My 17 year old son Tom was sick for Roshashana the Jewish New Year that we celebrated last night. I felt sorry for him and asked him if there was anything I could get him that would make him feel better. He answered “I don’t know Dad, all I want I get on my laptop”.
When I was his age being sick meant book, magazines, videos and TV. Now all that comes over the internet.
But then I thought that everything I could possibly get him I could get him thanks to the internet. That our home, our car, our vacation home and whatever we have we owe to the companies I built that deliver the internet to people. That my career has been all about companies that deliver the internet to everyone, including my son Tom. He gets his internet via Jazztel and Ya.com and Fon (the two Spanish telcos that I founded and deliver internet via DSL, and Fon WiFi).
So there we were, a son who anything he wanted while sick was on the internet and a father who anything he could possibly buy him was thanks to the Internet.
We are a good fit Tom and I.
Fonoteca: €10K Art Competition to design our gadget library
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in Fon with No Comments
Fon called for an art competition to build our wifi gadget library called the Fonoteca. The idea is that all Fon employees will be able to check out and test all sorts of WiFi gadgets, smartphones, ipads, tablets, laptops, gaming devices, book readers, etc. The Fonoteca will be at the entrances of the new offices. We offered 10K euros for the executed work. Please tell me if you have any favorites.
What keeps Spain together
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in MV with No Comments
In Spain where I most live, and I say mostly because we travel so much, there are parts of the country, Basques, Catalans, that would like to become independent. Or let’s say there are some people in some parts of the country that would like to become a new country (because I understand that if there was a referendum say in Catalonia and everyone who lives there voted the “independistas” would lose). Why? I see two trends that are “gluing” Spain together in spite of its different cultures. One is demographics. Native Spaniards have one of the lowest birth rates in the world and if the population of Spain does not shrink it’s because of immigrants who are 12% of the population but have a quarter of all new babies. As an immigrant myself and father of 5 I know that immigrants do not care about issues related to nationalism. My children consider the nationalisms of Spain a problem of the past, irrelevant to them. As a family, we already moved to another country Spain, and have a hard time thinking of that country itself moving to another country or becoming a smaller different nation. The second trend is the accelerated increase in the national debt in the context of a European and global financial crisis. If a part of Spain wanted to split up now, say Catalonia, they would have to agree with Spain’s creditors what part of their debt corresponds to Catalonia and that would be tougher than all the discussion around language and culture. We are a country partly united by its obligations. Maybe if things get really bad, like in Greece, there could be a fragmentation of Spain. But in terms of GDP over debt Spain is still only at 70% and Greece close to 200%. So we are not there yet.
In favor or against the Palestinian State?
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in Middle East with No Comments
As a Jew I want to see a Palestinian state. I just don’t know how to guarantee that this state will not be Hamas controlled and focused not on its own success but the destruction of Israel. Gaza has been a terrible example of what may happen in all of Palestine. And at the same time I think the Israelis are so in the wrong for allowing more settlements. Having said this, if those people are fanatics who want to be in Palestine I think the Palestinians should keep them and tax them. The GDP of the 300K Israeli settlers may be as high as that of the millions of Palestinians. Why chase them away?
Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in General with No Comments
I just had breakfast at our NYC home with Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace. I have known Kumi for 11 years. First I would like to remark what a great person he is and how important the work he does at Greenpeace is. Kumi does not just do office activism, read his bio and you will find out more about his life.
During our breakfast we spoke a great deal about what are the most important environmental challenges of the decade and how Greenpeace can focus on addressing them. An idea I gave him was to work more on public shame. I reminded Kumi Naidoo on how it became socially unacceptable to wear fur for women after wearing furs went from being a fashion symbol to almost a criminal act. Especially fur from animals facing extinction. I said that if the same social stigma could be attached to cars with engines over 3 litres or rooms with AC under a certain temperature, or heated over a certain temperature more could be done for the environment and climate change than with many trips on the Rainbow Warrior.
We also spoke about how I could help Greenpeace and we decided that I could get involved in the online activism part of the organization. I am supposed to meet with a fellow Argentine, Martin Prieto who does a great job at that. I was also invited to the inauguration of the new Rainbow Warrior built in Gdansk. Sounds like an amazing ship.
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in International with No Comments
I belong to the tech world. But also to the real world. And the disconnect has never been greater. The tech world is one piece of good news after another. The real world is falling apart. Especially in Southern Europe where I live. But even in NYC where I am now the talk is of gloom and doom.
Testing Google TV
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in Internet & Technology with No Comments
I am testing Google TV for the first time, it’s like Apple TV + Chrome. The Logitech execution is poor, lots of work to be done. It’s shocking that Logitech put the enter and the delete buttons so close to each other that many times you want to enter, you delete. I don’t think Google’s method of allowing everyone else to build anything off their code really works. At least Apple retains control of the final product. Google bought Motorola and that is great. I am not saying Google should not license. But Apple is showing that corporate fascism pays off. Somewhere in between is best.
Greece should default but pay half of its debt
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in Economy with No Comments
I believe that the Greek economy is a tumor in the EU economy. I don’t believe all of the EU is as sick and I don’t think we should bail Greece out. Instead for their own good and ours we should let Greeks go back to their old currency, devalue and default. Then we should focus on saving the banks (but not the shareholders of the banks) who lent money to Greece or bought their bonds.
Now what confuses people is that they think that sovereign default means a country not paying its debts at all. That is not really how it generally works. What we saw with Argentina for example is that a substantial part of the debt was paid. And this will be the case of Greece. They will probably end up paying 60% of their debt. That’s what they need to move on. Not a debt forgiveness but a significant debt reduction to say the levels of Portugal, Italy and Spain or around 1 time GDP (Spain is less but it’s getting there). Now interestingly I tried to find out how much Greek sovereign debt was trading for and it is trading for around half of its value. So the markets also believe Greece will default but pay half of its debt.
Marc Anthony from the second row
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in General with No Comments
I don’t really like Marc Anthony, the salsa I can take, but those romantic songs are too much for me. But not for my wife Nina and therefore I accepted the kind invitation of Emilio Azcarraga to go and see him and worked on these pictures taken from the second row on a Canon S95. Working on the photos and the video I had a good time anyway. And afterwards we all went for a great dinner. I was married twice before being with Nina, once for 12 years, once for one year. If the last 4 years with Nina have been the best married years of my life is because of her and how much in love I am with this amazing woman. But it’s also because I have learned to be more patient and try to make the best out of situations, case in point the Marc Anthony concert.
At Fon: we have partnered with Nintendo in Portugal, giving owners of 3DS consoles internet connectivity through our Zon@Fon hotspot network. With our more than 450,000 hotspots, this means users gain access to the largest WiFi network in Portugal. Thanks to Zon@Fon, Portugal is the country with the highest public WiFi density in the world. On average, about 1 out of every 10 Portuguese households has a Zon@Fon hotspot.
These are good news for Nintendo users, who now thanks to Zon@Fon will be able to access the internet at every Fon hotspot in Portugal. The 3DS console with Nintendo’s new SpotPass service will allow users to seamlessly receive push content including movies, cartoons and other exclusive content from Nintendo automatically, even while in sleep mode. Sharing Foneros will enjoy full internet connectivity with their 3DS.
The increasing popularity of iOS and Android devices is a challenge for game console manufacturers like Nintendo, so this kind of partnership enables them to offer internet connectivity on the go even without a 3G card and to develop a new dimension of interaction with their users.
This offer will only be available in Portugal initially, but we plan to roll it out to other countries as well. This cooperation demonstrates the true value of a dense WiFi network not only for users, but also for gadget manufacturers and other businesses, who can offer a whole new dimension of user-experience by partnering with Fon. We will develop more partnerships of this kind in the future.