Dopplr, the service that to allows you to share your future travel plans with a group of friends, has finally come out of beta and is now open for anyone to join. The company, in which I invested, officially launched at Le Web in Paris, the conference organized by my friend Loic Le Meur (almost 2000 participants this year!).
Dopplr is a simple and very useful tool for frequent business travellers: it enables connections and coincidence reminding you of friends and colleagues who live in or will visit the cities where you are going to be.
The service is easy to link with most online calendars (via iCal and RSS) and social networks like Facebook. One of the new features is the mobile version (m.dopplr.com): from any device with a web browser members can add trips, see coincidences, future travels and where their colleagues and friends are.
Dopplr’s founders are: Lisa Sounio, Matt Biddulph, Matt Jones and Dan Gillmor and Marko Ahtisaari, my friend and advisor to FON, is a founding investor.
Some readers have asked me why FON was selling Foneras at the same price (39.95) in US and Europe, even if the exchange rate between dollar and euro is far from being 1. For a while we kept the same price, since there are costs and barriers in Europe that don’t exist in the US. Today, with the euro at 1.45, we decided to adjust the price of our Fonera according to the real value of the currencies.
Starting today, people in Europe will buy the Fonera for 29.95 euros (VAT included) + shipping costs, those in the US will pay 39.95 dollars + shipping costs.
I am in NYC now and thinking about the volatility of gasoline prices in the States I came up with an idea for a credit card that fixes the price that you will pay for gas for the next 5 years. The concept is that you would commit to buy a certain amount of liters at a certain fixed price for 5 years and with this credit card every time you go to a gas station you would pay this price at the pump and the credit card company would pay the rest or collect the rest from the gas stations. What this credit card would do is to bring to the average citizens the financial tools for hedging already available to large oil companies in the form of a credit card, an instrument that everyone is familiar with. Since I am too busy to develop this idea….I blog it. Maybe it exists already. If it does I apologize. I have not even had time to research it.
The US government says it now believes that Iran stopped its quest for an atomic bomb in 2003, I guess it took a while for the Bush administration to find out. After the news this morning that Chavez lost its referendum we can all feel a bit better. Almost good enough to counteract the sad news that Putin won the election to become father of the nation (I guess it´s ok to be authoritarian if you are a “father”). What Iran, Venezuela and Russia have in common is that they are all energy exporters. Energy exporting countries tend to fall in the hands of dictatorial fatherly figures who are frequently tinkering with the constitution because in those countries whoever controls the energy exports controls the money flow into the whole nation. Having oil is in the end a curse, an addiction. Citizens of energy exporters tend to become pretty incompetent at doing anything else because few activities compete with pumping energy and getting rich.
But the news of Iran being now certified as a non atomic bomb producer is in itself disconcerting. Is it true or is it simply that the US government has decided to certify some countries that do not have atomic bombs as Iraq dangerous and those who do like North Korea and Pakistan as harmless? Iran is a country whose leaders hate us but their people love our modernity. Instead Pakistan is a country whose leaders like us and whose people hate us and they do have atomic weapons (a Pew Institute poll said that if Osama Bin Laden ran for elections majority Pakistanis vote for him). In any case it is a sad world in which what matters is not what a country does but what the US government believes it does. Most of the US people and the vast majority of the citizens around the world can´t wait for Bush to go and for some clarity to return to world affairs.
Le Web 3 Conference organized by my friend Loic Le Meur is taking place in Paris this December 11th and 12th. If you haven’t bought a ticket yet, you can have a 100€ discount as a reader of my blog. I will be speaking at LeWeb 3 but I wanted to alert you of the many other speakers and fun things going on at Le Web 3 many organized by buddies of mine.
Le Web 3 has become the largest Web event in Europe. Speakers include Dan Rose from Facebook, my good friend Tariq Krim from Netvibes, Fon board member Janus Friis from Joost, Japanese Chief Fonero and head of Creative Commons Joi Ito who is one of the most insightful analysts of the internet in the world, my friend and Internet entrepreneur Marc Samwer, renowned (and super funny) Israeli VC Yossi Vardi, Evan Williams from Twitter, Kevin Rose from Digg, Hans Rosling, designer Philippe Stark of hotel and restaurant fame, Google Nelson Mattos, TED‘s media director June Cohen and JP Rangaswami from British Telecom our partners at BTFon.
If you are in the internet in Europe and want to learn and network you should come!
The dollar is very weak now. At close to $1.5 per euro some call it the new peso. European companies are hurting when it gets to export but at the same time they have an incredible currency as their market caps in dollars are going through the roof. Telefonica for example is worth around $160bn, that´s serious money when Verizon, the second largest US mobile and fixed line operator is only worth $124bn. And some huge internet companies are now very affordable to a company like Telefonica including Yahoo which has a market cap of $35bn and Ebay, of $45bn. Only a few years ago the market caps of Verizon, Yahoo, and eBay were all larger than that of Telefonica. I think that this is the time for Telefonica and many other European companies whose earnings are mostly in euros to diversify their profit base and go into major acquisitions on the other side of the Atlantic. And I am saying this knowing that it´s traditionally been hard for Asian and Europeans to manage Americans.