Feb 3 2005

The Power of Location

The Mobius web-site was spoofed recently. Someone – presumably looking to pass themselves off as a legitimate venture capitalist and needing a web-site to do so – copied our site and changed the name of the firm as well as some of the biographical  information (contacts, team, etc). They even went so far as to pull live feeds from our site that updated our portfolio ticker.

We looked up information on the domain on whois and on some of the registry sites, but the most interesting data came from one of our portfolio companies – Quova. Quova has mapped the IP space of the internet for physical location. If you give them an IP address, they can tell you where it is located (the data are extremely accurate to the country level; very accurate to the city level and beyond). They can also tell you some useful things about the address (connection type; carrier; proxy info; device; etc). We’ve been investors in Quova for several years and I’ve worked with the company pretty closely since I joined Mobius. In this time I’ve had the chance to talk with some of the company’s customers (who use the data for things like fraud detection and localized marketing), sat through demos of the company’s service, talked with their technical team, etc. I’ve never really had the chance to use the service . . . until now. I was amazed with the data they were able to come up with and it was very helpful to our IT group who was trying to gather more information about the site in question. The Internet is often described as a place without borders. In reality that’s not correct. Technology exists that gives us the ability to define these borders. Technology also gives us the opportunity to take some of the anonymity away from the Internet and to create boundaries around our on-line lives. There is such a thing as ‘there’ on the internet (as opposed to ‘anywhere’) and I think we’ll see an increasing use of this technology to make each of our experiences on the Internet both safer and more relevant (just the past year has seen the ability to localize searches; more geographically targeted banner adds; etc. – often powered by Quova’s technology) and more profitable (routing traffic that was previously unserviceable, for instance, to a partner site who can service the traffic, etc.).  Think of the Internet as comprising both a virtual ‘there’ and a physical ‘there’ that combine to create our experience (and may separately be relevant to enhancing that experience). It’s not hard to come up with the ways that the combination of these data will quickly change our on-line experiences.