The new controlling shareholders of what was once internet renegade Kim Dotcom's Mega cloud storage business Mega Ltd have appointed a little-known but well-connected Waikato software entrepreneur, Graham Gaylard, to be the company's new chief executive.
The appointment comes after several days of confusion of whether chief executive Stephen Hall (the startup's third CEO after Tony Lentino and Vikram Kumar) had stepped down or not, and another delay in Mega's controversial reverse listing on the NZX.
Gaylard, who has business connections to John Holdsworth, a founder of Datacom, one of Australasia's largest and most successful IT companies, as well as to the founder of NZX-listed TeamTalk David Ware, is currently chief executive and founder of NetValue, a Hamilton-based company established in 2004 to specialise in "high value software systems".
Mega was launched with global fanfare by Dotcom in 2012 as an encrypted, cloud-based storage platform to replace Megaupload, the company through which the German-born New Zealand resident faces extradition charges brought by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of copyright violations and piracy.
Dotcom no longer appears on the share register for Mega, although his estranged wife Mona continues to hold some 16 percent of the company, as does an apparent associate, Wolf Dieter Ortmann. The majority shareholder today is a Hong Kong-based donor to New Zealand's governing National Party, Shen Zhao Wu, with an 18 percent shareholding.
"Mr Gaylard is a senior technology CEO, with considerable experience in new ventures and start-ups," said a statement from Mega, issued this evening through the company's public relations advisor and National Party stalwart, Michelle Boag. "His entrepreneurial initiatives date back to 1995 when he established Wave Internet, which was sold five years later. Since then he has assisted with a number of technology start-ups, accessing venture capital both in New Zealand and in Silicon Valley."
Gaylard is listed on his LinkedIn profile as a founder and director of Real Time Genomics, a California-based company that also boasts Datacom's John Holdsworth as a shareholder, through an New Zealand Companies Office-listed entity Evander Holdings, whose chief executive is Simon Holdsworth.
"Gaylard is an award-winning computer science and MBA graduate from Waikato University, and has been based in Hamilton for over 20 years running technology businesses," the Mega statement says. NetValue employs 45 people and he is also chair of Soda Inc, the company briefly led this year by Graham Smith before he became the new head of farmers' lobby Federated Farmers.
Mr Gaylard is "looking forward to the challenge of leading Mega through an exciting new growth period ... focused on secure online communication and collaboration," tonight's statement says. “Our unique end-to-end-encrypted services provide businesses and consumers with secure cloud storage and communication capability at highly competitive rates."
Mega directors also announced that former acting CEO Stephen Hall, would remain in the business to focus on the anticipated listing and merger with TRS, which announced last week that it was extending by two months, to Oct 31, the date by which shareholders would be asked to accept the backdoor listing proposal for Mega.
A source tells NBR Mr Hall was pushed.