November has arrived. But before we start looking towards what’s ahead, let’s take a look back where we’ve been. From tech bigwigs coming in to new startups venturing abroad (and a little Halloween celebration), here’s a recap of what’s happened in LatAm tech over the past seven days:
Since Marissa Mayer’s 2012 arrival, Yahoo! has embarked on a complete transformation in an effort to become the tech comeback story of the decade. Yahoo! Argentina CEO Alejandro Fishman has been with the company for 13 years, riding out its highs and lows. He discussed its most recent turnaround and Latin America’s role in it:
The absolute weight of Latin America is still small, but on a growth level, it’s ahead. So in that context, we stick our heads up and say “here we are.” We are now part of the Americas, and really, the importance the region is getting is because of the region’s growth, in other words, Latin America is the total protagonist. Growth in the U.S. is much harder, because penetration rates and investment are much higher, so growth happens in smaller points. But in Latin America, which has a different history, percentage growth rates are enormous, and that weighs on the company’s strategy and its markets.
Hellofood, Rocket Internet’s online food delivery bet, has upped its game in the region in recent months. We talked to the people spearheading its efforts – Alejandro Ponce in Spanish-speaking Latin America, and Emerson Calegaretti in Brazil – to get a clearer idea of the overall picture. The two talked mobile (15-20% of business), strategy (product and technology) and what it’s like working with Rocket from the inside (Aggressive? Yes. Crazy? No.).
Last-minute hotel booking app HotelTonight officially launched in its second Latin American market last week: Costa Rica. And while it’s not the most obvious locale (our bets were placed on Colombia), in the grand scheme of things, it makes sense. “There is a ton of U.S. travel to Costa Rica, it’s a great vacation destination for people here, so there’s already that flow of travel into Costa Rica. So, from that perspective, it’s a logical next step for us,” explained HotelTonight COO Jared Simon in an interview. He also touched on a new area of business that’s opened up for the company:
We’ve sort of carved out this space that didn’t exist before. We’ve become experts in real-time yield optimization for hotels. It’s pretty amazing, but that just wasn’t anything that anyone spent that much time on before. It wasn’t something that the big online travel agencies really developed any expertise in, and the hotels have plenty of other things that they’ve got to do. So we’ve found that in many of our markets, we’re the experts on what the demand looks like in real-time, and what you should do with rate, your inventory and what not.
With all this focus on companies heading into Latin America, we also got a rather unique perspective from a company moving in the opposite direction: Fligoo. Out of Argentina, the startup has made its landing in Silicon Valley. What’s more, they’ve done it sans accelerator.
In a special guest column, Fligoo co-founder Lucas Olmedo outlines the benefits of going it alone in the U.S. market and lays out some valuable tips for entrepreneurs considering doing the same.
On the lighter side, we took a look at some of our favorite startups celebrated Halloween. From the vans of terror sent out by Uber Bogotá to BuzzFeed’s list of pugs in costume, more than a few companies had quite a bit of fun.