Startups to watch

It's getting crowded on the Web 2.0 frontier, but there are still some startups that truly stand out. Business 2.0 Magazine identifies the ones most likely to strike gold in 2007.

In the freewheeling wireless era, the PC is in your pocket and the network is in the air. No surprise, then, that gadgets from Apple's iPhone to a SanDisk MP3 player are being built with Wi-Fi inside.

But finding a Wi-Fi signal when you need one can be a problem - and a big opportunity for Fon, a Spanish company that's building a global community of hotspots one router at a time.

The idea for Fon hit founder Martin Varsavsky in late 2005 while he was strolling through Paris with his PDA in search of a signal. Companies like T-Mobile were spending millions of dollars to build hotspot networks and charging dearly for access.

Varsavsky, however, saw the potential for a worldwide Wi-Fi network in the home broadband connections already in place. All that was needed was a service to tie them together.

Here's how it works: Fon sells a $30 wireless router to consumers. They hook it up, register their node, and agree to share their broadband with other "Foneros" for free. Those who want to charge outsiders for access can do so, and Fon gets a cut. Likewise, if someone wants to pay $2 or $3 to use the Fon network for a day, Fon takes a share of that revenue. Just over a year old, Fon's network boasts more than 70,000 hotspots. Initially focused on Europe and Asia, Fon plans a big push in the United States in the coming months.

Tell us what you think about Fon: Is the company a Web 2.0 winner?

Funding: $22 million (Google, Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Skype)

Founder: Martin Varsavsky (shown above)

Headquarters: Madrid, Spain

Employees: 90

Founded: 2006

Business model: Subscription, router sales

Bragging rights: 400,000 users (including 40,000 Americans added since October); signed as-yet unannounced deal with first major U.S. broadband service provider

Next up: In deal talks with U.S. cellular service provider

Contact: Faisal Galaria, fonus@fon.com

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.