A Privacy Checkup

From data that we freely give up to private companies like Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Amazon, to data brokers and ad networks that track us around the internet, not to mention government surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden, most of our most personal data is being collected by many different entities. Like any tool, data can be used for both good and bad. And companies that store our data can be hacked to embarrass us, just like politicians and tech people have been recently.

I operate online as if everything I do will be public some day: my search history, my texts, Facebook messages, location data. I think about what data I’m freely giving away to data companies and weigh whether the benefit is big enough to give up privacy. Most people don’t even think about this bargain.

I recognize that anyone who really wants to get my data can probably do it. But I like to make myself a smaller target.

I urge you to take some of these steps to minimize your personal data exposure. Here’s my personal security checkup:

Continue reading…

We’re in Deep Trouble

Trump’s un-American presidency is only 10 days old. And it’s going to be way worse than people think.

Trump is an insecure, narcissistic con man with an unsecure Android phone. He’s shown he is incapable of being an adult, obsessed with getting people to love him, attacking any and all real or perceived enemies and slights. His entire agenda is set to consolidate personal power in hopes that people will love him.

The real power is seemingly being wielded by white supremacist and self-described Leninist Stephen Bannon and billionaire Robert Mercer, who was the biggest single US campaign contributor in 2016. As Bannon said:

“Lenin…wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.

In the first ten days, they’ve already started to create chaos, started a constitutional crisis, destabilized the US and brought shame onto our country. A partial list: Continue reading…

Three Years of Magma Partners

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Francisco, Diego and I first started working on Magma Partners in December 2013, which means we’re just passing our 3rd birthday. We originally planned to invest in 4-6 Chile based companies per year, but quickly found that demand for private capital, high quality mentorship and a bridge to the US market outstripped our modest goal.

We like to be the first check into a startup and invest an average of $50k initially, with the capacity to follow on with $250k more in two niches:

  • B2B companies that serve the Latin American market
  • Startups whose tech team is based in Latin America but whose primary market is the US.

In 2016, we invested in 7 new companies, moved to new offices in Santiago and expanded our presence in Colombia and in the US. We’ve honed our expertise in helping Latin American startups derisk the jump to the US market and have had our first successes helping B2B companies in Latin America negotiate significant deals with legacy companies.

We also focused on building out our networks in Colombia, Mexico and the US. As more of our companies started to expand outside of Chile, it was the logical next step to live up to our promise of helping entrepreneurs with more than just money.

As we turn 3, here’s some of our 2016 stats: Continue reading…