One piece of advice from an Italian, who was born and grew up there: It's a suicide, absolutely do NOT do this.
We have the best weather, culture, food, wine, beaches, etc, you name it. But opening a business in that dysfunctional country? RUN and don't look back.
Between fiscal pressure, crazy laws and compliances, the effective presumption of guilt, completely broken or unavailable infrastructure in the hand of monopolists, it's outright suicide. Companies will favor "friends" and deny you a chance even if you're competitive.
Oh and we haven't touched the criminal issues at all. I was lucky not have the pleasure of such acquaintances but don't worry, if you become large enough or successful enough, they will come to you.
I'm italian myself and not a fan of how a boatload of things works in Italy, but the reference to the criminality just sounds like something straight out of the Sopranos, which it's quite far from reality in every productive region of the country.
The issues related to fiscal pressure and the perceived lack of rule of law are instead quite real (see every independent ranking about corruption or ease of doing business).
A startup visa program without a serious effort to fix these obvious issues (something that should be done beforehand) is useless.
I've read the summary of the new policies, not enough numbers and details, i hope to find the full document somewhere.
Also, intriguing the fact that you need to show that you have at least 50k in pre-existing founding to partecipate to the program, it make sense to add some filtering criteria but i'm not sure how many new startups will qualify.
> I was lucky not have the pleasure of such acquaintances but don't worry, if you become large enough or successful enough, they will come to you.
I'm Italian too, live in Italy, and I'm really sick of this ill-informed self-disparaging attitude from so many Italians. There are millions of Italians who will say "I haven't personally never been touched by this, I don't even know anybody who was personally touched by it, but I know this, because... well, just because, everybody knows it".
Are there corruption and crime in Italy? Yes, of course. But, except for some areas in the South, they are nowhere as prevalent as so many people seem to think.
I'm amazed that even though news about ndrangheta being very well radicated in Lombardia and other regions from the North (even as up as in Germany!), about a new kind of mafia being born right in the capital, somebody still thinks mafia is something that pertains specifically to the "South".
Please, we've even got members of the Parliament who have been convicted for mafia issues!!
so taxes haven't been introduced by (corrupted) politicians, to counter balance what corrupted people were doing for way too much time?
Corruption, together with bureaucracy, is amongst the most severe problems that Italy has. The fact that now it's almost impossible to tell the difference and there a mixture of bad behaviour at any level of any position of power.
"The problem results from too many people falling for this way of thinking"
And too many idiots thinking that stamps and signatures and certificates have magical powers and prevents the real ill-intentioned people from doing anything (we could say bureaucracy is the DRM for real life). Also people making use of their position as to gain personal power.
You have a point in saying that bureaucracy is not a bad thing per se, in both the original acception of the word and in some places, like in Germany it "mostly" works.
I'm from Italy as well. As everyone else, I am dissatisfied with how Italy is run, but it's _disgusting_ to see how many Italians living abroad claim the right to hurl mud at Italy. I think the real challenge is to stay here, not to run away abroad.
As a proof, here we ended up talking of mafia and corruption, following common stereotypes and therefore giving a distorted idea of Italy. I think most of the people that are saying "run away" are implicitly trying to justify themselves for their decision to go away from their country and family.
Sadly, more than in culture, food and wine, Italians are the first for the most destructive self-criticism in the world. I have rarely heard a non-Italian speaking so low of his own country, as only Italians can do.
> I think the real challenge is to stay here, not to run away abroad.
Exactly. And that's why everybody is advising not to start a business there. Do you want extra challenges when you are doing something that is not easy already? Probably you think there is something "heroic" in it, but that's not the case for everybody.
I am an iOS developer. I left a country where I had a job I didn't like (not in iOS, but on Microsoft platforms) for a ridiculous salary, where working for yourself is a suicide. And I was one of the lucky ones. The moment I moved I got triple the salary for a job I liked and later was able to start my own business. Accounting and tax declaration here in NL is really easy, and fiscal pressure is much better. Frankly, since my life got immediately so much better outside of Italy I don't need to implicitly justify my decisions. I have plenty of explicit reason I can list.
You might find it disgusting that Italians throw mud at their own country, I find it sad to see people defending it only because it's their own country, and as such is exempted from criticism. Maybe you are the one trying to implicitly justify your decision to remain.
50% taxes for people earning less than 15000€/year ? Yes is a challenge... to survive.
I tried, I said "I'll stay here, I'll pay taxes, make money and resurrect this country", so they added +10% taxes, reduced the "low income reduction" from people earning 30 000/year (gross) to 15000/year (gross), increased the "retirement fund" costs from 24% to 29% (and will increase up to 33.7% in 3 years they said) so I ended up, in one year, from paying ~30% taxes (plus accountant, required in Italy), to ~45%, increasing to 49% in 3 years.
And NO ONE said here the worst part. I can't believe no one mentioned.
The first year you work (not employed), you have to pay taxes for the first year and THE YEAR AFTER, yes, you have understood it: 90% taxes first year, plus accountant.
Good bye, my beloved country. There are a lot of smart people, but I have no idea how to survive there.
I considered staying. I considered doing exactly what you say: staying, working against the current, trying to change things. And then I decided not to.
Because I fully believe that Italy is doomed beyond any attempt to fix it. You should cut away pretty much 90% of the people holding any position of power in any public office. Trouble is, you can't do it by force. You must do it legally. Legally means asking them - they occupy the very same public office positions who would rule on this.
Would they agree to it?
And with whom would you replace them?
The "new" guys, the fresh blood, very quickly adjust to the state of things - otherwise their career prospects (and in some extreme cases life expectancy) are cut sharply.
I really, really believe it can't be saved and therefore made a rational decision to leave and never look back.
It's a battle that can't be won, I decided not to fight it.
> I have rarely heard a non-Italian speaking so low of his own country, as only Italians can do.
I'm Turkish studying Italian language and literature at uni, and I can assure you that Turks and Italians are competing a trophy in this race of self-bashing. So much so that I sometimes regret having got into studying italian culture.
Maybe you want to ignore it, but Italy is so much heterogeneous that living here is not always being home: I'm not home. I'm in Italy but I moved away from my place years ago.
It's funny how the same thing can be seen in such different ways. I have been planning since long to go away from Italy and I will eventually go away, but I feel like it's an act of cowardice. You said just the opposite...
I second this. "I think the real challenge is to stay here, not to run away abroad". It hurts me hearing those expats talking shit about our country. I can't imagine how they change perception of Italy to everyone they get in touch with.
To those of you, stop bashing and start being the first change you want to see.
I finally moved to Germany. I tried, but could not bear it anymore. I miss my family and friends oh so badly, but staying? It would have been even worse.
Those who stay are the ones with the real courage, people say. No, I'm really sorry, but those who stay are those who have their shoulders covered (by family, maybe) and may have some long-standing interests that give them enough stability to try what they want.
But, they won't change anything. The system is rigged, you cannot take the power away from those who hold it and who are in charge of the big, important decisions. That is, unless you are ok to play their conservative and self-preserving game, actually becoming part of the skewed systems. Look at what the Movimento 5 Stelle has already become.
Recently we even tried with oligarchy - officially called the government of the professors, it was a government made of the Italian "best minds" and it was appointed directly by the President of the Republic. It may have saved us, but it didn't really kickstarted the economy back. We're now in a triple-dip recession, ask any economist and he would gladly lecture you about our very interesting case.
We're a country where a lot of people saved and still manage to save, and that has naturally turned us into a very conservative country, where every little change is seen as a menace for the status quo.
Long story short, if you want to do something with your life and you have no settled financial interested (or you can manage them from abroad) you flee and put your studies and experience to good use. Otherwise you stay and either get involved in the mess or try to stay out of it and see yourself beaten to the punch by incompetents and people that are just ok with marching aligned with the old and distorted system.
Anyway, I'm not one of those self-deprecating Italian whiners. I don't hate my country. I just think the problem lies with the biggest part of our fellow Italians. It's a problem so hard to entangle and define that giving up is really the only viable solution.
Thank you for your comment, you really express my thoughts. I'm sicking of hearing people say that, just because they're not willing to expat or because they have their shoulder covered. I wanted to live with my boyfriend, have my own house, buy me a new computer, etc... I couldn't do it in Italy. I could just work and live at home with my parents so I didn't had to pay rent and expenses.
A lot of my friends does that but I'm 26 and I deserve to be independent, so I expat.
Do you people think that is the simple way? I assure you that it isn't.
Yeah sorry, that's some Italian crawling through my English. It means "having a parachute" or maybe even "having your back covered". In other words, moving from a safe economical ground where you can easily return just in case anything goes wrong.
Practically it means having rich parents or a stable financial situation because of your family's wealth.
Explain me how do you pretend to change something when your clients are paying 50% of what the clients in other countries are willing to pay (if they pay, 'cause lots really like to delay payments indefinitely), while your suppliers are constantly banging your door to pay (rightly) them, and while your government 5 days a week is trying everything possible to shut your business down?
Be serious, go abroad for 3 months. Start a limited company, be a self-employed person and you'll finally understand the obnoxious bureaucratic process one needs to undergo and what kind of unimaginable amount of things one needs pay to keep his/her business running in Italy.
I'm not Italian. My opinion of Italy is not great, but not because of ordinary Italians speaking badly of it, rather because of the likes of Berlusconi. People voted for him!? It matches my experiences there, such as being unable to buy a train ticket without the guy in the booth trying to rip me off. I eventually got fed up and when I went to a major sporting event which should have cost me €300+, I just bought an official some beers.
So you disagree that Italian immigration politically influenced these places? Not that every Portugal and Spain former colonies are doing great, but in Latin America (with exception of Venezuela) they probably will do better than Brazil and Argentina in the near future.
As an Italian running a business focused on Italy I can only agree: RUN.
I basically begged to be able to run my online company in Italy. No way. I had to emigrate to Germany instead and I've paid taxes there for more than 10 years. Hell, I even paid for the reconstruction of Eastern Germany.
Just go to some Selection Day in any Italian incubator and you'll witness how fiscal and regulatory issues are discussed more often than the business model itself.
Or try to discuss a start-up idea with an italian and count the seconds before he tells you "how about taxes? how about the regulation?".
It's a broken platform.
- taxes or regulations in Italy are machine code written by monkeys in the 50s based on 2000 years old Roman code and the last monkey who knew how to read it died 10 years ago.
Now there's more monkeys writing on top of it not even pretending to make it work retroactively.
If you find a bug you must guess what to do and hope for the best.
You can ask for a monkey machine code expert to decipher it for you but not even he knows how to do. He's just better at guessing.
If you make a mistakes due to the bugs they send the Gorillas.
I'm another Italian and I second this comment. I already run away and things in the UK are much much better. There might not be the same sun or or food. But at least things are more fair and the rules of the game are pretty clear, not just made up on the stop when it's convenient like it would happen in Italy.
Italy has currently a huge problem of smart, young people leaving the country because of this situation. Before trying to attract foreign they should be able to keep their own people.
My Italian ex-roomates/friends (Italian 30-something entrepreneurs living here in L.A.) echo many these sentiments you write. No matter how much they love their country and families they are living (and creating) here and in New York for many of the reasons you mention above.
As an expat myself, you would expect expats on average to be substantially more inclined to be critical of their home countries than others: After all we left.
Not all of us left because we were unhappy, but almost all of us left because we for one reason or other saw more opportunity elsewhere (e.g. in my case I left because getting larger financing for my startup at the time was easier in the UK). We're on average likely to be horrible misrepresentative of our countries as a whole.
Being Italian as well, and having worked both in this industry and academia for a few years I can confirm: believe each of those words. We have no data, but enough experience to assert this. However if you need data,just search how bad Italy is ranked for corruption and think how difficult will it be to work in a country where bribe and not competition is the main driver when it comes to choose partners.
It's something of a default. Rule of law is hardly a natural state; it's a boulder at the top of a hill which requires effort to get and keep it there. The real question is "how did impartial business cultures develop and how can they be transitioned to?"
The books of Hernando de Soto have some good background on doing this in Peru. A key element of it is recognising which rules are unenforceable and repealing them, so instead of a thicket of unobeyable, intermittently enforced law you get a small robust core of law that's actually enforced fairly.
Of course, that's a small village in "the dark heart" of southern Italy 60 years ago, which is very, very different from a larger city in the north these days, so take it with a grain of salt: it's not going to be representative of "Italy".
I'd like to take exception with your assertion of the best food, if I may :)
I spent six months working in and around Naples (which, I know, is perhaps not entirely representative of the country, but is the third largest city in Italy) and the food was basically pizza or pasta. Often, not even particularly good pizza or pasta; I suppose when you don't have to compete with a variety of interesting foods from around the world, you can lower your standards.
Locals approved - approved! - of their local councils refusing to allow foreign restaurants. We gave up on getting a decent curry locally and we flew in someone from the UK to cook a curry for us because we just couldn't find anywhere. The attitude to food that wasn't Italian was disconcerting and depressing.
You really need to take the time to learn and appreciate the food culture in Italy, oddly we have a very diverse and broad/spread culture all over the country. I personally don't enjoy Neapolitan cuisine that much but even that it's to say very little, you can literally travel a few km away from a city and find completely different food and cuisine. If you get bored of eating stuff in Naples, that's because you are only eating the same stuff every day. Try to discover more food and more cuisine even just in the neighboring town, because I can guarantee it's going to be very different.
Maybe I'm a bit biased because I'm from Bologna in Emilia-Romagna and I would say that's among the best cuisines in the world. We brought you prosciutto, tagliatelle, ragu', tortellini, lasagna, balsamic vinegar, etc etc. :) And even here there are a lot of differences in food from town to town.
Calling tortellini or lasagne "pasta" is like calling balsamic vinegar "vinegar".
The fact that you still lump pasta all together after living in Italy for some time tells me you did not have the time to experience all the variety and quirks of different types of pasta. Again, I'm very biased but there's more than just "pasta" in a pasta-based cuisine, surprising as it sounds.
I'm Italian too, and I came to this thread to make the same comment. Stay away. Running your business in our country, given the taxation laws and other stupid draconian regulations, it would just be crazy.
In 2014 the rate of failing companies was 2 per hour. And we are not talking about just startups here, which have a high burn rate. Many companies that have managed to survive for years have been killed by changes in the regulations during the last years.
For example, in recent years a stupid regulation called "sector studies" have been introduced. Basically, they look at the average you should be earning in a specific field. If you report less than that amount in a tax declaration, you are assumed to be evading taxes. Practically you are assumed guilty until proven innocent, which is not as easy to do as you think.
This is without adding other systemic diseases. Having a tax check is not a desirable outcome in Italy. One anecdote from a friend: he got a tax inspection in his company (in the construction sector). After two days of checks, nothing was found. But instead of being left alone, the inspectors told him this: "we haven't found anything, but since we have been checking for two days, we have to find something". In the end they agreed on faking some irregularities on the heating system and a 500€ fine.
Yes, this is just one episode, but not really an uncommon one, unfortunately.
I left my country 5 years ago and never looked back. There are so many better places in Europe, I strongly advice not to start a company in Italy.
Just to give you an example of the idiocy of our bureaucracy: paying a subscription to the Google Apps (around 3 euros per month per user) is considered like importing physical goods, therefore every 3 months we have to submit a form called 'Intrastat'. Since the bureaucracy is insane you need to pay a professional to handle the madness, so on top of the small Google fee you need to pay an additional ~50 euros every three months. On top of that, the next month you need to submit a form called F24, paying a tax on the 50 euros you just spent for nothing. Oh but the food is great.
Because you need a residence permit to stay for more than 90 days for each 6 months, and you won't generally be able to rent without it. No school for kids either, etc. And that's if you come from the first world country that has a no-visa arrangement with EU. Otherwise you will need an entry visa as well.
It's simple: because if you live here, you have to pay taxes here. A lot of taxes. And the Italian equivalent of IRS can just come to you and say that you don't pay enough, you're presumed guilty and you'll have to accept to pay a fine or try to prove you're innocent in court (which could take years).
The government pretty much accepts that certain categories (say, dentists) hide a lot of their profits. Instead of fixing this, they decided to just assume you are hiding ~60% of what you declare and tax you accordingly.
A few years later they decided to just create a table of what each professional from each category should earn and if you declare less than that you can expect an extremely unpleasant visit which WILL find something wrong with your business.
Law-abiding people get crushed under this weight, while tax evaders just declare even less (or even operate completely outside of the law). Good people get punished, bad people don't. Going to the authorities to report these people can be successful, or unsuccessful, or frustrating, or very unhealthy. Feel like gambling?
After 10 years of this you start wondering if you're the idiot. You can become one of the "furbi", or keep trying to work in this broken framework, or leave.
Oh and the tax code is so byzantine you need to pay a professional even if you have an extremely small and simple business. And even they make mistakes. And you get to pay for those mistakes.
No, this isn't a result of the last crisis. The government is trying to reduce the amount of black economy but it's doing it in the wrong way. There are statistics that the government uses to calculate what you should earn every year, if you declare less than that amount, you're presumed guilty and you'll have to justify that...
Well, this actually isn't so bad. The good thing about Italy is that if you live here life is pretty cheap - compared to Silicon Valley. So, you could consider Italy like "a garage" where to start your venture or even a place where you can localize your programmers while running your business somewhere else. Of course it doesn't apply to people not living here, ... so why on Earth a startup visa program?
Open the gates to founders is not enough is you don't create a income tax + regulation free + labour tax + notary free zone in the country to attract talented people here. Until today we don't have it and this thread is just a proof of Italian high tech entrepreneurs discouragement.
IMHO Italy is two different countries in one. Similar to Spain.
In both countries the south has nothing to do with the north.
In both countries the south if sunny, happiness and optimism. But also non serious in all areas of life, including business, and friendship influence and favors economy, also called corruption.
I have a German friend that was so happy when he sold so many products to south Italian customers. I asked if he was sure they were going to pay...sure enough he was lucky to get paid at all(after a way longer time than compromised and after lots of problems).
Italy is a beautiful place to live, but not for work. You could get the same access to industry, business friendliness and employment that you get in North of Italy in Switzerland or Austria, but without the tax of having to continuously subsidize the south.
They got smarter and now they are in the government structures. Not everybody of course, but recent facts emerged in gov corruption that mafia and criminal organization in general were directly managing billions of euros in public infrastructure building. Those billions were paid by Italian taxpayers.
Any decent voice-optimized codec (CELP, CELT, Speex, hell even old GSM)can squeeze that in 1Kbyte/sec - actually even half of that but let's retain some quality.
Include silence detection and you probably have less than 60 minutes/day from the average household.
And storage is cheap. Oh, and Amazon has lots. S3?
Took off and landed on my very first time as well :-)
(San Diego, Montgomery Field, March 2011).
The explanation my instructor gave me for the landing were perfect: Line up to the runway like this. Lower throttle and add flaps at these intervals. At the last checkpoint, point the nose of the plane at the numbers on the runway, like you were trying to collide with them, except that at the last moment you pull up and cut power to idle.
Worked like a charm. Maneuvering on the runway is harder than flying and landing. ($$@#!#$%! pedals working 2 ways and in the opposite direction from what I expected :-) )
"This specific VAC test for this specific round of cheats was effective for 13 days, which is fairly typical. It is now no longer active as the cheat providers have worked around it by manipulating the DNS cache of their customers' client machines."
Right. Gabe isn't admitting to wrongdoing here, since Valve feels that the particular check was limited enough to be a reasonable countermeasure.
According to Gabe, this module was not aimed at scraping anyone's web usage or browsing history (not even for game cheat sites), but just to detect whether a machine was likely to be automatically dialing a hack's DRM server, and then sending hashed copies of those, and only those, entries to Valve to flag as a potential cheat. I can imagine that a lot of the gaming community would consider that reasonable behaviour, if it was effective at cutting down on cheats.
Whether Valve is telling the truth, I don't know. I suspect so (Gabe seems smart enough not to try lying to the internet, though, so any deception is likely to be that of omission). Whether this is right or wrong is a matter between you and your shaman/vicar/rabbi/mullah/conscience/etc.
Huh, I didn't realize that nowadays cheat mods charged money and protected themselves with DRM. When I used to dabble in such online games, the cheats/trainers/etc. typically came from the same groups that cracked games' DRM, rather than themselves having DRM.
Are there cracking groups that strip DRM from DRM-using cheats?
VAC checked for the presence of these cheats. If they were detected VAC then checked to see which cheat DRM server was being contacted. This second check was done by looking for a partial match to those (non-web) cheat DRM servers in the DNS cache. If found, then hashes of the matching DNS entries were sent to the VAC servers.
Sounds like first the cheat process needed to be detected on your system, then the DNS cache would be checked.
On the surface it sounded like a privacy issue but with these extra details I am having trouble seeing an issue.
It's non transparent for the same reason that not all security features in cash are public.
If they would tell everything they do it would be way easier to circumvent them. Sure everything will be reverse-engineered eventually but it's a continuous process. They add new ways to detect the cheats and the bad guys try to circumvent them faster than Valve is able to add new features.
I had to go through all of this back in January when I used Airbnb to get a house in the Valley for a few days. I was just then creating an account - and I had to connect my Linkedin profile + upload an ID. It didn't like my Italian ID card but it liked my (also Italian) driving license (which was a surprise - it's in horrible condition).
I was surprised at the depth of the verification (not in a negative way) - but I thought this was for everybody. Was I somehow selected as a tester, or maybe they found my usage profile suspicious (Italian citizen, resident in Germany, creates an account and immediately tries to book a place in California)?