have four children, 3 were born in the States the youngest in Spain. We live in Spain but we are presently vacationing at our farm in Southampton, Long Island. My older kids are now 17, 14 and 13 the youngest is a baby. Today the older ones ended their vacations in the Hamptons. Unfortunately they could not wait to go back to Europe. There are many things they like about NYC and the Hamptons but overall they prefer Europe for one reason. They feel freer there. Freer to party which is what they like to do. Especially my 17 year old girl. She made me realize that in the States people her age are treated like potential criminals. In Spain, when school is over, my eldest daughter parties a lot with her friends, they go clubbing until 5am in the morning, they are all great students and in my view, once they excel at school they earned their freedom to party. In theory Spanish clubs should check that they are 18 but at 17 they do not. And yes there are many teenagers who drink hard in Spain. But with alcohol freely available in supermarkets they learn over time to drink in moderation. I have yet to meet a single adult in Spain with a serious alcohol problem (they clearly exist but I have not met them instead 3 of my American friends are recovering alcoholics). In Spain kids start drinking at 15 and driving at 18. By then most have learned something about getting drunk and the effects of alcohol and have less accidents on the average than in the States. In the States the opposite is true, they can legally drive at 16 and drink at 21. This leaves kids with a lack of a drinking education, an education that is only acquired after they drive at a huge cost (in America teens make 7% of the drivers but 20% of the fatalities, USA is now one of the most dangerous of the OECD countries in which to drive). Why is that? My theory is that something akin to “alcohol immunization” takes place in Europe. When alcohol is freely available to teenagers they experiment, they drink, they get drunk a few times, they get immunized. But in the States, with alcohol, so hard to get to the point that a person may be considered fit to die in Iraq but not to drink a beer, people don´t get properly exposed to alcohol at the right time. In Spain instead my kids go out, experiment drinking before they drive. And in the meantime they have a lot of fun, and don´t feel excluded from the adult world and come home…in a bus.

In this video I compare the Sonos, Sansa Connect, iPod, N95, Blackberry 8800, and the iPhone on their ability to discover, obtain and play music.

This month I was lucky to get invited to a gathering of the most successful entrepreneurs of the United States . Amongst participants there were people from many different origins and nationalities: African Americans, Asians, Europeans, people from the Middle East, Indians, hispanics…and Jews. But being Jewish myself I was surprised to see how many other Jews were there at this conference, a story that unfolded as the days went by since as opposed to what some non Jews think us Jews are still lacking a secret handshake and it is mostly through chance that we find out that somebody else we know is Jewish. But to find Jews over represented at top conferences was not new to me. Jews make up 2% of the American population but seem to make 10% to 20% of the top positions in many fields in this country. And in Davos, the Global Conference the same was true. Jews make a fraction of 1% of the world´s population but we were also overrepresented to the tunes of 100 times at Davos (the organizers are not Jewish). In these places I sometimes wonder about the reasons for this phenomenom. The first reaction to the question of the disproportionate representation of Jewish people in academia or the Forbes 400 should probably be “who cares”. And that is probably the right reaction since most of us Jewish people don´t run our life according to the Jewish religions or traditions nor do we choose to establish friendships or do business with others because they are Jewish (at my company, Fon, only one other employee is Jewish).   But the reason I would like an answer to this question is that I live in “occasionally antisemitic”  Europe. And among the arguments that antisemites in Europe have against Jews the one that stands out is that “we run the world”.  I want to prove them wrong (yes I prefer to engage). While it´s easy to prove that Jews don´t run the world as we mostly don´t, what is not so easy to explain is why we are so over represented in global scientific and business elites. Read More

Hype is great to sell products and this summer two products were hyped to the max: Harry Potter and the iPhone. But the problem with hype is that you have to live to it. And in both cases it was hard. Om Malik has a good article on how the iPhone has not lived up to its expectations. And with Harry Potter being sold at a 40% discount 5 days after it came out I have the feeling that a lot of overprinting has taken place at Scholastic. While I can´t comment on my experience as a Harry Potter reader what people seem to say is that the last Harry Potter novel is good but that Harry Potter 6 was better. But probably what made it not great is to promote itself as great. And the same tremendous expectations were built around the iPhone. I have been walking around with the iPhone for 3 weeks now and the results are mixed. The iPhone is to sophisticated mobile phones what TV is to the Internet. TV clearly beats the internet on screen size and ease of use. The iPhone beats the Blackberry or Nokia N95 along the same lines. But as a lean forward device the iPhone is simply bad (and I say this as an Apple fan, owner of at least 12 iPods over the last 6 years and a MacBook from which I am blogging this post). So what´s wrong with the iPhone? The problem is that the person who is missing when using an iPhone is You. Read More

I lived in NYC for 18 years, I have been living in Madrid for 12 but I have a condominium in NYC. NYC as far as I know is unique in the world on its system of property ownership, especially the Coop. Coops are one the most surreal form of property ownership that you can imagine (the other one being the London thing that your grandchildren lose your apartment to some noble person). Basically Coops are buildings in which you don´t really own your apartment but you own shares in a corporation that can exclude anyone for any reason. Coops are a way that certain New Yorkers found to increase the probability that their neighbors will be somebody they like and abide by all the weird rules that the shareholders may want to have (in one coop of mine my downstairs neighbor forced me to cover my beautiful wooden floors with wall to wall carpet because he said he could hear me walk). Among the unusual rules of Coops there´s the one that you cannot sell your apartment to anyone you like but it has to be sold to someone that the others like and they do not need to explain why they don´t like him/her. Also many coops don´t allow you to have guests stay at your apartment when you travel, or rent your apartment out. Lastly Coops are entitled to look at the finances of somebody who buys into the building as if they were the IRS. Condominiums on the other side are a system that is similar to the style of ownership that there is say in Paris or Madrid but in my case they still ask you about your finances to make sure you can afford the expenses. In my view all they should do is ask you that proof that you can pay the expenses and not about all your assets.

If you were ever in Tokyo and took the subway, you will enjoy this image that I got thanks to my friend Dave Sifry.


The Internet is going wild with formats that blend old media with new media. As I write this post I am watching the CNN/Youtube Democratic Debate in which people on the internet ask questions over Youtube. This is just brilliant for all involved and especially a coup for Youtube.

There´s another format that is making it big on the Internet and is Blogtalkradio. Blogtalkradio is a new way of expression that blends radio, VOIP, telephony, and blogging. This new venture is the creation of Alan Levy, my friend and former partner and it has already gathered significant momentum with many top bloggers and non bloggers holding their live sessions at the site. And probably what is most important about Blogtalkradio is that it has also become the long tail of talk radio (you too can be a Howard Stern…).

This Wednesday July 25th at 4pm EDT it´s my turn to try Blogtalkradio out. I hope my blog readers join the live show and call in with their questions.

Update: The conversation in Windows Media format or MP3 format

I believe that nothing that we know is for sure.  Everything we know has a certain probability to be true or false.  As a result I spend a reasonable amount of time researching probabilities of certain good and bad things that can happen to me and a steer my life accordingly.  As a result my fears are many times different from those of many people I know.  Here´s a good chart showing all the bad things that can happen to me (and you).  It´s worth studying to somehow adjust your fears to what reality looks like.  Are you afraid of getting cancer?  That makes a lot of sense.  Are you more afraid of flying than having a heart attack?  That does not make much sense.

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I have been following the clash between the Internet Content companies and the telcos with great concern. This so called “Net Neutrality” debate has now reached new heights with Google´s letter to the FCC in which Google has offered to pay $4,6bn for former military frequencies that are becoming available. This is what Google says.

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These days visiting the Hamptons talking to my American friends I realized that many parents over here have what I believe is an unreasonable fear that their own children may encounter child molesters. I am a father of four children and one of the frequent concerns of a parent is that when you are on a busy street or a shopping mall, your kids may get lost in a crowd. How do you prepare your children for these stressful situation? My instructions to them have been to memorize their full names and address, to memorize my telephone number or their mother´s and if they ever get lost to look for other parents with children or go into a shop and ask the attendant to please call us. But during conversations with my American friends I learned that most kids in this country are told not to talk to strangers even in emergencies like these. When I enquired more about the reasons for this I realized that the main fear of American parents, unlike say Argentine or Spanish parents, is not that their child may encounter a thief or even a kidnapper who may want ransom for their children but that they may encounter a child molester. I read some statistics on this subject and found some interesting data. For example 19% of American heterosexuals believe that “most gay men are likely to molest or abuse children”. Personally I think that the chances that a gay or straight person who a child chooses to call his parents is a child molester is extremely low. Moreover some literature shows that most child molesters are not strangers but people who are close to the child or know the child. But if in Spain or Argentina we don´t worry much about child molesters I wonder if there much more child molestation in America than in Latin countries or are Latin countries under reporting this serious problem. How is it possible to find studies that say that one America woman in five is molested before the age of 18? In Punta del Este, Uruguay, where I grew up, 15 year old boys and girls, to young to drive, hitchike to move around the around. My kids do it as well. And we are talking about upper class kids as Punta del Este is the Hamptons of the South America. But in the Hamptons where I am now this practice is extremely rare.

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