Simon Hackett is a pretty successful guy. He built one of Australia's best and loved internet companies from the ground up in a hostile telco market that wasn't friendly to newcomers. Now he's moved on from the company he built into the new-look NBN Co building the network Australia needs. Here's why he did it, in his own words.
Speaking at the Vitalstatistix Theatre Company for the Cutaway Ceremony event, Hackett said that he still sees himself as a high-tech plumber, building infrastructure for the future.
"As has been suggested or has been mentioned, I’ve spent my business career through that company connecting people to this thing called the Internet. I became, in effect, a ‘high technology plumber’. And through that ‘plumbing’ I have found a lot of personal pleasure because I really like making people happy – and that turns out to be a way that I found that my particular skill-set allows me to make people happy.
The talk must have been exceptionally symbolic for Hackett, given that he gave it on his very last day as an Internode employee, before his flight to Sydney for his new role at NBN Co.
"As it turns out, by sheer co-incidence, this day is the last day that I company I started is actually paying me a salary. This is the last day of my being employed by the beastie I began.
"Its been a long relationship, and its not going to end, but its going to be a different relationship now because it’ll be somewhat from the outside, not the inside."
He said on founding Internode that he never did it for the money:
I happen to be successful in business, and that for me was a sheer accident – I never did stuff for money, I did stuff for love – because I happen to be successful in business, I don’t need to work for a living in that way any more. So I’m doing that because I want to.
I’m doing that because I’m conceited enough to believe that twenty years of skills that I’ve learned in the past can be applied in the future to try to produce more social equity and thats something that I happen to care about. This very abstract notion of hooking us all on the Internet is something I’m deeply involved with, obviously.
Ultimately, he's joining NBN Co because he thinks that, as a high-tech plumber, going to a big new utility is the best move for him and the country at large.
"I happen to believe that that next big utility, that next big way of connecting to our homes and our businesses beyond power, water, gas and sewerage – that next set of ‘pipes’ – can be tremendously important to us if they are available to everyone, if they work properly, and if they cost the same for everyone. They’re actually things that have a social equity.
"So I care a lot about that, and so I’m devoting the next few years of my life to trying to make that environment better..."
You can read the full talk and listen to the audio over on Simon's blog. [Simon Hackett]