The Digital Skeptic: Venice Cafe Better Investment Than Facebook
BOSTON (MainStreet) -- Given a choice between putting money into Mark Z. of Facebook(FB) or Stefano P. of the Venezia Caffe, I'd invest on Stefano and his local coffee business any day of the week.
Right off, investors should love a guy who has as little patience for the social Web as I do. Stefano had no problem being written about or posing for a photo. He'd happily serve anybody a simply fabulous "caffe" or sell velvety, roasted whole beans from Ethiopia or maybe Kenya.
But have his last name printed on Facebook?
"Assolutamente no! I am Stefano at the Venezia Caffe. That's all," he explains. Once you get posted on Facebook it's nothing but salespeople. No real customers."
"It's just all blah, blah, blah," he says.
Better Technology Than the Social Network
Investors will also dig the tech business story of Stefano, who is maybe a few years older than Mark Zuckerberg. Never mind being an alienated Harvard geek looking to pick up chicks; the Venezia Caffe can trace its roots back to no less than Pope Clement VIII. Sometime early in the 17th century Clement fell hard for the fabulous innovation of carefully roasting Egyptian coffee beans. He was so smitten that the "Papa" granted a great, great-great-grand-relative or other of Stefano's the right to roast coffee in Venice. The Social Network is a daytime soap by comparison.
Stefano also has the investor edge over Zuckerberg in terms of hardcore management experience. He started in the coffee trade when he was 14, learning from his roasting master grandmother. And for more than 20 years he has been roasting, serving and managing coffee businesses around the world -- in London, in Poland, even at Starbucks(SBUX) . Briefly.
"I lasted 20 days," he said. "They serve complete $%$#."