Monthly Archives: November 2012

Chow Chile

So the end has come – of this year’s fellowship program and my blogging career. I can’t express enough gratitude to all the folks who made this possible and supported me. Special thanks to the EY Corporate Responsibility Fellowship Team, Prey Project, EY Chile, all the new friends made along the way and everyone back home. This has been a highlight in my professional career and I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned forward with me.

Chow Chile. Que te vaya bien.

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Categories: Chronicles of Chile, Random musings, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Chile of Tomorrow

When I first got to Chile, it took about 5 minutes of leaving the airport to realize that this is not your typical developing Latin American country. It took about 1 day to learn just how far from a developing country Chile is, 5 weeks to get a good understanding of the history and politics that led to their current state and 7 weeks to form a point of view worth posting on a blog.

Chile has risen to what the World Bank would classify as a “middle-income economy.” This success is due largely to agricultural and other commodity exports including copper, silver, wine, salmon and lumber.  However, the problem with pegging an economy on natural resources is that those resources one day run out or you reach a point where extraction of the resources causes more instability than economic benefit. Further, commodity markets don’t have the ability to absorb a nation’s full workforce which results in stagnant employment.

In recognizing that Chile’s current economic dependencies are not viable in the long- run, the Chilean government began promoting future focused industries like professional services, biotechnology and software. Key public-private partnerships have also been made through CORFO and the National Innovation Council for Competitiveness to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. Organizations like Ernst & Young and Endeavor also partner to do their part by providing support and increasing visibility of Chilean entrepreneurs on the global stage.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak with a bunch of local high-impact entrepreneurs at the Endeavor/EY Knowledge Sharing Conference where I presented on the topic of Turning Risk into Results. Here, we discussed the top 10 global risks as published annually by Ernst & Young as well as specific risks in Latin America using the World Bank’s 2012 Ease of Doing Business Study. We shared some really honest dialogue on topics including strategic tax, transfer pricing, managing your innovation investment, human capital planning, leveraging automation early in your company’s growth and managing capital risk. It’s clear that understanding risk is a competitive advantage – even in early stage companies where failure is often the result of the things could have been avoided with proper risk assessment, prioritization, action and ongoing transparency/communication.  

I think it’s very possible that Chile could be home to the Silicon Valley of Latin America. If the government and private sector continue to create favorable conditions that promote commerce and limit corruption risk, more foreign investment will come to the edge of the world. Like with the rest of the world, it’s also critical that upstream investments be made in the quality of and access to education – particularly math and science as well as improving gender equity in the workplace. With this investment and a realistic outlook on managing key risks to enable the nation’s development strategy, the emerging enterprises of Chile today can become the next generation market leaders of the World tomorrow. 

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Street Speak

When you come to Chile, you will be forced to notice the quantity and caliber of street art aka: graffiti. While in most cities (and by most standards) the art form is considered vandalism, here it is sooo much more.

In Chile, the history of street art is rich and truly reflects the political and social struggles this country has endured. Many of the barrios in which you’ll find the most impressive work were once disenfranchised urban pockets which are now experiencing massive revitalization. The streets offer great social commentary on the best and worst of times straight from the source.

Part of what lends to the technical credibility of graf is the speed at which the work must be produced.  I am amazed at what these artists do within this constraint and had to document some works to share!

“Graffiti is not about clean lines, pretty colors and beautiful blends. Graffiti is my life’s turbulence exploded on a wall.”- Mint+Serf

Categories: Chronicles of Chile, Random musings, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Open Source 101

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been learning a ton about Open Source Software (OSS) – what it is and what makes it so powerful.  There must be folks out there who, like me, are new to the topic so I thought I’d start by breaking down the basics….Open Source 101.

What is it? The term Open Source applies when a software program’s source code is freely (as in free speech, not necessarily zero cost) available to the public. Hence, such program’s can be modified and distributed by anyone. OSS is often developed as a community as opposed to by a singular individual or organization.

Where did it come from? The history of open source can be traced back to the creation of the computer but we’re going to make a massive oversimplification for the sake of time and attention span and fast-forward to the 1980’s and Richard Stallman, developer extraordinaire and software freedom activist. Stallman launched the GNU Operating System project, created the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and is the main author of the GNU General Public License (GPL). This GPL was then used by Linus Torvalds in creation and release of the Linux OS – one of the best examples of free and open source software collaboration. A global community of developers, using Linux and few other platforms, drove OSS growth during the internet/dot.com boom. This growth continues to be seen as the internet remains a necessary life- kernel. Now, open source runs much of the Internet and the Web – you may not even realize how much you rely on open source programs! The modern-day movement is supported by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) – a non-profit OSS advocacy corporation.

Why does it matter? What Stallman and others did in their frustration with proprietary solutions was disrupt the technology status-quo. The premise of the modern movement is that people unconcerned with proprietary ownership or financial gain will produce a more useful product than commercially developed programs. Further, by decentralizing the model of program development, a more powerful and reliable (bug free) solution may be found at a quicker rate than through traditional means.

If the source code is intended to be distributed for free, how can you monetize it?
Open source disrupts traditional product to profit models and creates greater incentive for all market players to innovate. While OSS business models may be a bit elusive, they exist. Some successful OS business models include:

  1. Dual Licenses – Offer a free, open source version of a product under a GPL and paid version(s) under commercial license. This is also often referred to as a Freemium model. WordPress, who hosts this blog, relies on such a model.
  2. Sell Support Services – Build a services and support business on top of your OSS. RedHat is a popular example of this.
  3. Hardware – Bundle the software with a hardware you build or run. Android does this.
  4. Adware – Sell advertising space like Mozilla Foundation did in its crazy lucrative royalty agreement with Google.

The open source movement served as a bridge during the recent economic downturn when large corporations were cutting R&D budgets and headcount. It provided the people and technical expertise to sustain a consumer driven technology sector which mainstream markets and large organizations fundamentally cannot do. It is estimated that by 2016, 50% of all software will be OSS. This is the result of passionate users operating as both the demand generators and suppliers.

Now we just have to figure out how to apply this fight the power approach in a scalable way to open up other troubled industries like healthcare IT, pharmaceutical drug development, scientific research, education and energy…..but I think it’s best that I get off my soap box now.

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