TL; DR: Hola VPN, a peer-to-peer proxy service empowering users worldwide to unblock censored websites, is working to provide a faster and more open internet. The company’s free edition increases accessibility, while Hola VPN PLUS offers full encryption, privacy, and security. With a unique company culture that cultivates top performers and encourages excellent support, Hola strives to provide a continually evolving service centered on customer needs.
Human rights violations in war-torn Syria are some of the most egregious in modern history, and restrictions on fundamental freedoms of information place those who dar defy them in serious danger. According to Reporters Without Borders (RWB), journalists are frequent victims of civil war violence, facing a high risk of arrest, abduction, and death.
Syria ranks among the worst offenders on RWB’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, coming in at 174 out of 180 countries with an abuse score of 81.46 out of 100. The situation became increasingly dire in March 2018 when the Syrian government implemented new restrictions on online freedom of expression punishable by specialized courts.
In this dangerously oppressive media environment, internet users often turn to virtual private network solutions like Hola VPN to access censored information.
“Hola has helped over 180 million users access sites that are blocked based on their geography,” said Arik Gilad, GM at Hola. “In the recent crisis in Syria, the number one use case for Hola has been the freedom to access Wikipedia, a top source for open information.”
Arik said that almost every country in the world now blocks content, though not necessarily to the same extent as in Syria, underscoring the importance of VPN technology.
In addition to providing a more open internet, Hola VPN’s split-tunneling technology also makes for a faster browsing experience. If you’re looking for complete encryption, privacy, and security features, the company’s premium paid edition, Hola VPN PLUS, is also available for a monthly fee. Whichever plan you choose, Arik said Hola continually strives to provide the updates customers need to ensure a fast, secure, and open internet.
Creating a Better Internet Through Advanced Routing Technology
Hola VPN is powered by a peer-to-peer (P2P) VPN in which your traffic is routed through other users’ nodes in the network, rather than via proxy servers.
“The amount of traffic that Hola VPN passes through a peer on its network per day, on average, is about a YouTube clip,” Arik said.
In exchange for accessing the free service, users contribute a small amount of processing power when their devices are not in use.
“Hola is free for users in return for sharing their idle resources,” Arik said. “This patent-protected P2P method has two huge advantages. First, we can provide users the first completely free VPN service to the masses, spreading democracy worldwide. It also makes it possible to unblock any form of government blocking, where regular VPNs cannot.”
Hola VPN, which runs as a hybrid of P2P technology and VPN architecture, can be installed on PC, Mac, and Android for no charge. On iOS, the technology operates as a standard VPN service that is not part of the P2P network, thus requiring a subscription.
Whether you’re using the free or paid service, Arik said Hola runs a customer-first operation. The company is constantly trying to understand the needs and pain points of its users to provide ongoing improvements.
“Our customers are our most valuable asset, and we’re always happy to hold remote sessions with them to debug issues and understand what doesn’t work for them,” Arik said. “I actually force all my family and friends to install it so I can get new feedback, and I use it myself.”
Feedback from the user community speaks for itself. Arik said more than 334,000 users from around the world have rated Hola as a five-star application.
Get Enhanced Protection with Hola VPN PLUS
Arik said users who do not wish to share resources via Hola’s P2P network or require robust security features may subscribe to Hola VPN PLUS, a premium version that runs on a dedicated network of high-performance servers.
The plan, available through monthly or yearly payments, includes a 30-day money-back guarantee and registration of up to 10 devices. “Hola VPN PLUS users pay a subscription and in return only use the network and do not contribute to it with their idle resources,” Arik said.
Hola VPN and Hola VPN PLUS are intended for non-commercial use. For commercial use, companies can use a service called Luminati— a company that was spun out from the same parent company as Hola. Businesses can use Luminati to check what a brand’s site looks like from various locations worldwide, anonymously compare prices with competitors, and prevent advertising fraud, among other use cases.
The service allows for automation to control routing of HTTP/S requests, access to more than 35 million IPs globally, geo-targeting options, precise IP resolution, and many concurrent sessions.
According to Arik, Hola VPN PLUS and Luminati users keep the company running while helping to support the majority of Hola’s 187 million users on the free plan.
“We make our money with Hola VPN Plus and with the Luminati SDK, which makes us profitable enough to continue to operate freely for the rest,” he said.
A Winning Company Culture with In-House Chefs
It’s no secret that enthusiastic employees tend to be happier, healthier, and offer better customer service. According to the National Business Research Institute, engaged employees typically display an emotional attachment to their organization, which results in a drive to further their company’s interests.
Hola’s fast-growing team, based out of Israel with employees spanning the globe, enjoys a range of unique benefits, from compelling compensation packages to in-office dog sitters.
“Every day you come in, you’ll see about 10 dogs in the office,” Arik said. “We have a dog walker, we make sure they are treated well, we have people cut their hair. When you have a dog and you work many hours, it’s very difficult — we make things easier on dog owners.”
And because a full belly makes for a happy heart, Hola offers healthy meals prepared by an in-house chef every day. Arik said his team enjoys everything from fresh sushi rolls to juicy steak. Not only is the benefit delicious, but it helps increase efficiency.
“We used to go out in the past to eat for lunch, but we found that the food was fatty and we were wasting time just going out and waiting for service,” he said. “Having a chef in the office makes us more productive.”
The company is also known for its Hola DNA, a set of clearly defined guiding principles that helps the team continually improve through fast, value-based decision-making. The company keeps this DNA alive by teaching it to all employees through a three-week training boot camp and various employee rankings, from Hola Noob to Hola Veteran.
The DNA defines both cultural and technical procedures, including consistent coding conventions that make it easier for developers to read and modify code.
A Word-of-Mouth Marketing Approach Free from Scare Tactics
According to Arik, Hola has managed to thrive without a traditional marketing budget. He warned that customers should be wary of VPN providers who profit off advertising campaigns based on scare tactics.
“The big players especially invest a lot of money in trying to frighten the end user,” he said. “Most of our traffic is organic; we have never invested in marketing,” he said.
Hola’s DNA dictates that employees should focus on mindfulness, having a well-thought-out reason behind every action they take. “This allows for future improvement based on what the user needs,” Arik said.