Good news for my friend and CEO of Acens José Cerdán, good news for the Spanish start-up scene in general: Acens has just announced that it was acquired by Telefónica for a rumored €80 million. Acens was founded in 1997 and provides cloud hosting and housing services for more than 100k business customers and operates large data centers in Spain (about 6,000 square meters). Acens hosts over 200k websites, can provide VPN services and allows companies to outsource their entire server infrastructure.

If the price tag of €80 million turns out to be correct, the Acens acquisition price will have surpassed Tuenti’s by €10 million. Not bad! Compared to tech exits in other European countries or the US, this figure might not seem exceptional. But considering the unfavorable start-up environment in Spain, this is a very important signal, both for investors and for (potential) entrepreneurs that exits to local buyers are possible.

The acquisition comes just one day after Apple announced the launch of iCloud. While Acens is a B2B company and does not target individual consumers like Apple, there is clearly a trend here and that is towards hosting everything in the internet.

José has done an amazing job running and scaling Acens since 2007. He was a guest at the Menorca TechTalk and has an interesting bio, having founded his first company at the age of 22 and being a current advisor to the current opposition leader and head of Spain’s People’s Party, Mariano Rajoy.

I am happy for José and his team.  Let’s hope that this acquisition gives a boost to the entire start-up scene in Spain. Enhorabuena José!

A couple of weeks ago, Telefónica announced the launch of Wayra, a program that will support the creation of high-tech IT companies in Latin America and Spain. Basically, Wayra is a business incubator, although it wants to be more than that and calls itself a business “accelerator”. (Future) entrepreneurs can submit their projects, even if they’re only at an idea stage, and the 30 teams with the most promising ideas will be given the opportunity to present in front of a jury which will then narrow the selection down to 10 projects (this occurs on a country level). The first three countries are Colombia, Mexico and Spain, and the goal is to have this initiative running in eight countries by the end of this year. This will bring the number of supported projects to 80 by the end of 2011.

Every project will get access to Telefónicas top-notch technological infrastructure, and in addition will receive financing of $30k to $70k during the first six months and will obtain all the necessary support needed to establish and build a successful company (office space, mentoring, day-to-day management, technical support from Telefónicas R&D department, etc.). Wayra will also help the most interesting of these projects to obtain additional financing after the initial six-month period.

The idea behind this project is to facilitate the creation of global tech companies out of Latin America and Spain, which, despite some great successes like MercadoLibre, is still very difficult. Many potential founders move to tech hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, London or Berlin because they can’t find the necessary environments needed to create and grow an international company in their home countries. Access to capital is difficult (especially finding “smart money”), it’s hard to find skilled employees and the overall environment (legal, etc.) is often not supportive of entrepreneurship.

Wayra’s mission is to plant the seed from which local “Silicon Valleys” can emerge over time in the target countries, enabling talented individuals to pursue their dreams without having to leave their home country and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. A great initiative, I am looking forward to seeing the first projects emerging from the program.

A big thank you to all the foners out there who sent us data on Telefonica, The Cloud and T Mobile hotspots.

To recap: Telefonica currently has the largest WiFi network in Spain with 900 hotspots. The Cloud has the largest WiFi network in Europe with 6000 hotspots. And finally, T Mobile has the largest WiFi network in the world with 14,000 hotposts. FON already has 1500 pre-registered foners, so this means that very soon, FON will have a larger network than Telefonica. Coupled with FON expansion in France and Sweden, FON could be the largest WiFi network in Europe by April of next year, with more than 6000 hotspots (to which Linuses will connect for free!).

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