Google is an investor in my company, Fon, but I don´t work for Google nor have I spoken with anyone at Google about what I am going to say (am I getting good at American style disclosures or what?). Anyway, here it goes. I think Google should ask the Chinese to vote. It would be a simple vote. Would you Chinese citizen like us, Google, to stay in China while accepting censorship or leave? And see what happens. In this way Google would start a democratic process and let the Chinese people decide who are the ones at stake here.
Plazes is a great site. I strongly recommend it for people on the move. When I first learnt about Plazes I thought that it would particularily complementary with FON. When I got in touch with Felix Petersen, Plazes co founder, I realized it really was. And it is because of this that FON and Plazes have signed an agreement to work together. Foneros who want to will appear in Plazes. Plazes users will be able to use Plazes to find FON´s hotspots, at least during the part of our history when they will need to be found. Moreover, I have accepted to be on Plazes´ advisory board and Felix in ours. I am disclosing this so the WSJ does not give me a hard time for blogging that Plazes is great while I am on their board. But hey, I thought Plazes was great before joining their board…that does count?
This year the Safe Democracy Foundation has elected not to organize another conference ,to commemorate 11M’s Second Anniversary.
Instead, we are building a collaborative blog and inviting well respected and prestigious authors from around the world to write articles about the resolution of conflicts and strengthening of democracies.
We have received the first three articles, two of them written in English and one in Spanish.
Reconsidering the war on terror By George Soros (for Safe Democracy)
The Palestinian political earthquake: a suggestion for breakthrough By Walid Salem (for Safe Democracy)
España y Naciones Unidas, cincuenta años después Por Javier Rupérez (para Safe Democracy)
I have known Marko for years. I have tremendous admiration for him. Marko is one of those unusual techies who can combine art and technology. When Marko talks to you about things on the net he is aware not only of the technology platform underneath the site but his insight also combines a thorough understanding of design and social function. In the past I have frequently consulted with Marko on many ideas for different ventures. Indeed when I first thought of FON as a pan European WiMax operator Marko was a great critic of that project, positive yet clearly pointing out to me the difficulties of WiMax as a new technology. And when I thought of the “second coming” of FON as a software download that turns wifi routers into members of a global family of routers who share wifi Marko was much more enthusiastic. Now let me disclose exactly what arrangement we have with Marko. Marko is a full time employee of Nokia, not of FON. His job as a lead fonero is similar to an advisory board position, Marko will advise FON on how to start the FON movement in Finland. For those in Finland reading this post and unaware of FON let me explain that FON is a global community of people who share wifi freely with each other. But FON is a private company belonging to its employees, Skype, Google, Sequoia Capital, Index Ventures and the fonero leaders in each country and the for profit element of FON comes from users who are not wifi donors. We share those with fixed and eventually mobile operators who will partner with us.
So welcome Marko to FON and we stand ready to support you in explaining FON to the Finish people so we can turn Helsinki and other cities into shared wifi areas.
FON, share little, gain a lot.
I am an entrepreneur. I am a blogger entrepreneur, but I am not a journalist. I was not trained as one. I don´t blog news. I blog about building a company. In this case FON. I don´t claim to be objective. How could I be? But I do try to tell as much as I can of what it is to build a company that went from and idea in my head to global reality with amazing corporate partners and investors in 5 months. What do I think of journalists? Like all professions some are good, some are bad. Should blog replace journalism? No. I give about 3 interviews a week and to me journalism has a key role in portraying developments that blogging, an especially an entrepreneur´s blog, will never replace. When a good journalist interviews me I feel she/he is part detective, part writer, part therapist. The detective part finds out things that I don´t know or don´t want to share, the writer part describes the story in a much better way that I could myself (yes, I do suffer from writer´s envy when I see how well some journalists write), and the therapist side discovers that part of me that I did not even know I had. So I will continue doing both, write my blog and collaborate with journalists including journalists who have blogs.
I just got the latest numbers on registered foneros around the world. They are shockingly good. FON´s stated objective was to be the largest hot spot network in 2006. We were looking at Boingo a super successful and very well managed hot spot aggregator who says in their home page that they have 25,000 hot spots from many different telcos around the world. They were our benchmark. When we presented to Skype, Index Ventures, Sequoia and Google we stated our objective as being the largest hot spot network in the world by the end of 2006. But 10 days ago we had 3000 registered foneros. Today we have 15,615 in the process of becoming active hot spots. And this is all happening before our ISP partnerships start delivering FON ready customers, before Linksys and other router makers start selling FON ready routers in their shops, before we show up in the web pages of our partners and other web sites, before we make agreements with cities to use FON as their muni wifi project, and before our management structure is in place in most countries to make it all work. Frankly I don´t know how many foneros we will have by the end of the year but 25,000 foneros by year end looks very doable now. In the meantime I would like to thank everyone for their trust and again apologize for the delay in delivering routers. I guess the good news is that we buy them for $50, we flash them and we sell them for $25. The other good news is that we did not take anyone´s money when we realized how swamped we were and we only took reservations. The bad news is that it will take us a month at least to fulfill the orders. But we will.
I would like to apologize to those who tried to buy the FON plug and play routers and only got to reserve them. What happened is that we ran out of them and we had to buy more and hire more people to flash them. We are taking orders again now and we plan to deliver the orders in less than 30 days.
This is a problem that we were trying to figure out how to solve.
I already said what went right this week, how we grew our registered fonero numbers 400% to 13,000, how we were approached by many ISPs wanting to sign up to our global wifi roaming platform to increase ARPU and reduce churn, how we appeared in over 100 newspapers around the world, 1300 blogs, dozens of TV shows, radio shows, magazines, etc. Now let´s talk about what went wrong. The mistakes.