michael malone iinet

Michael Malone | iiNet


26 February 2024
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Michael Malone | iiNet

Michael Malone | iiNet

Joining our program on this episode is prolific Western Australian entrepreneur & company director, Michael Malone - Founder of iiNet, the homegrown Australian success story he built to become the Nation’s second largest listed ISP with over 2,000 personnel, over 1m customers & $1bn in annual revenue prior to its sale in 2015 in a circa $1.5bn deal.

Born in Co Clare, Ireland in 1969, Michael’s family briefly migrated to Australia in 1974 and lived briefly in Queensland before later returning to Ireland - in 1978, the family permanently migrated back to Australia using the assisted passage scheme and settled in Perth, wherein they established a fencing business run by both parents.

Michael attended Christian Brothers College in Leederville (now Aranmore Catholic College), graduating in 1986 before enrolling in a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) at the University of Western Australia during which time, he simultaneously pursued his interest in becoming a teacher by completing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education.

As a student of UWA in the late 1980’s / early 1990’s, Michael’s fascination with technology & in particular, early iterations of the internet began to take shape and whilst access was available to students on campus, there were limited options available for residential use due largely to the prohibitive costs associated with the setup & establishment of fixed line services back to the US.

Eager to utilise the early text-based services the internet provided (chat forums / basic e-mail), Michael calculated that the costs of a fixed-line service to his parents Padbury garage ($25k per annum + $15k setup cost) could be paid for on the condition that he was able to sign up 200 paying clients on a flat-rate of $25 per month, with the outstanding amount provided by his parents.

With this innovative solution in place, Michael founded iiNet Technologies Pty Ltd n 1993, becoming the first ISP in Perth & eventually running more than 350 phone lines as well as 350 modems that enabled customers to connect to the web.

By 1995, iiNet had expanded into Perth’s CBD and began formally recruiting its first employees, with the company becoming synonymous for a number of internal innovations including being the first company in Australia to utilise Net Promoter Scores (NPS), insisting on staff having backgrounds or experiences in hospitality to drive strong customer service, linking staff bonuses to feedback / survey results as well as establishing call centres in predominantly English- speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand & South Africa.

As the business expanded throughout the 1990’s, its innovative culture saw it expand its offerings to include ‘triple- play’ services (broadband, telephony, video) whilst Michael borrowed heavily to fund the firm’s growth until it’s listing on the ASX in 1999.

Over the course of the ensuing decade-and-a-half, iiNet grew to become Australia’s second largest internet service provider, acquiring more than fifty companies on its way to generating over $1bn in annual revenue such as New Zealand’s iHug in 2003 ($71.5m), OzEmail in 2005 ($100m) in addition to more than $225m in deals that occurred in a three-year period between 2011-2014.

After a months-long sabbatical, Michael made the decision to step-down as Chief Executive Officer of iiNet in 2014, selling down his holdings in the company over a number of years before and after it’s takeover by rival TPG in 2015.

Following his success with iiNet, Michael has held a number of executive & board positions, including Co-Founder & Chairman of Diamond Cyber Security (subsequently sold to CyberCX), Chairman of SuperLoop, Director of NBNCO, Director of WiseTech Global, Director of Seven West Media & Non Executive Director of Healthengine amongst others.

He is also a prominent private investor through both his family office, Phi Capital, as well as via funds including Ten13, Ellerston & JAADE.

In this rare & exclusive interview, Michael details his extraordinary personal & professional successes, the journey of iiNet, his unique philosophy and approach to business, the evolution in Western Australia’s start-up scene and what he considers his most seminal achievements.


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Ready Media Group
Ready Media Group

Ready Media Group provides up-to-date business and industry content covering the latest transaction activity, exclusive insights and interviews with thought leaders from across Australia.

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