BRAZIL IS THE WORLD'S SEVENTH-LARGEST Internet market according to the Computer Industry Almanac. In the first half of 1999, users increased by almost a third to more than 3 million.
Brazilians are flocking to the Internet since privatization has resulted in easier access to telephone lines and provider fees are now as low as US$11 a month. Moreover, foreign venture capitalists are searching for opportunities and advertising over the Internet has skyrocketed from just $13 million in 1997 to $100 million in 1999, according to Istoe magazine.
With that in mind, the big players arrived in 1999 to compete with Brazilian portals, including America Online, Microsoft, StarMedia Network, and Yahoo. Universo Online remains the largest service provider with 500,000 users followed by Zaz (owned by Spain's Telefonica) with 380,000 subscribers.
Despite the boom, there has been no mass exodus of brick-and-mortar executives to online companies. But headhunters say it is just a matter of time.
"The trend is just starting in Brazil," says Marcelo Mariaca, president and founder of Mariaca & Associates, one of Brazil's largest recruitment firms. "We don't yet see people leaving their jobs to go to web companies that pay 20% less than their current salaries but with the potential to make them rich. But it will happen. Brazil is fertile ground for the Internet."
The search is on and it is increasingly done The recruitment firm Group Cartho fills one out of four jobs via the company's web page. It currently has 11,000 resumes online and the number is growing by 10% a month, says company president Thomas Casey.
Mom Goes Dot-com. Brazilian Beatriz Fortes had a steady job, a fabulously wealthy husband and a string of job offers that would have taken her to Europe, the United States and other Latin American nations.
She spent weekends at an Ipanema Beach country club and vacationed in Paris. She had a cook, a maid, a driver and a nanny. The only thing she lacked was a challenge--that is, until the Internet arrived.
"The trigger was (the challenge of) surviving in a market where people only give jobs to 25-year olds," says the 47-year old mother of three. "I wanted to become part of this new Internet world because I felt it would be something revolutionary. I had to prove myself."
And Fortes enjoys proving that she is up to any task.
In 1992, the garrulous Portuguese-language professor left the Catholic Pontifical University where she had taught for...