Martin Varsavsky is an Argentine/Spanish entrepreneur, founder of seven companies in the past 20 years.
In 1984, while still in college, Varsavsky started his first business, Urban Capital Corporation, one of the early leaders of the loft movement in downtown Manhattan. This was soon followed in 1986 by Medicorp Services, a Canadian biotechnology company, a pioneer in AIDS and PSA testing. His third business, Viatel Ltd., Varsavsky’s first venture into the world of telecom, was founded in 1990. This company is best known for inventing call back and building the first pan European fiber optic network ahead of liberalization.
Martin Varsavsky’s best-known ventures were founded during the last decade. In 1998, he started Jazztel Telecomunicaciones (Jazztel), Spain’s second largest publicly traded telecom operator. In 1999 he founded Ya.com, Spain’s third largest internet web site/DSL provider that includes the second largest Spanish language web agency viajar.com. But not all of MV´s companies were successful. In 2000, he started Germany’s largest ASP, Einsteinet, and the company was sold in 2003 at no return to him or investors.
Martin Varsavsky’s current venture is FON, an innovative WiFi start up founded in February 2006 and headquartered in Madrid, Spain, with some 100 employees located around the world. FON’s mission is to make WiFi universal and free by creating a unified global community of members who share WiFi. The FON Community already has over 1.7 million registered members, and with close to 1 million FON Spots, it has become the world’s largest WiFi network.
FON has raised more than €30M in financing from among others eBay, Coral Group, Google, Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital and BT. These leading internet and communications companies have shown the industry’s support for FON’s vision and business model.
Martin Varsavsky also engages in not-for-profit activities. For example, he manages the Varsavsky Foundation best known as founder of two large educational projects in Latin America, Educ.ar (Argentina) and EducarChile (Chile) and the Safe Democracy Foundation. Martin was Ambassador at Large of Argentina between 2001 up to 2005. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, and is a board member of Instituto de Empresa, Spain’s leading business school, where he has been teaching entrepreneurship for the past 8 years.
Martin Varsavsky has written numerous articles on business and international relations that have been published in several international publications including El Pais and Newsweek. He is also a frequent speaker at conferences around the world and active blogger. He is the recipient of various honors and rewards, among them European Telecommunications Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998, ECTA´s European Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999, Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2000, and Spanish Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000, Pickering Prize from Columbia University 2004.
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