Satellite picture displaying the Korean peninsula at night.Image via WikipediaMy readers know that I believe that the Bush Administration record on world affairs is pretty bad. Still for the sake of fairness there´s something positive to say about President Bush as he prepares to leave the White House and that is how well he and his team have managed North Korea. And nothing more dramatic than today´s footage showing North Korea´s nuclear reactor in which its atomic weapons were made being blown up. It is clear that military power supported by diplomacy as in the case of North Korea works much better than military power alone as it was the case in Iraq. It seems that medication plus therapy is a better treatment for brutal dictators than…lobotomy.

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From next year Chrysler, the third-largest automaker in the States, will provide most of their Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models with a “uconnect” system that will give the vehicles a 3G cellular Internet connection shared throughout the car over Wi-Fi. This, as a similar service I reviewed last March, proves how WiFi keeps thriving as a common language spoke by laptops and gadgets (like the ones built by Apple, Nintendo or Sony) and turning 3G into a WiFi signal will keep making a lot of sense for more then a few years.

Chrysler is an American brand and we don’t see many of its cars here in Europe, so if you want to turn your car into a WiFi hotspot you’ll soon be able to do it with Fon‘s help. We are making a lot of progress into enabling our users to plug an HSDPA modem (like the ones most operators give you for free if you pay for a monthly data plan) into our upcoming Fonera 2.0, that as you know has a useful USB port. Once you’ll have bought a Fonera 2.0, got a HSDPA modem from your mobile operator of choice and found a way (there are many)  to power your Fonera, you too will have WiFi in your car for all your family’s gadgets (iPod touch, Nintendo DS, PSP, laptops, etc), and probably at a much lower price then Chrysler’s option.

Is America really under attack to the point that the life of American citizens has to be so hard? This morning I had the horrible experience of taking my son Tom to renew his passport to the American Consulate in Madrid, and ordeal that took three hours and it´s not finished. My son is a US Citizen and his passport had just expired. My son is also a Spanish citizen, so I have recently been exposed to the process of renewing both his passports and I am sorry to say that the American system is both awful and humiliating.

First of all, the access to the American Consulate in Madrid is a mission impossible in itself. Forget about WiFi access at the consulate. Not only is there no WiFi there, but there´s no phone usage because the Americans are so terrified of terrorists that they don´t allow you to bring any electronic devices into the consulate, not even a Nokia phone. Moreover, once you come in, Americans and non Americans are thrown into one small room –that is probably unsafe in case of fire– in which consulate employees only appear as animals in the zoo out of glass cages. I wanted to photograph or film this crowded for my blog, but, of course, I couldn´t as that in itself would constitute a security threat so there´s no way the overcrowded conditions can be reported other than by my description.

And once in, what you have to do to renovate a simple expired passport is out of this world. In the case of my son we failed to get his passport renewed because my presence, his presence and his expired passport –which was of course all that was needed in Spain to renew his Spanish passport– was not enough. The American Consulate requires that his mother had to come as well, that we had the social security card and birth certificate and both his mother and I had to swear in front of a consul (who is behind the thickest bullet proof glass that I have seen in my life) that all we said was true. This American swearing thing just drives me nuts. Why is just signing not enough?

In the meantime, the application for the passport renewal is very confusing itself. Nobody helps you to fill it up. All embassy employees are in glass cages so they cannot see very well what you have if you show it to them and there are so many people waiting that the whole place feels like a crowded subway that is not moving.

Will America one day learn not to be terrorized anymore? Will America learn to stop seeing most people as potential enemies? I certainly hope that Barack Obama not only wins the election, but changes the rethoric of fear of George W Bush that has hurt USA so much.

Nokia, already a shareholder of Symbian, has announced yesterday the acquisition of the remaining 52% it didn’t own for €264 million, along with the promise to make it open-source in two years, with the launch of the Symbian Foundation, where Nokia will be joined by AT&T, LG Electronics, Motorola, NTT DOCOMO, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone.

The Symbian OS platform has 67% share of the “smart mobile device” market and is powering around 200 million mobile phones sold to date, especially thanks to Nokia’s S60 platform used in its popular Series N and Series E phones. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT Docomo, will unite their Symbian-based platforms in an open mobile software platform available for free to all Symbian Foundation members, in a move that seems a direct response to Google’s open-source (and free for manufacturers) Android mobile platform, while still making economic sense for Nokia (who paid €160M in royalties to Symbian Limited in 2007 alone).

Tomorrow’s mobile business is all about software, Apple clearly demonstrates this with the iPhone. As Om Malik pointed out in a great post, “in this platform game, the winner is going to be the one that can attract the most developers”. So with yesterday’s announcement, a big win for the open-source movement, Nokia is trying to face competition with open platforms like Mobile Linux and Google’s Android, and of course, less open but rich platforms like Apple’s iPhone, in an effort to attract the most and best developers to build mobile applications.

I consider myself an entrepreneur first and and investor second and this is mostly the case because if I am an investor at all it is because of the money I made being an entrepreneur and not the other way around. And as an investor I have invested in very few companies. I get an investment proposal per day on the average and make one investment per month. But so far my investments are doing well. My stellar investment is not on the internet surprisingly but in alternative energies where I was the first backer of Miguel Salis in Eolia, a Spanish company now worth over 700 million euros only after 3 years from its foundation. But in the field of the internet there have been some exciting developments this week including the sale of Plazes to Nokia, the new investment round of Technorati and now Seesmic´s announcement.

My friend Loic Le Meur’s startup, Seesmic, has raised a new round of financing attracting investors like Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and Wellington Partners, a well known VC. In this post on his blog Loic tells us the story of how Omidyar and Wellington Partners joined Seesmic. Congratulations Loic!

According to the data Loic made public, Seesmic, a website and platform enabling video conversations, is getting 120,000 unique visitors per month, 69,000 video posts per month and around 3,600 new users. What is especially interesting is how their video comments feature for third party platforms like WordPress and Friendfeed has proved extremely popular and taken the conversation out of the website and into thousands of blogs. To bring it back together, Seesmic recently launched a new version of their embeddable video player which shows all replies to the post shown at the bottom of the player.

As an early stage investor in Plazes, I’m pleased to report Nokia has just announced the acquisition of the company. Congratulations to Felix Petersen and all the Plazes team!

Plazes, a service that lets you locate your friends and share your location and social activities, is a pioneer  in the location based services segment which is now gaining more and more traction thanks to Nokia’s and Apple’s moves in the market and a bunch of new startups developing new services and applications. In a few month Plazes will be made available to millions of Nokia customers as part of Nokia’s service platform and Nokia Maps. For Plazes and its users this acquisition is a great chance to take the service mainstream, in front of millions of mobile users.

This is not the first of Nokia’s moves in location services, in 2006 the company acquired Gate5, a Berlin-based startup that developed mobile mapping apps. With last year’s acquisition of Navteq for $8.1 billions (soon to be approved by the European Commission), Plazes will be in good company and a perfect fit with Nokia’s strategy for location services, helping the mobile phones giant integrate location based social features in its mapping products.

Nokia will of course keep running and improving the Plazes service (and new users will be able to sign up for the service). The company will still be based in Berlin together with the location based service team from Nokia, previously part of gate5.

Yesterday I was interviewed by Vanity Fair, one of my favorite magazines along with The Economist and Wired, as their Spanish edition is about to be launched. When they asked me what my favorite sport was I replied biking, so they decided to take pictures of me while cycling on the roof of my house.

The pictures I’ve published where taken while I was being photographed.

Vanity Fair Bike Shoot

And here is the video:

Now something I didn’t like. While Vanity Fair was interviewing me I googled it to find out when the newspaper was going to launch in Spain and I found this article from El País, with a comment saying something like “in the world there are few publishers capable of investing more then 12M euros to launch a magazine for a general audience of 40M inhabitants. One of these is Advance Publications of the Jewish brothers Samuel Irving and Donald Newhouse, comparable to the Sulzbergers, the New York Times publishers…“. What’s the purpose of saying they are Jewish? What if the New York Times wrote about Telefonica and its catholic CEO César Alierta, or Santander Bank managed by the Catholic family Botín? Ridiculous and unnecessary.

There is still a latent antisemitism in Spain. When somebody is rich they call them Jewish now I still have to see El País called Einstein, for example, the famous Jewish scientist. And who am I, the cyclist on the roof?

Nokia CorporationImage via WikipediaWhat is best to be Nokia or Apple? When you look at Apple´s financials and compare them to Nokia financials you clearly see that Nokia is doing much better than Apple except on one item: Market cap. This is the same with Microsoft and Google except that Microsoft´s market cap is still higher than Google´s. But the concept is the same. Investors give the Silicon Valley companies a much higher P/E. They believe that Apple and Google are on the rise, and Microsoft and Nokia on the decline. Looking at this and knowing about all the common ties including common board members that exist between Google and Apple I wonder why Nokia and Microsoft don´t have closer collaborations, especially now that Apple has gone after Nokia´s lunch, high end phones. But Nokia still sells in only one week as many phones as the iPhone has ever sold. Investors lose track of this. And Nokia´s CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo seems to have a clear view of who his competitors are.

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Robert MuellerImage via WikipediaI just read that 406 people have been arrested in the States by the FBI in “Operation Malicious Mortgage”. Just in case there were any doubts, this was part of the announcement:

“To people who have committed fraud or are contemplating doing so, FBI Director Robert Mueller said: ‘We will find you, you will be investigated and you will be prosecuted’.”

And I guess he means it because 406 people is a huge amount of detainees. According to Wikipedia USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world, one in 32 grown ups are in jail or parole. I lived in the States for 18 years and I was sorry to see how popular it was to be tough on crime, rather relying on education and prevention. Having lived in Europe for over 10 years now I believe that, even though we err on the side of leniency, it is best to invest in education rather than incarceration.

I find it hard to believe that when the FBI arrests 406 people that they make no mistakes. I keep hearing horror stories of friends of mine who get arrested for hours just trying to enter USA, generally for cases of mistaken identities. And then there are the cases of people who were executed or on death row and found innocent. I know that in USA people think of justice more as a form of revenge than a chance to readjust people to society and I know that the subprime scandal has led to enormous losses, but if they are really going to put people in jail, how about starting with the people at the Federal Reserve who were asleep at the wheel?

I’m one of the early shareholders in Sevenload and I’m very glad to announce the company has just closed its Series B round of financing lead by T-Online Venture Fund (Deutsche Telekom’s VC division), raising a “double digit million €” investment. Congratulations to Ibo and Axel!

Sevenload is like the combination of Flickr and Youtube, a social media platform for user generated and professional content.  This new round of financing will help the company expand its business launching localised sites in French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Polish, along with the existing English and German ones.

Sevenload also announced they joined the “User Generated Content Principles” initiative, an alliance that sets guidelines for creating and distributing content through the web while protecting copyrights.

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