Bill Gates Hes The Anglo Fernando Espuelas

San Antonio | Updated: May 10 2004, 05:30am hrs
Internet entrepreneur Fernando Espuelas was once hailed as the Latino Bill Gates for his role in getting Latin America connected on the Web. But listening to the inspirational and motivational notions of this handsome 37-year-old Uruguay native, one gets the impression he could become the Latino worlds Tony Robbins, Dr Phil or Oprah Winfrey. Hes that good.

Espuelas, who has a written book about his philosophy, doesnt deny his aim is to help people transform their own lives.

(My businesses) are a projection of my own imagination, Espuelas said with appropriate New Age zeal. I like to create new ideas that have an impact on society.

Theres little dwelling on the fact that Espuelas is a humbled casualty of the dot-com bust of the late 90s. It cost him half a billion dollars.

StarMedia Network, a company that he started with a credit card, became a $4 billion empire at its zenith. Now its kaput.

Espuelas is back in a big way with VOY, a Latino-themed, English-language entertainment conglomerate that includes a TV network, Internet services and music and book publishing
But Espuelas is back in a big way with VOY, a Latino-themed, English-language entertainment conglomerate that includes a TV network, Internet services and music and book publishing. Its expected to launch in July.

Its all about celebrating the best in ourselves, Espuelas said of his latest business venture.

Like S TV founders Bruce Barshop and Jeff Valdez, Espuelas (who was schooled in the United States), says hes positioned to meet the entertainment and lifestyle needs of the primarily English-speaking Hispanic population, estimated to be about 40 million strong.

Were also targeting non-Latins who are discovering Latin culture, Espuelas said of his vision for a cultural bridge.

He insisted that hes not in it only for a piece of the Hispanic-purchasing-power pie (estimated by The Santiago Solutions Group, based in San Francisco, at almost $700 billion).

He wants to shape the Latino psyche with his network and new TV talk show, Go!

Hes also written a book, Life in Action: The 12 VOY Principles of True Happiness and Success.

Its my own philosophy, not in terms of a revealed truth, but my philosophy how Ive lived my life, Espuelas said about the book, which is part biography, self-help and inspirational exercise.

The VOY brand really describes a mind-set of optimism and self-empowerment, he said, whether youre an early arrival to this country or fourth generation, whether rich or poor.

He writes about coming to the United States at age 9 with his mother, who struggled at two jobs to survive. There is empathy for those in a similar plight and Espuelas applauds immigrants to America legal or not as self-empowered individuals who put their lives on the line.

What I think is clear is that the book hits a nerve, Espuelas said.

There are millions of people in this country that are at a crossroads.

Indeed, it appears that the man Time magazine once named a Leader of the New Millennium (citing his visionary toil into overnight riches) is poised with his new company at the Latino pop-culture intersection.

HECTOR SALDANA // NY TIMES