Mea culpa

We made a big mistake on stage at TechStars Demo Day. We learned a big lesson. Through the incredible TechStars ecosystem, we have been really lucky to be connected to major brands and potential partners. With some, we are just in very early stage talks. With others, we have started promising pilot programs. We have had varying levels of support and in our excitement to be working with such marquee companies, we proudly announced some of them today. But we jumped the gun and that was a big mistake.

We have learned a few huge lessons today. We have learned that being a good partner is not just about the service you provide, but also how you represent yourself to the public. We apologize profusely for claiming Uber and American Airlines are working with us – a statement we never received explicit permission to use. And we apologize to TechStars and the whole TechStars community. We did not mean to overstate anything or unfairly take advantage of the network and the opportunities it has opened up for us.

We also learned today about the power of a brand name. We made a big splash by being associated with big brands that we admire and respect, but then immediately lost credibility because of this mishap. The irony of our name being Karma is not lost on us – but we truly hope to live up to our name and the core value it represents, and we hope you give us the chance.

Robert Gaal

Telecom needs karma: why we founded a new mobile provider

When Graham Bell made the first telephone call in 1876, he ironically described the first limitation as well. He could only hear somebody on the other end of the wire, not see them. “Watson, come over here, I want to see you”, he said. Now, over a century later, we are where Bell wanted to be. In a matter of seconds we can make a video call, and we’re staring each other in the eyes. That’s how far we have come.

Still, you can’t escape the feeling that we screwed up somewhere along the way. The telephone spawned the telecom industry, which consolidated into large corporations that stopped caring about their customers. It became a race to optimize margins to 80%. As a result, they quickly wanted you to be something you’re not. For instance:

You’ve embraced apps, and use them to completely change your mobile devices to do whatever you see fit. They would prefer you keep sending text messages. They now want to charge you additionally for your choice of online services, killing net neutrality.

You and your friends love being online everywhere you go. They gave you an “unlimited*” plan. The asterisk meaning: *expect more bills if you’re a fan of our service. They didn’t even let you share your connection with your own devices, let alone other people.

You want to pay for what you use. They offered a 2-year plan, with a pricing table only an accountant can figure out. They gave you a $1000 bill for checking your e-mail during that holiday in Paris.

It’s not difficult to understand why we stopped liking them. Like all vampires, they suck. But for something as amazing as mobile communication, it’s amazingly disappointing how much we don’t like our mobile providers. After all, connectivity makes us more human. We’ve evolved to a state where we can choose our own way of communication. FaceTime, Twitter, Facebook, Skype: take your pick. The irony now is that the gatekeepers who are fueling this would rather see you go back to Graham Bell’s phone.

But why have irony when you can have karma? That thought stuck with us for a while, and we founded a company in that name: Karma. We believe that all connectivity should be simple and honest. Karma creates simple design, simple technology, and simple sharing. We care about honest service, honest pricing, and honest communication. After all, that’s how all the things you love work. When you click the top button of your Braun travel alarm in the evening, you don’t question if it will go off the next morning. Neither will you question the price of an item on Amazon and if it will actually be delivered. That’s the kind of cause and effect that the telecom industry is now without. We’re bringing it back, all the way from 1876, with a vengeance.

As we are all now taking the next step in mobile communication, called 4G, we won’t be gentle with the telecom giants. After all, Graham Bell wasn’t gentle with paper mail either. This time it won’t be a copper wire doing the job, but software. We’re living in a technological renaissance, and the Da Vinci of this era said it well: software is eating the world. Karma was founded on that principle. We’re creating a mobile provider by not being one, and focussing on useful applications and meaningful interfaces instead. If you’d like to know the details, follow us and enjoy.

Hi world! We’re Karma.

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