Protectionism and critical thinking in the Spanish technology industry

Something interesting happened this week.

El Confidencial wrote an article involving La Nevera Roja’s co-founder and one of its investors, who apparently are being sued by the former girlfriend of the latter.

I have nothing bad to say about Iñigo Juantegui, La Nevera Roja’s co-founder. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve talked to him several times while he was at the food delivery company and also more recently, as CEO of OnTruck. I have massive respect for him and what he’s accomplished. He’s always treated me well and we’ve had interesting conversations about his previous business and what he’s building right now.

I also don’t have any additional information about the topic covered by El Confidencial, and I’ve been public before about the way they treat some tech-related information as a media entity. I truly believe that we only know one side of the story and there’s probably a lot more to it.

But I do find it interesting that the news received very little attention by those in the Spanish technology ecosystem. The article was probably read by many in the industry, but very few openly talked about it and even fewer decided to share the story on social media.

Had the article not involved a fellow colleague but a politician, football player or celebrity, I’m sure the reaction by the community would have been much different.

Instead, what I saw was a deep silence only broken by the tweets of a few journalists and a handful of entrepreneurs and investors. Everybody else remained quiet.

Maybe this behaviour was the consequence of many people truly believing that people are not guilty until proven otherwise. That’s the way it should be in ALL cases.

But I still have the feeling that if a similar case arose involving a politician, the outcome and the reactions would be different.

What happened -or didn’t happen- this week, might be a natural reaction in what truly is a tight-knit community where everybody knows each other and everybody wants so save face. As the week passed by, I waited and looked for public reactions about the topic, but I didn’t find many.

This coincided with several conversations I’ve had in the past few weeks about the role media plays -and should play- in the Spanish technology industry, where critical thinking is not often welcomed despite the positive aspects it can bring to the table.

To this day, I believe there still remains a significant lack of open conversations that are critical with the ecosystem, and those critical voices are often rejected and described as, simply, haters.

This reminded me of an email I once received by an investor as a result of an article I published on this very same site.

I understand that you are in the news business. What I would like to know is, if your intention is to help founders and the startup ecosystem to grow and succeed and write stories about this, or if you will produce sensational stories that can hurt people, companies and the startup ecosystem?

To this day, I still think that the role media plays and should play in the Spanish tech industry is not well understood by most of the players in the ecosystem. I hope one day it will be, and that critical thinking will somewhat replace the protectionism that’s often seen in our country.

Update:

I should have mentioned one important thing that Javier Escribano mentions in the comments and that I totally agree with. The average quality of content produced in Spanish tech media is, in my opinion, fairly poor, and this doesn’t help build trust between all ecosystem players. I will write about this in the near future.

 

  • We have talked a lot about this, even before you started Novobrief. I’m the first one who asks for more critical stories, but based on facts and objectivity. I’ve enjoyed many stories written by you or Analia Plaza. I’ve also written several critical articles (Tuenti, ENISA…) who were broadly shared. I believe you can help us become better entrepreneurs and you can avoid that many new entrepreneurs launch something who doesn’t solve anything.

    The problem comes when someone has a track record of lying, exaggeration on the headline and hate. Any new story from that person is in doubt, until proven otherwise. As we are a tight-knit community, the same way journalists know how an entrepreneur behaves; entrepreneurs and investors know if they can trust a journalist.

    Look for other critical articles and see if they were shared or not. Don’t generalize based on just one newspaper.

    • Jaime Novoa

      Agree on most of the things you’re saying. I should have added in the post that media coverage of the Spanish tech industry is, in my opinion, very poor with the exception of a few journalists and publications. You’re totally correct about that.

      The article is partly a consequence of private conversations about this and other topics that very few are willing to discuss in public. And I believe public conversations, such as the one we’re having right now and the ones you mentioned (ENISA), about similar topics, are healthy for all players involved.

      Hopefully we’ll more of those and less of clickbait, shitty articles that don’t add much. And you personally know that I believe El Confidencial writes a lot that fall in the latter category 😉

  • carlos de otto

    Jaime I do believe that there is no case for protectionism or lack of criticism in this issue, but rather lack of interest. This seems to me a private matter interesting only, and not even, to those involved.

    • Jaime Novoa

      Agree to disagree. I think there’s been plenty of commentary about this issue behind the scenes -at least in some circles I tend to be in- but there’s been very public repercussions about it.

      I don’t care much about this particular issue, but I do think that people in general are not willing to be critical in public about others or about the ecosystem in general.