This is a year old interview that was published by Santiago Times on January 27 (2007) and I hadn’t posted yet. Now that I’m off to San Francisco in a week, I thought it might be interesting to post some english content.
By Kerry Fleisher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Sorry I’m late, you’re my ninth meeting today,” Leo Prieto apologizes as he enters Santiago’s Café de Las Artes. It is but 3:12 pm on a Wednesday. In a matter of seconds, the gawky 27-year-old web designer catches the waiter’s eye, slips past the women pinching macchiato demitasses, collapses into his chair, and does the next logical thing: orders a mango juice. As the poster child for Chile’s Web 2.0 generation, this is a perfectly classy request.
“I work right over there”—he booms in impeccable English, catching his breath—“But I’ve been all over the place today.”
For an internet technocrat whose start-up company Aardvark designs websites for Chile’s most prominent corporations, and whose current Zetacorp network receives millions of hits per month, Leo Prieto looks like a pretty darn average guy in his graffiti-logo gray t-shirt.
But then again, in the age of the second internet boom, dubbed “Web 2.0,” success stories often come as in the first, without suits, ties, polished shoes and short hair. A reporter who visited Steve Chen and Chad Hurley’s original YouTube office was stunned: “The YouTube office is a big messy loft that looks like a fantasy dorm,” he wrote. At Googleplex in Mountain View, Google employees can be spotted in bathing suits, taking advantage of the complementary outdoor wave pool.
Granted, Prieto may or may not be the next Steve Chen or Chad Hurley, but being named one of El Mercurio’s “100 Top Young Chilean Leaders” of 2006 allows him certain executive authority. Prieto requests videoconferences (in whatever clothes he desires, camera position pending) in lieu of face-to-face meetings. With a resume that includes traveling with former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos to Silicon Valley and three international awards, clients usually oblige.
Web 2.0 is a tale of young innovators keeping the big guys in check. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak debuted their catchy Apple Technology in 1976, muscling out the “Big Brothers” at IBM. A 30-year-old Bill Gates took the reins in 1985 with his Microsoft Windows. Then in 1996, Google’s young guns Larry Page and Sergey Brin stole center stage both at the tender age of 23. Their company posted over $7 billion dollars in revenue in 2006.
When asked how he would pitch his newest project, Zimio, to the Google boys—if the hypothetical situation were to arise—Prieto laughs, but quickly demurs. “Well, it’s not ready yet,” he says.
Continue reading “The Prieto Vision for Chile: A potpourri of blogs, broadband and WiFi”