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Some insights and thoughts about speed of change, startups and corporate venture capital.

During the last few years, ever since I sold my last company, in which I was the founder and CEO for twelve years, I have had a significant amount of time to reflect over the lifestyle issues mentioned in my last post and how to align these priorities with the world of business and the generation of capital. My decision, correct or flawed which will be judged by time, was to continue prioritizing my utmost passions to create and collaborate with entrepreneurs in the areas of technology in relation to the media, events, education and marketing. Well, after 35 investments and consulting for several large companies and startups that want to innovate in these fields, in recent years I have learned a pair of things that seem interesting and relevant to share, and I hope that some of the readers out there will be able to save time, precious resources, and find that these five reflections will be worth sharing :

#1 Change has continued to accelerate: The disruption and velocity that the world of business is experiencing isn’t putting on the breaks, but is going to continue growing exponentially as Singularity University and many other gurus have promoted. These changes can sometimes intimidate, scare and concern. But these are real changes and instead of negating them, hiding ourselves or looking the other way, we should face them, experiment, learn, adjust and return to experiment in a virtuous cycle that continually improves our activities and business. To learn to live and have fun with change, while constantly learning is an enormous part of enjoying the world in which we live.

#2 In Media/Event Tech, big changes have just started:
In the industries where I’m active (media/events/startups tech) change is just beginning and the cycle of adjustments will take many years, even decades. To think that this will be resolved in a pair of years and then return to calm would be näive and would once again negate a reality that is already clear.

#3 Corporations are conscious, but it’s not easy to adapt and there are still more words than actions. Large companies say they understand this reality and have created many initiatives to innovate, but many of their leaders and employees continue to be more preoccupied by the next quarter or with protecting their principal interests than for making profound decisions that really adjust their business to what their clients want and ask for. And in many cases there’s some logic, because to make this kind of change irresponsibly could provoke huge losses for their stockholders and employees, but this paralysis in decision making will still create more damage in the long term. To buy and invest in startups is an absolute necessity for any large company that doesn’t wish to be obsolete soon. Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) keeps growing as a valuable R&D and innovation tool for many corporations around the globe and I’m really passionate about the partnership opportunities available for both parts (startups and corporations) if things are executed in the right way.  

#4 Startups actually have the best opportunity to change the world via innovation. The fact that they have “very little to lose and so much to gain” generates an entrepreneurial culture, that added to the revolution of technological access, knowledge and capital that exists today, thousands of startups per year are developed of which dozens or even a few hundred will have real impact.

#5 Innovation is no longer property of Silicon Valley. Some of the previous points explain why places like Israel, Beijing or Berlin between other international destinations have developed ‘unicorns’ and companies that are actually different. And within the U.S., it hasn’t failed to amaze me the level and quality of the startups I see in cities like Austin, Boulder, Seattle, Los Angeles and also Miami, where I’ve lived for many years. Miami has shown the country and the world that via companies like Magic Leap ($1.4 billion dollars raised), Mako (robotics sold to Stricker in $1.2B), Open English, CareCloud and many others, it’s possible to innovate and develop large tech companies in the tropics. We are proud to announce our new initiative LAB.Ventures where we are looking forward to join efforts with amazing entrepreneurs and innovative corporations, while we keep building successful tech startups in South FL.

These reflections, which each person may or may not agree with, have brought me to think about how I wish to keep investing my time and resources in the future, as well as where can I contribute value.
My passions today are:

  • How to help large companies to innovate like startups and startups to scale their business by collaborating with large companies. I’m a fervent believer that corporate venture capital is a great tool for R&D in large companies and a very good partner for startups.
  • The intersection between digital and face to face/live events. After almost 30 years in the event and media industry I’ve realized that the true, sustainable and lasting change these two industries have introduced into the digital world has been fascinating. And the best changes yet have just started. Companies like Netflix, Texture, Airbnb or Uber are still super young and are radically changing business models that are decades, or in some cases even hundreds of years old. The changes that diverse digital technologies are going to create in the word of live events (expositions, congresses, conferences, sports events, concerts, etc.) are amazing and I feel tremendously privileged to be in the midst of this revolution.

This year with a great friend and colleague of mine Jay Weintraub, with whom I have enormously enjoyed the process of investing time and money into areas of technology related to events and marketing, we decided that it would be an excellent, fun idea to write a book exploring this topic. We have been writing and researching to publish “The Face of Digital” Inside the original social network, that we hope to present during 2017, and wish that it will serve to continue reflection, share resources, opinions and experience in these areas.

Speaking of books, in my next post I’ve gathered together some of my favorite reads to get you through this winter or to accompany you on your summer travels, no matter what side of the hemisphere you find yourself on as you welcome in the New Year, to start off with some savvy insights and tools to face whatever changes are in store for 2017.

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