeat published an article I wrote about Netactica, an Argentine web company offering end-to-end solutions to the online travel industry in Latin America.  Incredibly, yesterday, Google acquired ITA Software (relatively similar to Netactica in Latin America) in a demonstration that there is much value in these types of end-to-end solution providers in online travel.  According to a number of analysts, this acquisition changes the dynamics of the online travel booking and search market. Personally, I think that a player like Netactica has much to gain with this turn of events and, with the increasing interest on the part of international investors in Latin America, the company should benefit quite a bit.

As if this weren’t enough, I spoke last week with Fernando LaBastida and Ricardo Guerrero who have an excellent initiative with the organizers of SXSW in Austin (they live there) to include a panel on Latin America during  the next event in 2011.  Nevertheless, in order to make sure there is interest on the part of audience members, it’s important for people to suggest ideas for the panel.

I’m completely serious when I say that this week was a critical moment for the development of Latin American web start-ups.  You can be certain that investor interest will now start to accelerate at an amazingly fast pace.  Now, we need to find the most talented technical and non-technical people in the region so that these can focus on digital innovation.

In order to accelerate this, Thomas Floracks and myself are launching a weekly show (we haven’t decided the day and time, yet) so that, among other things, we can analyze one or two interesting initiatives during the show.  Note: for now, we’ll do it in Spanish, but will do a shorter recap show in English if there is interest. More details on this are coming soon.  It’s a good moment to launch this show because we need to elevate the conversation beyond comments like “look at my neat website” or “I’m going to sell xyz on the internet.”  It’s time for clear paths to profitability and solving real customer problems.