• A Thank You message to two awesome Paisas

    TropicalGringo Thank YouAn article was recently published by Philip Beere, a Business Development and Sustainability expert from the US, about his takeaways and critique of the innovation environment in Medellin (after his spending some time in that city).  Philip interviewed me  for the article, but because of the focus of his piece, something very important to me (thanking two instrumental people from Medellin, “Paisas”) was not within the scope of Philip’s topic so I’d like to take a moment and send Luis Florez and Juan Pablo Ortega a personal and public thank you message.

    In a prior life, I spent five years working on initiatives to support new founders by connecting them with local and international entrepreneurs and by offering my advice from my years working at Silicon Valley startups and as a Venture Capitalist.  I feel incredibly satisfied with what I, and especially a great network of mentors, were able to accomplish. Nonetheless, after going deeply into debt and arriving at a grouchy old age where I became sick of a lot of silliness (I’m being diplomatic with that word) that takes place within the public “ecosystem” in Colombia, I decided to go back to the corporate world (my family is thanking me for that) as well as focusing on those early stage startups that I truly believe in as an advisor and shareholder.

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  • How Microsoft should respond to Slack’s letter

    microsoft-slackI find Slack’s recent move to publish an open letter to Microsoft incredibly interesting.  This in response to Microsoft’s upcoming launch of it’s Teams product.  The traditional strategy, I suppose, would be for the larger company to ignore such a message as a marketing ploy. Nonetheless, it certainly would be fun if Microsoft would reply.

    I’m sure I haven’t analyzed it enough from all angles, but this just seems like a unique opportunity for Microsoft to communicate the type of company it seems to have become (though still on that long road to getting “there”).  By responding to a smaller company (in valuation and sales only) directly and bucking conventional marketing wisdom, it can send the right type of message.  Obviously, I have the luxury of not worrying about multibillion dollar liabilities and other scary things like that, but we’ll forget about that small detail for now.

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  • Observations on Latin American startups

    tropicalgringo-startups

    In this post, I’d like to give my general impressions on the state of startups in Latin America.  There are much more thorough posts on the subject such as those from the impressive Omar Tellez on Techcrunch.  Also, as usual, Conrad Egusa, CEO of Publicize, has published incredibly thorough and well-written reviews of the startup ecosystems in Mexico, Chile and Colombia.  Federico Antoni wrote a comprehensive article on the exciting Fintech space in Mexico.  Nonetheless, I’m going to offer a more general impression of the state of startups with personal opinions and points of view.  I name some startups below, but am missing some important names so I ask that you include the names that I’ve missed in the comments section.

    A little more about my particular point of view. I was born and raised in the US.  Although I grew up in Pennsylvania, I lived in Silicon Valley for five years and worked at startups such as Santa Cruz Operation (Santa Cruz) and NetManage (Cupertino).  I, also, wrote and edited articles for InfoWorld Magazine (Menlo Park).  Nonetheless, my parents were from Colombia, South America and the “adventurer” in me drove me to check out the expat lifestyle and move down here.  It’s been great and I am eternally grateful for finding the woman of my dreams (from Cartagena) and being blessed with two wonderful children.
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  • Transformación de negocios crea inmensas oportunidades con algunas nubes

    oportunidades-digitales-nubes-negras

    Hace unos diez años, escribí un post en mi primer blog donde describía la inmensa oportunidad dentro del mundo digital.  Escribí ese post con la intención de despertar a personas talentosas en America Latina a todas las oportunidades que yo veia en el mundo digital.  Esto tuvo efecto en un colega y amigo de Guatemala quien me dijo que ese post lo impulso a meterse en un mundo digital donde, hoy en día, es un gran líder.  Esa experiencia me dio una gran satisfacción y, ya que veo una oportunidad aun mas grande hoy en día, llego el momento de otro post en la misma categoría.

    La tecnologia digital comenzó hace medio siglo con el primer computador (el ENIAC).  Estos computadores requerían todo una habitación por lo grande. Sus primeros clientes fueron los gobiernos, luego las corporaciones, las mediana empresas y luego las personas durante la era de la computación personal. La explosion de maquinas procesadoras de información (incluyendo teléfonos inteligentes) y el Internet ha creado un mundo donde las ventajas de economías de escala y la acumulación de activos físicos ya no forman barreras competitivas como antes.

    Hoy en dia, compañías como AirBnB, Uber, Amazon, Apple, Google (o Alphabet), Facebook, etc. han acumulado ventajas competitivas principalmente por su software, sus culturas corporativas (no siempre benignas para la humanidad) y su agilidad (innovación, capacidad de reacción, etc.).  Sin embargo, hemos llegado a un punto de inflexión muy interesante (y asustador). Por ejemplo, recientemente salió la nueva lista de las cinco compañías mas grandes y estas incluían dos compañías de medios, una de venta al detal, una de electrodomésticos y una de software.  Lo que todas tienen en común es que todas son tradicionalmente vistas como empresas de tecnología. Estas son Alphabet y Facebook (medios), Amazon (venta al detal), Apple (electrodomésticos) y Microsoft (software).  Para ser honesto, ninguna encaja 100% en una categoría ya que, por ejemplo, Amazon tiene negocios como Amazon Web Service y su nueva iniciativa con Echo y Alexa que, en mi opinion, son “game changers.”

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