Interesting news from the Australian telecoms sector this weekend, with ‘The Australian’ reporting that former BigPond and Telstra Media boss Justin Milne, is quitting Telstra. There’s already plenty of speculation over what this all means for Telstra, but the other interesting question which has received little attention so far is what is Mr Milne going to be doing post Telstra?
Justin Milne joined Telstra at the end of 2002 after several years with OzEmail. When he arrived, Telstra had ~222k broadband subscribers(1). When Telstra reorganised late in 2008 and Milne relinquished broadband to focus on Telstra Media, that number had grown to 3,269k (2) , a CAGR of 63% and pretty much in line with the market growth rate (3) in spite of a being the premium priced provider in a market of over 450 ISPs (5).
Not only did Milne preside over significant growth in the broadband business, he was also responsible for laying the foundations of Telstra’s digital media business with ventures such as BigPond Music, BigPond Movies and BigPond Sport.
So if your recent CV involves high growth online businesses, what do you do next? The internet access market doesn’t really look high growth any more, except for maybe FTTP when (if) the NBN is built. So perhaps digital media somewhere? Could we see Justin leading someone like Fetch TV to challenge traditional television broadcasters in the high speed world of national 100Mbps broadband and IPTV?
Or is that too small? What about leading another media-comms play?
As discussed in a previous post, Seven is facing the challenge of coordinating its traditional and online media businesses. Seven also has a broadband access business, Wireless Broadband Australia – with two retail ISP’s in Unwired and Vivid Wireless. Then there is its involvement with Hybrid Television Services – the Australia-NZ licensee for TiVO. Seven has the potential to converge on the media-comms space from media side of things – the flip-side to Telstra who comes from the comms background.
Justin Milne bringing together the different elements of the Seven media-comms play is probably an unlikely occurrence, but it would certainly be more interesting to watch than seeing him join former colleagues like Doug Campbell at NBN Co.
Update: An official announcement confirming Justin Milne will finish on June 1, 2010 is now available via the ASX .
As well as the usual Disclaimer & Disclosure I should also point out that whilst I have never worked directly for Justin Milne I did work at BigPond during the time Justin Milne was in charge.
(1) See page 37 of the .pdf which includes a statistical summary of Telstra’s half year results for the December 2002 half.
(2) See page 13 of the .pdf for the FY 2008 Annual Report.
(3) Telstra CAGR Based on period Dec 02 to Jun 08. Market CAGR Based on ACCC broadband data for Dec 02 and ABS 8153.0 for Jun 08. Use of two different data sets was necessary as neither data set covered the complete time period.
(5) The March 2007 quarter was the last time the ABS reported the total number of ISPs.