The New Human Rights: Internet Access

//David Hirsch//

Emerging markets is the next frontier for mobile content and applications. However, tapping into this burgeoning market requires a different mind set. For some of the people in these markets, a smartphone is the first computer they have ever been exposed to. In order to help them get on the mobile internet on-ramp and engage with the content, we need to provide a different and intuitive user experience. Also, although the smartphone hardware costs have dramatically declined, lots of smartphones users in these markets deactivate their data because of the relative high cost of data compared to their disposable income.

This problem is widespread in countries around the world. Over 1.5 billion people around the world worry about their data usage on a month-to-month basis and more than 80% of the world’s smartphone population have limited data plans. Much of the technology industry has focused on the behavior of the next billion Internet users, but the factors limiting this growth have been largely ignored.

Enter Lotusflare—founded by three former members of Facebook’s growth team, the company is working to make mobile Internet more accessible. By partnering with mobile operators and app developers around the world, Lotusflare enables users to control their data usage while developing technology to provide low cost connectivity to two-thirds of the world’s population. Chamath Palihapitiya, the company’s chairman and founder of Social+Capital had a very interesting tweetstorm and subsequent debate on the company and opportunity yesterday (Social+Capital led the Series A round announced yesterday).

We’re proud to announce today that LotusFlare has raised their $6 million series A round after we led their seed round last year. The team has been hard at work since to provide affordable internet access in many countries including Sri Lanka. A country of over 20 million people, Sri Lanka previously only had 2.8 million mobile Internet connections and just over 600,000 fixed-line Internet subscribers. It’s this unprecedented impact and vision of the Lotusflare team that has at Metamorphic fired up about Lotusflare and the mission they’ve set out to accomplish.