|Birth Day:||August 6, 1966|
|Birth Place:||Montevideo, United States|
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Seeking to survive at a time when Uruguay experienced acute political and economic crisis, Espuelas and his mother immigrated to the United States in 1976 with only $100. After a series of factory jobs making everything from dresses to ice cream sandwiches, his mother found work as a housekeeper in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Espuelas attended Greenwich High School, graduating in 1984. At Greenwich High, Espuelas was the President of the Debate Team, the Connecticut State Champion debater in 1982, and the Chairman of the Political Action Club. Espuelas hosted the local Public-access television cable TV show "The Bottom Line with Fernando Espuelas", interviewing Greenwich personalities.
In 1988, Espuelas graduated "with distinction" from Connecticut College with a degree in history. While at Connecticut College, Espuelas was first Managing Editor, then Editor-in-Chief and eventually Publisher of the college's newspaper, The College Voice and its associated publications. Espuelas also served as the President of Branford House, as well as on several college-wide faculty-student-administration committees, including the College's Education Committee. He was later elected to the board of trustees of Connecticut College.
In 1988, Espuelas was hired as an assistant account executive by Wunderman Worldwide, a division of the Young & Rubicam advertising agency. While at Wunderman, Espuelas worked on the American Express, General Foods Gevalia and Weight Watchers accounts. After a year at Wunderman, he became an account executive at Interpublic Group of Companies's Lowe & Partners to work on the agency's Citibank Visa account.
In 1991, Espuelas returned to South America to work at Ogilvy & Mather's Argentine operations. In Argentina, Espuelas was the founding Managing Director of Ogilvy & Mather Direct. Starting with one account, Espuelas led the company to be O&M Argentina's single largest source of profit by the second year of operations. After two months in Argentina, Espuelas was additionally named head of the company's Unilever account, responsible for a portfolio of global brands such as Dove and Pond's. The Unilever business was one of the most important accounts for O&M in Argentina and across its worldwide network. At the end of 1991, Espuelas was elected to the Board of Directors of Ogilvy & Mather Argentina, at the age of 25.
In 1994 AT&T recruited Espuelas to lead the roll-out of the AT&T brand throughout Latin America. Within a year, he was promoted to Managing Director of Marketing Communications for the Latin American and Caribbean region, becoming one of the youngest executives of that rank at the company. While at AT&T, Espuelas conceived and launched AT&T Hola (in Spanish) and AT&T Ola (in Portuguese), the company's first online service. A combination of news feeds from Reuters, interactive forums, online games and the first search engine that searched in Spanish and Portuguese, AT&T Hola/Ola was positively received by both the media and consumers across Latin America.
In 1996, Espuelas envisioned the portal that would "unite" Latin America: Starmedia. "With the Internet, we're talking about a fundamental shift in the power structure from the institution to the individual," Espuelas said.
As Starmedia's Chairman and CEO, collaborating with co-founder and Starmedia President Jack Chen, Espuelas created the first Internet media company for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking audiences worldwide. Using a combination of their 12 credit cards, family savings, and loans from friends, the pair managed to piece together the first $100,000 used to launch the Latin portal in September 1996.
After a frustrating year and a half of approaching venture capitalists to invest in his vision, only to have them uniformly refuse, many avowing that Latins "did not like technology" and would never use the Internet, the company went on to raise $2.5 million in 1997.
In 1999, the company went public on the Nasdaq, the first Latin Internet company ever to do so, eventually reaching a market valuation of over $3.8 billion USD at its peak. Starmedia had over 1,200 employees in 18 offices across 12 countries in the Americas and Europe. Today, Starmedia is France Telecom's single largest Internet operation in the world, according to company statements.
In the 1999 story in The New York Times, "C.E.O. Round Table- Online Pioneers: The Buzz Never Stops", Espuelas explained his approach: "I spent a lot of time learning how Winston Churchill ran the Second World War. I bring that up as a metaphor—not having information, not having clarity, the stakes being very high. Of course, the stakes he had to deal with were somewhat higher than what we have to do. But that was part of the encouragement—to think that something so important could be managed, and all the mistakes that were made and the chaos of the moment. And the other thing, which he said, which I love as a philosophy, is: You don't have to get it right all the time. You just have to get it right 51 percent of the time, and that will carry you through. And that's a very, very liberating philosophy."
On May 25, 1999, StarMedia completed the first public offering on Nasdaq for a Latin Internet company, selling 7 million shares at $15. The company went on to raise hundreds of millions more capital over the next two years. By 2000, at age 34, Espuelas was acknowledged as one of the main players in Silicon Alley and the Latino Internet industry. Uruguay's leading newspaper, El País, dubbed him "The Emperor of the Internet" on its front page.
In February 2000, Starmedia created Latin America's first free, ad-supported regional internet service provider with a $200 million investment from CMGI Inc., Flatiron Partners, Chase Capital Partners and 1stUp.com.
On August 5, 2001, after a disagreement with the Board regarding the strategic direction of the company, Espuelas resigned as CEO of StarMedia but agreed to stay on as Chairman until November 15, 2001 to effect an orderly management transition. At that time, he was replaced by Susan Segal as head of the company; Segal was a venture capitalist, representing Chase Manhattan Bank's Chase Capital Partners, which had given Starmedia its first round of institutional financing in 1997. Segal then led the company's new strategy to divest itself of its market leading portal assets, including the StarMedia brand and network of websites, and focus the company on its mobile unit, StarMedia Mobile. The resulting new company, Cyclelogic, was led by Segal until it filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
As part of Segal's new strategy, in July 2002, StarMedia was sold for $8 million to EresMas, a Spanish ISP. EresMas was then sold to a unit of France Telecom, Internet subsidiary Wanadoo, 10 days later for $255 million euros. EresMas' new leadership of the Latin Internet (through the purchase of StarMedia the previous week) was cited by France Telecom as the reason for the acquisition.
In the Hispanic Business article "The Kings of Comebacks", Espuelas said, "...we [at StarMedia] wanted to redefine history - and I think that... is what happened", Mr. Espuelas writes in his 2004 book Life in Action. "The StarMedia idea of Pan Latin Americanism, an idea with deep historical roots, was a profound turning point for Latinos across the world." But in the spring of 2000, StarMedia suffered what the book calls "the near-complete collapse of the Internet economy." By his own calculation, Mr. Espuelas' StarMedia holdings at one point had a value of nearly $500 million, but he never sold a single share. "I lived a full cycle", he tells Hispanic Business. "It was the best business and personal experience I could have had at this point in my life. "
Espuelas later launched Voy, a multi-platform media company focused on young Latino consumers. "Among younger, second-generation Hispanics, English is the preferred language, even as they celebrate their Latin backgrounds", reported The New York Sun. "What we wanted to do by launching Voy Music was really take advantage of two dynamics", said Voy Chairman Fernando Espuelas. "The majority of Latinos in this country are bilingual or English dominant, and there are millions of non-Latinos who love Latino music", Espuelas told the Associated Press in 2005.
Voy also released the award-winning documentary, Favela Rising through its Voy Pictures unit. The film received widespread critical acclaim. Espuelas said at the time of the release, "Favela Rising encapsulates the Voy philosophy of optimism and self-empowerment. The film's message of hope transforms people, motivates and inspires us to action." Telling the true story of one man's struggle against violence and racism to start a social movement for peace, Favela Rising won more than 35 major international awards and was short listed for an Academy Award nomination. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005 and was seen around the world through the film festival circuit. In 2006 it opened in theaters across the U.S. and Brazil and later made its U.S. television debut on HBO/Cinemax.
"You must have Latinos as part of your core strategy if you are looking for growth", Espuelas told The New York Sun in 2006. According to The Sun Sentinel, "Voy Music executives say they're tapping a strong market. A study this year by AOL/Roper that found that 55 percent of U.S. Hispanics like to listen to music when online, compared with 41 percent for the general U.S. population. And 37 percent of Latinos had downloaded music, vs. 25 percent for the U.S. population." Voy was named winner of the best "Start-Up Company" award at the Multicultural Media Expo in 2006. In 2007, Forrester Research's study "Hispanic Social Computing Takes-off" ranked Voy's sites as the leading Latin social network pure-play brand in the United States.
In 2006, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Espuelas and the rest of StarMedia's senior executive team alleging in a civil lawsuit that the accounting treatment of a certain transaction relating to StarMedia's Mexican subsidiaries did not meet GAAP accounting standards. The civil lawsuit relates to accounting decisions made by StarMedia and its outside accounting firm Ernst & Young, and approved by the Starmedia Board of Directors' Audit Committee in 1999 and 2000. In 2011, Espuelas settled the suit "without admitting or denying the allegations in the amended complaint".
In company announcements made in 2006, StarMedia, now part of France Telecom's Orange subsidiary, the company claimed to be the global leader in Spanish language Internet services. In 2006, the company stated, Starmedia was serving over 22 million unique users a month and continued to expand by launching new services, such as finance and entertainment channels, and opening offices across Latin America.
Espuelas created in 2008 The Fernando Espuelas Show, a drive-time, daily radio talkshow on Univision Radio Los Angeles, the nation's second largest radio market and biggest market for Latino radio. Espuelas hosts and is managing editor of the radio program which is distributed nationally by the Univision Radio Network. Espuelas is also a political analyst and social commentator on television, Internet and in print.
Fernando Espuelas created, hosts and is the managing editor of his eponymously named radio talk show on Univision America Network. Launched in Los Angeles in July 2008, with Univision Radio, The Fernando Espuelas Show is now broadcast nationally on the Univision America Network, streams on the Internet and mobile devices through Univision Radio apps.
Poder Magazine named Espuelas one of "The Nation's 100 Most Influential Hispanics" in 2012 for the show's empowering of "...Latinos to be part of the American political system...."
Also in 2012, The Fernando Espuelas Show was re-launched as part of the new talk-radio Univision America Network.
Currently, Fernando Espuelas is 54 years, 11 months and 19 days old. Fernando Espuelas will celebrate 55th birthday on a Friday 6th of August 2021.
Find out about Fernando Espuelas birthday activities in timeline view here.