iiNet chief executive Michael Malone has paid tribute to long-time rival Justin Milne's time steering of BigPond, describing the Telstra executive as "extraordinary".
Telstra revealed this morning that Milne’s last day would be June 1. He has steered Telstra’s BigPond ISP division through highs and lows since 2002.
“BigPond in the dial-up world had 22 percent market share in 2001-2002. Under Justin’s leadership, BigPond managed to achieve nearly 50 percent market share in broadband,” Malone told journalists this afternoon in a teleconference held to detail iiNet’s $40 million acquisition of rival ISP Netspace.
“That transition from dial-up to broadband — BigPond did an extraordinary move through there,” he added. “Having an entrepreneur like Justin operating inside Telstra, I think was a huge contributor to that.”
Malone also noted Milne had also been the chief executive of early Australian ISP OzEmail, which iiNet acquired in early 2005.
However the iiNet chief executive also remembered less favourable actions that took place at BigPond under Milne’s watch.
“I wish he’d given us a heads up on the $29.95 back in 2003, that was a bit of a left-field just after he joined the team,” he said, referring to a pricing change that temporarily drove Telstra’s retail prices below the wholesale prices it was offering its competitors.
The move saw Telstra eventually slapped with a competition notice by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and generated howls of protest from the wider ISP industry, which was at the time largely dependent upon Telstra for wholesale broadband access.
Milne has not yet said what his next move will be — and Telstra spokespeople have not responded to a request for comment on the issue.