Australian technology entrepreneurs are partying like it’s 1999. The boom times are back except this time, industry players say, tech start-ups have real business models behind them and are earning real money to justify their ballooning valuations.

In the past 18 months alone hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed to Australian technology entrepreneurs. Big US venture capital firms are stalking Australian start-ups with wads of cash.

India has introduced a cheap tablet computer, saying it would deliver modern technology to the countryside to help lift villagers out of poverty.

The computer, called Aakash, or “sky” in Hindi, is the latest in a series of “world’s cheapest” innovations in India that include a 100,000 rupee ($2104) compact Nano car, a 750 rupee ($15.78) water purifier and $2078 open-heart surgery.

The record for the most expensive domain name was broken today after the owner of let the name expire and it was snapped up at auction for $125,000.

Mark Lye, CEO of Netfleet, the domain name aftermarket where the name was sold, said the final price was “quite exceptional” but the previous owners who let it expire would be “kicking themselves”.

“It’s a schoolboy error really for a domain of that value to not renew it in time,” he said.

Advertisement: Story continues below

“For whatever reason they might not have got their renewal notices via email. Registrars will send out renewal notices on domains – 90 days before it expires, then 60, then 30; people may procrastinate and put it off and not renew it, maybe forget about it, and then the domain expires and then they’ve lost it. “

The buyer of is Hunter Valley property developer Vision Homes. Comment is being sought from the owner Steve Rollan.

Anthony Ziino, the previous owner who let the domain name expire, did not know the name had expired when reached by phone but said he was going to investigate.

The next highest public sale was, bought by Woolworths late last year for $33,000.

But private sales, while difficult to track and verify, are often much higher. The highest on record is, which sold for $153,000. and both sold privately for $100,000 each while sold several years ago for $70,000.

But the records pale in comparison with .com domain sales. is the most expensive domain name globally and sold in November last year for $US13 million.

Domain name industry players on the forum predicted would sell for $10,000, so the final price of $125,000 blew away their expectations.

Lye said those who don’t invest in domain names professionally often drove the higher prices as they commonly had their eye on a particular name for some time and were emotionally attached to it. Companies see it as a marketing expense.

“In terms of marketing to spend $10-, $20- or $30,000 on a domain name is not that huge compared to the rest of the costs of marketing their business,” he said.

“People are just beginning to realise that domain names are valuable and in this day and age it’s essential for pretty much all businesses to be online.

“One of the ways to get to the top quickly is with a good domain name. As more domains are registered, supply is limited so it generally commands higher prices.”

The Australian domain name industry has been in the news this week due to a dispute over and death threats being made against a prominent industry player.

Top 10 public domain sales
Source: – $33,333 – $30,933 – $27,500 – $22,000 – $20,000 – $20,000 – $20,000 – $19,000 – $18,011 – $18,000


At least 4800 Australian websites have been lost with no chance of recovery following a break-in at Australian domain registrar and web host Distribute.IT.

The hack attack caused so much damage that four of the company’s servers were “unrecoverable”, the company said, leaving thousands of website owners in the lurch.

“The overall magnitude of the tragedy and the loss of our information and yours is simply incalculable; and we are distressed by the actions of the parties responsible for this reprehensible act,” Distribute.IT said.

Advertisement: Story continues below

As reported by Fairfax Media last week, Distribute.IT was hit with a “deliberate, premeditated and targeted attack” on its servers last Saturday but it is still struggling to work out exactly what happened or how much data was stolen.

Security experts warned that thousands of websites were vulnerable to being hijacked and extensive private data were at risk of being stolen.

Customers hit the Whirlpool forums to complain that Distribute.IT had not adequately responded with information about the break-in and that the hack “has probably killed my business”.

In a statement published today, Distribute.IT said it had been working around the clock in an attempt to recover data from its affected servers.

“At this time, We regret to inform that the data, sites and emails that were hosted on Drought, Hurricane, Blizzard and Cyclone can be considered by all the experts to be unrecoverable,” it said.

“While every effort will be made to continue to gain access to the lost information from those hosting servers, it seems unlikely that any usable data will can be salvaged from these platforms.

“In assessing the situation, our greatest fears have been confirmed that not only was the production data erased during the attack, but also key backups, snapshots and other information that would allow us to reconstruct these servers from the remaining data.”

The company said 4800 websites were affected and since it did not have the capacity to transfer the domain names to other parts of its platform, Distribute.IT had no choice “but to assist you in any way possible to transfer your hosting and email needs to other hosting providers”.

The significant data loss has raised questions from backup experts as to why Distribute.IT did not appear to have offsite backups of customer data.

Distribute.IT has still not been able to get its website back online and it is using a Google Blogger account to update customers. Its phone lines have been ringing out and its email is down, forcing the company to use a temporary Gmail addresss –

Rob McAdam, CEO of security firm Pure Hacking, said the issue was a “catastrophic problem” for those with websites hosted by Distribute.IT.

“If these clients of Distribute.IT had no other backup other than what was at Distribute.IT, they would then have to rebuild their site – from scratch,” he said.

“From the Distribute.IT blog post, it appears that they have lost all of the content for these web sites and any associated backups that Distribute.IT kept.”

James Turner, security analyst at IBRS, said: “This could be the nightmare scenario that every small/medium businessperson working on the internet has in the back of their minds. If the attack is as described then the malice behind it is appalling.”

On the Whirlpool discussion forums, where there are over 60 pages of posts discussing the Distribute.IT hack, customers were livid at finding out their data was gone forever.

“I think I’m in shock … I have lost everything …. I couldnt possibly replicate all those years of work again … my whole lifes work is gone down the drain,” wrote one.

09 May 2011

Optus today announced that it is partnering with FetchTV to jointly develop an IPTV service with integrated mobile functionality for smartphones and tablet devices.

The service is scheduled for launch in the second half of 2011 and is part of Optus’ broader TV strategy to develop a suite of converged video services, delivering choice and control for customers whether they’re at home or on the move.

Austin R. Bryan, Director, Optus Digital Media said, “The way people view and engage with video content is changing rapidly. Optus wants to be at the forefront of this change which is why we’re partnering with FetchTV to develop a unique TV offering across multiple devices.

“With its strong content line-up and innovative delivery platform, we believe FetchTV is the best partner to help us develop a service which will provide customers with a fantastic user experience,” Mr Bryan said.

Scott Lorson, CEO, FetchTV said, “FetchTV has spent the past three years developing advanced IPTV capabilities and a compelling catalogue of content. Partnering with an operator of Optus’ scale, brand and reputation is a significant milestone for FetchTV and we look forward to working with Optus to launch a unique and compelling entertainment service.”

Pricing and specific details of the Optus service will be available closer to launch.


The tantalising prospect of finding the next Facebook, Groupon or Twitter is driving the biggest rush of venture capital into the internet start-up arena since dot-com mania first boomed and then fizzled more than a decade ago.

More than $US5 billion of venture capital investment flowed into young web companies globally in the first four months of the year, data from Thomson Reuters Deals Intelligence shows.

Advertisement: Story continues below

Though small compared with the boom years, the sum puts 2011 on track to be the busiest in dollar terms since 2000, when more than $US55 billion was deployed to back nascent technology firms.

The latest frenzy bears some of the hallmarks of the previous web investment craze – exuberance over “concept” start-ups that have not launched their sites and intense competition among potential backers to place bets in presumptive hot spots, such as the social media space now defined by the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn.

Entrepreneurs such as Clara Shih, chief executive of Hearsay, a San Francisco-based speciality software provider, enjoy more leverage with investors than last time and talk about having their pick of potential backers. Shih said she had already raised $US3 million when cash came knocking at her door.

“Honestly, we weren’t thinking of raising money, but now it’s kind of landed on our lap, we may be open to it,” Shih said in an interview with Reuters Insider.

Herd investment behaviour gives rise to talk that another internet bubble is forming, particularly when analysts see valuations on the order of $US70 billion for Facebook and $US15 billion for Groupon calculated from private investments.

“I’ve heard … many venture capitalists who are saying, ‘No, there’s not a bubble,'” said Dana Stalder, a partner in the Silicon Valley office of the venture capital firm Matrix Partners.

“When you’re seeing valuations double in the last 12 months for the same company, the same team, it feels like a bubble to me.”

But other characteristics of the current boom do set it apart from the one that ended in collapse 10 years ago.

  • Venture capital investors say more of today’s young companies are profitable or on a clearer path to profitability as the advent of cloud computing helps to lower operating costs dramatically from a decade ago.
  • Online advertising and e-commerce, in their infancy a decade ago, have matured into accepted and more reliable revenue sources.
  • The rush to cash out through an initial public offering has slowed. Bountiful sources of private investment, a raft of new public company disclosure regulations and the growth of alternative venues for trading private company shares provide the means and incentive to delay going public.

Perhaps the most distinguishing factor from the “It’s different this time” litany is that today’s web frenzy is global.

In the three years that marked the height of the last boom, from 1999 to 2001, the venture capital industry sank $US96.4 billion into web start-ups, with more than 80 per cent of that or nearly $US78 billion in the United States alone, the Thomson Reuters data show. Of 10,755 venture capital deals over that run, 7174 took place in the US market.

Not so today. Of the more than $US5 billion of venture capital money invested so far this year, just $US1.4 billion has been deployed in US start-ups, according to Thomson Reuters data. Roughly three-quarters of the 403 deals have taken place overseas.

Moreover, it is the big deals that as often as not are now happening outside the United States. Of the 25 biggest consumer internet deals last year, 15 were non-US investments, according to Quid, a Silicon Valley research start-up that tracks venture capital investment flows. Nearly half, 12, were Chinese.

The investors as well as the start-ups have an increasingly international flavour. Perhaps the most notable new face among today’s internet king makers is Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, chief executive of DST Global. Milner has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Facebook, Groupon and Zynga. Last month his firm invested $US500 million in 360Buy,com, China’s biggest business-to-consumer website.

While one of the distinguishing characteristics of the new boom is the tendency to remain private for a longer period, the IPO pipeline is nevertheless filling up with internet names.

So far this year, 16 web firms have filed IPO documents with US securities regulators, seeking to raise proceeds estimated at nearly $US4.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. That already tops the full-year totals for every year except 1999, when 52 companies filed to raise $US4.2 billion.

Surprise! HBO has made on-demand streaming applications available on the iPad, iPhone and select Android devices, a few days ahead of their expected launch date. (Hat tip to BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield, who first spotted the iPad app.)

The HBO Go apps were teased in a YouTube ad released last week, promising a May 2 launch date. But they appeared a few days early, enabling subscribers to the premium cable network to access new release movies, as well as every episode from every season of every HBO original series on Apple iOS devices, as well as some Android phones.

Apple has reported another exceptional quarter, nearly doubling its net income and far exceeding analyst estimates on the strength of the seemingly unstoppable iPhone.

However, sales of Apple’s big new product, the iPad tablet computer, came in below expectations. The second version of the tablet launched three weeks before the end of the quarter, and manufacturing constraints prevented Apple from selling more of them.