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Mega CFO promoted to CEO with Kumar's departure

MEGA MANAGERS: Lett-to-riight CFO Stephen Hall, Bram van der Kolk, Mathias Ortmann, Kim Dotcom, majority investor Tony Lentino, Finn Batato, CEO Vikram Kumar, COO Brian Clarke. 

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UPDATE / January 22, 2013: Mega CFO Stephen Hall has been promoted to CEO with Vikram Kumar's departure for a yet-to-be-define role with Kim Dotcom's Internet Party.

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Mega names CFO

May 3, 2013: Mega has confirmed Stephen Hall - first revealed by NBR on Wednesday - as its chief financial officer.

Mega CEO Vikram Kumar says, "Stephen has been working as a consultant and was with Genesis Research and Development Corporation, both as chief executive and head of corporate services. He has also worked with the St Lukes Group., Watercare Services, and various other companies in New Zealand and Australia."

Mr Hall started April 22 and is based in Auckland.

Wednesday, Mr Kumar told NBR Mega could be "Profitable sooner than people think," putting the timeframe at six to 12 months.

The CEO said desktop syncning and iPhone and Android apps were just a couple of weeks away. The features will close the gap on key competitor Dropbox. 

Mr Kumar sees Mega as having the jump over Dropbox and others already with its privacy and encryption features, which he says lend themselves to third-party developers who create applications for sharing business documents.

Mega is also pushing a software development kit (SDK), tools that will let companies create their own Mega apps. The tools are free - for now. The CEO sees them driving demand for Mega's file sharing service, with some tripping users over the 50GB mark, after which they have to buy a premium account to gain more storage.


With CFO ad, Mega talks up NZ, Australian listing

March 7: An un-named company has placed a job ad on Seek and Trade Me seeking a chief financial officer with "proven experience or involvement in capital raising and/or the IPO process in New Zealand or Australia" (see the ad here).

This morning, Mega CEO Vikram Kumar told NBR ONLINE that Mega was the un-named outfit behind the ad.

It calls for "a full-time CFO capable of taking the company from just after initial setup, through rapid growth and to IPO within the next 18 months."

The candidate should have "Proven ability in managing the CFO role for a 30-40 person, $5-50m global business." (And, surprisingly, that doesn't include some properties talked up by Mr Dotcom.)

Mr Kumar told NBR ONLINE an IPO is "Definitely on the horizon. We're basically still looking at options at the moment. As a New Zealand company the NZX is a logical and obvious choice. So is the Australian exchange." Many New Zealand companies dual-list on the ASX and NZX, he noted.

Beyond that, the CEO is mum on details, citing securities law, and details are sketchy.

He did offer that paid Mega users numbered "in the thousands" (premium users get extra online storage space).

We could go for a lot more revenue but the customer experience start to degrade. We've made a conscious choice to go for growth rather than revenue."

Total Mega membership is now around 3 million, Mr Kumar says.

With more subscribers come more costs.

After talking up a distributed hosting model, Mega launched with a single provider, Cogent in Germany. Now, with growth, that arrangement is starting to burst at the seams.

"We're hitting 40Gbit/s now and that's really starting to push it," Mr Kumar says. He is in active talk with new hosts and expects to announce expanded hosting within days.

Aiming to close feature gap with Dropbox
Key competitor Dropbox recently told Forbes it has around 100 million users, and the US title estimated its revenue at around $US500 million.  The privately held Dropbox has not said if it’s profitable – but that barely matters with investors clambering to buy private equity shares that value the company around $US4 billion.

Dropbox currently enjoys a feature advantage over Mega.

Mr Kumar told NBR ONLINE that Mega would get iPhone and Android apps and desktop synchronization features over the next few weeks. "That will give Mega the same functionality as Dropbox."

How Megupload case factors in
Of course, Dropbox doesn't have half billion dollar copyright case and extradition hearing hanging over its founder.

The CEO does concede that in psychological terms, "People will think about the risk and will take that into account, so the two can't be completely separated." (NBR would add that Mr Dotcom's prior conviction for sharemarket fraud in Germany could give some investors pause - even if in granting him residency, our government found it a minor, youthful indiscretion.
 
In legal terms, it wasn't a factor. Mega and the shutdown Megaupload were two different entities (on paper at least, Kim Dotcom does not loom large at Mega. He holds no shares - although his wife Mona Dotcom has a 90% holding through a trust, and he does not hold a management position. He is a director.)

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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Comments and questions
5

I'll buy shares. Everything tells me that this is a winning concept and team.

Baffled with BS ....

"We could go for a lot more revenue but the customer experience start to degrade. We've made a conscious choice to go for growth rather than revenue."

What does this mean? They are going to go for growth (presumably in subscriber numbers) but not in revenue? How will this prevent degradation of the "customer experience"?

One of the conventional ways to increase revenue for many free online services is via advertising. Many potential customers don't like advertising, both in terms of customer experience and the feeling that they are being tracked. Some choose not to sign up. This is one example of a trade-off between attracting more customers (growth) vs. revenue from existing customers. There are others.

I'm sure they will treat your money with the same respect they have for other people's IP.

I for one support Kim as I think he is taking a huge stance against bullying the little guys i.e. us the general public. Well done mate your tenacity is admirable..