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What happened in Latin American tech in 2018

At the start of 2018, I tried myself at predicting the year ahead. Not surprisingly, most of my first submission to you was a big miss.

For example, I expected the crypto wave that started at the end of 2017 to carry on to 2018. As you know, it was a disastrous year for cryptocurrencies and ICOs — sharp declines from highs of public cryptocurrencies and the all but the disappearance of ICOs at the end of the year. The price of Bitcoin is a good proxy for the rise and fall of the sector. More on this for next year’s prediction.

I also predicted Chinese tech was going to finally show up in Latin America. Didi did make a big move in Uber’s tierra prometida. It acquired 99 in Brazil and had a big launch in Mexico. This may have started a trend but unfortunately, nothing else interesting happened on this front. Maybe next year but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

I bet a Latin American soccer team would bring the world cup home from Russia. In fact, it was a mediocre year for our region. Still, ALLVP Research beat Goldman Sachs and a Machine Learning algorithm by correctly calling the Champion du Monde.

On-demand and mobility sectors had a banner year as I forecasted. It was arguably the best sector for regional VCs with two record acquisitions and multiple financing rounds. Fintech continued to attract talent and capital more than any other sector in Latam tech. And Brazilian Fintech — lead by PagSeguro, Stone and Nubank — is a good leading indicator for the rest of the region, so expect this trend to persist for the next few years.

Venture investments in Latin America will comfortably surpass the $2 billion mark more than doubling the $1.14 billion raised in 2017— according to LAVCA. Brazil later stage and Colombian super app Rappi contributed the most to this amazing year for the region. Mexico did have a record year in M&A of venture-backed companies as submitted earlier this year. I’m happy that ALLVP contributed the most to this metric with three exits including record-shattering Cornershop. A new crop of Latin American startups had a break out year led by e-Scooter startup Grin’s massive financing and impressive execution.

Mexico had an interesting year — some of the worst macro and political predictions actually happened. Despite all the uncertainty, the Mexican peso was a top performing emerging market currency finishing the year on par with the dollar. This is probably the most unexpected good news of the year for the Mexican tech sector.

To read more about a riveting year for global tech, check out Fred Wilson and Semil Shah’s posts.

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I write about my work as an investor, a lecturer, and a mentor. In general, musings about Latin American tech, VC and life.

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