Miami’s unofficial tech pessimist thinks we’ve finally gotten past the hype

Last year, Miami’s tech scene had a lot of excitement, but we had a very real funding gap that kept companies from growing. This year, it seems like we’re moving past that.

We’re spending January making the city’s movers and shakers nail down some resolutions and predictions for their work in 2017. This week we’re talking tech scene. You can see all of the resolutions here.

Faquiry Diaz is a local tech investor who has been in Miami “since the Latin Internet days” in the late 90s. He’s the President and CEO of the Tres Mares Group Inc. a holding company (a company that buys the shares of other companies) that invests throughout Latin America and the US. He’s also been Miami’s unofficial tech pessimist… until now.

Moving on from the hype

I think that we have actually now begun going from the previous climate of hype and storytelling to actual things happening which is extremely positive. Companies that have had two, three, or four years under their belt after initially getting funded, are beginning to show results. In previous years, we’ve been too focused on telling the story and hyping South Florida up. Now we’re beginning to see results.

The companies that can’t get more funding and shouldn’t exist have closed and folded. Companies with great products, revenues, and and teams are beginning to see interest from the mergers and acquisitions perspective. … At the end of the day the validation you get as a company is when someone wants to buy your tech and team.

In 2017, either you’ll make it or you’ll fold. No more fluff.

Some companies are not going to make it. We will see companies no longer be able to get funded. They will move on and entrepreneurs will find new things to do. The positives are that we’re seeing companies like Live Ninja, which was so active in the local tech scene with Waffle Wednesday and was so supportive, now sold to a publicly traded company. That is really a huge, huge win for South Florida.

I think we’re going to see a lot more of South Florida companies be acquired, meaning buyers will be coming in to buy local companies. Twelve to 18 months after those entrepreneurs who sold their companies in the first wave in first year will come back with new companies with cash in their pockets. …We’ll see the circle come full.

Three to four years ago, companies got started here and were scraping to get funded. Now, companies are either expanding or will be acquired in the next 12 months or so.

Companies that were living on fluff will end up folding and closing down. That’s important because you need to clean out the ecosystem as well. You run out of money and you close down. We’ve already seen some of them quietly close, and in the next six months we’ll see more.

Struggling with wannabe entrepreneurs and press shy all-stars

Some of these artificial intelligence things that are beginning to pop up are interesting. I think [we’ll see] the next wave of personalized marketing … I think the next wave is a greater personalization of ads for folks more than anything else.

In South Florida, Magic Leap will begin shipping some hardware products in the next few months and will be awesome to see that come to fruition.

I think we’re beginning to see larger companies setting up opportunities in South Florida — following up what Facebook and Twitter have done. Facebook and Twitter both opened Latin America offices in Miami and hired a significant amount of people for them. The next thing we’re going to see is more European companies using South Florida to build their sales, marketing, and some operations here. That’s going to happen the next three months.

We’ll continue struggling between the wannabe entrepreneurs living on hype and the quiet entrepreneurs who don’t get as much press, but are building real great companies. A great company to focus on [this year] is 71 Pounds, Inc. led by Jose Li. It’s a great company doing interesting things and generating revenue that at times may not get as much press but will be an interesting company to pay attention to in the next 12 months.

YellowPepper is a company (which we’re involved with) that is doing some great great things — they’re expanding rapidly and growing through Latin America with making mobile payments and it’s really worth watching out for.

In 2017, I’m going to be more positive and extole greater wins in South Florida but also continue calling out the BS as I see it.