Meet Kim Dotcom's Mega CEO

Vikram Kumar says Mega now has 4 million registered users, and could become a back-end storage platform for other applications.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

Kim Dotcom's new business, the file storage and sharing site Mega, has won 4 million registered users since its launch in January, and will move into its first office in the next few weeks, says chief executive Vikram Kumar.

Vikram Kumar
Image: Peter Harrison

Mega, which is hosted in Europe and New Zealand, now uses 150Gbps, more bandwidth than the whole of New Zealand, Kumar said. That's important, because experience shows that the monetisation of such sites and bandwidth utilisation track each other closely.

Kumar, who until February was head of non-profit InternetNZ, said there are a few thousand paying Mega users. But for now, the priority is getting people registered rather than paying. Growth will be dependent on how quickly Mega can build out its product, he said.

Mega, dubbed "The Privacy Company", also plans to become a back-end platform for other services through releasing a software development kit to allow third-party integration, he said.

One application would be for Mega to become a storage service for smart TVs.

"They are expected to become increasingly popular and will have apps and need storage," he said.

A public listing is still planned within two years whether in New Zealand or elsewhere.

Kumar said there is a rewriting of the internet on the basis of privacy occurring. Mega users typically share in a controlled manner, and use the site for secure collaboration, but there is some amount of public sharing.

He said Mega is changing peoples' understanding of what file sharing is about. It is shifting from public sharing to allowing access to the user's own files across multiple devices and enabling secure and private collaboration.

"If anyone is concerned about copyright infringement or anything being done illegally, we just point them to the numbers," he said.

A pro rata comparison of the number of takedown notices received by YouTube and Mega shows that people understand Mega is not a good place to store and share infringing material, he said.

Mega's main strength is its fully encrypted file sharing, and being able to choose who to share with. However, it is also fast, Kumar said, claiming that independent tests have shown it to be the fastest of its kind.

Another draw card is that it offers 50GB of free storage — several times more than competitors. Dropbox offers between 2GB and 18GB free, depending on referrals.

Mega's base subscription above the free service is for 500GB of storage and 1TB of bandwidth for €10 per month.

Kumar said the Mega brand has not been tarnished by police raids and the shutdown of Dotcom's previous venture, Megaupload. The association with Dotcom would have been obvious no matter what the brand.

The upside is that it would have been hard to get the word out without that association.

"People are getting to know the service. Thousands are signing up without any advertising," he said.

Having delivered an Android mobile app, Kumar said many are now waiting for the iOS version, which is coming, as is a Windows Sync Client. Users are also asking for mail and voice services, he said.

Further, it is a truly global company, with only one of the top 10 countries using the service being an English-speaking nation.

Mega has undertaken two rounds of funding. In January, domain name salesman Tony Lentino was named as an investor, while another private New Zealand investor has since come onboard.

Maori tribe Tainui has also been reported to be eyeing an investment in the startup.

Kumar said Mega is "very lean", with five staff members and three contractors. There is a comfortable margin of money in the bank.

So, how is it working with Dotcom?

Kumar said Dotcom is very hands off. They talk about once a week. However, he has a "fantastic understanding of business, vision, and really understands internet business models."

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