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Endless at 10 Years: Enduring Problems Need Enduring Solutions.

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Celebrating 10 years of collaborations, challenges and impact against the Digital Divide.

Endless turned 10 years old in May 2022, with a global impact to be proud of and more work to be done in the future.

From a humble start in 2012, to global inspirational teams and partners in 2022. This May marked the 10-year anniversary of Endless. In 2012 Endless was founded on the principle that technology and access to a personal computer could transform people’s lives. We learnt quickly that the biggest barrier to computer adoption worldwide is internet connectivity, whether due to cost, coverage or quality. We realized that no one needs to wait for the internet to make its way to their community in order to enjoy the beneficial content it contains, and that we could unlock opportunity and the power of technology through different approaches. Ten years later, not much has changed in that belief and Endless’ reason for being. Digital inequity still exists at scale, and the solutions being developed are too slow, too costly or lack the political backing to address the problem at the scale required to make a significant impact.

In 2012, Endless was founded on the principle that technology and access to a personal computer could transform people’s lives. Ten years later, not much has changed in that belief and our reason for being.

Reflecting on our ten year timeline makes it not only clear that we’ve been at this a long time, but also that enduring problems need enduring solutions. How could Endless and the small group of like-minded nonprofits around the globe solve this problem in a decade, or even two? Long before the additional focus on the Digital Divide that the 2020 pandemic brought, an incredible digital inequity already existed around the world, including developed nations like the USA.


Some context: in 2021, 37% of the world's population had never used the internet, according to the United Nations. In 2022 the percentage will be roughly the same, despite COVID-19 driving people from live settings to online school rooms, work places, meetings and events. The flip side of the Internet access problem is device access. Here the situation is worse, with half the world’s households still living without a personal computer. Add to this that by 2050 the world’s population will grow from 7.5 billion to 9.8 billion people mostly in the Global South, and you can see that the Digital Divide is sadly on a growth trajectory. This is going to take more than a village of nonprofits, philanthropy, or another decade.

In 2021, 37% of the world's population had never used the internet. No one needs to wait for the internet to make its way to their community in order to enjoy the beneficial content it contains.

Celebrating achievements while we continue the hard work of bridging the Digital Divide. So how do we process this information as we commemorate ten years of our amazing Endless team, collaborators and partners trying to impact the Digital Divide space in a positive and real way?


First we pause to celebrate the work we have done so far, our current and past team members, and the partnerships we’ve established to collaboratively make an impact in the world. What started with a leap outside of Stanford by our chairman Matt Dalio and his co-founder Marcelo Sampaio has grown and evolved as we found different areas of the world where we could make a difference. This has required a diverse group of people from around the globe working together for positive change, along with a variety of strategic approaches to optimize the delivery of ours, and our partners’ solutions.


2012 - Endless is launched globally with a celebratory jump!

Evolving as an organization and team.

When I joined years later in 2016 Endless had already been working with communities in Brazil, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nepal, India, Kenya, South Africa, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and refugee camps in Jordan … and the team had also already started to tackle the digital inequity problem from both an operating system and hardware design approach. “Endless” was an appropriate name for a group of engineers and community engagement specialists with so much energy and ambition!


Since then, we have moved away from the hardware design approach to a focus providing what we sometimes call the “Offline Internet” to those lacking online access. The idea here is to bring the best of the internet via delivery methods that do not require an online connection. In its simplest form this has consisted of us delivering thousands of info-packed DVDs in Indonesia resulting in hundreds of activations where people had never connected to the internet. In a more sustained and scalable effort, our offline-first Endless operating system has extended even further around the globe to communities lacking online access but still able to benefit from the work, learning and discovery resources operating independently of the Internet in our OS.

By 2016 Endless had worked with communities in Brazil, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nepal, India, Kenya, South Africa, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Jordan, had developed an offline-first OS, and realized that delivering the best of the internet did not require an online connection.

Affordable access to devices is key to our mission, and since 2017 we have been building a new model to tackle the device access and affordability gap that exists for families all over the world. We believe that a smartphone is not at all comparable to the true educational and career opportunities that a personal computer offers. But the cost of a new laptop is prohibitive for billions of people. So in addition to PC donations around the world, we created financing models that allowed families to make small payments they can afford outside of traditional retail-centric and sometimes aggressive tactics.


Our team has created custom software solutions in native languages for remote offline communities in need of educational and learning resources for their students, and also looking to preserve their Indigenous language for future generations and digital sharing outside of their corner of the world. We even prototyped and sold a laptop on Amazon that encourages kids to hack their own PC, so that they were learning coding and computer science skills while having fun.


On top of all of this, Endless completely rebuilt itself as a nonprofit in 2020 as the pandemic laid clear the impact of the Digital Divide across the world, and as UNESCO estimated 500 million children lacked access to distance learning worldwide. We realized we were a social-impact organization at heart all along, and needed to sustain our work through partnerships and a structure that allowed us to focus on our impact. The journey over the last two years has been incredible and inspired us to double down on our commitment to getting free offline learning resources to those that are unconnected to a stable Internet. Our Endless Key program and Endless OS are our flagships here.


On top of all of this, Endless completely rebuilt itself as a nonprofit in 2020 as the pandemic laid clear the impact of the Digital Divide across the world.


A huge thanks to our Endless team and partners / collaborators, past and present. If someone were to tell me about a group of people who for ten years have worked tirelessly to bridge the Digital Divide from so many angles, in so many places around the world, and with such creativity and passion, I might not believe them. But I know it’s true. I also know that enduring problems need enduring solutions. I am privileged to lead a team that’s ready to continue the important fight of innovating and collaborating to one day finally bridge the gap between people around the world living on different sides of the Digital Divide.


All of this work deserves celebrating and has happened in just ten short years. If you have been a friend and collaborator with Endless anywhere along our journey I want to thank you. Without partnerships and collaborations this important work cannot be done. The problem is too large and too urgent to tackle alone. Let’s spread the word about the problems and the solutions that can make a real difference, and make the next ten years even more impactful, together.

“Endless” is an appropriate name for a group of engineers and community engagement specialists with so much energy and ambition. If you have been a friend and collaborator with Endless anywhere along our journey, thank you!


Rob McQueen is CEO at the Endless OS Foundation (EOSF). Rob is an experienced engineering manager and company leader, and has been a user, developer and advocate for a Free and Open Source Linux desktop for nearly 20 years. Based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Rob also currently serves as the President of the GNOME Foundation, a 501(c)(3) in the open source desktop space.











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