The brainchild of Argentine serial entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, Fon has the goal of “blanketing the world with Wi-Fi.” It currently boasts 12 million hotspots around the globe and has offices in Madrid, London, Tokyo and New York.
For Qualcomm Ventures (the venture capital arm of Qualcomm Incorporated), this investment deal is a strategic one. Fon is currently developing a new router that combines social Wi-Fi with social music based on a chipset from Qualcomm Atheros Inc. Likewise, Qualcomm Atheros is integrating Fon as a feature, available through SDK for its chipsets.
“Fon’s unique approach to crowd-sourcing Wi-Fi is going to play an increasingly instrumental role in the future of mobile data,” said Miles Kirby, senior director for Qualcomm Ventures, in the investment announcement. “Qualcomm is leading the 1000x mobile data challenge, and Fon fits perfectly into our vision to solving the increasing demand for data.”
Also participating in the round are existing investors Index Ventures, Google, Coral, Atomico and Deutsche Telekom. Varsavsky reflected on what the funds imply for what’s ahead:
The amount of this round and the caliber of investors will propel us into our next stage of growth. We are excited about our new relationship with Qualcomm, which is an amazing company and a leader in mobile data communication. By integrating Fon into Qualcomm Atheros’ chipsets, more devices and systems will be automatically equipped to be part of Fon’s global Wi-Fi network.
Fon converts existing Wi-Fi hotspots into community hotspots. In the U.K., France and Belgium, more than 10% of households have a Fon hotspot, and Japan and Brazil are proving promising as well. Fon has significant coverage in more than 1,000 cities, most recently making strides in Brooklyn to expand its prowess in the United States. By 2016, the Fon team hopes to reach 35 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the globe.
Moving forward, Fon will build out its presence in the United States and work on new products, including one aimed at small businesses.
With an exceptionally transcontinental career, Varsavsky a major influencer in Latin America, Europe and the United States. At the 2012 AVCC in Miami, he discussed his take on investments – an approach that likely has helped him to land this latest round of funding for Fon:
If you can’t tell the story of your business in one sentence, you’re in trouble.