The Business On: Mark Rigolle, Chief executive, O3b

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The Independent Online

Isn't that rather an odd name for a business?

It's supposed to be clever: it stands for "other three billion" you see. Mr Rigolle's company wants to bring high-speed internet access to the three billion people living in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East who aren't currently online. Google is one of the company's backers, which may explain the idiosyncratic moniker.



So tell us about Mr Rigolle. Have we come across him before?

Probably not. He's from Belgium and you know what they say about the lack of famous people from that country. He got the job at O3b in February when his predecessor, Greg Clarke, suddenly handed in his notice for a rather unusual reason: a knee injury was preventing him from clocking up the air miles necessary to get O3b going.



And how is our Belgian friend getting on so far?

Rather well, actually. Yesterday, he announced the company had raised $1.2bn of new funding. That should be enough for it to get eight satellites into orbit by the first half of 2013, the key to connecting up those threebillion poor souls who currently miss out on Justin Bieber's tweets.



It sounds as if he knows what he's doing?

Why shouldn't he? They do have businesses in Belgium you know. And Mr Rigolle knows this industry well – he joined O3b from SES, the world's second-largest satellite network operator. It's one of O3b's biggest investors, along with Google, HSBC and the media group Liberty Global.



Anything else?

His background is in finance and economics, but Mr Rigolle moved into this world when he led the privatisation of Belgacom, the Belgian telecoms company.



What's next?

He's got to sell the idea to the world's mobile phone network operators. O3b thinks they're the key to getting the internet into the hands of the other three billion, most of whom aren't likely to be signing up for a broadband service at home.

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