GAIUS Networks — Enabling local content ad ecosystems for the next 3 billion users

GAIUS Networks Inc is a New York University spinout with an ambitious vision of solving the last mile content provisioning challenge for the next three billion users in emerging markets. GAIUS is part of Microsoft for Startups, invited member of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) and incubated by IDEA London (Cisco, EDF and UCL).

Global broadband penetration currently stands at 51.2%. However, the diverse stakeholders within the Internet ecosystem have had severe difficulties in enabling locally relevant Internet content especially in emerging markets. According to ICANN, there are 4.5 domains per 1000 people in Africa. A recent study by KPMG stated that 40%-70% users across Indian states want local content in local languages. Connectivity alone will not bridge the digital divide — several major connectivity projects and initiatives have failed. Reasons cited are:

  1. lack of platforms (especially for mobile) for localised content generation and distribution
  2. the current mobile web content being very poorly designed and not optimised for seamless content delivery experience.
  3. lack of sustainable bottom up local content ad ecosystems — traditional models are top down highly centralised and tightly controlled.

GAIUS (our core platform) aims to create decentralised sustainable highly localised light weight mobile web ecosystems for the next 3 billion users. The platform includes an innovative hyper-local browser that enables hyper-local communities in emerging markets to create, interact and monetise local content relevant to their communities in their own languages. GAIUS removes the dependency of communities to access the WWW, empowering communities to create their own hyper-local content ecosystems in a sustainable way. Imagine women in a rural village having their own mobile web for equal and open participation!

GAIUS powers users in hyper-local communities to create, interact, transact and monetize a broad spectra of locally relevant content (community-specific content, business offers, news, jobs, advertisements, news etc.) in their own preferred languages across a unified platform. Hyper-local content and communities for the next 3B users in emerging markets presents a $2 Trillion market opportunity for GAIUS.

The GAIUS platform has three key technical innovations:

1. An edge application ecosystem consisting of lightweight content verticals in the form of channels, with a highly simplified and optimised mobile client created using a new mobile app specification language called MAML (Mobile Application Markup Language) enabling:

a. Creation and access to hyper local content

b. Easy content creation and distribution using just your mobile phone

c. Allowing major content providers to reach previously untapped communities

GAIUS MAML pages have the same look and feel of traditional mobile pages but are extremely lightweight and download much faster.

GAIUS Mobile page
User experience : Majority of the users felt the GAIUS page was very similar to traditional mobile pages

2. A decentralised content/ad exchange running at the edge that:

a. Decouples Ads from content and moves the Ad-bidding exchange to the edge.

b. Offers a flexible and targeted ad delivery engine based on content provider policies, user preferences, network characteristics and locality of interest.

c. Enables bottom up participation of local small, medium and large businesses in the local mobile content ad market as well as users.

3. A high performance mobile networking stack and an optimised content diffusion engine that provides an order of magnitude performance gains on mobile networks compared to current state of the art. GAIUS pages are 60% lower is size and download 90% faster compared to traditional mobile browsers.

CDF of Pages Sizes (in kB): GAIUS MAML pages vs traditional mobile pages served via OperaMini & Chrome
CDF of Page Load Times (in ms): GAIUS MAML pages vs traditional mobile pages served via OperaMini & Chrome

In the past 2 months, GAIUS has conducted successful early trials in India (Chennai, Bangalore, Maharashtra) and Kenya (Nairobi) to create hyper-local communities with 1200+ users. These include: (i) mobile learning communities to support education and job search among college students; (ii) powering the TVs in cabs in a city with local content (partnership signed); (iii) hyper-local businesses giving offers to locals and (iv) content dissemination for community radios.

GAIUS Kenya (Home Screen)
Example GAIUS Hyper-local Community in Kenya
Hyper-local GAIUS market in Kenya

We are also very happy to have the support of Liquid Telecom in Kenya and Microsoft Azure in India for our trials.

We would like to invite users from INDIA and KENYA to trial our platform. You can download the app from the Android Playstore: GAIUS

*iOS and KaiOS coming soon.

*Users from other countries can still trial out — you will be redirected to our test platform.

We are also looking to start a few more trials across other emerging countries especially the Pacific Islands, and are happy to talk to prospective partners who have immense reach.

*article updated as of 29 September 2019

CEO of GAIUS Networks, INC