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Q&A: AOL's Bulkeley on a crowded access market

Jonathan Bulkeley is the US-born UK managing director of online service and Internet service provider AOL. PCDN spoke to him this week in an informal interview at the firm's Fulham Broadway, London office, spanning the OSP/ISP market in the UK, what you do when your business is growing fast but profit isn't, new services and software, and those famous outages.

Jonathan Bulkeley is the US-born UK managing director of online service and Internet service provider AOL. PCDN spoke to him this week in an informal interview at the firm's Fulham Broadway, London office, spanning the OSP/ISP market in the UK, what you do when your business is growing fast but profit isn't, new services and software, and those famous outages.

So, how's business?

We announced 150,000 UK members on March 11 so it's growing at 15,000 per month. We're still on target for what we planned when we put the budget together. CompuServe is not growing that much; they're the number one UK provider but they're on a plateau. I think we're a clear second - we've trebled since August 1. I know MSN hit 100,000 but haven't heard anything since.

We have 600 employees and we were given $150 million to launch the business in Europe. We're not slowing. We've got 500,000 European members and that will double in the next 12 months or so.

Must bring some challenges...

Growing. Managing. Doubling. The growth curve is like that [signalling a mountain side].

Do you see more consolidation in the UK?

I think there'll be three big ones [ISPs] and then the others. It's tougher to come in now. Planet spent a lot and got 1,700 users. The person with the cash can market.