June 27, 2010

The iPhone 4 effect

By now it is of public domain that the iPhone 4 is out and that it is being a massive success. I have read reports highlighting that Apple may have sold 1.5 million plus devices on the first day, which would turn the iPhone4's opening the most successful in Apple's history so far.

I have read some preliminary reviews and pretty much everyone agrees on how cool the device is and on the fact that it is the best cellphone out there in the market for the time being.

The good news for Spain is that Telefonica will not enjoy distribution exclusivity (along the lines of AT&T's in the US) any more. Apparently, both Orange (France Telecom's mobile subsidiary) and Vodafone (my carrier) will be distributing it too. Leaving aside the very important competition-related issues (i.e more creativity and competitiveness around mobile data plans), this means that I will have access to an iPhone 4 without changing carriers. I have to admit that I am quite happy with Vodafone's service after 20 months (well, if I do not include the shitty Storm... but that was my fault) and I am not planning on switching.

Though the iPhone 4 is really cool, I would lie if I did not say that the shadow of Android is quite large. Over time, there are more and more voices claiming that Apple's closed environment - as opposed to Android's openness - is a bummer and gives Apple to much power. There are sleek Android devices out there and there will be more coming too. At the end of the day, it seems like I will be more and more dependent on both Apple and Google. Isn't it a bit scary?

Anyway, it won't be until mid-July that the iPhone 4 will land in Spain. I am really looking forward to the carriers' marketing campaigns...

June 24, 2010

Good luck Jack!

It's the end of an era. I have just finished watching the last episode of the last season of "24", which is expected to be the last one.

I have loved the show a lot but I really feel like it was time for it to finish. After so many seasons, though the plots have always been intriguing and fun, the originality was gone. It must be pretty hard to come up with ideas linked to terrorists attacks in US soil.

Jack is gone, he vanishes on the screen as the countdown goes all the way to zero. If I did not know I'd say that this is just the end of the season and that a new one will be coming next fall. But that's it. Enough suffering for Jack.

It is obvious that Kiefer Sutherland has always carried the weight of the show on its shoulders but we cannot forget about Chloe O'Brian, Tony Almeida, President David Palmer and a bunch of other characters that have made this show memorable.

Good luck Jack wherever you end up going!

June 18, 2010

Subscribing to Fast Company

I had been thinking about it for a while and, finally, at the beginning of this week, I subscribed to Fast Company magazine.

Fast Company is an American general business publication that touches on a variety of topics (marketing, management, trends,...), keeping a very close eye on innovation and the "next big thing". Plus it has a significant focus on technology and new media, so that sounds like a good fit. Btw, I just noticed that it has a 725k circulation, not bad at all.

I first knew about this publication when I was in the US thank to a friend of mine who opened my eyes to the world of VC (my previous experience was way more focused on PE - quite obvious since VC activity in Spain is very limited). The truth is that I do not know why it has taken me so long to go for the subscription... probably my non-reliance on the Spanish postal service!

I am very much about reading blogs and specialist sites but it is true that I still like to read the hard copy. It is like reading the newspaper on a Sunday morning. I do like the experience, it feels different.

Anyway, another tool to keep myself informed. Now let's see if it is delivered properly (and timely!)

June 8, 2010

A depressed Spain

I consider myself a quite apolitical individual. In fact I have not voted in the last 6 or 8 years and this is mainly due to the fact that Spanish politicians and Spanish politics as a whole do suck, badly... It does not matter what their colors are. They all suck and they are not ready to take the country out of a recession in which they dragged it themselves. Let's not forget about the unions, damn, have these guys ever worked? You take a look at the so-called "leaders" acting in politics and you want to cry.

I am pessimistic these days. It is really sad to look around. It is about crisis and downturn all over the place, about cuts, about tax raises...It is true that many, if not all, Western countries are going through a rough time and it seems to be like that recovery will eventually come in a W shape (we are in the second downward slope).

I feel somewhat privileged considering the job that I have, my wage, and so forth. But it drives me nuts when, for instance, I see one of these "leaders" claiming that higher taxes "is the price that Spaniards must  pay for living in a modern country". It makes me mad when an "effort" is demanded from those who earn the most (please, let's be serious defining what earning the most means... it is not 30k or 40k a year, for Christ's sake!), considering that it is these people who go out there and spend money to prevent restaurants, shops, bars and so forth from closing and from sending people to the unemployment lists.

And in this shitty scenario, let's not forget that Spain has recently lost to Canada the "privilege" of being the country with the most inaccessible housing in the world (the ratio price to income is 172, in the US, for instance 94).

With all these in mind, one thinks whether it is worth it to leave in this country. What do you work for? To see how all these "leaders"  become richer and richer, to digest how uneducated people take the reins of one of the top 10 or 15 economies in the world? It is so frustrating. Today I came across a blog posting on the leading Spanish financial site Cotizalia. Two paragraphs that really got me to think about quite a bunch of people that could see themselves pictured in these words:

"Tengo un amigo que es un crack. Tiene 32 años, como yo, un buen puesto en una gran empresa española y un don de gentes fuera de lo común. Un líder, vamos. Hace un par de semanas quedamos a comer y me dijo que estaba pensando irse a trabajar fuera de España. ¿Por qué? ¿Descontento en su empresa? ¿Malas relaciones con su jefe? No, y tampoco era por la envidia que suelen provocar programas del tipo “Españoles por el mundo”.
El problema de mi amigo es que ha dejado de confiar en España. No ve salida a la situación por ningún lado. Y no se refiere a llevar un sueldo a casa a fin de mes, que yo creo que nunca le faltará: se refiere a poder hacer algo grande en este país, a las capacidades de proyectarse, de desarrollarse profesionalmente, aspirando a lo máximo, a ser un líder en los negocios globales".

One of those people that I know was in San Francisco not long ago and one of the things that impacted him the most was what the vibe around business is. People are non-complacent, they are thrilled to explore new ideas, to take on challenges, to leave crises behind, to be productive... It is true that San Francisco is vibrant and quite different to most places in this context. But the problem is that Spain is exactly on its antipodes. 

Que dios reparta suerte...

June 6, 2010

Recari goes international

A little bit of self-promotion on this Sunday evening. It's taken us a while but finally the Revista Espanola de Capital Riesgo, our small venture in the area of private equity and M&A is going international.

Since yesterday the site is available in English and Portuguese. This is just a babystep since the publication is still all in Spanish but trying to be on the radar for the growing Spanish population in the US and for the largest and most appealing county in South America for private equity purposes sounds like a must.

Let's see how things play out.