HERE AT SILICON BEACH, THE LINCOLN ROAD PROMENADE FEATURES such Internet notables as StarMedia Network, Yupi.com, Patagon.com, and El Sitio. Zona Financiera Inc., an online financial services website, and Telefonica de Espana's Terra Networks, are nearby.
These are just some of the established companies and Spanish- and Portuguese-language web start-ups turning the Miami area into a Latin American Internet hub with an array of services, ranging from e-mail and chat rooms to search engines and e-commerce.
"We like Miami because the city is the center of the Latin music business," says Francisco de la Torre, CEO of eritmo.com, a website for selling and promoting music. "Miami has all we need to make it the platform of our regional business."
Latin Internet companies favor Miami for its growing pool of bilingual and trilingual workers, numerous daily flights to Latin America and the many resellers, brokers and cargo companies that have made Miami a hub for international trade.
Business groups such as the Miami Internet Alliance, which was formed in 1999, and the Tuesday Network are making concerted efforts to attract Latin America web and telecommunications companies to the South Florida area.
Ex-Spook Seeks Digital Dollars. Greg Keough, a former operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in El Salvador, knows the worth of quick and reliable information. And that's exactly what he's trying to provide with Zona Financiera, Inc., an online financial website that provides information regarding loans, CDs, insurance and regional stock exchanges in Latin America. "We have tailored information about each country," points out Keough.
Keough started his web venture in 1997 in a Virginia basement with two brothers and US$500,000. Today, the 33-year-old's Internet venture employs 100 people throughout the United States and eight Latin American countries.
Zona Financiera has yet to turn a profit. But, Keough says, the company is reinvesting its money to improve services and should be out of the red in 2000. The...