We’re getting to the final hours of 2013, and — no surprise to me — I am looking backward, not forward as I hope to do on New Year’s Day. But this year, the backward glance is not filling me with melancholy. Instead, I am feeling amazed. For anyone on the Latino tech beat — I have several, but the Latino beat this year kept me quite busy (that plus the new pope and several great memoirs by Latino leaders) — this was a pretty remarkable year. A summary of what happened, from my POV:
–The Latino tech story stopped being social media and started becoming entrepreneurship. If you followed my coverage here in 2012, chances are you heard about the prowess of Latinos on social channels. It was a story that was interesting to both marketers and Latinos. For the former, it was about new ways to engage markets. For the latter, it was about self-expression, power, and empowerment. The empowerment has evolved, and the dominant theme today is Latino entrepreneurship. Everywhere you go, it seems, you hear about Latino accelerators, Latino crowdfunding platforms, Latino mentorship networks. There are good reasons — good business reasons — for this. But if you slept through the year and only woke up today to read the coverage, you’d be surprised to see how the Latino narrative has changed.
–The Silicon Valley Latino community began to come together. I first noted this in an article I posted in May. Silicon Valley Latino groups and leaders began collaborating in unprecedented ways, and a few new groups emerged with the collaboration theme in mind. This is newsworthy for several reasons, the most important being the value that community organization has for local entrepreneurial economies. Outside of Silicon Valley, we’re seeing similar community dynamics in New York City, Mexico City, Miami, and San Juan. But the fact that it’s happening here, in the Valley, has symbolic importance. Right or wrong, entrepreneurs regard the Valley the way the entertainers once regarded New York. (“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”)
–Non-Latino leaders began to place their bets. But perhaps the biggest trend worth noting — and I am betting it continues well into 2015 — is the seemingly sudden emergence of non-Latino tech leaders in the Latino entrepreneur market. Google for Entrepreneurs stepped up big, with significant support for the newly minted Manos Accelerator (one of the hottest Latino tech launches in 2013). The Kapor Center for Social Impact showed up with support for several local initiatives as well as early-stage investment in a handful of Latino startups. VC firms like Andreesen Horowitz were conspicuous present at other events, signaling mainstream interest in companies serving the manystreams (multicultural marketplaces). It’s still early days for the Latino entrepreneur movement. But the mainstream/manystream mix bodes well for Latinos who are interested in starting new ventures. what will 2014 bring? Who knows? But with all the commotion that 2013 created I am betting that the market will start looking at the early ROI. How we look at the investment in 2014 may in fact be one of the big stories in 2014. I am looking forward to covering it.
My Forbes Latino Beat, 2013:
‘The Fifth Floor’ (El Quinto Piso): Who Will Rebuild the House of Puerto Rico? (with Marcos Polanco).