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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

The New York Times highlighted the growth of Power.com, a start up social networking company from Brazil which aims to become the leading portal where people can access their virtual lives. Power’s investors include venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Esther Dyson. What the site does is to put in one place instant messages, network updates, email and contact lists – instead of spread across Facebook, Hi5, LinkedIn, MSN, MySpace and Google’s Orkut.

“To me the important issue is that users are driving Power themselves,” said Esther Dyson, one of the technology industry’s preeminent global trend spotters and a seed investor in Power.com. “And it excites me that these users are not just in the US. Nor are the software’s creators: Latin America has impressive software design and engineering talent. Silicon Valley is not the only place to find great talent to build a world-class company.”

Vachani, a self-proclaimed “global adventurer” arrived in Brazil 5 years ago to take a break from the Silicon Valley. A UC Berkeley graduate, and a serial entrepreneur, Vachani, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, said, “I came to Brazil with a smile, a backpack and a passion for Brazilian dance and music. I just wanted to get my mind off of technology, and I thought I would go back to the US and start a new project after a year or so. Little did I know…”

Vachani soon recognized Latin America’s hidden treasure: undiscovered great minds. Vachani stated, “I quickly realized that Latin America was like India 30 years ago, before Silicon Valley discovered it. Back then, most of India’s brilliant minds were trapped in academia or working as bureaucrats in the government, with no entrepreneurial opportunities. Today, thousands of brilliant minds in Latin America are likewise underutilized and undervalued, with their biggest dreams being jobs as government bureaucrats and academics. Little capital and few role models are available to young entrepreneurs.

If I could create a project that truly pushed the limits of innovation, and that had capital, I knew I would be able to attract hundreds of Brazil’s and Latin America’s brightest minds. Together we have built Latin America’s first global technology company built upon the Silicon Valley adage to first bring the brilliant minds together and then they will create a brilliant product and company.”

Vachani did just that. As founder and CEO of Power.com, he attracted the world renowned Silicon Valley venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, famous for investing in Skype, Baidu, and Hotmail, to invest $6 million in Power and complete DFJ’s first ever investment in Latin America. A group of private investors — including Esther Dyson — added another $2 million. Power has attracted over 70 of Brazil’s brightest minds, including self-made entrepreneurs, professors, PhD’s and top graduates from Brazil’s most prestigious universities.

Igor Barenboim, Power’s Director of Business Development, PhD graduate from Harvard University and former Global Economist for Latin America’s largest hedge fund, stated, “I joined Power when it was just an idea on paper because I truly believed that Steve’s vision would help jumpstart Latin America’s transformation into an economy which truly values its intellectual capital. As a Brazilian with great dreams for the future of Latin America, I knew I needed to join this adventure”

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As mentioned in this blog on November, 10th, Brazil’s banking system is bracing itself for a wave of consolidation. The last announcement came yesterday as Banco do Brasil, the country’s top state-controlled bank announced it will spend US$2.3 billion to buy a 71.3 percent share in Banco Nossa Caixa SA, owned by the Sao Paulo state government.

Banco do Brasil will have US$217.2 billion in assets with the acquisition of Nossa Caixa, for which it will make 18 monthly payments of US$124.7 million starting in March. Earlier this month, Brazil’s second-largest private sector bank, Itau, bought rival Unibanco, creating a Latin American financial giant with total assets surpassing Banco do Brasil.

Cyrus Sanati has posted some interesting comments on the New York Times blog about this acquisition.

“If you look at the Brazilian banking system, there are 10 large banks representing 87.1 percent of the financial system,” Felipe Asenjo Wilkins, head of research for FIT Research in Santiago, Chile, told DealBook. “This is too much if we compare it with other emerging markets like Chile, Peru and Colombia.”

So who might be next? Banco do Brasil will probably move to purchase a stake in Banco Votorantim, a family-owned bank in São Paulo, Lia da Graça, an analyst with Banif Securities in São Paulo, told Dealbook. That purchase, along with another smaller bank, would put Banco do Brasil in the top spot.

All this could be unsettling to Brazil’s third-largest bank, Bradesco. It is not shy to do a deal to maintain its market share. “From 1948, Bradesco bought like 48 financial institutions” including banks, Mr. Wilkins said.

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