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.

Spain may break up. If it does it will be because Madrid has been deaf to the feelings of the Catalans. The Catalans signed a Constitution in 1978 that said that should they ever want to become independent all of Spain would have to agree. This was a big mistake on their part. Because there is no way independence will ever happen in this framework. If there was a vote now in of Spain around 80% of Spaniards would vote against Catalonian independence, but around of 54% of Catalans would vote in favor in a Catalonia-only vote, which is what they want to have this Nov 9th. This is partly out of their desire to be independent but also because Madrid has told them that they have to live by the 78 Constitution no matter what. That even if most of them dislike being part of Spain they have to stay in. In my view Madrid and the rest of Spain should allow the Catalans to vote for their independence but with time to win them over again. And in those years it should first negotiate the exact conditions of their independence, and then go on a charm offensive as the British did. Most likely during an improving economy. If the Catalans become independent they could be out of the EU, out of the euro, etc. There are so many unknowns that I think it is possible to win against independence by truly showing more cons than pros. Moreover the Catalan leadership has been incredibly corrupt. Jordi Pujol one of the biggest promoters of Catalonian nationalism and leader of Catalonia for many years has made a huge fortune for him and his family out of the Catalonian people. Catalan leaders have issued dangerous levels of local debt and Catalonia was recently saved from absolute bankruptcy by Spain. Catalonia, as opposed to the Basque region who diversified its industrial base, has followed economic policies that were as ill conceived as those of Madrid. Catalonia has based too much of its investment on infrastructure and debt, overextended its welfare state and has achieved slightly worse results than Madrid. But by forbidding debate on independence what Catalans see is the negative of staying together. And they do have a point when they argue that they, as well as Madrid, give too much of their income to the rest of Spain. But this is something that should be renegotiated all over Spain, setting limits on regional transfers and making some regions of Spain manage slightly more on their own. This is not a Catalan problem, it’s a Spain problem. Both Madrid and Catalonia give around 8% of their GDP to Andalusia, Extremadura and so on and this should be modified. But as it stands, the existing Constitution is just not fair on the independence issue and will lead to civil disobedience. The Catalans may become independent in spite of the Constitution because the rest of Spain should not use military force to keep them in the Kingdom. Dialogue and showing the positives is the only valid unionist strategy. Personally I believe that Catalans have the right to be independent and as a Spaniard I see my objective that they choose not to do so, not that they are forced into the union. And I think there are enough valid reasons to stay united. It’s time to change the slogan from “España a la fuerza” to “Juntos molamos” o “mejor juntos” – better together as the British said.

I have simultaneously used an iPhone and an Android for many years. Two pockets, two phones, two carriers. Verizon Android and T-Mobile iPhone in the USA Tuenti iPhone and Vodafone Android in Europe. But for a long time, my favorite phones had been Androids. Until this month Androids could do many things that iPhones failed at. You had a wide choice of size and my favorite screen dimensions were around 5′ bigger than any iPhone. Sharing on Android was much better, you could share any service with any service, iPhone picked winners. Android allowed WiFi apps like our own Fon app, iPhone did not. Some phones like the Samsungs came with replaceable batteries and by 5pm every iPhone I had was dead. So were the Samsungs but I could change the battery. Lately Samsungs like the S5 became waterproof and that was awesome during the summer. And then there was SwiftKey, the multilanguage keyboard that read my mind (because it read my Gmail), the keyboard that could guess whatever word was coming next in whatever language, the keyboard that spared me from having to use that horrible language changing globe of the iPhone clearly designed by monolingual people. But I still carried iPhones. The iPhones I used for other reasons. One, a big one is design. They were always the best looking phones. I just liked them as objects. Video and photography, no matter what Android makers did, they could never beat the iPhone neither the photo apps nor the cameras. And games of course. So many more games and better games for the kids. In general almost every app looked better and worked better on the iPhone. But what good was all this if the iPhone would be too small to type in, would only work with one language at a time and its battery would die by 5pm?

Well I am here to report that my new iPhone 6 is the first phone since Android became competitive that beats any Android I now have. And currently I have an HTC M8, an S5, a Moto G, and a OnePlus One which is a very special yet buggy high end Android phone. Yes I am still hesitant about the non replaceable battery in the iPhone 6, I will have to test it will, see if I can last all day. But the iPhone 6 at 4.7in is the perfect size, it is incredibly beautiful, thin and light, it abandoned the “we are better keyboard dogma” and got SwiftKey, it allowed WiFi profiles that are almost as good as WiFi apps for Fon, it came with 128GB of memory so I can get a large supply of Spotify extreme quality songs and all the games for the kids they want. Before I used to always be on an app diet, especially with the apps for Leo (7) and Mia (3), games that take over 1GB each. Now we can app binge and then put them on a game diet, but with choice. And the iPhone 6 is far superior at video and photography. After the iPhone 6, iPhone it is now. Will continue to use Android and iPhone but my time on phone ratio will radically shift towards iOS. Having said this, I don’t want to end without bringing a key factor here and that is cost. The iPhone costs $850. Yes $850 forget about those rip off offers with contracts, that is what it really costs, what Apple gets. And for $129 you get a an unlocked, no contract Moto E. A Moto E is not 15% of the phone an iPhone 6 is. If you, like most of humanity, are a person who lives on a budget, the Moto E is 80% of an iPhone 6 for 15% of the cost. What Android has that Apple never will, is the ability to bring 84% of humanity to the Internet. And for that we should thank Google. Even a low end iPhone costs 4x as much as a Moto E. And this is why iOS is only in 11% of all smartphones sold in the world right now. Moreover Android still rules at sharing, first it gives it OS at no cost to others and that is why their phones are so much more competitive, but also I love the way Android allows you to share from anything to anything. I find it impolite that Apple picks winners and losers by greatly limiting sharing among its preferred services.

Still even Google (trends) will tell you that with 11% global marketshare, iPhone is always more news than Android.

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