His role as a technology leader in Western Australia was well-known when Michael Malone was crowned 40under40 1st Amongst Equals earlier this year; a far cry from when he graduated from university in the early 1990s, when few knew anything about the inter
His role as a technology leader in Western Australia was well-known when Michael Malone was crowned 40under40 1st Amongst Equals earlier this year; a far cry from when he graduated from university in the early 1990s, when few knew anything about the internet.
The net was the domain of academia and big government, and these institutions were reluctant to surrender their hold on this growing technology.
This only spurred Mr Malone and friend, Michael O’Reilly, to establish their own internet service company, from the less-than-salubrious surrounds of the Malone family’s garage. The result was iiNet, WA’s first internet service provider (ISP) offering services to the public.
Launched in 1993, iiNet is now Australia and New Zealand’s third largest ISP and one of WA’s largest IT employers. More than half the company’s 800 employees are in WA.
Among Mr Malone’s many achievements was the 1999 listing of iiNet on the Australian Stock Exchange. The company has grown from an initial market capitalisation of $38 million to more than $200 million. iiNet is now seen as a serious competitor to some of the larger telcos, despite suffering a net loss of $60 million for the 2005-06 financial year due largely to costs and write-downs associated with impaired internal reporting procedures. Despite the difficult year, Mr Malone believes the company has emerged from the period with a strong platform to support future growth.
Luckiest business break
“We were lucky when we set up iiNet in 1993. It was really aimed at the geeky, technical university graduate type of market.
“But the software came along a few months after we started up which opened it up to the masses. The dot.com boom was good for us in the respect that we were a very small company that allowed us to list in 1999 and gave us access to capital, even though we were a very small business.”