US spends more on health care than any other nation, yet Americans live less than those in any developed nation. US spends almost  half of what the whole world spends in the military, yet it almost loses every war. US spends more on police and incarceration per capita than any other developed nation yet it has the highest homicide and crime rates. And yet USA has the best managed corporations, the most Nobel Prizes, the best universities, the most creative and recognized writers, movie makers, artists, Internet companies. What surprises me about US is the failure to recognize how broken defense, health care and the administration of justice are. Especially when everything else in the USA is so incredibly well managed. If US cut military and incarceration spending by 20% it could give affordable college, housing, and health care to all of those who need it. And it would be probably as safe as other developed nations who offer these protections to all their citizens. If you want to understand why European countries, Australia, Japan have populations who live longer, commit less crime, go much less frequently to jail and are on the average healthier and better educated, you just need to see how they allocate their government budgets. They spend proportionately less on the military, less on police, less on the legal system, less on health care, more on redistribution of income, more on education.

blogmartinToday is a very special day for me and everyone else at Fon. I am happy to announce the Vodafone and Fon partnership, to expand the Fon network in Spain and Italy.

When I started this company 9 years ago, I was motivated by a problem I encountered on a trip to Paris. I desperately needed to use WiFi, but I could not find any open WiFi signals. So, I started Fon with a mission – to cover the world with accessible WiFi.

Since then, Fon has grown from that idea to the world’s largest WiFi network. We have built that network together with leading telcos around the globe. Today, you   can find dense Fon WiFi coverage in most countries in Europe, Brazil, and Japan – and we recently announced the extension of our footprint to Australia.

We have been preparing the Vodafone-Fon partnership for a long time, and today I can proudly say that Spain will soon be covered with dense Vodafone-Fon WiFi. We will also finally cover Italy, a country that I love and have had close ties to since my youth.

This achievement is extremely gratifying, as I have fulfilled a promise I made to many loyal Foneros and Fon supporters.

It is an honor to welcome Vodafone to our network of partners. Vodafone has been leading innovation in telecommunications for decades. Working together with Vodafone on their WiFi strategy is a big step forward for Fon and for WiFi overall. Together we will continue to explore ways to expand our footprint further and work on an optimal interaction of LTE and WiFi.

Vodafone customers can also be excited. People need to be constantly connected whether at home or on the go. With the increasing data consumption of mobile devices, and rapid growth of WiFi only devices, ubiquitous WiFi becomes the perfect complement for 3G/4G!

I would like to thank the Fon team for their hard work in making this happen. Over many years, people at Fon have worked tirelessly on implementations all over the world. Though our technology is “made in Spain”, employees had to go abroad to enjoy the fruits of their labor and see what it means to experience dense Fon WiFi coverage. That will change with extensive coverage at our doorstep.

Fon has almost 15 million WiFi hotspots globally. With Vodafone Italy and Spain, we will add more than 2 million hotspots before the end of the year. With this new partnership and the growth of our existing partnerships I am confident, that we will be able to reach 50M hotspots globally in few years.

Our mission remains. Vodafone-Fon takes us a huge step closer to blanketing the world with accessible WiFi.

Thanks for all of your support!

As parents we are supposed to teach our kids to be patient. But in my case one big learning from being a parent has been to learn to be patient myself. To enjoy being patient. Today in Miami I spent hours at the playground, playing with stuffed animals, throwing ball at the pool, following David and Mia around the garden playing hide an  seek and uselessly trying to explain that the whole point of hide and seek is not to shout “here I am daddy”.  If you are a CEO and a father you have to learn to switch pace from going at jet speed to crawling. And sometimes you want to stop way before they do. But you go on pretending to be an elephant or a horse or the king of the mermaids, you do it because they are happy and their happiness is your happiness. As some people are into slow food I know slow parenting works best. Especially when I watch Nina who is such a patient mom. Parenting is not about quality time, when parenting quantity is quality. I once read that 80% of great parenting is showing up. And it is.

Cloud computing concept with copy space Most of what we store in the cloud is for contemporary consumption. But some files, like the pictures of my 1, 3 and 8 year olds I want around throughout their lives. In the past this meant preserving a photo album. Now their memories will be in data centers around the world facing significant threats over the next 100 years. Some of the threats are physical, but the most significant threat is cloud company bankruptcy. Like how can I be sure that Facebook will be alive for as long as my kids. That is why I would be more confident if cloud companies had cloud insurance. Should your favorite social network dissappear Prudential Insurance for example, would keep their data centers running your kids memories preserved. In the meantime I store at Facebook, Google, Flickr and Apple. Paranoid? No, I just want to make sure our family history doesn’t dissappear when somebody pulls a plug on a company that everyone loved 50 years before.

(Photo credit: Pentestmag)

What follows here is a warning, a thought, an unlikely outcome but one that the EU should be concerned about.

I worry about the Russian angle of the Greek crisis.

I think that the only opportunity the EU has to force the Greeks to keep the debt deal they agreed to before Syriza rose to power is to threaten to dry up the Greek banking system overnight. Trust in Greek banks by Greek citizens is currently evaporating. Greek banks are already experiencing a run. But my concern with this move is that it would make EU and especially Germany look cruel and insensitive and that  Putin may seize the moment, step in,  and provide the liquidity the Greek banks need to be solvent.  Emerge as a savior in the eyes of the Greek people.  He could do to the EU what he did to Ukraine, cut it in two with a piece of it that responds to him.  Moreover this move could cost Russia nothing, he could bring the euros in to make Greece solvent as a guarantee,  and then take them out in a few months. Because Greece can function if it doesn’t have to pay it’s gigantic debt. Greece can have an external and internal surplus very quickly.

The EU has a consensus driven voting system by which a single member state can block policy for all of the EU. Having one member state on Russia’s side would mean a great deal to Putin. The unanimity that is so needed in making EU policy would be broken by Greece. A Greece that votes as instructed by Putin would be an enormous problem for the EU and USA. And remember, there is no mechanism to expel an EU member. All of Greece could become Putin’s Trojan horse.

Likely? No, especially now that oil prices have collapsed.  Possible? Yes.

Search on Facebook recently went from useless to awesome. Try searching a person you care about linked to a city, place, verb or noun and see for yourself how relevant to you Facebook search results now are. Facebook search is what it should have been all along, a search about those you care about in relationship to you. As a result there is more of a reason to use Facebook as a diary, a memory repository. Today our one year old David went under water for the first time, I recorded a video, put in on Facebook. Before the new Facebook search it would have been hard to find it in, say, 2017. I would have had to go through the 2015 timeline. But now I will only search “David water”. Try that with Google. Facebook is now a great personal search engine.

These last few days I have been spending a significant amount of time at the Miami playgrounds with Mia (3) and David (1), I have been observing the life of those under 5. I have seen that little kids, are rarely compassionate, caring for others must be taught to them, they are not generous, as Mia says “Dad, sharing is hard”, they are not organized and tend to leave toys and clothes behind, they are not clean and properly disposing of litter is not obvious to them.  Sometimes little kids are even violent, today Mia got hit by a 2 year old boy, totally out of the blue. But of all the children’s shortcoming there is one evil that is lacking in them; little kids are not racist. Little kids are born selfish, rude, but they are not born hating other races, they are not born noticing other races, racism is taught to them. At the playgrounds of South Beach there is a big mix of races, but race, makes no difference, it’s not even part of the vocabulary that kids used to describe one another.  Makes you think, what is it that we do to them. And what could be different.

I used to complain that Facebook was a black hole of memories. That memories, moments, once posted, would never be found again. That scrolling your timeline forever was not a way to find anything.  Before say, if I searched for the name of our boat in Menorca, Benebella I would get totally random stuff. Now I get all the posts of mine and of my friends about Benebella.  Or if I search Gramofon, our cloud music player, I get all the posts of mine and my friends about the Gramofon. Still what Facebook search does not do, that Twitter does so well,  is to show me all the posts that anyone writes about the Gramofon or any search term.  This type of search is especially useful for companies.  Facebook could do this at least on all posts written in public mode. I hope that comes soon.  But at least now I can begin to find my own stuff on Facebook and that is great news. 

During my entrepreneurship career I founded several companies in the fields of medicine, telecommunications, I.T and internet. Yes, I said medicine. I took a medicine course in NYU in the 80s and I worked with Claudio Cuello, with Cesar Milstein,  who won the Nobel Prize for discovering monoclonal antibodies and with Phil Gold, the discoverer of CEA, the first biomarker for detecting and monitoring cancer. I was always interested in medicine, and by this post I wanted to talk about a project my friend Leandro Sigman, the CEO of Chemo, a Spanish pharmaceutical company, and I want to carry out. We are looking for a woman to be the CEO of this project. Yes, that is correct, a woman. We believe this project is for women, and as such it should be run by a woman. The idea is simple: to convince as many women who haven’t turned 37 yet as possible to freeze their eggs. The earlier they do it, the more chances they will have to get pregnant and to have a healthy baby. What many women do not know, is that the health of their babies depends on when their eggs were frozen and not on when they got pregnant. If a 43 years old woman uses the eggs she froze when she was 32, there is a very high probability that she will get pregnant and will have a healthy baby.

When I started Jazztel in 2000, we had a message to give: there was an alternative to Telefonica, and cheaper and better telecom services were possible. We did it in a funny way. We hired ex managers of Telefonica, who were thrilled to appear on TV dressed as prisoners and say they tricked people. They did their “confession” and they recommended Jazztel to everybody. For this project, if we want to give a funny message, it should be something like: “Freeze your eggs and don’t get married to the first jerk you meet when you are 35″ or “Throw away your biological clock”. Or maybe something not that funny, but more meaningful: “I can have a baby when I am 40 as well”. Because, no matter what people say, the ugly truth is that even though women live more than 80 years, their fertility goes down by the age of 35. And there is a very simple way for a woman to have a baby and to not be left on the shelf (a cruel expression) and it is to freeze their eggs.If you are a woman, you live in Madrid or you can move here, you are preferably a doctor,an you have good communication skills, Leandro and I can help you to start a project that will be very interesting for you and very valuable for all other women. We see this like an investment in communications and its goal is to guide every woman to the best clinic where she can go under a procedure that will take no longer than 5 hours and will change her life forever. Send me an email to martinvars@me.com

Energy intensity is a measure of the energy efficiency of a nation’s economy. It is calculated as units of energy per unit of GDP.

This post includes thoughts of Jack Hidary and Nouriel Roubini, and myself and it is based on a conversation we had last night during dinner. It’s about the “low hanging fruit” list of the measures that governments, corporations and citizens can take to reduce emissions and save natural resources: to lower energy intensity of the global economy.

I start with a concrete initiative to illustrate the point. Jack Hidary helped pass a law in NYC that demanded that taxis should be hybrids. The Ford Crown Victoria taxis that were standard for the NYC fleet before that law did 11 MPG. A Toyota Prius gets 48MPG in NYC. Now by adopting hybrids the average consumption of the whole fleet is around 28MPG. Now think of this in scale. Using hybrid cards, will cut average oil consumed per mile traveled in the US cities by half.

Using electric cars: in the US all energy from coal and nuclear plants is buried on the ground at night. Electric cars can charge at night using this energy so going electric could have very little extra cost for society and savings are huge. Challenges with batteries remain, in a Tesla the batteries alone cost more than a Toyota Prius, but their cost is going down rapidly, the transition to electric will happen. Electric cars can also be used to store energy and to re use this energy when it’s needed for something other than transportation. Trucks however be natural gas powered and not electric, that also saves energy and emissions. The transition will be gasoline, to natural gas in some cases but in most gasoline to hybrid to electric for the next 20 years.

The Sharing Economy: Nouriel was fascinated by the impact of the sharing economy and the fact that young people do not have issues with sharing in general. Sharing cars individually a la Uber does not result in less miles travelled (except those saved looking for parking) but results in many less cars being made. As both sharing and pooling becomes more common (Uber just introduced pooling) then we achieve less cars being made and used. Sharing economy companies like Fon make better use of telecom infrastructure, AirBnB of real estate, and there is a long list that overall make better use of existing resources. We now have the first generation who lives worse than their parents in the US, sharing creates a wealth effect that counters the sad reality of declining incomes.

Smartphones Economy: It is very complex to understand if smartphones make societies use less resources and save on energy. Google is the largest consumer of electricity in the US and probably in the world, those servers that do your searches need incredible amounts of power. But at the same time the smartphone economy make us save a lot of energy and resources. One example of many is Google Maps helping us finding shorter and freer routes to our destinations. And the app economy in general that enables a much more efficient use of any imaginable resource. Internet enabled individuals make more informed decisions about almost anything they do or consume.
Another obvious move is to switch to intelligent thermostats like the Nest that distinguish when you are at home and when you aren’t and adjust AC and heating accordingly. Geofencing via apps makes this distinction unnoticeable for the owners.

LEDs are awesome, they give you the same amount of luminescence for 15% of the energy. Lights consume around 20% of the energy of the average home.
Bicycles: bicycles originally made it as a form of interim transport until individuals could afford cars. Well now people have realized that bikes are ideal for distances of 5 miles or less and they save an incredible amount of energy use and resource use. The message to drivers is, that bike that see on the road is not a bike, it’s one less car.

Insulation is important. Sometimes simple improvement in insulation of walls, windows, roofs can reduce energy requirements by 30% or more.

Installing solar panels for electricity is becoming more and more competitive. Still they require a subsidy but in the US the subsidies are there.

Installing solar thermal for hot water, pool heating and to reduce heating bills in sunny places. This is becoming more and more common, especially in the Mediterranean countries of Europe.

Another trend that is making the world more energy efficient is dense urbanization. Although this is counter intuitive to some Manhattan is much more energy efficient than nearby New Jersey or Long Island where everyone lives in their own home with a garden. High rise buildings are more energy efficient than individual homes. People who move around in public transportation and walking are healthier and more energy efficient than people who have to travel long distances from suburbs to urban centers alone in their cars.

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