The $150 laptop saga: Medison's CEO speaks

Medison CEO Valdi Ivancic gives a lengthy interview about the company and whether his $150 Fedora-powered laptop is a scam.The only problem: The interview isn't in English.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Medison CEO Valdi Ivancic gives a lengthy interview about the company and whether his $150 Fedora-powered laptop is a scam.

The only problem: The interview isn't in English. Ivancic is interviewed in Jnytt, a Swedish newspaper. As background, I--and a bunch of other folks--ordered a Linux laptop from a company we never heard of in hopes of getting a $150 laptop.

I've been monitoring the developments closely on a Yahoo group where Ivancic answers questions from a largely skeptical audience.

One of these skeptics on the Yahoo Group was kind enough to translate the Jnytt story. I don't know a lick of Swedish--hell I'm only so-so at English--but here's the story from a Yahoo Group translator, who believes this offer is a scam. Take it for what it's worth. I tried Babelfish for a translation, but didn't have any luck.

One thing is certain: Ivancic is a quote machine for his local paper. You can find him here and here in Jnytt. In fact, he looks like quite the local celeb.

So without further ado, here's the translation of the story. I can't vouch for translation, but the numbers in the translation and story seem to match well.

Medisons' CEO against the wall

Jnytt put Medison's CEO Valdi Ivancic against the wall when he was visiting Jnytt's offices today. In a relaxed way, he told us about both his own background and his fraud-accused company.

Jonkoping-connected Valdi Ivancics company Medison claims to be able to sell laptops for 1000 SEK a piece. Jnytt have already written about how the company is accused around the world of being a fraud. The low price has been said to be to low. It also been discovered that the company [Medison] have had a false privacy policy and fake advertisements on its web page.

More than 300,000 sold

When Ivancic visits Jnytt he is both calm and relaxed. He declines a cup of coffee but takes his time to answer questions. The turbulence about the company has, contrary to what one would believe, been enormously positive for Medison. - Yes, we are not complaining, says Ivancic happily. We have 1,5 million unique visitors daily. We have perhaps 10-15 million visits in a week, he continues and concludes they now have to upgrade their server to serve all the visitors on the web site.

Without having spent a single dime on marketing the company has sold more than 300,000 computers, most of them to corporations that are buying large quantities. - There have been very many orders, Ivancic excitedly confirms and starts recounting where the orders have came from. - They are from India, Russia, USA, Canada and South Africa, he says, visibly proud of the company's success. A company from India wanted to purchase a whole container, he laughs.

But how can the computer be so cheap? - You don't have to have a margin on the product itself, Ivancic says. He explains it is not through the computer sale that the company [Medison] intends to make money. Instead they are hoping to make money on contracts with partners. IF a laptop buyer wants to order add-ons Medison will refer them to a number of partner companies. Ivancic uses Microsoft as an example. The Medison computer is built on a Linux system and this means that a buyer who wants to use Microsoft Windows is forced to order the operating system from Microsoft. If Medison and Microsoft then are partners, Microsoft will pay millions to Medison to make the company [Medison] refer to them [Microsoft] in their information.

Ivancic does not want to confirm that Microsoft is a partner but to judge from the spark in his eyes the company is perhaps a dream partner.- It would be strange if Microsoft would sit and watch while we sell hundreds of thousands of Linux computers across the world, he says and tells at the same time that their method of operation is not a new idea. - This is nothing new, Dell does it. It's just that they have a much larger organisation. Our competition spends 50 percent of their budget on marketing, we don't, he says smiling.

It is today only scarcely more than a week until the first computers according to plan will be shipped. Ivancic explains the computers that have been ordered to Europe will drop shipped from the company's supplier in Asia. Computers that are ordered to America will be assembled in Brasil and mailed from there. Ivancic is looking forward to the day when the computers are shipped. - Hopefully on August 15 and it will be so good, so good, he says with emphasis and leans back in the chair.

Both teacher and engineer

Ivancic is not just a computer salesman, he has had time to do many other things in his life. He has studied in Jonkoping for several years. He has two degrees from the College in Jonkoping, both a teacher's degree and a engineering degree. In addition he has taken a few classes in marketing.

Soon after his studies he founded the company Medison which at the time did not sell computers at all but instead created courses and educational software. Ivancic proudly names classes on the College in Jonkoping that he himself founded. Together with the College in Jonkoping Medison also started one of Swedens' first newspapers on the Internet. It was 1995, the paper was Edison and targeted children and youngsters. - We came before Aftonbladet [Sweden's largest web site -transl.] I think, says Ivancic.

A prior liberal party member

During a long time Ivancic have been a member of the Liberal party and for the Liberal party he also had a brief political career. - I was politically active in the Liberal party in Blekinge, he says and tells that he also held office in the County of Blekinge.

Politics is also something which Ivancic is looking forward to doing more of in the future. In a press conference last week it emerged that he wanted to become Swedish Prime Minister, but this Ivancic himself says has been inflated by the tabloids. He explains that a journalist asked him how far he can go in politics and that he then said that he is aiming at the highest possible position, that is Prime Minister. With that he did not mean that he has a set goal of becoming Prime Minister. However he sees himself run for office in the future. - When the company Medison can do without me and when my wife and daughter in Brazil supports me in it, Ivancic states he will run for office. That time he won't run for the Liberal party but as an independent candidate. [There is no such thing in Sweden, only parties can participate in elections. - translator's note.]

Busy days

With only slightly more than a week until the first computers should be sent and the accusations of fraud possibly be erased, days are busy for Ivancic. In the middle of this week he will go to the USA to participate in meetings. After this he goes to Brazil to supervise when the first computers are sent and shortly thereafter he means he will also have time to travel to Asia.

When Jnytt and he separates after an hour long chat he suddenly gets in a hurry. The interview took much longer time than he had expected and he is forced to run down to the street to pay for parking. On his way to the door he promises to tell Jnytt as soon as the first computers have been shipped to Europe.

Andreas Söderlund.

My take: If this is a scam it's going to be an entertaining $150 down the drain because this CEO sounds a wee bit off to me. I’ll stick to my current logic that a scammer wouldn't be this out in the open. The unboxing should be interesting. Let's just hope that he gets me my laptop before he goes off running for public office in Sweden.

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