EasyNet bought by BSkyB

I have been meaning to post on this for a while and didn’t do so because I wanted to wait for the dust to settle. This seems like a good time.

My old company Easynet has been acquired by BSkyB for something around $375m. I was co-founder of the company, in 1994, with my friend David Rowe. David remains CEO. I left about 12 months after our IPO, in 1997, to start RealNames.

Firstly, congratulations to David and his team. But especially to David. He is an incredibly focused entreprenuer who, despite the market cap getting up to $2 billion or so during 1999 remained dedicated to building out a genuine competitor to the Telco incumbents across many markets in Europe.

BSkyB’s acquisition is testimony to that focus. They need an infrastructure capable of driving a triple play (voice, video and data) connection to homes and businesses throughout Europe. because of EasyNet’s DSLAM presence in many telco head ends, there was really no better optioon.

I can claim no credit for the sale, it’s all down to what David and the team have accomplished over the years since I left. And i get no benefit from it – I sold my shares a long time ago. However I’m still feeling proud. I helped David found a great company. we established it as the first consumer ISP in Europe. Highlights for me include being chosen by Microsoft to launch Windows 95 with them; getting our first customer, 6 weeks after having the idea, and banking our first $10 check; meeting lots of great entrepreneurs in CYBERIA (our cybercafe chain at the time); going public without raising venture capital; my time with David and Eva (his partner) debating strategy and tactics; being on a public company board, and realizing it wasn’t what I excelled at. And so many others.

Again, congratulations to all at the company. And good luck with a future with the Murdochs. Bound to be more interesting times ahead.

Google launches Dbase, circa 1985, but with less functionality

Google launched GoogleBase last night. What a disappointment. Whilst Google Reader clearly points to somebody at Google “getting” the importance of edge published content and real-time indexing, GoogleBase is a throw back. Basically a dumb flat-file database system for the world to throw content into. It’s actually embarrasing for the whole of Silicon Valley. I know insiders who desperately do not want their name associated with it. Can’t say I blame them.

Not to be abusive but why would millions of people who run web sites, and databases, and blogs, suddenly feed stuff into GoogleBase (an act of duplicating their already web based data into another database run by Google)? Maybe to get better search results. But this is an act of pure laziness from Google. The same results could be achieved in a manner far more consistent with the distributed data model that the world is currently flocking to. Google, just define a few extensions to RSS, make it easy to publish a feed with those extensions, and suck in the feeds. It works!

Oh well. Back to work :-)

Update: well I guess the primary reason this is disappointing is that we expect Google to innovate. This just isn’t innovative. See Mike Arrington’s assessment on TechCrunch