Former military leader Jorge Rafael Videla, the man responsible for my family’s forced exile from Argentina when I was 16, and responsible for the death of my cousin David Horacio Varsavsky when he was only 17, died today in Argentina. As a family in exile in the USA we thrived, and thanks to courageous men like district attorney Luis Moreno Ocampo, ex-general Videla spent a lot of his life in jail.
But to him and his criminal military colleagues I paradoxically owe some of my accomplishments in life. Videla and other murderous members of the Argentine military chased us away from our home, forced us into exile in the USA where a generous man, Senator Patrick Moynahan got green cards for all our family and gave us a second chance in life. But as a result of this trauma early on in my life, I was left with an extraordinary desire to prove to these awful dictators that I wasn’t worthless. That I did not deserve to die like my cousin David, that I did not deserve to be thrown out from my country. And I am convinced that I owe a great deal of my ambition to Videla and his murderous military gang. I was just a kid who wanted to prove his worth when all this happened to me. And I did that, and I do that every day I teach a class, I build my companies, I give a speech trying to inspire 20 year-olds to be entrepreneurs or I parent any one of my six children. And for this fanatic desire to prove myself, I am not sorry. We were not useless ex-general Videla. We deserved to live and thrive. And thanks to Senator Moynahan we got our chance.
I will always remember David Horacio Varsavsky.
Here is a link to the story of that year of the exile, my autobiography of the year I was 17.
Cavan.com is an innovative online fashion store. They offer a selected range of designer products and, through a team of fashion experts, give personal advice to create an interactive shopping experience.
Truth be told, Cavan is a fashion guru. And the layout of the site is beautifully done.
When it gets to advertising Facebook wants to be seen above all as a branding platform more than a direct advertising platform, and that makes sense. But in Facebook brands look too much like Facebook. What’s great about TV is that TV is a black box. Or lately a black frame. Facebook should take a page off TV and make brands look more different from one another. Facebook brand pages look too much alike for brands to feel comfortable in them. I think it’s time Facebook removes the Facebook look from brand pages and allows them to be different, personal, exclusive, attractive, original.
I think it’s time that us in the Internet industry apologize to people who had a decent livelihood in a number of industries that we destroyed. There are millions of people whose jobs were put at risk by the Internet. And yes of course other jobs were created, and we all love the Internet and could not live without it. But I wonder up to what point, the fact that there is high unemployment in Europe and very low wages in USA (two sides of the same problem, loss of bargaining power of wage earners) has to do with the fact that the Internet has destroyed more jobs that it has created. That it’s been such a quick technological revolution that the economies of the world haven’t had time to adjust. People talk about the financial crisis as a jobs destroyer and that is true, we had a huge one, but job losses seem to go beyond that. Television, movies, newspapers, travel agencies, stock brokers, commercial real estate, retailing, are but examples of industries that have been affected by the Internet. Efficiency is great until the job they want to eliminate is your job. And there is a lot more job destruction coming, more industries to disrupt, jobs that will disappear. I am not complaining about this, indeed my companies have been part of the efficiency trend. But it is hard to argue that this quest for efficiency is not frequently sad and painful to many.
Here are my results of my medical check up today.
I am 52. I am 180.5cm tall and weigh 81kg. My waist is 90cm which I was told is ideal as your waist should be half your height. My resting heart rate is 60 and my max during the stress test was 171. I got to 250W in the recumbent bike in which I was tested. My resting pressure is 105/61. My total cholesterol is 114 and the bad one is 51 good one 39. My blood work was normal. It seems that my habits of cycling and healthy Mediterranean food, no drugs smoking or drinking, stable weight and above all a great family, friends and work colleagues are helping me stay healthy.
Now what are your results?
You see this could be a game, but for once a game in which everyone wins. Because if we compete in being healthy then we are all healthier, as simple as that. So this is why I thought that publishing my “health numbers” would be a good idea. Because I know I will be proud of them until somebody else shows me better numbers. And then I will try harder, to be healthier. Because I am foolishly competitive that way. But here foolish is good. My Dad unfortunately did not lead a healthy life, and died at the young age of 49 of a heart attack. Another incentive for me to stay fit.
Somebody should make a game about this. It will make all those who play better off. The medical check up game? Lab work?
I grew up with bands and movies, but now I live with DJs and TV series. And that is fine. I saw Argo and was totally disappointed, Silver Lining Playbook was better. And some movies still have it. But I am totally into Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, even Girls the first season. These series are up there with any great movie. In fact they are long format great movies. And then there’s long format great music, and Soundcloud is amazing for that. Yes some bands are still awesome, but great DJs are something else. DJs used to play songs, now DJs are the music experience, the composers. They make the music I like when I work, and when I work out. And they also make long format music. Hence the movies vs TV series, bands vs DJs analogy. All co exist. But lately the talent is with the latter.
Experience is great until it is used to apply old solutions to new problems. This bias, this failure to recognize new problems, is most common in technology companies as they grow older. And it is because of this bias that in Silicon Valley, the industry of the new, old people are less frequently successful. This is why, for example, Microsoft managed by Ballmer in his 50s performs worse than Google managed by Page in his 40s, and this is why Google is now threatened by Facebook, managed by Zuckerberg in his late 20s. I am sure that when Ballmer first saw Google he thought “another search engine” and when Page and Brin first saw Facebook they thought “another social network”. The real challenge, as we grow older is to use experience for our benefit without losing our ability to recognize the new. Without losing the ability of being experienced but occasionally feeling “inexperienced”. Because Google was certainly a new experience to those who were searching before it. Or Facebook was a new social experience for those who were familiar with previous social networks. But experienced leaders failed to see this. We can’t allow experience to betray us. Experience must be balanced with a childish fascination for the new, a fascination of the kind that kept Jobs young until his premature death. Steve Jobs did know how to combine experience, with an uncanny ability to recognize the new.
Have you ever seen those people who get on TV and wave hi to their mother “who is probably watching”? Well today is one of those days for me. Except that it’s not my mother but my mother-in-law, my father-in-law and my brother-in-law. And they are not exactly watching TV, but connecting to WiFi. In Germany I mean. Because yes, we finally made a phenomenal alliance in Germany, similar to the ones we made in the UK with BT, or in Belgium with Belgacom, or in France with SFR, or the Netherlands with KPN. Yes, we are launching Telekom Fon! So soon my German family, and everyone in Germany for that matter, will be able to connect to Telekom Fon, just as people in the UK, for example, can connect to BT WiFi with Fon. And today I’m thrilled to announce this exceptional relationship with Telekom to the world.
Fon has partnered with the incredible Deutsche Telekom to blanket Germany with WiFi. Telekom has 12 million broadband subscribers in Germany alone that will join Fon’s WiFi network, already the largest in the world– it’s the perfect ally to bring Fon into a country I care deeply about and have much respect for. The Telekom Fon alliance will build on the 12,000 Telekom hotspots already in place and allow Telekom Fon subscribers, and everyone in the Fon network, to connect to these and more than 7.8 million hotspots around the world for free. This is a huge achievement for us at Fon and I couldn’t be happier to make the good news official.
To my German friends and family: get ready to roam…
Many wonder why Israel as a nation appears to be so aggressive, to invade Gaza and Lebanon when attacked, to bomb Syria, Iraq and possibly now Iran when threatened by the Iranian nuclear bomb program. In general many question the way Israel violently reacts to provocation. The answer may lie in the sad history of the Jewish people. Growing up Jewish, one of the 15 million in a world of 7 billion people, is growing up feeling like a survivor of so many historical massacres, lucky to be alive and stay alive. Given our history it is not surprising that there would be a slight “paranoiac” tone to the experience on real or perceived threats. And this is not to always justify Israel’s behavior, as I think that Israel as a nation is not doing itself a favor with some of the most aggressive intervention. For example I personally support having bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactors but not attacking the Turkish ship headed to Gaza when just towing it away would have sufficed. And historically many innocent people have died as a result of Israel’s quick trigger reactions.
Still, contrary to what many believe, Jewish-Arab conflicts have killed far fewer people than Muslim-Muslim conflicts. For example the civil war in Syria these days, or the Iraq Iran war, or the Lebanon civil war or many other Muslim against Muslim conflicts that have been far more lethal than Israel’s conflicts. Just looking at the Wikipedia casualty lists of these wars I estimate for every Muslim killed by a Jew there are 100 Muslims killed by other Muslims. And there are many more Muslims killed by US and EU armies than by Israel as well. But still even one non combatant death is too many and should be avoided, so let’s try to understand why Israel responds so violently to aggression, sometimes crossing acceptable boundaries.
Israel is so aggressive because the history of Judaism is a history in which us Jews get killed for being Jewish again and again. And the few times we were spared, we celebrate it as a holidays. As one Jewish friend put it, a Jewish holiday can be summarized as “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat”. So we have Passover for when we saved ourselves from the Egyptians, and today, February 24th, we celebrate Purim, another survival celebration. This time we celebrate how we prevented a holocaust in Persia when Jews were deported from present-day Israel to present-day Iran. But then of course there was the very sad time we did not win, and that was the Holocaust, a systematic elimination of Jews, where nobody saved us and around a third of the Jews of the world were massacred by the Nazis. As a result, while the population of the planet has tripled, there are the same amount of Jews now as there were in 1900. And this is very much in the mind of the current generation of Israeli leaders who grew up right after the Holocaust. These leaders are haunted by the ever present question of why Jews didn’t defend themselves effectively in the Holocaust, by a conviction that if we don’t defend ourselves nobody will. And that’s why they see that their primary mission as leaders is to prevent a new Holocaust. This mission is not helped when Israel’s Sharon returns Gaza hoping for peace and Hamas who has a stated mission to eliminate Israel wins the local elections and starts an ongoing conflict with Israel. Or when Iran itself says that Jews should be thrown out of their country or exterminated. As these events unfold, Israeli leaders think “never again” and act, sometimes judiciously, sometimes not.
So given the history of the Jewish people, which could be summarized as the history of a people who tried to stay alive among Christians and Muslims and did quite poorly, a history of a people that are now only one in 500 of humanity as a whole, not one in five as Muslims or one in three as Christians, the Israeli fear is more understandable. Especially in a world in which other nations like the USA go much further in committing what I would call human rights violations (i.e use of drones) in order to defend itself. The intervention of Europe and the USA in the Arab world in the last few years in Afghanistan and Iran has resulted in far more deaths than all the Israel wars with Arabs combined, yet even these invasions seem more accepted by general public opinion around the world than Israel’s policies. So as Jews, myself included, celebrate Purim today, I hope this commentary helps to put the issue in perspective and helps non-Jews understand why Jews will always be quick to react to attacks like the rockets Hamas frequently fires into Israel.
Everyone says that Facebook fights privacy because they grow by making you and everyone else, very public. And that part is obvious, if they don’t encourage you to be less private they have no network. But there is a countertrend to that and that is post IPO monetization. Now that Facebook got 1 billion people to share their intimate and mostly irrelevant moments they hope to make money by you being so desperate for the attention that you got used to having that you start paying NOT to be private. In order to achieve this Facebook is now making you less popular, or more private against your will.
So the new Facebook, the post IPO “have to meet the next quarter numbers” Facebook, is paradoxically more private, unless you pay of course. But if you don’t pay, less is disclosed about you to others because those who pay increasingly crowd you out. And paradoxically a new privacy will be achieved.