Land Rover days over as Atmail makes US push

Land Rover days over as Atmail makes US push

Summary: Australian webmail provider Atmail has appointed a new CEO to help with its expansion efforts in the US, Europe and Asia, after receiving a AU$2 million fundraising injection from Starfish Ventures — a far cry from the back of the Land Rover where the company started.

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Queensland-based email and collaboration company Atmail has taken on a new chief executive officer to help push its presence in the US, Europe and Asia after receiving a AU$2 million fundraising injection from local venture capitalist, Starfish Ventures.

Atmail’s new CEO, Zach Johnson, initially came on board as the company’s chief operating officer in October last year.

"The funding from Starfish allows us to grow our team of talented developers which means bringing our ideas on messaging to market faster," said Atmail's founder, chief technology officer and former CEO, Ben Duncan, who built the webmail platform in 1998 at the age of just 17.

"While Atmail already has a great install-base in the US and Australia, we'll increase our focus on the US, Europe and Asia, and rolling out our messaging solutions to these regions. Having worked with many Aussie start-ups and taking them to the world stage, we see Starfish's experience integral to helping us achieve this goal," he said.

Although the United States already represents at least 60 percent of the Sunshine Coast-based company's revenue, its new chief Johnson has indicated that one of the top priorities is to expand its presence substantially in the US.

According to Johnson, the company's local team has expanded to help enable the international push, with US usability certification at the top of the agenda.

"We’ve doubled the size of the team over the past six months. I thought it would be difficult to attract world class talent to the Sunshine Coast, but we really have been able to secure some incredible talent," said Johnson, who is originally from the US, but has called the Sunshine Coast home since 2005.

"We've been able to create some maturity in bringing some new executives in. We've bought in a multimillion user account with a large cable company in the US," he said.

Along with certification in the US, Johnson said that the company hopes to capture new customers with the June release of a new tablet user interface, which is currently being beta tested.

"The new product development that's most pressing is the tablet user interface," he said. "It's in the process of being launched by the R&D group, headed up by Ben [Duncan]. It's in beta testing stage, so it's being used by people in Japan and other areas. It's scheduled to move out of beta in June."

For Duncan, who spent most of 2009 running Atmail from the back of a converted Land Rover Defender while travelling around Australia, the company’s expansion will be considerably aided by having Johnson in the driver's seat.

"There comes a time in most entrepreneurial journeys where you realise new leadership is required to take the company to the next level," said Duncan.

"Atmail couldn't ask for a better CEO than Zach. He has the right experience, knowledge, skills, and passion, to put us on the map globally. Along with the new management team, I can't wait to see what the future holds for us," he said.

Topics: Start-Ups, Collaboration, Australia

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Leon covers enterprise technology and start-ups from ZDNet's Sydney newsroom.

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