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Saturday, 03 September 2011 15:43

Internode in damage control mode over 'restructuring'

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When a high profile company gets rid of four senior high-profile executives it needs to take the initiative instead of waiting for the bad news to leak out.

Among the IT community Internode has long been one of Australia's most high profile ISPs due in large part to the efforts of its founder, Simon Hackett who - unencumbered by the restraints applied to heads of public companies - has been free to say pretty much what he liked.

He's been ably aided and abetted by senior Internode executives Mark Newton and Matthew Moyle-Croft both of whom have been frequent and opinionated contributors to Whirlpool, as has Hackett.

The company has consistently topped Roy Morgan Research's rankings for ISP customer service, been a pioneer of IPv6 and consistently churned out 'good news' press releases at the rate of two or three every month.

So when Internode last week instituted a 'restructure' that resulted in the departure of Newton, Moyle-Croft and two other senior executives it would have been naïve to believe that this information could have been kept under wraps for long. Sure enough, it wasn't. And Internode was then forced into damage control mode.

Delimiter broke the story on Friday morning, getting hold of an email from CEO Patrick Tapper announcing the shake-up to Internode staff. The email said that CIO, Frank Falco, IT systems and network operations centre project manager Andrew Walton, peering, commercial and DSLAM team lead Matthew Moyle-Croft and core and infrastructure team leader (network operations) Mark Newton had left the company.

Tapper said in his email "Each of these individuals have made important contributions to Internode during their years with the company'¦We've carefully re-assessed a number of roles within the group, some of which have now become redundant. It's become necessary to make those critical changes within that team - none of which has been an easy decision to make.

"Simon Hackett has always been the technical director of Internode, but will take over a new title of CTO. The CIO role held by Frank will not be replaced, as Simon will have a greater 'hands on' role within the technology team."

Tapper was also reported to have alluded to "some very difficult times, especially over the last 12 months," on which he did not elaborate.

CONTINUED


It took Internode all day to respond. (We received its announcement at 17:49) and the company was ducking for cover. The statement opened by saying: "As this was a primarily internal change, this is the only public comment Internode will make about this restructure."

It confirmed that Hackett had formally taken on the mantle he has long held informally, that of CTO, and that there had been four redundancies, but identified only the CIO role. "The position of CTO formalises the role that Simon has consistently performed in the business during its 20-year history. Simon will also retain the role of managing director'¦Four positions were made redundant including the role of chief information officer," the announcement said.

And of course Internode tried to put a positive spin on things: "Despite these departures, Internode is still actively hiring people for its 100-strong Technology division, with 13 positions currently open."

Tapper was quoted saying the change had been driven by the need to get Internode "match fit" in terms of its internal structure, so the company could realise the opportunities created by the NBN. "A major focus for us is to make it easier for our customers to deal with us online," he said.

"Simon is taking on the role of CTO in order to provide additional 'hands-on' leadership of this process. The four people who have left each played a great role at Internode, but there would have been too much overlap if those positions remained unchanged," Tapper said.

"We have a vast amount of technical skill and knowledge at Internode, with many long-standing employees. It is very much full steam ahead at Internode."

After the way the company handled this, nobody is going to buy that line.

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