SiliconBlue simmers US plans

Newly appointed SiliconBlue chief executive Peter Maurer has his sights set on taking the Masterton-based web hosting and website management software company overseas, but admits that goal is some way from being realised.

Newly appointed SiliconBlue chief executive Peter Maurer has his sights set on taking the Masterton-based web hosting and website management software company overseas, but admits that goal is some way from being realised.

Any move overseas, particularly to the US, is likely to involve a joint venture, Maurer says.

“We know we have to do that — I’ve been talking to people in the US about what we need to do to get there. One of the issues is the cost of getting to that market and we need to identify how.”

SiliconBlue began life as Contact Internet, a Masterton ISP. After becoming SiliconBlue the company received $2 million in venture capital funding from No 8 Ventures in December 2000.

The flagship of SiliconBlue is Ocoloco, which automates website management functions, enabling clients to avoid getting bogged down in technical tasks.

Natural markets for Ocoloco are ISPs and companies with reasonable investments in internet applications, Maurer says. “What differentiates us is these tools — the people using them are designers and developers who provide a total solution to their customers.”

Using Ocoloco can allow a client to avoid spending time discussing email routing with ISPs, he says. “They become a virtual ISP.” But selling the software to ISPs is also a goal. “At the moment we’re selling software, but the fee is wrapped up in the hosting charge.”

The company won’t get right out of web hosting “as it’s good for cashflow”, but is unlikely to be in that business overseas. “At the moment, we’re a web hosting company with smart software, but we’re still in the web hosting paradigm. To exploit the potential of the business, we need to become a software organisation.” That is vital to the push overseas, he says.

Ocoloco has been released in several versions, with the most recent, 4.2, put out last week and 4.3 due in seven weeks’ time.

SiliconBlue remains based in Masterton and Maurer says the company’s operations will remain in the Wairarapa town, though sales and marketing may move to Wellington. Murray McNae, Wellington-based executive director and chairman of Sun New Zealand agent SolNet, is on the company’s board.

The company is not yet profitable, but Maurer says the target for that is August or September.

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