GoTenna took $4000 from a fundraiser that was to supply Puerto Rico with “hundreds” (“up to 300”) emergency, low-power communication devices for the “central mountainous region” to help “hundreds of thousands” of those hardest hit in at least “15 municipalities” without communications. These donated gotenna mesh devices would have still allowed Puerto Ricans to communicate with their community and with first responders even when the towers fell or diesel wasn’t available.
The fundraiser to reconnect Puerto Rico was FULLY funded in November 2017. However, as we approach April 2018, GoTenna and Daniela Perdomo, CEO, have simply washed their hands of their commitment -walking away with priceless promotion, accrued goodwill from the community, social media bump, $4000 in donated funds which were meant to help Puerto Rico and another million dollars in funds from FEMA / Homeland Security. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this either. They claimed to have helped USVI as well, however, ZERO permanently powered relays are shown on their imeshyou.com map.
In spite of their fiduciary duty over the fundraiser, as the organizer, and that owed to the beneficiaries and donors, they refuse to correct the record and allow falsehoods such as the crowdfunding website took 10% of the funds – which is bullshit. Razoo waived fees for hurricane relief fundraisers benefiting Puerto Rico – and have confirmed as much to me privately. This allows Gotenna to pretend that less than $10,000 of donated funds lie fallow since November unused. When exactly the opposite is true.
Instead of the promised hundreds of gotenna devices to provide communications to the central mountainous region – only 16 have been installed. Only 80 have even been shipped to the island – and this ceased in November. Gotenna is supplying 20,000 to New York City for free to businesses… and 20 at a time to affluent ski resorts… but when it comes to their promise to deliver a few hundred to Puerto Rico? Silence. Crickets. Will they respond? Correct the record? Or continue to delay and ghost the survivors? FOUR months ago, we could have built out a backup network. Now, with their dissembling, obfuscation, and lack of transparency, we barely have 2 months left before the next storms start arriving. Make no mistake, when the towers fall again, the blood will be on their hands.
My suggestion: PR Reconnects and Javier Malave’ simply do not have the bandwidth to deploy the hundreds of emergency devices promised. This doesn’t mean that GoTenna should just walk away though. A fiduciary duty, a moral and ethical duty, and a binding contract with the people of Puerto Rico has been established with ample consideration flowing to GoTenna. PR Reconnects isn’t the beneficiary, the people of Puerto Rico are.
The right thing to do is, nonetheless, send the remaining 216 Gotenna units to Puerto Rico. If Javier and PR Reconnects don’t have the bandwidth, cut out the middle-man. Send the units directly to the geeks, the Computer Science departments of the Universities such as University of Puerto Rico Aguadilla, The Interamerican University, the University of Arecibo; University of Mayaguez; Universidad del Sagrado Corazon; send them to municipal leaders; send them to hospitals like Buen Samaritano. The benefit of -this is that it’s truly a decentralized approach which grows the network organically with no single point of failure like PR Reconnects or Javier. Additionally, by sending to the students directly you empower them to develop disaster communication applications using the GoTenna SDK which have never been envisioned. Innovation will flourish, built-on-Gotenna(TM) apps will fill the play store. This allows people (without relying on any middlemen) to opt-in and voluntarily place their nodes on the imeshyou.com map which has a positive feedback effect and encourages more people to buy their own gotennas to join this network they see growing in front of their eyes – in their own self-interest to gain access to this network; especially knowing that there are at least 15 Gotenna-Satellite gateway devices out there and every single Gotenna device can act as a relay between the internet and Gotenna to deliver SMS messages to those without Gotenna devices. If GoTenna and Daniela Perdomo have a heart (or at least half a brain) they will live up to their promise and start shipping a few dozen gotenna devices to the students, the first responders, and the leaders of Puerto Rico. When the storms on the horizon hit, GoTenna will be responsible for either the biggest failure to come, or the greatest success. Here’s to hoping they do the right thing.