Web 2.0 Expo Berlin: Martin Varsavsky

Martin Varsavsky, a serial entrepreneur most recently with Fon, was challenged by Tim O’reilly to elaborate on a recent blog post when he criticised some of the doom and gloom coming out of silicon valley. His point, he reitereated, was not that people were wrong to declare doom, just that they are rather late to the party…

Martin Varsavsky“There are times when markets are prepared to give entrepreneurs ridiculous money and times when their refusals are ridiculous,” he said.

“Right now we wouldn’t get the capital to start Fon,” he said. The company had needed investment to make the hardware that was part of the initial offering. “When we realised money wasn’t going to be available any more, I started to make the cuts,” he continued.
Other highlights:
  • There are distinct differences in national character which you need to take into account as you spread. The Germans use Fon to save money, the Japanese see it as an altruistic act.
  • It’s essential to have a great team supporting him. He has an inability to do just one thing. 
  • Sometimes, though, he just burns out and takes two year vacations – particularly after downturns. I believe the phrase “lucky git” applies.  
  • The concept of a salesman is really bad in Europe, but we all need to be one. Product design is the other part. 
His cousin was killed by Argentine Government, his family got refugee status in the States. Moved to Europe for a year 13 years ago. He is very happy here now. Europe is more fair and less brutal to certain citizens, especially the ones who don’t have medical care. Spain feels like a civilised version of Argentine.
  • read the whole story of now struggling FON there!