A new internet startup called G.ho.st (pronounced like the spook, and an acronym for “Global Hosted Operating System”) offering “free web-based virtual computing for every human being” wants to give users a free,way to access their desktop and files from any computer with an Internet connection. To do so, g.ho.st uses services like Google Docs, Zoho and Flickr.
It has a Palestinian office in Ramallah, with about 35 software developers, and a smaller Israeli team in the Israeli town of Modiin. The CEO, Dr. Zvi Schreiber, said “he wanted to create G.ho.st after seeing the power of software running on the Web. He said he thought it was time to merge his technological and commercial ambitions with his social ones and create a business with Palestinians.”
G.ho.st also has a philanthropic component: a foundation that aims to establish community computer centers in Ramallah and in mixed Jewish-Arab towns in Israel. The foundation is headed by Noa Rothman, the granddaughter of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister slain in 1995.
“It’s the first time I met Palestinians of my generation face to face,” said Ms. Rothman, 31, of her work with G.ho.st. She said she was moved by how easily everyone got along. “It shows how on the people-to-people level you can really get things done.”
Investors have put $2.5 million into the company so far, a modest amount. Employing Palestinians means the money goes farther; salaries for Palestinian programmers are about a third of what they are in Israel.
But Dr. Schreiber, who initially teamed up with Tareq Maayah, a Palestinian businessman, to start the Ramallah office, insists this is not just another example of outsourcing.
“We are one team, employed by the same company, and everyone has shares in the company,” he said.