iiNet made CTO Lindsay redundant



news iiNet made its outgoing Adelaide-based chief technology officer John Lindsay redundant, it has emerged, as the company appears to be increasingly centralising the technical management of its infrastructure to its head office in Perth.

In late December, iiNet chief technology officer John Lindsay revealed via his public blog and on Twitter that he had left iiNet. The move was significant because the executive was one of iiNet’s most high-profile technical leaders and had long been regarded as one of the Internet service provider industry’s most well-respected figures.

Lindsay had served as iiNet’s CTO for a year and eight months, having been promoted into the role after his previous employer, Internode, was bought by iiNet. Lindsay had worked in various senior positions at Internode, including chief technology officer and general manager of regulatory and corporate affairs, for around eleven years. He had also previously held several senior positions at iiNet.

In a blog post in December, Lindsay noted that it had been a privilege to work with the iiNet executive team and that the past two years had been a career highlight for him. It appeared from his statements at the time that the executive had resigned and was seeking a break from the corporate world; he announced his intentions to become a consultant working with start-ups and early stage businesses.

However, Delimiter has since confirmed with a number of different, independent sources that Lindsay was made redundant. One source claimed the executive was not the only former Internode manager to have lost his position late in 2013, although Delimiter has not been able to confirm this allegation.

Part of the issue appears to be the fact that iiNet is consolidating the technical teams of iiNet and Internode into a centrally managed team in Perth. Lindsay was based in Adelaide, where Internode has its roots.

A spokesperson for iiNet would not confirm that Lindsay had been made redundant. The company instead issued what appeared to be a misleading statement pointing to Lindsay’s new career as the reason behind his departure. “After two years as Chief Technology Officer at iiNet and 11 in the same role at Internode John Lindsay is taking a break from the corporate world and setting up as a consultant working with start-up and early stage businesses,” the company said.

In addition, the company praised Lindsay personally, noting that the executive was “an integral part of the team that sold Internode to iiNet in 2011” and that the executive had since helped to build iiNet “a global IP network with around 150 gigabits of lit submarine capacity”, rolled out the VDSL2 standard in Canberra, and grown the company’s Wi-Fi network to over 1,000 access points.

“John did an amazing job for the iiNet Group, we will miss him as part of our exec team but he is taking a well-deserved break and we wish him the best in his future pursuits,” said iiNet acting CEO David Buckingham.

However, the company did note that at this stage it has “no replacement” for the executive, meaning that iiNet will now have no formal chief technology officer. Instead, iiNet noted, chief information officer Matthew Toohey and Chief Business Officer (and former CTO) Greg Bader have split the role between themselves. Both appear to be largely Perth-based and have both been with iiNet for around a decade.

The departure of Lindsay means that iiNet’s senior management team is now wholly constituted of executives who have an extremely long-running history with the company. Bader, one of iiNet chief executive Michael Malone’s closest lieutenants, has been with the company since 2003, as has chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby and chief customer officer Maryna Fewster. Chief product officer Stephen Harley joined iiNet in 2001, and Toohey joined in 2004. Acting chief executive Buckingham has the shortest tenure, having joined iiNet in January 2008. iiNet’s board directors similarly typically have an extremely long history with the company, with the exception of marketing specialist Louise McCann, who joined in April 2011.

iiNet’s approach to Lindsay represents only the most recent time that the company has not been completely truthful with the public with respect to an issue. In October 2012, for example, the company was forced to admit that a now-defunct forum associated with its 3FL gaming network was recently hacked and that it concealed the break-in from affected customers whose login details may have been compromised.

I think it’s relatively clear what’s happening here. As iiNet is increasingly ingesting Internode, it appears to see less of a need for Adelaide-based staff and is increasingly centralising senior executive and management roles in Perth. It’s also been alleged this week that the company appears to be changing the nature of its call centres along similar lines. I haven’t researched that area deeply, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that were true.

iiNet’s character as a very closely managed company has been well-known for some time. In June 2011, I compared iiNet CEO Michael Malone to Don Corleone, the ‘Godfather’ of the famous books and films, noting that he maintained a close circle of trusted lieutenants around him such as Dalby and Bader that helped him keep tight control of iiNet. It’s pretty obvious that this phenomenon is still operating.

In a certain sense this activity is completely legitimate. The best companies are tightly managed by a trusted inner circle clustered around a charistmatic, if somewhat dictatorial leader. One need only look at Apple to see how successful that approach can be. And there is no doubt that iiNet is very successfully managed indeed.

However, I would also question how appropriate it was for iiNet to so coldly turf the long-serving John Lindsay late last year … during the Christmas season, no less. Lindsay is one of Australia’s ISP industry’s most respected technical network managers; an executive who was one of Simon Hackett’s right-hand men in building out the ADSL broadband networks we enjoy today. He’s certainly had a great deal of success in a similar role at iiNet over the past several years. I would say that he deserved better.

Then too … is it really appropriate for iiNet to operate without a chief technology officer? Bader’s very good at that job, but has notionally been promoted to a business role. And Toohey’s specialisation has been with IT systems — not networks. One wonders why iiNet believes it’s appropriate to divide these two executives’ attention like this — and whether the quality of iiNet’s overall network will start to suffer as the company lacks a central executive managing it. Only time will tell.

I want to say one further thing about this situation. A series of events over the past several years have led to a personal impression on my part that I really do not like iiNet’s corporate culture any more. The company has grown quite cold and even manipulative over the years … it’s a far cry from the youthful energy which it and fellow ISP upstarts such as Internode used to display. This move by iiNet to let Lindsay go is not the only such move I’ve seen from the company over time.

The irony of iiNet’s marketing mascot Finn being so cheery up-front in public while this kind of corporate behaviour is going on behind the scenes is a little too cutting. One can only hope iiNet hasn’t started taking lessons from the best in the business when it comes to corporate control … big bad Telstra.

Image credit: iiNet


  1. Another option: Is it possible that it’s both a convenient time for Lindsay to move on personally, and for the business to let him go? Wouldn’t be the first time an exec or senior manager at a large company has moved on with a golden handshake – sometimes deserved.

    Gotta agree that not having a CTO at all does seem like an usual move for a company that – by necessity – is so steeped in tech. Their VCC system alone is a remarkably complex beast, let alone the network.

    • Standard process in any organisation for making someone redundant is:

      Normally HR or management calls you into office.

      Ask for your badge, explain that your suspended leave for 4 weeks, give you all your holiday & sick leave then rushes you out the building

      Interesting fact to share you watch regularly Internode hiring cycle is commonly around March/July/November. Giving 2-3 week to train new staff and find open desk, then the pressure is on for management staff to find places for the new hires and meaning some staff maybe made “redundant” to make room available.

  2. Also, it’s possible that Lindsay chose to resign and then the *position* was made redundant, as opposed to Lindsay and the position being made redundant at the same time.

    • haha. smoking the weed a bit too much are we? you made a claim, linked an article to back up your claim. yet nothing on that page backs up the argument you are trying to make.

      • Guest

        Actually it does
        from the accc link

        Businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression.

        Internode or any other isp which iinet owns can not claim they are seperate from iinet

        or iinet can not claim those isp’s are seperate from them
        when iinet brought internode
        hackett tried to claim internode was still its own entity and has it own staff , that was giving an customer a false impression that you would be contacting internode not iinet staff

        But iinet staff is invovled wiht internode operations

        • they each have their own abn, so they both exist as entities. nothing on that page backs him up. until such time as internode start answering the phone as iinet and their abn is null and void, they are separate companies with the same owner.

  3. They did the same with Netspace and everyone else before them. Let’s just say the “exec” management team are a pack of pr*cks and don’t listen to any newcomers that come in. If you aren’t part of the MM and MF brigade you get shown the door!

    Worst company to work for, period!

    • Oh, they did a ripper on Netspace. I was with Netspace for year, since dialup. iiNet took over and moved users off Optus DSLAMs onto their own where available. There weren’t enough ports for everyone or there were no iiNet DSLAMs in some exchanges. Those people were put on Telstra DSLAMs with very little backhaul provisioned, so basically they would leave. Everyone I spoke to on the Netspace forum, country wide that had been moved to Telstra DSLAMs were getting as low as 5Kb of an evening, yes, that’s Kb. Months of complaints were ignored. The reason I know it was underprovisioning? A Netspace tech was determined to get to the bottom of it, iiNet techs would do nothing. He spent months trying to sort out what was going wrong, he asked about provisioning but was lied to, it took him a long time to discover that it was what they were doing. In there end, there was nothing he could do, he couldn’t get them to make adequate backhaul provisions. Everyone just had to churn, most went to Internode, then iiNet bought internode…

    • Are you under the impression that John Lindsay had nothing to do with iiNet before 2011? If so, you might want to do some research…

    • Thats the same culture of Internode too. If your not on ourside then move out of the way

    • As an ex-employee I agree they have dreadful management, really bad system flaws simply did not get fixed if it was not a current area of interest.

      • iiNet priorities are pushing new products out the door as quick and cheap as possible. Fixing problems with existing systems is last on the list.

  4. That’s what company acquisitions are all about. Expanding the companies customer base, making use of any worth while IP the company has acquired and then reducing operational costs (staff, offices etc). Typically if you are working for the company that got bought then watch out! Management will always say that everything will be business as usual which is true for a short period, though they make out it will always be like this just so they don’t rock the boat, but eventually D day does come.
    Sometimes the best talent is let go, sometimes it doesn’t seem fair who they pick to go. The best you can hope for is that it’s done in a humane way.

  5. Perhaps John had an exit strategy. After two years of a new boss and culture, maybe the best way out was to come to a mutually beneficial redundancy. A wise man once told me you should always have an exit strategy.

  6. This is real corporate life Renai so I am not sure why you are making a fuss of it. Even Internode had its true believers and inner circle who reported directly to Hackett. Malone is not Hackett and is not accessible nor has he a public face. Different people different strokes.

    I fully expect the majority of positions and location of the old Internode in Adelaide to be mostly shutdown during 2014. There will probably only be some technical staff remaining to maintain the comms infrastructure in Adelaide but that will be it. As for sales and support it is logical they will be folded into a central location in iiNet’s main HQ.

      • an unnamed source tells you a tale and you’re all ready to hang iinet. apparently considering your source may not have the truth themselves never crossed your mind. named sources on here have listed more plausible stories than yours.

    • Actually, Micheal Malone has stated on Whirpool the Location, Support and Staff of Internode will remain seperate as Node still have their Support Help Desk in Adelaide, So really I doubt nor see them shutting down anytime soon or in the future. The only way I see it folding Node’s Location and Positions into iiNet’s HQ is if they can see Node not being able to absorb it’s own costs thanks to Labor’s blowouts in it’s Budget hole over the last 6 years..

      Internode and iiNet continue to be very successful and strong Brands.

      • I am normally merely a lurker on this website, but this just pushed me over the edge.

        Seriously, are you paid for this by the LNP? What an idiotic non-sequitur! Is that like some “ceterum censeo” (google it) for you? Do you go on a NASA website and post “well I’m glad that NASA has extended funding for the ISS, as they may not being able to absorb the costs thanks to Labor’s blowouts in it’s (sic!) Budget hole over the last 6 years”

        Gods below, man, are you able to leave idiotic party politics out of *anything*?

        Not to speak of the fact that, IIUC, Renai’s article was fairly clearly pointing out that iiNet have been caught telling untruths. What makes you think that they might not also happily lie when they make a statement about keeping the support teams in Adelaide?

        Shaking my head in disbelief…

        • I have no idea why Brad is showing any interest in this. He normally only uses the internet for typing one handed in dodgey web cam chat rooms.

          {PS. This is an evidence based forum, I can provide evidence for this, but it probably isn’t very tasteful.)

          • Lol, how did you know my Name was Brad, by the way, I’m not in Newcastle – Let’s just say I’m halfway between Sydney and Brisbane :P.

      • Problem with node is they got too big. You can optimise and service customers elsewhere in Australia cheaper then renting out floor space in Adelaide CBD

        The was 4 locations Agile and Internode worked out. 3 being in Grenfelt Street and the Allianz Australia building on Pirie Street

      • Internode stopped being separate from iiNet within months after the buyout. The Internode customer service staff report to iiNet’s Contact Centre Manager, hardly separate at all and the teams are being integrated into iiNet more and more every day. Adelaide has the highest amount of call centre staff in the iiNet group (iiNet, Internode, Adam) so it won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

      • OZ_Bluey76
        Posted 09/01/2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink | Reply
        Actually, Micheal Malone has stated on Whirpool the Location, Support and Staff of Internode will remain seperate


        that breaches the accc misleading advertising claims and making false claims , link i posted

        Businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression.

        internode is not a separate indentity to iinet , if it was why is there iinet representatives even in whirlpool are dealing with internode customers

        Is Simon Hackett still on the iinet board

        • you proved you have absolutely no clue with your last comment. that’s been all over the news for quite some time and if you bothered to look at anything on here, you’d know the answer.
          you are full of it mate. I dare you to make an accc complaint and then come back and post their findings here.
          complaint denied!

          • Again you are ignoring wha tthe accc says

            Iinet and internode are not seperate from each other , despite malone and Hacketts claim

            If internode was a seperate entity

            1- there would be no iinet representatives talking or helping internode customers , because they are not iinet customers

  7. I love the way iiNet is talking about his “contributions” which are so heavily just about the acquisition. In other words, iiNet themselves didn’t get him to do shit (except reduce costs).

    iiNet talking about how he built them “a global IP network with around 150 gigabits of lit submarine capacity” … umm, no. He folded the Internode/Agile IP network into iiNet. The network, as far as I can tell, is 100% the same, maybe some upgrades but it is literally the same pipes, the same PoPs, the same everything as Internode’s always had. Which iiNet then oversubscribed because provisioning enough bandwidth to maintain the same quality of service would’ve cost too much money. Cheers.

    • You understand the Internode network didn’t just suddenly appear one evening, lying in a manger, with a star overhead, right?

      Who do you think helped construct and expand Internode’s nation-and-international network? Ghandi?

      What iiNet then did with it – is up to iiNet. Use the grey matter you were given, sir. Cripes.

  8. Ahhh, the good old “Business as Usual” line. MM was an expert in this, let’s face it you can’t be that naive to think nothing was going to change when a company was bought out. There are however ways of going about it and doing it the proper and civil way, You’d think iiBorg would have had plenty of practice with this prior to gulping the recent acquisitions, but it doesn’t seem so.

  9. In my experience iiNet is more like Telstra in that there exist terrible system/process flaws which simply get ignored, particularly in their mobile provisioning system. On the whole Optus does a much better job at fixing issues in a methodical timely manner. All this goes to say the culture of everything going through MM or a select group doesn’t work at their scale as only their new areas of interest get any real attention.

  10. “A series of events over the past several years have led to a personal impression on my part that I really do not like iiNet’s corporate culture any more”

    It shows in your article. you write this article like you are a disgruntled ex-employee

  11. He was sacked near Xmas, big deal. He’s been well compensated I don’t doubt, Xmas is totally irrelevant.

  12. Seems like the same thing that happened with Westnet when I was there during the acquisition. Malone seemed to be a good guy but his inner circle don’t want to listen to anyone but themselves. They made a lot of promises about learning from each other and particularly learn about Westnet’s high customer service ratings. It became quickly apparent that they had no interest and just wanted everyone to just fall in line with iiNet’s ways and do what they are told. A lot of Westnet management staff stayed on for a while and tried to get through to them but eventually they all gave up and quit. A lot of them that left earlier or experienced some “issues” with particular managers were able to secure redundancy packages. I don’t think I know a single person still there now.

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