Seeking the New Silicon Valley
The carrier has launched Amérigo, a scheme to bring together multiple public and private investment funds that can be channeled into digital communications startups. It already has €300 million (US$378 million) of committed funds, including €68 million ($85.6 million) from the operator. (See Telefónica Launches €300M VC Scheme.)
Amérigo is going to be managed by Telefónica's Digital division, which is already investing and incubating startups at 12 Wayra academies in Europe and Latin America, where the talents of digital innovators are being nurtured. (See Why Gonzalo Martin-Villa Is Kissing Frogs and Telefónica: A New Breed of Telco.)
Any move to channel funds towards digital startups is positive, but what's particularly refreshing about Amérigo's strategy is that it is actively seeking startups outside of Silicon Valley and London and, as would be natural for Telefónica, will be particularly seeking to invest in Latin American entrepreneurs. The four main markets being targeted initially are Spain, Colombia, Chile and Brazil.
[Ed note: If a community of startups is established in Spain, would it be called Silicio Valle?]
And there's little doubt that the team at Telefónica's Digital unit is committed to finding the next big thing in communications and learning from the swathe of startups that are seeking investment. "Innovation happens outside of telcos," admitted Gonzalo Martin-Villa, who runs Wayra, earlier this summer.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading