There´s something wrong in Google’s rank. This blog comes out in Spanish and in English. Yesterday I served around 13,000 pages, of which around 2,000 were served in English, 11,000 in Spanish. Still my google rank is 4 in Spanish and 5 in English. Why? Because the people who link to me in English seem to rank much higher than the people who link to me in Spanish and that is simply because English is a much more important language on the internet than Spanish. In terms of relevance however my blog while somewhat known in English it is much better known in Spanish. Still my ranking in Spanish is lower. I think it´s time that Google introduces Google Rank per language and contributes its share to do away with the English bias of the Internet. As it is now, people who write in English always come up with higher rankings. This in my view is globalization taken to an extreme.
Here´s an idea for my friends at Google. It´s called RANDOM GOOGLE. We all love the google ranking algorythm… but sometimes it is useless. For example, let´s say Al Gore, tired of seeing hurricane after hurricane hit the States as a result of global warming, wants to run again as the “environmental president”. The people who run his campaign would like to have a way of “polling” google. They would like to search for “Al Gore”, but this time they want to do away with Larry´s famous algorithm. Voting is not a ranked activity (and there are many who aren´t). Voting is one person one vote. So what the pollers want to know is how popular Al Gore is in Google, posting by posting. What the campaign manager wants is what I call the RANDOM GOOGLE button. What would RANDOM GOOGLE do? Basically give you a random string of say 100 results. Pollers could then read them and classify them as pro Gore or anti Gore. In other words, they would poll Google provided that they have a Google without the ranking. They could search random strings by quantity and time periods. From Google´s point of view, the Random Google button would greatly increase ad servings. People would search a term and then random Google it. Maybe more than once. And they would randomly learn about their search term being more frequently exposed to google ads.
The crux of FON is to interchange bandwidth in your home with bandwidth outside of your home. This will enable you to pay exactly what you’re paying now but with much better service, since what you’ll have is access to a wifi nation. In addition, I realised today that thanks to WiFiFONs – which we plan to launch in November (a mobile WiFi telephone that connects to the FON network) – and the flat fee for a fixed line offered by Telefonica, Jazztel or Ya.comm to which most FON members are already subscribed to, users will be able to do something really neat.
The idea is the following: that each FON member connects his/her WIFIFON to the flat fee she/he is subscribed to so that, instead of paying us, say, 5c a minute, the user speaks for FREE. I suppose my marketing colleagues will say that this is shooting ourselves in the foot but while we will have to find another way of making money, from a user’s perspective, I think it’s great to be able to use your own connection to transfer mobile-to-phone.
How does this work? This little gadget might be the answer: a VOIP switch connected to a public network, a tool that can organise your own telecommunication. For the techis out there, it’s simple: become a FON member and buy a WiFiFON but configure it so that instead of paying us you have calls coming out of the flat fee you are already subscribed to. In other words, it will be like a mobile phone that uses your fixed line without any additional cost. This wouldn’t be something FON would do, members would have to install it themselves. Moreover, even without FON, you can already do this just by downloading VOIP software in your laptop. You buy this gadget, and you get something better than SkypeOut, because your new tool is SkypeOut for FREE!
One thing is clear though: this little installation would never reach the quality of your current mobile since, where there is no FON, you won’t have any coverage!
When I was at NYU I met a guy who presented his theory of virginity… sometime in the 80s somewhere in the East Village. It was simple. Even though he was only 21 he had slept with 8 virgins. That meant that there were 7 other guys out there who had slept with none. He then went to ask me if I could help him identify them. I told him that, while I could understand his theory, I could think of no way of finding who those losers were. And we went on to another drink.
Fast forward to 2005. Think of blogging. A successful blogger requires thousands of readers. At the same time there´s no way a successful blogger can read thousands of blogs. Therefore, for every successful blogger there are many individuals whose blogs are rarely read or who write no blogs at all. Is there a connection here? Do bloggers get laid? Do you either write or get laid? Maybe my stud friend is reading my blog now!
The Avian flu is so far not that dangerous, because birds give it to birds, rarely to humans and when humans get it so far they don´t spread it to other humans. Now, if they did, the first and most important preventive measure will be isolation. If we all retreat to the privacy of our homes there will be a much lesser chance for the virus to spread. For those of us who, without the Avian flu, already spend a significant part of the day online, retreating to our homes won´t be hard. We will chat with our friends, use web cams, listen to music, watch movies, blog, etc. So long as we have the internet, seclusion won´t be too harsh. Now for those who are not active on the internet, isolation will be harder to put up with. I read somewhere that AIDS does not reach North African because Muslims, as opposed to Sub Saharans, practice circumcision. Maybe the same will be true for net surfers. We on the net will be fine in isolation, we will be the North Africans. Those off the net, the Sub Saharans, have a much greater probability of getting infected.
I’m beefing up FON’s board and decided to ask former Jazztel and Ya.com colleagues to jump on the FON bandwagon. And I’m thrilled they’ve accepted. On the Ya.com side, we have Alvaro Ibanez (a.k.a Alvy), who’s very well known here in Spain with Microsiervos and Internality, and Jon Berrojalbiz, who started the very successful TradingMotion . On the Jazztel side, I’m joined by former managing director Antonio Fuentes, who has partnered with me on Sybilla and who is its CEO.
Sometimes, we have parties and get-togethers with all those who worked at Jazztel and Ya.com in the early days. For me, they’re like Christmas parties in the office, with a strong feelings of déjà-vu mixed with memories of intense work.
How many entered these companies as employees and left as entrepreneurs? What about Miguel Salis, ex CFO of Jazztel, who is now building wind farms across Spain valued at over 200 million euros.
And Axel Serena, other one who really made it and who, I’ve heard, is about to lift off pretty soon.
What do I want from people who work for me? Well, basically I’d like to see my employees enjoy their last stint as an “employee” with me!
Jon, for example, had the the entrepreneurial spirit in his early 20s. I met him in 1999 when he was still a student but had already registered the domain favoritos.com, which I liked very much. When I saw that he owned it, I asked him if he wanted to sell it to me. Jon simply answered : “I know who you are and if you interview me,I will give it to you”. From there, we started working together, him, first as an employee, then as a partner and now as business buddies. Ya.com and Jazztel were, more than anything, made up of people who dreamed of creating something. For those who are nostaligic, here is an old powerpoint that tells the Ya.com story from the very beginning.
FON is my company. I own it 100%… so far. I am close to selling 50% of FON to Swisscom. Swisscom is a $20bn market cap telco with some unique features, the most noticeable being that it has no debt. Other than that (and more relevant to me), Swisscom owns Eurospot, the largest owner of wifi hotsptos in Europe. And so far it´s been losing money with it. Now why would I team up with Swisscom to launch FON? Because I think that FON is exactly what Swisscom needs to really have wifi coverage in Europe. FON is a piece of software that turns everyone´s wifi access point into a part of the FON network. And to roam with Eurospot will make us grow faster. FON is my answer to the 3G fiasco. FON is free to all of those who contribute access points, the rest pay to use it: a fair deal. We have not yet launched FON. The official launch date is November 7th in Spain. But through my Spanish blog we have already 697 volunteers ready to install FON in their wifi access points and more importantly, ready to install it in their neighbors access points. And more and more are showing up every day. When FON is up, people will be able to make almost free phone calls, send pictures over their wifi digital cameras, get songs in their wifi ipods, etc. The funny thing is that the FON network has been built, it´s just not connected. Our software does that. And we have many international users ready to download our software as well. FON is the P2P of wifi. The only difference being is that while wifi owners exchange bandwidth for free as if they were songs, others pay to listen!
Sorry that there are so many more articles about FON in Spanish. As soon as we do our Spanish launch we will move on to France, Germany, Sweden and there will be more written in other languages. Interested in working or collaborating with us? Write to me!
One of the things that I love about starting FON is not only the idea of building a wifi nation, but also all the opportunities this opens up. Every day, I receive tons of ideas from enthusiastic FON volunteers. Some are already thinking of producing content for WiFi TV. Others seem more interested in e-commerce, like the one I’ve attached at the bottom of this post.
What I want to make clear is that FON is not like Vodafone, Movistar or Organge in the sense that, contrary to these, we are not going to charge people for using our network. The strength of the FON network lies in its collaborative effort, and we invite all those who have ideas for FON services to share their ideas on this blog or on the web. The more orginal ideas that surface, the better!
Some people are writing telling me they’re a little preoccupied with the security issue when using FON. For me, worrying about this is really unnecessary. If we want absolute security for our computers, then we simply shouldn’t connect them to the internet nor should we leave our computer in a place where a burglar can break in and steal your hard drive. But for those who accept to live with a tiny bit of risk when surfing the internet, FON will actually increase security in the WiFi world. Let me explain.
First of all, a quick recap of the WiFi world in numbers: according to our studies, 35% of the wifi networks in Spain are open, which, in theory, any criminal can anonymously enter and hack. What FON does is that it asks its members to identify themselves and we give them a username and password that works with their access point, and, if they’re, Linuses, that they can use on other FON access points everywhere. In this way, only FON members will be able to connect to FON access points. To be sure, it makes the anonymous entry of a criminal into the FON network difficult. Compared to anonymous prepaid mobiles, this is much safer. And with today’s WiFi as well.
Last Saturday I started FON. It´s been the craziest 6 days of my business life. And my business life is not short. I started Viatel, Jazztel and Ya.com. But in those three cases the launch itself was not an event. I don´t remember the actual first week of Viatel. I had the idea in 1990, a sort of virus that reverted the calling patterns of international telecom networks and gave foreigners US dial tone. It was a big idea, but it took me maybe a year of hard labor to get to the level of global awareness that I have achieved in 6 days with FON through my blog. And it took 10 years and a great team effort for the company to be worth over $1bn.