As a self-styled Internet Ganesha- the ‘Lord of Beginnings’ being one attribute of the god Ganesha- it has been hard to keep quiet about the biggest ‘Internet beginning’ in New Zealand so far this year, the launch of Mega. No blog posts, tweets or response to media questions as I was conflicted.
Kim emailed me to take on the role of CEO of Mega on hearing that I was leaving InternetNZ. My immediate response was “great opportunity but risky”.
I hadn’t met Kim before and so went to “the mansion” to meet the Mega team (Kim, Mathias, Finn, and Bram) in mid-Jan. The next week Mega launched with extensive media coverage. All of this provided the opportunity to look at Mega from every angle. Many, many hours of thinking later, I decided to take on this challenging role. In summary, it was based on:
1. The opportunity to join a New Zealand company with a predominantly global customer base.
2. Joining an Internet start-up comes with a whole new set of challenges (exponential growth while cash is heavily constrained) but has the terrific atmosphere of constant energy, urgency and innovation.
3. The values that Mega promotes align with my own- openness, innovation, privacy, and security.
4. Mega’s clearly interested in pushing the cloud computing and Internet services industry forward, what I call 10x thinking. For example, giving people a massive 50 GB free cloud storage is reminiscent of what Google did to email when it launched Gmail. Other examples include security usability (automatic encryption/decryption in the browser); built-in acceleration of file transfers (overcoming the tyranny of latency); and a unique trust mechanism that allows any global storage provider (outside the US) to participate in the ‘Mega ecosystem’.
5. I found the Mega team to be really nice people, straight up, and clearly capable. The tech skills of Mathias and Bram are evident in building Mega while Finn is the marketing man. In addition to funding, the partnership with Instra brings in interim CEO/Director Tony and COO Brian.
The possibility of growing a significant Internet services company out of New Zealand is alluring
From meeting with the Mega team, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they intend to run the company in a manner that is well within both the letter and spirit of the law. In my assessment, the case against Kim and the rest of the guys will be seen as ‘prosecutorial overreach’ in time. A symbol of governments trying to extend and twist copyright law into new, novel areas to protect legacy business models in an Internet age.
Mega is off to a good start, despite the initial overload at launch. There has been a lot of scrutiny of the services offered. Overall, it has been generally positive and many of the start-up risks have been managed well. This should provide the company with much-needed cash flow to break even and then create a solid platform for growth.
I’ve read lots of tweets on the #Mega hashtag (only some of which were in English!) of people using the service for so many useful things that emphasises the value the company is delivering globally. There has also been praise for its speed and ease of use.
The possibility of building a significant Internet services company out of New Zealand is undoubtedly attractive. And so, I take the Mega step on 11th February 2013 to try and help make that happen.
If nothing else, it’s going to be a fascinating journey. When I left InternetNZ, I said I was looking for new opportunities, new challenges. That’s one box I can surely tick.
[This is a one-off post about Mega. In future, I will continue to use this blog for my personal views and use the Mega blog for all things Mega.]