Mega switches CEOs, Dotcom readies message for US govt

Mega has made a surprise switch of CEOs from low-profile Tony Lentino to former InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

Kim Dotcom's Mega has switched CEOs from domain registrar founder Tony Lentino to former InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar.

At its launch, Mega billed Lentino as its CEO, but in a statement announcing the appointment of Kumar, it referred to Lentino as the interim CEO of the company. As of the time of writing, Mega's own site still refers to Lentino as its CEO, despite Kim Dotcom approaching Kumar about the role prior to Mega's launch.

Lentino has been portrayed in the media as keeping a low profile, with little known about the former Instra CEO's background. Mega simply refers to him as an "industry veteran" who has "experience running a renowned global domain registry". But despite founding Instra in 1997, Lentino's name has rarely appeared on his own site or in its media releases, even when in April last year, press releases from Instra began to refer to its CEO (former COO) as Brian Clarkson, indicating an unannounced change in executive level management.

Instra is currently providing Mega with product, billing, and technical support services.

Although Lentino will pass CEO responsibilities to Kumar, he will stay on Mega's board as a director.

"In addition to running the Instra business, I am happy to work alongside other Mega executives, combining our abilities to create a global success," he said.

Lentino said that he leaves the company in good shape for Kumar to manage.

"I have assisted Mega since its inception, putting time and energy into finding investors, setting up support staff, and general overview of the company in its initial stage. Now Mega runs on a day-to-day routine, and I am pleased to hand the role of CEO to Vikram, who is an experienced leader in the internet industry."

Vikram's history has been more in the public eye. He was previously the CEO of InternetNZ, and has worked for the New Zealand State Service Commission and NZ Telecom.

The self-described internet analyst and commentator wrote on his blog that his immediate reaction to Dotcom's Mega was that it was a "great opportunity but risky". He met with Dotcom for the first time only a week before Mega launched.

Some of the reasons Kumar decided to take on the role include Mega's values on openness, innovation, privacy, and security being aligned with his own; the idea of a New Zealand company having a global customer base; and the belief that Mega could do for cloud services what Google's Gmail did for email.

In the meantime, Dotcom continues on his campaign against the US government, with the tycoon set to appear on Australian television next week with a message for his prosecutors.

"They came into my life and thought they can destroy me and kill me. They picked the wrong guy, 'cause I know how to fight back and I'm going to fight back effectively, and I will make them regret what they have done.

"What this really is, is a war for control over the internet. The internet is a new world and, you know, you want to make sure — the US government wants to make sure — they have control of this most powerful market place of the future."

In the SBS Dateline special report, which will be aired on Tuesday, Dotcom says that Mega is not just a business, but represents his fight for privacy for those on the internet.

"It's a belief and it's a mission. It's a mission to give their rights to privacy back," he said.

"The internet belongs to nobody — no man, no corporation, no government — and that's what these people need to understand. The internet is there for everybody, for society to evolve faster, to share knowledge and to accelerate our development as a race."

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