Financing online

Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana - @luisangelfh
29 May, 2018
Editorial: 205
Fecha de publicación original: 7 marzo, 2000

When it rains the water flows

On the Internet you can’t stand still in the same place for two minutes, but sometimes it really makes one take surprising leaps and bounds. Over the last few weeks,, the company that publishes and promotes the projects that, one way or the other, we have been outlining in the electronic magazine, has been putting the finishing touches to a plan for raising new capital which will enable us to face the immediate future. True to our nature so far, it did not occur to us to go to a bank first, nor a venture capital company or even a rich partner to solve our problems. Instead, we called on a circle of close friends to ask them if they would like to participate in this expansion by contributing with a minimum of a million pesetas in exchange for shares in the company. The response has left us gasping for breath. In less than a month and a half, more than 60 million pesetas have been subscribed, almost quadrupling our initial target. In ten days’ time this phase, which has boosted our confidence enormously and given us the room to manoeuvre for our continued development, will draw to a close. As one of our “mini-investors” put it, “in the new economy, it is not only the big corporations whose grand projects on the Internet feature so prominently in the news that play a role, but the hundreds of small ones who are inventive and innovative in their use of the Net as well”. Amen.

This is true, and forms a central part of the philosophy of The problem is, as we have so often said on these pages, that small companies are permanently under threat of being gobbled up by large ones with their creativity subsequently metabolised –“corporatised”– and leaving hardly a trace behind them. It’s happening all around us every day, and we are no exception. Over the last few months, the company has been re-evaluated simply because the market has taken to re-evaluating –even exaggerating– the Internet sector, particularly companies capable of delivering creative online services. This magic wand touched us too. Companies and groups of all shapes and sizes, some of them familiar because they feature in the media or because they are just a click away on the Internet, have “click, clicked” on our door asking for everything, from collaboration to polite requests to sink their teeth into us. Our neck has become more sensitive than if we were living in Dracula’s village.

The only way we could maintain our independence and guarantee the development of our projects was to find finance that would not compromise the necessary expansion of our staff and technical equipment. We realise that, in any case, over the next few months we will have to come to some kind of agreement with venture capital if we are to maintain our efforts in an increasingly competitive market. However, we also know that if our circle of close friends have more than generously contributed to raise capital now, at a later stage we will be able to offer the readers of the option of participating in subsequent operations of this nature. We won’t unleash the “Hong Kong syndrome” which affected hundreds of thousands of people to beat each other up in an attempt to get shares in, a new Internet portal “for the whole of China” (whatever the hell that means!). But, we are also not a mere soap bubble like that –at least not for the moment, and we have no intention of becoming one– and the reason for this is the kind of relationships we have forged with those who make up’s environment.

These last four years, through the electronic magazine and the numerous activities we have developed from it, such as courses, conferences, consulting work and other projects, we have created a very specific niche for ourselves on the Net. As our weekly articles reflect, we feel that networking is the fundamental key to the Information Society. Nevertheless, creating networks is easier said than done. Building relationships and virtual environments, ensuring they are enriched through information and knowledge exchange and, in addition, bear fruit, has been one of our primary concerns and one to which we have dedicated a lot of time, all our money and all the possible research we could imagine. The results are there for all to see, from en.medi@, a technology designed for content generation and online knowledge management, to the projects that we ourselves have promoted or that have reached En.redando’s door.

According to data just published in the Spanish press in relation to next weekend’s General Elections, technology companies (read Internet companies) spent 2.5% of their income on Research and Development in 1998. At the moment, and from the time we began, we have spent 100% of what we earned on research, apart from the paltry sums used for salaries and maintenance costs. I don’t need to go into detail for you to imagine the difficulties this entailed. The only way forward was to begin to commercialise some of our developments, as well as the knowledge and experience accumulated over these years. This is why, faced with the inevitability of having to open the company up to venture capital in order to exploit these products and undertake the projects accumulating in our portfolio, we decided to give our friends the opportunity to take part in this venture. We are not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes: offers an alternative and friendlier way to lose money instead of investing in pension funds or other financial mechanisms with equally dubious futures. If, in addition to this, we make money it will be, as the eternal poker playing loser says, “like rocketing to the sky”

In order to put this expansion into effect, we have taken the following three steps:

1) The “historical” workers in became share-holders, something which will gradually apply to all those who join up from now on depending on achievements.

2) Following this first stage in reorganising our capital, we took a second which we are currently putting the finishing touches to. It is based on a business plan which can be freely consulted (in Spanish,

3) We continue our negotiations with various financial and/or technological partners to develop specific lines of operation, either based on concrete projects or on products we have developed ourselves

Our DNA, as those who follow us regularly will know, is the creation of original content and the organisation of networked communications flows. This orientation has meant we have a very particular way of “looking” at the Net, of taking advantage of its properties to design environments based on intense user participation and generating quality information and knowledge, such as is the case with en.medi@. We have prepared this platform for content generation and knowledge management to be taken into four areas: The Internet, organisations, research and education.

Large consultants are beginning to say now what we have been analysing –and contributing to many organisations– for years: the first step for taking full advantage of the intelligence of the Internet is the intelligent restructuring of our own organisations and activities on the Net. And en.medi@ is a powerful instrument for doing this. If we are building the Information Society, then systems that allow for the generation of information and the management of knowledge in a networked environment are going to be essential. And this is not a fact of particular interest to any one social or economic sector, but to society and the economy as a whole.

On the other hand, is involved in other projects designed to stimulate society’s presence on the Net, to increase the advanced use of the Internet in specific sectors, such as health and the city. We are not, and we will never be, an Internet company dependent on traffic by users of our web page. This “customerisation” of the Net is already quite busy thanks to telecom operators, banks and a multitude of companies devoted to capturing clicks like the very air they breathe. We are more concerned about the concrete use of the Net, the creation of spaces for relating which noticeably exploit the opportunities it affords, the adaptation of organisations to the generation of knowledge within collective environments on the Net, and the inclusion of sectors of the population that many consider to be, to start off with anyway, “chronically digitally illiterate”. As long as the internauts themselves support this orientation on the Internet, as has been the case with our capital growth expansion, the basic features of the new economy have yet to be clearly defined.

Translation: Bridget King