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Seznam.CZ Prioritizes Russian Websites

Ivo Lukacovic in Tocna airport hangar in Prague. Photo: Jiri Turek

This Forbes article is all peaches and cream unless one has insider information.  According to my anonymous Czech expert:

Collection of news and search results available through this portal, https://www.seznam.cz, is an indicator of the key problem in the information environment in the Czech Republic. Without this amplifier that prioritizes obscure sites like Aeronet in searches, many Russian-sponsored websites would be totally irrelevant.

According to many years of correspondence, this indicates only the tip of the iceberg of the Russian influence in the Czech Republic.

Apparently, when the Soviet Union split off the Czech Republic, many people changed uniform but continued working on behalf of the Russian government. Law enforcement, intelligence services, government services, even local snitches, tend to continue supplying their Russian handlers with information.

Szenam.cz showing clear prioritization for Russian and Russian propaganda sites
Seznam.cz showing clear prioritization for Russian-sponsored and Russian propaganda sites. Translation from Czech into English by my Chrome browser.

There is no need for a Russian invasion, it appears much of Czechia is already in Russia’s pocket already.

Seznam.cz is a good example of Russian influence in action in Czechia. Here, a fairly popular website provides an excellent obscurant for nefarious activity, which is Russian-sponsored, promotes Russia, and benefits Russian activities. Russian propaganda in the Czech Republic is commonplace, and it appears Seznam.cz is a good example of Russian influence in action in Czechia by prioritizing pro-Russian websites.

Could Seznam.cz be part of Russian active measures?  We will be watching.

By informing the public about Seznam.cz, perhaps the owner, Czech millionaire Ivo Lukacovic, can take control of Seznam.cz activities and stop benefitting Russia.  If not, we will continue to highlight their activity.

Screen shot of continuation of the same search for MH17 on Seznam.cz showing clear prioritization of one of the most reported events in recent history, showing all pro-Russian results.

</end editorial>

Can A Czech Millionaire Sell Wind And Snow?

FEB 6, 2017 @ 02:55 PM

Author: Michael Mareš

Czech millionaire Ivo Lukacovic and his new venture, Windytv, is taking the market by storm—but without a business plan.

Even if you are not a pilot, kiter, surfer or pro biker, you might find Windytv fun to watch. Roaming through the screen like a living organism, this new weather forecast visualizes wind, waves, rain, temperature and other phenomenon in a completely novel way. Fast and precise forecasts satisfy weather-dependent kiters and paragliders.

“Looks sleek, right?” smiles Ivo Lukacovic, creator of Windytv, in his tiny office at Tocna airport, a quiet venue with a grass runway at the southern periphery of Prague, Czech Republic. Lukacovic owns this place – as a negligible fraction of his $500 million wealth – and describes himself as a guy who loves wind, waves and fresh powdered snow.

Kitesurfing, Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Now pointing to his iPhone, he has Windytv app up and running on the screen. “I am a pilot and a kiter. I literally did it for myself. It is my pet project,” says Lukacovic, who started Windytv in 2014 under its original name Windyty (he renamed it when he discovered that English-speaking users had trouble with the pronunciation).

“I got kind of bored so I started coding just for fun,” says the 42-year old Lukacovic. His ability to code goes back to mid 1990s when he first tried his hand at entrepreneurial ventures. A perpetual learner, he continued polishing his coding skills even after he became a multi-millionaire. “I hustled it by myself, which I am very proud of. Even more proud than I am of Seznam.”

Seznam.cz is the internet company he founded in 1994 in his bedroom which made him a wealthy man. Originally a web catalogue, it evolved over two decades from a search engine to a sprawling multi-platform media company steadily generating $55 million in EBITDA annually.

Seznam, now a company of 1,200 employees, is the only search engine in the world able to compete in the Latin alphabet with Google in its local market. Neither of the companies offer detailed numbers but both Lukacovic and local Google representatives agree on an approximate 50/50 split in desktop search (Google would probably be dominant on mobile thanks to a large base of local Android users).

As the sole owner of Seznam and chairman of the board, Lukacovic is involved only in strategic planning and product development and dodges day-to-day management. It gives him plenty of time to play with his new toy.

However, it is a toy no more, he says. Windytv has become a professional tool for everyone who depends on the weather,” says Lukacovic of his visually attractive six-day weather forecast for pilots, surfers, fishermen, pro cyclists and first responders.

When talking about its user base, Lukacovic emphasizes that Windytv is not for everyone: “We are never going to be the app for the average Joe with four icons. We don´t make weather forecasts for people who want to know if they should pick up a raincoat or umbrella when they go to work,”

Lukacovic is interested in users who rely heavily on weather forecast. “It might even be a matter of life and death for them,” he says.

Every day, Windytv attracts hundreds of thousands users, reaching up to single-digit millions when nature hits hard. And it could be anywhere – from hurricane Matthew in Florida to Taiwan’s typhoon season – bringing Windytv sudden and sometimes even website-crashing traffic. “In Taiwan, we are now part of the national warning system,” adds Lukacovic.

Ruben Lenten, the world´s best kiteboarder, a Red Bull-sponsored athlete, is seen using Windytv in his videos and has been in touch with Lukacovic, praising his work. A Facebook message from the athlete to Lukacovic reads: “I use Windytv every day.”

Windytv, originally launched as a web based service, is now available as Android and iOS apps. Lukacovic prides himself on keeping the product small and lightning-fast. “User interface and whole user experience is something I take very seriously” he says. Windytv uses three weather forecast models (GFS, NEMS and ECMWF) and Lukacovic plans to expand to nowcast by adding real-time data and images from radars and satellites. “This is just the beginning,” Lukacovic says with a grin.

Now his job is to figure out how to turn users into profit. Lukacovic admits he has not finalized the business plan yet. “Honestly, I don´t have a clue… Right now it is about market share. We will come up with some idea,” he says. But there are some ideas in his head already – a paid Windytv Pro version, reselling enriched weather-related data to third parties via API or launching offline tourist maps in a joint venture with Seznam, which has earned a great reputation for its maps, comparable or even better than Google Maps in some features.

Unlike Seznam, Windytv is a fairly small startup with only three coders and one small room in an inconspicuous office building at the banks of the Vltava River, filled with startup passion. “Why do we do this? Because it’s beautiful,” says Ondřej Procházka, former director of engineering at Seznam and now Lukacovic´s right-hand man in startup projects. Besides Windytv, the organization includes Melown, a cloud platform for developing 3D mapping apps, which the founders believe has huge potential in the real-estate business, utility sectors and tourism.

When asked about the motivation for starting new digital ventures, Prochazka points to Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, a bestseller by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, given to him by Lukacovic a couple of months ago. “Being part of a creative process is something that makes me and Ivo happy,” says Prochazka. “We both love to take on the biggest challenges we see in digitalizing the real world.”

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesinternational/2017/02/06/can-a-czech-millionaire-sell-wind-and-snow/#60710983a50c

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