iiNet has a history of giving the finger to The Man, but after the news emerged that TPG plans to buy the company for $1.4 billion, executives have been cagey on whether or not it will continue to fight piracy cases brought against it by studios, or whether it will continue to oppose anti-piracy legislation from the Australian Government.
iiNet's history of consumer advocacy is strong. From its win at the so-called iiTrial through to standing up to Dallas Buyers Club. From petitioning against the government's metadata retention scheme to giving Village Roadshow's CEO Graham Burke what for over more than a few stupid comments. iiNet knows how to be the industry's problem child in the best possible way. But after the takeover bid, there were more than a few concerns from onlookers.
Speaking on a call with the media today iiNet's Board Chairman, Michael Smith, told us that he's unsure whether this strong history of advocacy will continue under TPG ownership.
"I can't predict what TPG will do differently," Smith said on the call, but added he hoped reclusive ISP TPG knew of iiNet's long history of consumer advocacy before it agreed to the acquisition.
"One of the things you get when you buy iiNet is a fearless advocate. A really strong advocate for consumers is all part of iiNet is. I would think that all of those questions [regarding standing up for customers] go to brand preservation and i'd hate to see that lost," he added.
The iiNet execs covered other areas of concern on the call, too.
TPG founder and chairman, David Teoh, is a reclusive businessman. He doesn't often speak to the media, if at all, and the culture of his company is very different to the open and airy world of iiNet where staff are encouraged to share concerns publicly. Chairman Smith candidly said on the media call today that he was concerned about the potential culture clash between the two post-acquisition.
"You can't be part of [iiNet] without becoming personally involved with the people and the way it operates," Smith said, adding "whatever we might like to think, there's some risk about [cultural integration] regardless of who the purchaser is. We're seriously concerned, but we'll do everything we can to ensure it remains great for staff and great for customers. It destroys the value if that's not true. [iiNet's leadership team have] been completely professional about this but I can't pretend for a moment that I'm not seriously concerned about it."
Customer Service Concerns?
Following the announcement of the deal there was an outpouring of concern online as customers and spectators alike worried over how service levels may be affected. iiNet CEO David Buckingham rebuffed those concerns on the media call today.
"We're communicating with customers [about the acquisition]. I can assure you that we don't intend to let customer service drop and I'm not sure why people think that's a concern," he said.
Chairman Smith added when it comes to talking with customers that iiNet likely won't be absorbed into the low-cost TPG brand post-acquisition, and said that "those who expect it to are likely to be overestimating the synergies of this transaction" between the two companies.
Do these answers make you feel any better about the $1.4 billion sale of iiNet? Tell us in the comments!