While most people, especially in WA, have heard about iiNet, many don't know it was WA's first internet service provider (ISP). They were known as the "dial-up pioneers" or "the telco icon". Michael Malone founded iiNet back in 1993, out of a suburban garage in Perth. Over the next 20 years, he was the CEO until his retirement in 2014. Michael turned the company into Australia's third largest ISP, eventually having over 2,500 staff, and supplying over one million households and businesses with dial-up internet. The revenue at the time was over $1 billion.
Currently, Michael is chairman of the board of the Australian Stock Exchange-listed telecommunications company, Superloop, and Sky and Space Global. Since leaving iiNet, he has also been on the board and had director roles at a number of big firms including SpeedCast, Seven West Media, NBN Australia, and Axicom.
Michael also founded Austism West, a charity supporting families of children on the spectrum which is nowadays a very much needed charity. He also founded Diamond Cyber, a company started to provide military grade information security to the private sector.
In recent years, Michael has begun to invest with the formation of Phi Capital. His diverse portfolio includes Xero, Airtasker, Diamond Cyber, Superloop, and Seven West Media.
Michael is a very successful entrepreneur and this will make him an unusual and highly interesting speaker for this breakfast. You will hear about his career and gain some advice for those seeking to go into business for themselves.
The event host for this function will be Rohan McDougall, Director of Commercialisation at Curtin University. Rohan has more than twenty-five years of experience in commercialisation of new technologies including the establishment and daily operation of many technology-based companies. Rohan is also the co-founder and host of WA's annual West Tech Fest.
ABOUT MICHAEL MALONE In 1993, two university students based in Perth started an internet company called iiNet. I have actually been with them for many years and remember quite well when Michael Malone owned and ran this firm. They started off working from home and eventually grew to one of the biggest internet firms in Australia.
In those early days, there were several small firms who started supplying internet to the newly found craze of the day. Most of them are no longer around or were gobbled up by larger companies, but iiNet, or rather its subsidiary, Westnet, won several awards early in the piece for service.
In those early days of the internet, if you were lucky enough to have a home computer, your monitor was most likely a bulky one which had Microsoft Windows 3.0.
To install new software you would have used floppy disks which came in two sizes and you could store around 1.5MB, which at the time, was a huge amount!
Michael Malone had internet access at UWA since 1987 and at the time there was just no Internet Service Providers in Perth. He realised that as he was nearing the end of his studies, he would soon be offline. In order to find a solution, he figured he could get a link to the US for $25,000 per year and worked out that if he could find 200 other people who also wanted to connect to the internet that would cover his costs.
Michael was renting at the time and so he moved back in with his parents to save money. It was his parents who actually came up with half the capital needed to start this business. Michael then recruited another university student, Michael O'Reilly, who became the technical know-how of the new business while working long hours even as he finished his degree.
In 1993, iiNet became the first organisation in WA to offer dialup internet access to the public. Those first modems were quite primitive and you could get either 2,400 and 14,400 bps with a flat price of $25 per month. At the time email, file transfers, and chat groups were text-based, making the connection speeds quite acceptable.
Michael Malone has also received many important industry recognitions including 2012 Australian Entrepreneur of the Year, Winner of the Telecommunications Society's Charles Todd medal, CEO of the Year in the Australian Telecom Awards and, National Customer Service CEO of the Year in the CSIA's Australian Service Excellence Awards. He is currently a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Directors, the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian Computer Society. Michael obtained a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and a post-graduate Diploma in education from the University of Western Australia.