Hola (VPN)

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FounderOfer Vilenski
Derry Shribman
Number of locations
ServicesUnrestricted Internet Access

Hola is a freemium web and mobile application which provides a form of VPN service to its users through a peer-to-peer network. It also uses peer-to-peer caching. When a user accesses certain domains that are known to use geo-blocking, the Hola application redirects the request to go through the computers and Internet connections of other users in non-blocked areas, thereby circumventing the blocking. Users of the free service share a portion of their idle upload bandwidth to be used for serving cached data to other users.[1][2][3][4] Paying users can choose to redirect all requests to peers but are themselves never used as peers.[5]


In 1998, Ofer Vilenski and Derry Shribman founded KRFTech, a software development tools company.[6] With the profits from the company, they started Jungo in 2000 to develop an operating system for home gateways. In 2006, NDS (Cisco) acquired Jungo for $107 million.[7][8]

In 2008, Vilenski and Shribman started investigating the idea of re-inventing HTTP by building a peer-to-peer overlay network that would employ peer-to-peer caching to accelerate content distribution and peer-to-peer routing to make the effective bandwidth to target sites much faster.[2] This would make the Internet faster for users and cheaper to operate for content distributors. They started up Hola with $18 million from investors such as DFJ (Skype, Hotmail), Horizons Ventures (Li Ka-shing's venture capital fund),[9] Magma Venture Partners (Waze), Israel's Chief Scientist Fund, and others.[10][11]

Hola Networks Limited launched its network in late 2012,[4] and it became popular in January 2013 when consumers started using Hola for Internet privacy and anonymity by utilizing the P2P routing for IP masking. "After being around for two months with 80 downloads a day, on January 23, 2013, at 5 PM Israel time, the product was good enough. That was the second it took off and went up overnight to 40,000 downloads a day", Vilenski told Startup Camel.[12]

In May 2015, Hola came under criticism from 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan after the site was reportedly attacked by exploiting the Hola network.[13] In late 2014, Hola had begun selling access to its userbase as exit nodes, under the name Luminati, charging $20 per gigabyte for bandwidth that was actually coming from their free VPN users.[13] This was confirmed by Hola founder Ofer Vilenski who argued that this has always been part of the agreement with Hola's free users when signing up for the service.[13] After Brennan emailed the company, Hola modified its FAQ to include a notice that its users are acting as exit nodes for paid users of Hola's sister service Luminati.[13] Other criticism stemmed from vulnerabilities inherent to the software, which could allow an attacker to deliver malware to Hola users.[14] The Hola browser has also been used for distributed denial of service attacks.[15]

In response to the criticism, Vilenski told Business Insider, "[we have been] listening to the conversations about Hola and while we think we've been clear about what we are doing, we have decided to provide more details about how this works, and thus the changes [to the website] in the past 24 hours".[16][17] According to the security researchers who performed the audit, Hola updated its software but some of the vulnerabilities remained as of 1 June 2015.[18]

In November 2016, Hola reached 100 million users.[19][20] In August 2017, Hola sold a majority stake in Luminati to EMK Capital, a UK private equity investment firm.[21] The deal was potentially valued at $200 million, with Hola founders retaining some stake in Luminati and Vilenski remaining as CEO of the Luminati.[22] In 2019, the final purchase price was revealed to be $125 million in exchange for 75.6% of the company's shares with the company evaluated at $165 million.[23]

In March 2021, the company changed its brand name from Luminati to Bright Data.[24]


The Hola company website claimed in 2014 that the "Internet is slowed down by server response times, Internet congestion, round trip times, and poorly written communication stacks in operating systems. Hola removes these bottlenecks by securely caching content on peers as they view it, and later serving it up to other nearby peers as they need it. Hola also compresses communication between peers to further speed the net."[25]


Hola is distributed as a set of browser extensions for Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera, as well as applications for Microsoft Windows and macOS.[26] Hola has also released an Android application[27] and an iPhone and iPad application,[28][29] along with a dedicated browser. [30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Protalinski, Emil (23 January 2013). "Sweet: Hola lets you use Hulu, Pandora, Netflix, CBS, Fox, BBC iPlayer TV, and iTV from any country". The Next Web. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b Gell, Aaron (25 January 2014). "Reinventing The Web: A New App Lets You Watch Whatever TV Program You Want, Including The Olympics, Anywhere In The World". Business Insider. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  3. ^ Klosowski, Thorin (24 January 2013). "Hola Unblocker Gives You Access to iPlayer, Netflix, Pandora, Hulu, and More Regardless of Region". Lifehacker. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b Turner, Adam (25 January 2013). "Unlock Hulu and BBC iPlayer in a click with Hola". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  5. ^ "FAQ – Hola – Is Hola Free?". Hola. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Jungo Ltd. - Company Profile". BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008.
  7. ^ "NDS to buy Israel's Jungo for up to $107.5 mln". Reuters. 4 December 2006.
  8. ^ Ben-Artzi, Amir. "NDS to pay $107 million for Jungo". Electronic Engineering Times. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  9. ^ "The story behind a HK billionaire's $130 million donation to the Technion". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Faster Internet co Hola raises $10m". Globes. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  11. ^ "Ofer Vilenski Co-Founder, Hola!". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 28 September 2014.[dead link]
  12. ^ "'How Hola went from 80 daily new users to 40,000 overnight with zero marketing' (interview with Ofer Vilenski, co-founder and CEO of Hola for Startup Camel Podcast". Startup Camel. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  13. ^ a b c d Osborne, Charlie (29 May 2015). "Hola: A free VPN with a side of botnet". ZDNet. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  14. ^ Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo (29 May 2015). "Your Tool to Watch Netflix Abroad Also Makes You Vulnerable to Hacking". Vice. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  15. ^ Alexander, Martin. "Do you use Hola VPN? You could be part of a DDoS, content theft – or worse". The Register. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  16. ^ Price, Rob (28 May 2015). "A wildly popular Google Chrome extension was being used as a giant botnet". Business Insider. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  17. ^ "חברות הטכנולוגיה שצריכות לבקש סליחה" [The tech companies that have to ask for forgiveness]. Calcalist. 22 September 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  18. ^ Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo (1 June 2015). "Hola Claims to Have Fixed Holes, But Security Researchers Disagree". Vice. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  19. ^ Tsipori, Tali (6 March 2017). "Beating the Internet censor". Globes (in Hebrew). Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  20. ^ גלובס, שירות (27 November 2016). "HOLA הישראלית חצתה את רף ה-100 מיליון המשתמשים" [Israeli HOLA has crossed the threshold of 100 million users]. Globes (in Hebrew). Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  21. ^ Ravet, Hagar (10 August 2017). "EMK קונה חטיבה של Hola Networks בכ-200 מיליון דולר" [EMK buys a $ 200 million division of Hola Networks]. Calcalist. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  22. ^ "EMK buys stake in Luminati for nearly $200m". Globes. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  23. ^ Orbach, Meir (3 February 2019). "לומינטי: אופס, כך התכווץ השווי של האקזיט" [Luminati: Oops, that's how the Exit has shrunk]. Calcalist. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Luminati Networks Becomes Bright Data with Focus on Web Transparency and Continuous Innovation". www.businesswire.com. 17 March 2021. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  25. ^ "FAQ – Hola". Hola. Archived from the original on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  26. ^ "Download Hola, unblock restricted sites - Free!". Hola. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  27. ^ "Hola Lets You Watch Region-Blocked Videos From Any Country For Free". Lifehacker. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  28. ^ "Can I get Hola for my iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch?". Official Website. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  29. ^ "Hola Unblocker – Easily Access Region-Blocked Content". www.makeuseof.com. 19 May 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  30. ^ "Hola! The content you want - for free!". Hola Free VPN - Access Any Website. Retrieved 16 August 2022.

External links[edit]