Michael Malone gets his hands dirty: The CEO of iiNet answers your tough and silly questions

Michael Malone

By on August 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Last week, we asked you to submit your questions to iiNet’s CEO Michael Malone and, late Monday afternoon, we put those questions to him over drinks. Read on for Michael’s thoughts on kicking ducks, his angry responses to everyone who thinks Australia is backwards when it comes to the internet, and his advice to people wanting to start their own small business (or to people who want to borrow his car to go for a drive).


GON: Would you rather fight a horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses? Come on.

Michael: Not too keen on ducks full stop. My experience of them is that they’re quite crafty. But even so I’d rather be going with the 100 duck-sized horses.

GON: I used to own ducks, and they’re not actually very good at damaging you, because their beaks can’t really grab your skin. Have you ever kicked a duck?

Michael: I have not kicked a duck.

GON: Good, good. Probably a good answer for the shareholders there.

Michael: (laughs)

GON: Do you still keep in touch with Simon Hackett?

Michael: Yes, absolutely! Simon’s now on our board, so for instance I’m having breakfast with Simon tomorrow morning. But he’d be in daily email contact with us now, even though he’s stepped back he’s a non-executive director. This means he doesn’t turn up to the office every day, but he still attends our board meetings, and he’s still in email contact with staff every day.

GON: Excellent. Can he still crush a man’s skull with his bare hands?

Michael: Yes. Oh yes.

GON: (laughs) Okay. With the ongoing demise of Telstra’s GameArena, there will be gamers looking for new ISPs to enjoy quota-free gaming on. Will you be capitalising on this by expanding on your own games network, or is it headed for the same fate as GameArena. I didn’t ghost-write this question, I swear.

Michael: (laughs) There is no intention to shut down games.on.net. I’m not a gamer, and we don’t have a lot of senior people in the business which are gamers! But from our point of view, we do recognise the gaming community as a fast-growing one, and they have all the attributes we like — they’re enthusiastic about the internet, they’re passionate, they refer other people across. We see it as an important demographic (sorry to box it up like that!). The idea, really, is ‘how can we take care of them better?’

GON: Can you please give me $50,000, asks community member Ralph Wiggum?

Michael: I could, but I won’t.

GON: (laughs) An honest answer. Can Superman outrun The Flash?

Michael: Oh that’s been done. That’s been done already. The answer was no, The Flash won.

GON: Take that! Okay, I don’t understand this question, but perhaps it’ll make sense to you: as far as Blue Ocean strategy goes, how is iiNet looking to distinguish itself from similar services and innovate, particularly with the gaming community, and customers?

*Michael opens up his laptop and starts Googling for ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’*

GON: Okay, so neither of us know what Blue Ocean Strategy is.

Michael: Yeah, why don’t we wait until after I’ve read this Wikipedia article and we can follow that one up.

GON: (laughs) We’ll come back. Noting the upcoming Federal election, and iiNet’s legal history with AFACT, will iiNet be supporting any particular party to further the interests of itself and its customers?

Michael: No. iiNet has always been very clear on being apolitical when it comes to parties. But as you’ve seen historically we do take very strong positions on policies. So if one party’s coming out with, for instance, a mandatory censorship requirement for all internet customers, that is something we’ve very, very vocally campaigned against. Including, if you’ll recall, iiNet and Internode both turning their web pages black in a day of protest during the last election.

In this one, NBN is the obvious chip on the table. We actually support the ALP’s position and believe that’s a better solution for Australians. What I’m glad to see is that the Coalition has now come out with a policy where at least they’re still going to deliver high-speed broadband — admittedly it’s fibre to the node — but their position is that they can do it faster and cheaper. So look, the fact that both parties are now saying in 2013 that they can deliver high-speed broadband to all Australians at affordable prices — that’s a bloody good result in the last five years.

GON: And do you broadly agree with the sentiment that fibre to the home is a more future-proof move rather than fibre to the node?

Michael: Yes. I think about the only good comment I heard from the 2010 election was that comment from Tony Windsor: “Do it once, do it right, do it with fibre.” I think we would be better off getting fibre to all the homes in Australia… if it could be done quickly. The Coalition’s position that this is going to be a stepping stone is — well, Turnbull is not an idiot. Turnbull’s saying here “Fibre is the long-term goal, but fibre to the node is a stepping stone in that direction”.

GON: Next question. Why do you think Australia’s internet as a whole has always been trailing very far behind other countries, including countries with weaker economies and lower human development indexes?

Michael: Because people like you keep on making stupid comments like that.

GON: (laughs)

Michael: Not you, I mean the questioner! The cities in Australia got ADSL2+ at the same time as Paris, Tokyo, and Chicago. Perth was rolling it out faster than Sydney or any of those cities. Internode was the first to light up — well, we’ve always argued about this, but we had national ADSL2+ a few days before they did. We got ADSL2+ out there pretty quickly. There’s this constant delusion that everybody in Japan has fibre to the home. If everybody wants to live in high-rise, compact, high-density dwellings where they’re all packed together, fibre to the home can be done cheaply. As long as you want to keep on living in the suburbs, that is not going to happen. Can I talk about quotas as well?

GON: Please!

Michael: (laughs) Again, there’s this delusion that everywhere else in the world has got no quotas and that Australia is constrained. It’s not the case. You’re now even seeing Comcast, in the US, the largest cable company, introducing a cap. In Canada quotas have been introduced at the wholesale level so there’s no getting away from them. The UK has long had internet capacity restraints, because they’re not lost on international capacity, they’re lost on the domestic capacity. New Zealand and South Africa, both of which we operate in, have typical quota restrictions on them. Why then is Australia any different? Well one of the key aspects is that to get a cable to Australia you’re looking at 10,000 kilometres treacherous ocean and, at the end of it, there’s only 20 million people. Going between Europe and the US? You’ve got close enough to a billion people on either side of that cable, and it’s a relatively short run. So the economics are different. But again I think the whole starting point that “Oh no one else in the world has quotas, just Australia”, is just completely wrong.

GON: What’s next in your plan for world domination, or at least Australian internet domination? You’ve just announced Jiva, which might be a good thing to talk about here.

Michael: Yes, Jiva we launched today. So that’s trying to get into that segment of customers that just want a simple flat-rate product without having to worry about checking their quotas. It also includes local and national calls as well, so that’s the place we’re trying to go. I think Telstra and Optus are trying to move into our territory, they’re both — Telstra unfortunately doing it reasonably well — trying to lift service levels. You see Vodafone and Optus dropping a lot of their excess usage. I think that’s a good thing, but of course it means they’re moving into our traditional territory. For us I think this is about trying to step into the territory of ISPs like TPG and Dodo as well. But we’d like to believe this one — you might pay a little bit extra compared to some of the cut-rate ISPs – but you’ll still get iiNet’s service levels and Internode’s network quality?

GON: So that’s Jiva — what’s next for iiNet as a company? Rather than the seperate Jiva brand?

Michael: I, uh…

GON: He’s grinning.

Michael: I am! Well it’s the same week as I release my four-year results! Right now I think it’s more of the same in the near term. We’ve only just launched our mobile service, and that’s going really well for us. We’ve got over 130,000 mobile customers, up from zero two years ago.

GON: That’s a bigger number than zero.

Michael: It is a bigger number than zero! We’ve got the National Broadband Network, we’re trying to get to everyone in those locations as soon as they light up. So this week we passed 20,000 NBN customers connected and 60% of those are on fibre (there’s satellite, and wireless as well). Look — there’s still a lot to do in that space. We’ve only got 15% market share. We’ve still got TransACT and Internode to get onto our systems, and hopefully by the end of this month, Adam joining us as well.

GON: Someone is asking “What are you wearing?”

Michael: A suit.

GON: I can confirm that. What advice would you give to small businesses to be as successful as your own company?

Michael: Look, we started as a small business in my parents garage. Both my parents own their own small businesses, both my brothers run their own small businesses today. I don’t think it’s that complicated. My dad always told me: “Business isn’t that hard. You tell the customer what you are going to do. You do it. You get paid. If you can tick those boxes, you’re doing alright.” I suppose my mum’s variation on that would have been “Take care of your customers, and they take care of you.” Now the problem is I think as businesses grow they start thinking that The Boss is the guy they have to talk to at their performance reviews, and they forget that The Boss is the person paying the actual bills. Internal politics seems to consume companies as they become bureaucracies. If we can find a way to keep everybody focussed on what customers are looking for and trying to do the right thing by customers, business works itself out.

GON: Do you plan on keeping your acquisitions separate under the umbrella of iiNet, or will they eventually morph into iiNet?

Michael: Really we’re talking there about the brands, because we are consolidating the networks. I know some customers, when they get consumed, they get quite offended by saying that “Westnet’s just a brand now”. Well, it’s not! Westnet has its own culture, its own staff. The products have been aligned because I also find that dilemma of everyone saying, you know, “We don’t want Internode to become just another iiNet brand!” and then they… they get pissed off if Internode customers aren’t getting the same products as iiNet customers. So they’ll all be saying “Well hang on, iiNet gets 50GB more for that price than Internode gets!” but then they also say “I want to deal ONLY with Internode staff in Adelaide, I still want to have that traditional perception of a higher-quality brand”. We try and differentiate them.

But when it comes down to which brands to keep and which to get rid of, that’s really down to “Does the brand have a real position in the marketplace?” So Westnet is our long-held example of this. Very, very popular in regional WA and regional QLD and it tends to be on a simpler product set. So we don’t offer naked DSL and VOIP with Westnet. That’s not what those customers are looking for. So that’s still around and still maintaining a very strong position.

Netspace on the other hand, God love ‘em, great little acquisition and one we’re very proud of, but iiNet was marketing against Netspace in Melbourne and iiNet had a much stronger brand presence in Melbourne than Netspace did. So higher awareness, higher sales each month, higher number of customers willing to purchase additional products. Ultimately there was no point in continuing to invest money in advertising Netspace. We don’t ever take away email addresses or anything like that! As soon as you ask the customer to change something, you risk the customer saying “I’m not going to bother with that, I’ll go to someone else.” So we always try to make sure that there’s no visible change for customers.

GON: Do you have any long vision plans at iiNet? Do you plan a year ahead? Do you have a five-year plan like the Soviets, or do you plan even further ahead? How can you plan in the changing world of IT?

Michael: I usually answer this one as — well, I always have trouble with this. I’m pretty good with getting from Here to There. When I know where There is, I can do it. I’m an operational guy, so I tend to look at how we get there. So when it comes to saying “What is the vision five years out?” I really struggle with that a lot of the time and I try to get as much input from others as we can. I always liked McKenzie’s Theory of Emergent Strategy — what you do is make decisions based on the best information you’ve got in front of you right now. Tactical decisions.

Then you look back over the last few years, and try to see if you can see a strategy emerging from all those tactical decisions (laughs). It’s much easier to do strategy in reverse than it is in advance. But the things that hold all that together are themes, culture! What does your business stand for? iiNet’s been pretty consistent: we try to get cool new products into the market fast and early, and back it up with good customer service. We’ve always stuck to those themes over the last 20 years and we’ll be expecting to stick to them for the next 20.

GON: What’s your immediate tactical decision then?

Michael: Right now it’s wrapped around NBN. We’re migrating customers across to NBN. We’ve listed it out: Service, Brand, Product. We’ve gotta have excellent customer service. In this market it’s expensive to get a new customer, so it stupid to lose them. Every time a customer has a problem we bend over backwards to try and fix that problem for them if we possibly can. So our churn rates are about half that of those of our competitors (who publish those numbers). The brand — this might not seem important to some of your readers — but many years ago, when the market was saturated for dial-up, we started to lose customers because nobody knew who they were. So when it came down to picking a new ISP, they went with the brand that was advertising on television.

This time around we thought it was wise to get out there with a brand that your parents are going to know, that your grandparents are going to know, as well as you will. Keeping those innovative products at the front that gamers and other techie types are looking for in the first place.

GON: So. I’ve met a few CEOs and they are incredibly driven people who live and breathe their work. How do you find a balance between the stress of having so much responsibility and your private life?

Michael: My family would give the easy answer: I don’t. When I’m awake, I’m at work.

GON: That pretty much nails it. Let’s talk about the FBI and the NSA — when they start trying to reach beyond their border to foreign telcos, will iiNet and by extension the others stand by, or have a legal leg to stand on, as far as non-compliance and giving up customer information? Are you bound by some clause in something like the ANZUS treaty to comply?

Michael: I’m unfortunately depressed by the word “when” at the beginning of that question. I think we’ve seen with PRISM and others that it appears that law enforcement agencies in the US have been doing this for some years now. iiNet has traditionally tried to resist this stuff unless we’re lawfully required to do so. We do obviously execute warrants and implement lawful intercepts (so, wiretaps) when get an appropriate warrant from a number of different agencies in Australia. There’s no legal obligation for us to comply with a warrant issued by a foreign government. I can’t see — for something like that to be implemented would be extraordinary. They’d have come through our local law enforcement agencies.

GON: Just out of interest, is it a big deal whenever a warrant has come through? Have you ever been around when it’s happened? Is it a very serious thing?

Michael: No, unfortunately we get dozens per day. There’s some which are wiretaps, I mean… we’ve got close to a million customers now. The most typical thing is, these agencies have an IP address, a date, and a time. And some reason to believe this customer is involved in some form of illegal activity. The most obvious thing is a paedophile trying to pick up a child on an online forum. All the police can get from that — even if they’re masquerading as the child — is the IP address, the date and the time. So that’s a very typical case where they would then issue us with an appropriate warrant asking for the name and address of that person.

GON: Will there ever be a unification of content considered to free across all ISPs under the iiNet brand? Will there be a shake-up of the content that is considered to be unmetered? How come you do not look like the guy in the ads?

Michael: (laughs) That’s a lot of questions!

GON: They are different people! That’s probably why.

Michael: I think you’re talking about the Freezone. iiNet’s Freezone is a superset of the free content available for our sub-brands like Internode and TransACT. Where possible we’ve tried to make that content available straight away. In some cases there are technical limitations, the most obvious being that Internode customers don’t get access to iTunes for free. Implementing that took iiNet years and Internode’s systems aren’t capable of doing it. Once we get all of those onto the same systems — iiNet, Internode, hopefully Adam — operating off the same network and billing system, then we’ll be able to unmeter those.

Is there going to be a radical shake-up? No, I can’t see anything doing that. We’re having trouble now with trying to keep some of that content unmetered. Xbox LIVE was the recent one, where Microsoft changed the way they were engineering it. This still costs us money. The reason we usually put something into the Freezone is because we’ve done some form of deal with the content owner. So iTunes — we were able to Freezone that because Apple agreed to bring that content close to each capital city, and therefore, when we were delivering it, it was over our own network. Apple were carrying some of that cost. Same with Xbox LIVE. Then they changed the network and unfortunately it stops working. Unfortunately we can’t make it so that that 35 GB game you mentioned –

GON: Total War: Rome 2.

Michael: Right. We can’t make it so that that’s guaranteed free for everyone if it’s all going to be individually downloaded from the US. If we can make sure that it was in each capital city so that there’s minimal cost in getting it to the customers, that’s certainly something we look at.

GON: You might not want to answer this, but — who are you voting for in the Federal election, and why?

Michael: I won’t be answering that, no.

GON: It’s the Greens.

Michael: (laughs)

GON: Who is currently the head coach of the Sacramento Kings?

Michael: I don’t know! And I meant to Google that before this interview, too. I did see that question (laughs)

GON: Why are business plans typically more expensive?

Michael: Well what we try and introduce for businesses is increased value for them. They often demand a Service Level Agreement, and business staff that are dedicated to providing that service. Underneath the hood as well, some of the products are different. You can’t deliver a fibre to the business product for the same price as a home ADSL product. It just simply costs more to by that product. Even where it’s the same though, business customers expect a different service level agreement, and that costs more.

GON: And you guarantee uptime and such for them?

Michael: We offer service level agreements, which means where the product is capable of having a different uptime, yes, we guarantee it. You’re on the same underlying infrastructure, ADSL2+ for example, so it’s got the same rate of downtime. What you do there is try and implement faster return to services. A consumer may have 2-3 days before their product will even get looked at by Telstra, sending a technician out there. Whereas a business customer will pay more but gets returned to service faster. And of course SLAs have teeth built into them, so if a consumer sets the CSG for business, that’d be an individually contracted one where if it takes us longer than X hours to get back to them, we start paying money (laughs).

GON: Who has proven to be your greatest inspiration as a businessman?

Michael: My parents. It’s an easy answer. I talked about them before, but I grew up in an environment of living and working in a small business. My parents operated out of the house since I was a child, so.

GON: What did they do, out of interest?

Michael: My dad put up fences. They still operate that business jointly today. The workmen started every day in the house, they’d come there, get given the jobs they had to do every day, and then head out to the jobs. My mum would deliver the material out there, drop it off, and of course we had customers coming and going all the time, phoning up to get quotes, dropping money off.

GON: Did you start helping out when you were younger?

Michael: Yeah, I was working in the business when I was 8. All school holidays, weekends, I didn’t get paid (laughs). It’s not child labour if you don’t pay them! My parents had nowhere else to put us, they were both working on site, so on Saturdays, where are we going to do, sit at home on our own? So we went out, it was great, working with the whole family there.

GON: If you weren’t running this business right now, what sort of business would you like to run instead?

Michael: I don’t know. I’ve been asked that before. This isn’t the first business I’ve run, I won’t go into the others, but I don’t think you think of the next hopefully great idea while you’re doing this one. If I had a great idea right now, I’d try and implement it here! (laughs)

GON: You’re not going to leave make a selection of craft beers or anything?

Michael: (laughs) Well, it’s like Simon I think. Simon has left off Internode a year and a half ago — pushing two years actually — and he’s gone and set up a new business to invest in other small businesses called base64. It’s an incubator. So Simon’s out there now looking for some really interesting new businesses with innovative people behind them. I reckon that’s where I’d go, I’d take a long holiday first, and then hopefully during that time come up with a great idea, or at least look to invest in some great ideas!

GON: What’s the greatest challenge in running a large business?

Michael: It’s always managing staff. I didn’t do any education in this space and so the first thing you do of course, is go and hire people like yourself. It’s the simple mistake all bad managers make early on, “I just need a clone of myself”. It doesn’t work. We need a bit of diversity in the workforce, people who are doing jobs that I hate, but that they love. (laughs) I can’t get over some of the things that other people love. Like people working in Quality Assurance, or doing testing, they get a real thrill out of it. We now employ over 2,000 staff, and trying to make sure they’re all happy as well is really hard. If you don’t have happy staff you’re never going to have happy customers. You feel it in them if they just don’t want to be there.

GON: Now — and I presume this relates to your underwear — do you scrunch or fold?

Michael: I think that relates to toilet paper actually.

GON: Oh really? I think it’s your underwear. I’m running this interview.

Michael: (laughs) I fold.

GON: To which? Underwear or toilet paper?

Michael: I fold.

GON: Okay.

Michael: That’s your answer.

GON: Classic misdirection. What does the dispute between ispONE and Telstra mean for the iiNet group’s mobile phone service and for the sector more broadly?

Michael: It doesn’t mean anything. We don’t have any direct commercial involvement in that at all. My view is that the Kogan products that were being offered were unsustainable. Certainly it proves that they’re unsustainable in the wholesale agreement that ispONE had with Telstra. Offering unlimited phone calls and text messages when you’re paying Telstra for each of those phone calls and text messages is just… not sustainable. That happened to an ISP with a very similar name years ago called One Net, or One Tel.

GON: I remember their ads had lots of bouncing balls down the street, yes. One of our writers here asks which acquisition has been the most important to the iiNet brand, and why?

Michael: Well if I was going to point at one over the whole period, it would be probably iHug. Which would be an odd one to choose. That was 2003, iHug was 50% larger than iiNet for starters. iiNet only operated in Perth, but iHug had offices in Sydney and Auckland. iiNet only offered dialup and was just starting to do broadband, whereas iHug brought telephony to the business. So in terms of transformation, it changed us from being a small WA ISP to a multinational, because New Zealand does count, and broadened our product set. Since then the standouts would have to be Westnet and Internode because both were just so smooth. Getting Westnet in, we were two ISPs just basically across the street. So it came together very easily. The product set merged in pretty simply. There hasn’t been any impact on customers, and the Westnet customer base is still very similar to what it was when we bought it, five years down the track.

Internode was across the virtual street. I’ve been friends with Simon for nearly 20 years. We’ve been fellow travellers when it came to things like the AFACT dispute, in many of the disputes we’ve had with Telstra, and in building infrastructure. So we’ve shared a lot of the knowledge that we’ve gained in the last decade, used the same equipment — still using Ericsson DSLAMs — the same voice servers, very similar businesses. Bringing them together was so smooth. I’d do one of those every three months if I possibly could, but there’s just none left.

GON: What would you like to see out of games.on.net as the CEO of iiNet?

Michael: I don’t know what I don’t know! I guess that’s one of the major reasons for meeting with you today. Gamers are a very important demographic as we spoke about earlier on. It’s trying to assess — the definition of management is the allocation of scarce resources. The most obvious scarce resource is dollars. Where do we put our money, inside the whole group — that could be in new DSLAMs, it could be in more customer service, it could be in gaming — to get the best return? And that’s not necessarily monetary return. If it makes customers happier, makes them stay longer, makes them refer more friends, if they want to buy other products from us, or if they’re just out there as advocates telling others what a great place it is to be a part of.

GON: With the recent IT price enquiry it was suggested as an option that Australians should be educated on ways to get around geoblocking. Would an internal VPN system like Unotelly ever be on the cards?

Michael: This is certainly something I was very pleased to see, a joint Parliamentary committee coming out with a statement like that. Companies like Choice Magazine giving customers ideas on how to do it. I think it’s outrageous that they’re charging double the price for the same piece of software just based on what house you live in, and then blocking customers who have the tech to get around them. So it’s not something we offer directly, but if it was appropriate to do so, I’d be interested.

GON: Pie or cake?

Michael: Neither, I’m not a sweets person! I know that’s weird, but no. So I’d go for pi, as the mathematical constant instead.

GON: Not even a beef pie or something?

Michael: No! Pi, like 3.14159265359, etc. (Note: he actually said this, and it is correct)

GON: You are such a nerd. Does iiNet provide high priority queing for gaming traffic when playing on our servers?

Michael: (laughs) We do not shape or restrain traffic. We provide quality of service for certain traffic such as VOIP, which is time-critical, but for gaming traffic it just goes in with all the rest. But what we do is try not to congest. Internode had a world-class network and built it on having high-performance links that don’t congest. That doesn’t mean we always get it right — we have a very unfortunate issue at the moment with the links out to three regional Victoria towns, which have ramped up a lot faster than we expected and are congesting. And in a city that’s bad, in a country town it can take months to fix that.

GON: What would it involve to include such a feature?

Michael: That’s one I’ll leave for our engineers. I truthfully don’t know the answer, or what the benefits would be for us in doing that.

GON: Somebody called Tim Norris says “I live in an area which has been dominated by Telstra for internet connections. The town is unsure if the NBN will be installed here and we are in dire need of fast reliable internet. I believe there is a market here a new ISP to come in and poach the market from Telstra. Is this something iiNet would be interested in doing?”

Michael: Well we operate in every town and suburb that we can physically operate in. So my first worry is — why is it only Telstra? The possibility is that that area is on a Velocity Estate where Telstra has their own fibre to the home or similar services, and that’s the only service you can get. Now we do wholesale Velocity but the price is outrageous, so… I don’t know. If we’re not offering services there I’d be really interested to know what the physical reason is.

GON: Can we expect sometime in the future to see more unified pricing with VOIP between all the groups?

Michael: Yes.

GON: Concise! If Pluto is a dog, what the hell is Goofy?

Michael: I… seriously, I went to see Disney on Ice recently with my kids and we were arguing that question ourselves. I think it’s a cow isn’t it?

GON: (laughs) I don’t know. It think it’s meant to be a dog.

Michael: But Goofy has a dog!

GON: There is a cow in the Disney universe isn’t there? A weird cow in a dress?

Michael: (laughing) Who knows. I don’t know. (Note: It turns out there is.)

GON: Okay. Alright. Can I have a drive of your DB9?

Michael: I don’t have a DB9 anymore! But no.

GON: Are there any plans to expand the naked ADSL network? I’m in regional WA and I’d love to get it because the only people who call me on my home phone are telemarketers and my grandmother.

Michael: Two factors that define whether we go into any exchange are the number of customers we have in that exchange, and the cost of getting fibre to that exchange. Now that last one is the real critical one. That’s why you haven’t seen a lot of ISPs anywhere in Australia expanding their footprint. You’ve now got four footprints, Telstra, TPG, iiNet, Optus, that all operate in about the same 300-400 exchanges, and after that there’s a few extras. We have a larger footprint in Western Australia, Optus has a larger footprint in places like Newcastle for instance. It depends. If we can get fibre to an exchange, we’d much rather just put our own DSLAMs in. But against a backdrop of NBN as well, unfortunately, the business case to do that is starting to decline. That’s why you’re not seeing many ISPs actually opening up new exchanges anymore.

GON: The final question is trying to beat the earlier offer. Will you give him $40,000 instead?

Michael: (laughs) Sorry, but no. But if you come and work for us we can make that part of the package if you like.

GON: You’ll give him $40,000 over the course of a year?

Michael: For full-time employment, yes.

GON: Excellent, let’s leave it there then.

Michael: Those were some good questions. I don’t normally get these.

21 comments (Leave your own)

ha awesome, you asked all my questions. thank you!


Haha, great interview, big thanks to Michael for taking part, and you for doing an awesome interview as always Tim!


Tim Colwill, World’s Greatest Interviewer.


He definitely owns the Interview. Even telling the new CEO he was wrong, it was about underwear. Big balls, Tim, big balls.


Lol… wasn’t expecting my question to get answered… 0_o



^ pi to 1million places

Also thank you for taking the time to ask my question and thanks to MM for taking the time to answer ^.^


awesome interview… i laughed when the horse/duck question was asked…


I’ll take a job!


That was quite entertaining and insightful as well.

Thanks for the Interview Michael,

Also the coach of Sacramento Kings, is actually named Mike Malone as well.

James Pinnell

Haha, great interview Tim, nice to see that GON is safe and secure ;)


I think the issue regarding quotas is less to do with us having them but more to do with the paltry amount of data in said quotas compared to the rest of the world.

Nasty Wet Smear

“GON: Someone is asking “What are you wearing?”

Michael: A suit.”

… Hot. I’m glad he didn’t answer: “Half a jar of peanut butter” like he does when we are alone.


Good read.


Also the coach of Sacramento Kings, is actually named Mike Malone as well.

That’s why I asked :D


That was a great read, answered a whole bunch of questions I didn’t expect. Oh and Tim pretty sure the big scrunch/fold debate is in regards to toilet paper. Honestly, I don’t know… :P


I cant beleive I actually read all that. Some very interesting questions and answers in there.


Bahahahaha thanks Tim for trying to score me $50,000 and then $40,000…

…but I won’t be working for iiNet :)

Jake Carrington

not sure if he liked my beard.. :(


Bahahahaha thanks Tim for trying to score me $50,000 and then $40,000…

…but I won’t be working for iiNet :)

I’d work for iiNet for $50k since losing my job a couple of weeks ago.
Makes paying the bills an adventure to be sure.


excellent interview

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