Member log in

New Zealander Tony Lentino revealed as largest Mega investor

Watching the preparations for Mega, Kim Dotcom seems in full control, as always.

But on paper, at least, he is neither a manager nor shareholder in the new venture.

Dotcom has named Wellsford man Tony Lentino as the largest of three outside investors in his new file sharing service, Mega.

Lentino has also been named acting CEO of Mega and a company owned by Lentino, Instra Corp, has been contracted to provide billing and technical services for Dotcom's new file sharing business.

In an interview with NBR ONLINE on Friday, ahead of Mega's official launch on Sunday, Dotcom said with his funds still frozen (bar that freed for rent, living expenses and legal bills), he had no money to fund Mega.

Three investors had stumped up with cash: one from Luxembourg (still hush-hush, but Dotcom tells NBR the EuroDNS' CEO will attend the Sunday launch), one from Australia, and one from New Zealand (Lentino). 

Dotcom would not say how much Lentino had put into Mega.

He did reveal that Lentino was a longstanding "close friend and business partner ... He was instrumental to me being able to stay in my home and help out with paying the rent early on when I didn't have the court decision yet that I could have funds to pay by rent." 

Dotcom describes Lentino as a respected and well-known figure in the domain name business. Maybe so. But your correspondent had never heard of him. Pacific Fibre co-founder Rod Drury had never even heard of his company, let alone the man himself.

Lentino onstage at the Mega launch party with Dotcom's US lawyer Ira Rothken (left; see more launch event pics here). Lentino was born in Napier but raised in part across the Tasman and speaks with an Aussie accent. He told NBR he first met Dotcom "offline" when the giant German came to drag a car on the airstrip that sits on Lentino's 1000-acre Wellsford property. Lentino says he was disgusted that the Crown held Dotcom in jail for a month last year with all his accounts frozen. He stepped in with money to buy food and pay the rent - to the tune of around $250,000.

In the months after Dotcom's January 20, 2012, arrest, when his fortune of up to $US200 million was competely frozen by the courts, Lentino paid the rent on the $30 million Dotcom Mansion, and helped out with family and living expenses.

That's no small helping hand. Documents filed by Dotcom's lawyers during his bid to get funds freed put annual lease payments on the mansion at $1 million. Maintenance costs at the mansion, which sits on 60 acres of land, were put at another $600,000. Other monthly costs included $29,000 for staff wages, $28,678 for general costs, $24,000 for security and $8500 for power.

(Dotcom was bailed on February 22, a month after his arrest. On March 22 he gained access to around $60,000 a month for rent and other expenses. He did not win a bid for access to $800,000 for rent, plus $4.83 million for lawyers, until late August).

Largest investor, but minority shareholder
Lentino may have put more money into Mega than the other two investors, by Dotcom's account, but that does not mean he controls the company.

According to Companies Office, records 89.69% of Mega shares are held by MD Corporate Trustee Ltd, whose sole director and shareholder is Dotcom's wife Mona.

The balance (10.31%) is held by NZ-registered Instra Group Holdings Ltd (a separate entity to Lentino's Australian-registered Instra Corporation). Instra Group Holdings (of which Lentino is the sole director) is owned by the Sainsbury Barclay Trustee company, which in turn is owned by Hawke's Bay law firm Sainsbury, Logan and Williams, which presumably invested on Lentino's behalf.

Although Mona Dotcom is the largest shareholder, she is not a director. The three members of Mega's board are Kim Dotcom, Lentino and Mathius Ortman, one of Dotcom's three co-accused.

$20 million turnover company
Brian Clarkson, who serves as CEO of Instra, was happy to talk to NBR. He said the company, fully owned by Lentino, had revenue of $20 million a year and was very profitable.

Instra is registered across the Tasman, in Melbourne, and has a development office in the city. Clarkson is based in Brisbane. The company also has a sales and support office in Napier.

Clarkson said he also made many visits to Lentino's home-office on on Springhall Farm in Wellsford, north of Auckland - a 383ha (946-acre) property with its own landing strip.

Lentino had no formal title at Instra, but as the owner and "ideas man" was closely involved in its strategy.

Clarkson said Lentino was born in Napier. He founded Instra in 1997, and grew it into one of the few businesses that sells domain names (web addresses) for almost every country in the world. Most sales were made outside Australia and New Zealand.

For his part, Clarkson said he had no qualms about Instra contracting to Mega as the Megaupload legal action continued. "It's quite clear in our minds the court process will resolve itself in Kim's favour," he told NBR.

Breaking cover Sunday
Lentino hilmself has stayed almost entirely off the radar.

His sole media appearance seems to be a passing mention in local paper The Rodney Times (and subsequently Stuff) for a rally held on his Springhall Farm property - during which he drove a Subaru Impreza WRX (an interesting side note: given the keen interest of local National MP Lockwood Smith in rallying - the Speaker owns a rally car - it would seem likely the two would have crossed paths at some point).

More should be revealed when Lentino makes his first major public appearance on Sunday night during the 7.30pm - 9.30pm Mega launch at Dotcom mansion (which NBR will blog live at www.nbr.co.nz/mega).

Mega has already launched for early users, including NBR. Read a report on that count, plus Dotcom's efforts to lawyer-up for an anticipated Hollywood/music label onslaught, here

ckeall@nbr.co.nz


RAW DATA: Mega press release

NZ’s Instra Corporation Powers mega.co.nz

As Mega prepares to launch their new cloud storage service on January 19, 2013 [Jan 20 NZ time], Instra Corporation – a global domain name registrar – is primed to provide
expert product, billing and technical support services to mega.co.nz users in anticipation of dramatic new global demand for the Mega service.

According to Instra CEO, Brian Clarkson, “The new Mega promises a revolution in online privacy with one-click encryption for every user, creating a secure online
cloud storage service for internet users across the globe.”

During the launch phase, Instra will be assisting in day-to-day operations, providing all front-line technical support for any and all related products and services.

According to Tony Lentino, CEO of Mega, the new cloud storage service will bring immediate economic value to New Zealand in the form of new jobs as it
grows the Mega venture.

About Instra Corporation Pty. Ltd.
Formed in 1997, Instra Corporation is a privately-owned company based in Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, Instra has expanded its initial domain name business from New Zealand and Australia into a leading, worldwide domain registrar.

Instra Corporation supplies over 300+ country domains worldwide and has direct accreditations with over 100 registries. Many companies and household brand names from around the world take advantage of Instra’s unique and sophisticated Domain Management System to actively manage their online intellectual property. Our customers come from over 160 different countries.
www.instra.com

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions
18

This new business looks awesome.
The gb allowances and pricing is fantastic and I wish it every success. These guys deserve to make squillions and, hopefully, also the last laugh against those incompetents who perpetrated the killing of Dotcom's original business.

Just rams it home that it was always about business. The old dinosaur businesses using the fist of the state to try to crush the competition because they couldn't man-up and compete.

Great to see Instra and Digiweb of NZ backing NZ Inc and pushing cloud technology from NZ to the globe!

So what if Rod Drury hasn't heard of Instra and its owner. That fact is probably more of a commentary on Drury - that his finger is only on a fraction of the pulse of the IT sector he professes to know a lot about...

Go Kim. The success will be gauged by the uptake by the public and users.
Let's see how 'the establishment' counters this new initiative. Probably once they fail, they will walk away labelling him 'Kim Dotcommunist' for lowering their profits!

NZ is about to lose out on films being made here.

A banana how long?

Does that really matter when the taxpayer underwrites a large portion of the production costs and receives no return other than unquantified "tourism benefits"? I think not.

Instra is one of the bigger domain registers in the world and you haven't heard of them. You need to get out more.

Kim Dotcom for NZ prime minister, I say.
Good luck, Kim. Thanks for choosing NZ to live. You throroughly deserve all Kiwis' support.

I really think John Key has backed the wrong horse in this. Kim Dotcom's business is worth more to New Zealand than siding with his "mates" in Hollywood. He will look back on this in years to come and realise the error he made.

More like New Zealand will look back and come to realise that as a country we made the mistake of voting in a Wall Street money trader as our prime minister.

Interesting to compare the fanfare of the Mega launch compared to that of Xero a few years ago. Seems like most people/media are keen to kiss DotCrim's backside, yet these same people wanted to bag Rod and Xero on day 1. Go figure!

Like no one is going to share illegal content and Mega does nothing wrong... KDC is really playing the NZ media and people in general like dumb wits and most people are buying into it. Yeah, people deserve privacy, but to what extent? Does KDC really believe his own BS? Mmm, who knows! It will be interesting to see how all this pans out.

Who's Rod Drury?

Tone's a good man. He'll do good.

Well, Kim Dot Com is certainly putting NZ on the worldwide map. His site mega.co.nz now has a French Alexa rating of 562!

I'd never heard of Instra, but that Tony guy seems to have made a lot of money.

I just wonder if it will all come back to bite NZ in the bum. I think that making Hollywood movies are worth more to us than storing files in the cloud will ever be. And you could also say that Xero software is doing well for NZ.

Just looking at those photos it would seem that is Tony's favourite shirt. As a friend of my father's I've had dinner with him on occasion and he is always in that same damn shirt.