f you live in San Francisco or New York, you likely know you can connect to free WiFi in certain locations. Your cities’ governments partnered with Madrid-based provider Gowex to make that happen — the same company that has recently admitted to doctoring its accounts for the past four years. Gowex might be an unknown to most of us, but it was considered a success story in Spain and performed really well at Madrid’s Alternative Equity Market, a stock exchange for small companies. A few days ago, though, a short seller named Gotham City Research published a report that claims 90 percent of the company’s revenues are falsified and that it actually earns only 10 percent of what it says it does.
GOWEX shows up in my wifi hotspot listings all over San Francisco, but I have never, ever been able to actually connect to it. Had I known that it was a joint effort with the City and County of San Francisco, I would have known why: The only metric for success with such things is how much money it brings to city coffers. Whether it actually works or not is entirely beside the point.