Response to my article on entrepreneurship in Brazil

This was one response I got on my article ”Is Brazil finally ready to fulfill on its destiny as the country of the future.”

No, it s not. Most of my extended family is in Brazil so my wife and I decided to work remote from Brazil for a couple months this fall. It s hard to really understand how crippling the culture of bureaucracy and corruption is until you experience it.

Internet. $200/mo USD for a theoretical 1MB connection. That s assuming the power stays on. Lots of people use the internet (mostly at cafes) but it s only for games and social networking nobody thinks of it as legitimate way to make money.

Crime. In many parts of Sao Paulo and Rio people don t even stop at stoplights because the risk of getting shot and carjacked is too real.

Education. Completely broken. Cheating is so rampant most teachers don t even try to prevent it from happening. That s at the private schools where my cousins have attended public schools are apparently far worse.

Entrepreneurs. Most people literally don t even have a mental category for this. At best they make vague negative associations about you being a capitalist. The dream job is either working for the government or getting an engineering position at some multi-national corporation.

All of this is unfortunate because the Brazilian people are really delightful and quite creative. My wife is a designer and she says some of the best design is coming out of Brazil right now.

The first paragraph is just opinion, and my opinion is different than this person. In fact I have experienced “it,” having lived in Brazil for close to a year in 2000, and returning here for a month for every year for the past five. There are crippling areas of bureaucracy, indeed. I disagree that this means there are not great opportunities right now in Brazil. We will just have to agree to disagree, but this says as much about our worldviews as anything. There is simply no statement of fact in here that we could even possibly start to debate.

The second paragraph is more specific, which is good, but just plain wrong, and the thread on hacker news from Brazilians living here now suggests so. I’m renting an apartment here in Rio that I found on and for three straight days I was on a video conference call for eight hours a day without any issues. I get consistent speedtests at 2.5 MB+. The only time I have issues is when the modem overheats because they have it in a drawer, or in the mid evening when the entire population of Brazil seems to be online and the Internet gets clogged (which is true for any city in the world). I disagree with both assertions made in the second paragraph, especially that no one here sees it as a business opportunity. It is literally false that “nobody thinks of the Internet as a legitimate way to make money” but figuratively false as well.

There are real problems with crime in Brazil. And, my point in talking about the issues in the Complexo do Alemao are that there is a concerted effort to clean up the city here in Rio in preparation for the Olympics and World Cup, and there is was already great progress being made prior to this, as I have seen each year I’ve visited. I’d like to know how many of comments made on Hacker News were made by people who left Brazil ten years ago and still hold the same opinions? These things were absolutely true 10 or 20 years ago, but so was rampant crippling inflation, which is gone now. Things change and my assertion is that things have changed radically where there are now real and exciting opportunities that did not exist before. And besides, what does personal safety have to do with Internet entrepreneurship anyway?

The next position on education is true, but is this also not true for the US, which consistently ranks poorly in comparison to almost any other first-world country? And, if you read closely the results of the latest PISA surveys you see that there are large discrepancies between public and private schools, and that Brazilian students at the top compare favorably with any other top students in the world. There are as many intelligent people here in Brazil at the top as in any other country at the top and the entrepreneurs for the next generation Internet companies will invariably come from the upper crust of whatever country they grew up in, people who have grown up with computers and access to quality education. This is no different than the US, the center of Internet entrepreneurship in the world. You simply cannot say that a broken educational system means there will not be entrepreneurship, if this is what this person is asserting.

The last comment is again, pure opinion, and says more about the circles this person is in than the state of reality. Look around Rio and get connected with the technology and art scenes here, and you’ll see a completely different world. Or, choose see it the way you always have. This is no different than Portland, if you choose to see it that way.

It is incredibly ironic that this posting comes from a blog called “Blind Scientist” which “tries to be blind of influence.” Yoda told us that there is no try, only do or do not. And, you cannot be blind to influence, you can only be blind to the fact that everything is an opinion based on a certain worldview, and these assertions are nothing more than past based opinions.