Kim Dotcom burning through PR capital

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

Last updated 14:42 05/11/2012
Kim Dotcom
MEGAMAN: Can Kim Dotcom resurrect the Pacific Fibre Cable?

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OPINION: Despite his larrikin reputation, Kim Dotcom appears to be smart and hard-working and the criminal prosecution against him and Megaupload appears very weak.

But now that the New Zealand and United States governments have frozen his financial fortune, his biggest remaining asset would seem to be his ability to garner publicity in the crowded market for internet start-ups.

Unfortunately, he is burning through that "PR" capital like there is no tomorrow by pushing out fantasies such as the idea, unveiled at the weekend, that he could bring Pacific Fibre's bid to build a $400 million fibre-optic cable to the United States back from the dead and offer Kiwis "free internet'.

Aside from the fact that he doesn't have the money, there is of course no way the US government would grant him the required cable landing rights.

The serious question behind the silliness is whether Dotcom will find a useful and productive place in the industry, or become a bit of a lingering embarrassment to the country's technology sector.

Even if the extradition bid against Dotcom fails, legal experts say that doesn't mean authorities will be obliged to unfreeze his millions. Dotcom may try and sue to get his fortune back but he faces ongoing civil suits from copyright owners. It will be a long, hard road.

Before his run-in with US authorities, Dotcom was planning to launch a "cyber-locker" website that would have let musicians sell music direct to fans. There would certainly be a market for a "squeaky-clean" online service that made that easy that while truly eschewing piracy.

It would face competition and might not make "mega" bucks instantly, but here's hoping Dotcom adds to his undoubted talents by learning to think small for a while.

Reg Hammond, a former manager of ICT regulation at the Economic Development Ministry, provided a good analysis of the difficulties of establishing a business case for a new trans-pacific cable in August.

Worth considering too, is how best to avoid the risk of a new cable to the US or Australia undermining the business case for the replacement of the fully-redundant Southern Cross cable network, as and when its engineering life comes to an end.

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- The Dominion Post

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