Mexican Internet Association Names New Leadership Amidst Reports of Bad Management

Analí Díaz Infante takes on the role following controversy surrounding her predecessor’s exit, and which resulted in the resignation of most of the association’s advisory board members

Photo: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg
January 18, 2023 | 08:22 PM

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Mexico City — Mexico’s Internet Association (AIMX), a body that represents the interests of some of the leading technology companies and the Internet industry in the country, appointed Analí Díaz Infante as its new president, a position that had been vacant for months, with the absence of leadership having triggered the resignation of most of the members of the advisory board, according to three people involved who preferred not to be named.

Diaz succeeds Philippe Boulanger, who stepped down as president in September, prior to the scheduled end of his term. His departure represented the first resignation of a president in AIMX’s 22-year history. Boulanger expressed governance problems on his LinkedIn account, saying the lack of protocols among the association’s assemblies had not allowed him to fully exercise his position.

AIMX brings together some of the main players of the Internet industry in Mexico. According to its website, its members include software companies such as Accenture, as well as large technology companies and startups such as Amazon, Ebay, Meta, Twitter, Uber, Google, Rappi and Zoom.

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Boulanger’s resignation came amid alleged irregularities, and not only administrative ones, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg Línea, such as a lack of transparency in its accounting, and following a million-dollar labor lawsuit against AIMX. However, the association’s management has denied such irregularities.

Diaz Infante, who began her term in January 2023, said in an interview with Bloomberg Línea that her agenda will be focused mainly on reducing the gender gap in the tech industry in Mexico.

“I want to seat women at the decision-making tables where technology and internet issues are being discussed in Mexico,” Diaz said.

Her second priority will be to promote the digital economy in Mexico, mainly in small and medium-sized companies, a market she is familiar with due to her experience at Diggitalera, an audiovisual content production agency she co-founded in 2014.

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Diaz recalls that when she started in the industry, 17 years ago, there were only four million Internet users in the country, while now there are close to 90 million people surfing the Internet in Mexico.

The connectivity gap has narrowed in Mexico, especially since the pandemic, but there are still challenges to address, Diaz said.

“The challenge has been in how technology has had to be fast to meet the needs that were triggered by everyone being locked downed and needing to be connected during the pandemic,” she said.

As president of AIMX, Analí Díaz said she will work in conjunction with other associations, and is already working with the country’s Communication Council, the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism (Concanaco), and the Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Concamin), as well as with other business chambers.

Diaz also aims to address the issues of cybersecurity and education and training. The new president of the AIMX wants to work with women and young people, in addition, she seeks to add technology start-ups to the association.

Philippe Boulanger, the former president of AIMX, currently serves as executive secretary of the e-commerce commission of Concanaco-Servytur but, according to sources consulted by Bloomberg Línea, he has no intention of working together with AIMX.

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Departure and controversy

Boulanger’s departure was followed by an exodus of 12 of the 15 members of the advisory board, a former member of the board told Bloomberg Línea. Companies such as Nike, Megacable, Didi, AT&T and consulting firm The Competitive Intelligence Unit (CIU) left the agency because some of them were forced to comply with certain regulatory requirements, the former board member said.

At a board session in late July 2022, Julio Vega, AIMX director general, warned that a lawsuit had been brought against the association by a former member, but instead of dealing with the issue with the advisory board, he sought out the board members individually, and which reportedly generated mistrust among the member companies, according to the people consulted.

In order to evade the payment of 10-million-peso ($531,684) fine as a result of the lawsuit, Vega sought to feign insolvency, making all the association’s personnel redundant and using its funds to compensate them.

Diggitalera, Analí Díaz’s company, then offered to hire the services of the association’s employees.

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Speaking to Bloomberg Línea, Vega said such statements were not supported by audit documents or financial statements, while other sources consulted said that board members requested an external audit, but it was argued that there was no budget to carry it out.

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Vega said that AIMX does not base its operation on public resources, most of which are obtained from memberships and sponsorships for specific projects, and that the last time it received federal resources was in 2016 through the Prosoft program, a government program aimed at providing support to software companies.

The association was then audited by the Ministry of Economy and the Supreme Auditor of the Federation, canceling the need for an audit by an external company.

One of the testimonies from a board member states that the main irregularity of the AIMX is that it follows no protocols, has not had a legal structure for five years, and that for the last two years it has not had a treasurer to manage its accounts.

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Vega said AIMX is governed by the Civil Code of Mexico City, which establishes that the assemblies do not have to be notarized. Boulanger argued in his public statement that he did not have the opportunity to make decisions, precisely because of this issue.

On the issue of governance, Vega said that during Boulanger’s term there were some anomalous situations that were not common among the board of directors.

According to one of the former board members, the problem lies in the fact that associations in Mexico are not sufficiently regulated, as a Chamber of Commerce, for example, could be.