Together with Jazztel, Eolia Renovables is another remarkable Spanish start up story. Started five years ago by Miguel Salis, Eolia Renovables is one of the leading European operators in clean energy generation with a first half of 09 EBITDA of $64 million dollars. There are very few companies in the world, never mind just in Spain, that achieve these results in such a short time. Eolia´s estimated market cap is now around $1.5bn but it was built with only $148 million in equity plus a large amount of project financing. Eolia grew through a combination of organic growth, namely wind and solar farms built by Eolia and acquisitions. My holding company Jazzya developed some wind and solar farm projects that were sold to Eolia, with the most relevant being El Moralejo near Albacete.
The story of Eolia shows that not everyone is born an entrepreneur. Indeed I have two good friends who got most of their training as executives and then went on to found their own start ups. Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com, whose remarkable story is very well known, and Miguel Salis, whose trajectory is practically unknown. This is probably the case because, in Spain, entrepreneurial success stories are seldom shared for an unreasonable fear of generating envy in a society that has very confused feelings towards successful people.
Miguel and I were at Columbia University together in the 80s. While after graduation I became an entrepreneur, Miguel had a 20 year career before becoming an entrepreneur as Founder and CEO of Eolia Renovables. First, he became a banker at Lehman, then Salomon, then CFO at Jazztel, the telecom operator I founded in 1999 (now also worth over a billion dollars), then Ya.com (which I also founded together with an amazing team of ex Telefonica managers and we sold for $800 million dollars), then he managed my family office known as Jazzya and only in 2004, 20 years after graduating from business school, Miguel became an entrepreneur on his own. In order to raise the funds needed to build Eolia, Miguel became partners with one of Spain´s most creative investment banks, N+1. Here are the bios of the team that Miguel put together.
Here are Eolia´s latest results. They speak for themselves.
And to top it all, Miguel Salis is also a great jazz musician 🙂
I’m beefing up FON’s board and decided to ask former Jazztel and Ya.com colleagues to jump on the FON bandwagon. And I’m thrilled they’ve accepted. On the Ya.com side, we have Alvaro Ibanez (a.k.a Alvy), who’s very well known here in Spain with Microsiervos and Internality, and Jon Berrojalbiz, who started the very successful TradingMotion . On the Jazztel side, I’m joined by former managing director Antonio Fuentes, who has partnered with me on Sybilla and who is its CEO.
Sometimes, we have parties and get-togethers with all those who worked at Jazztel and Ya.com in the early days. For me, they’re like Christmas parties in the office, with a strong feelings of déjà-vu mixed with memories of intense work.
How many entered these companies as employees and left as entrepreneurs? What about Miguel Salis, ex CFO of Jazztel, who is now building wind farms across Spain valued at over 200 million euros.
And Axel Serena, other one who really made it and who, I’ve heard, is about to lift off pretty soon.
What do I want from people who work for me? Well, basically I’d like to see my employees enjoy their last stint as an “employee” with me!
Jon, for example, had the the entrepreneurial spirit in his early 20s. I met him in 1999 when he was still a student but had already registered the domain favoritos.com, which I liked very much. When I saw that he owned it, I asked him if he wanted to sell it to me. Jon simply answered : “I know who you are and if you interview me,I will give it to you”. From there, we started working together, him, first as an employee, then as a partner and now as business buddies. Ya.com and Jazztel were, more than anything, made up of people who dreamed of creating something. For those who are nostaligic, here is an old powerpoint that tells the Ya.com story from the very beginning.