WebCentral forges its path to profit

- In an effort to keep ahead of the pack, Internet service provider WebCentral is pursuing untapped markets in Australia and the Asia-Pacific.

Having opened branch offices in Melbourne this month, WebCentral is in the process of growing its management team by 30 and CEO Lloyd Ernst says that a listing on Nasdaq is on the cards for the second quarter next year.

WebCentral is also expanding its dedicated server offering to include resellers. Currently available to corporate customers like OzEmail and UUNet, this service allows businesses to purchase a server with ports they in turn can lease to their customers. "The customer experience is with that brand [OzEmail or UUNet] but the engine room behind it is WebCentral," says Stephen Johns, WebCentral's marketing manager.

"No one ever really knows about WebCentral except for those in the technology industry," says Ernst. "This is because we're all about leverage. What we're starting to work on is getting local resellers in North Sydney who maybe deal with a couple of hundred or a thousand customers, and giving them the opportunity to customise WebCentral's hosting to their own brand. "It's all about Internet services," Ernst said. "We can allow these resellers to offer their branding to their customers - they get the revenue stream, they lock the customer in and they can also drive other information to the customer".

"As soon as you start providing a company's e-mail service and domain name servers, it becomes superglue."

The expansion into Asia will start with Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. WebCentral already has servers in place and expects to send 20 people over there in the next couple of months.

"Our leadership position in Australia provides an established base from which to launch our expansion into Asia," says Ernst. "Our strength is providing flexible, fully maintained Web hosting solutions normally beyond the technical and financial reach of all but the largest organisations. Our new products, which will be announced in coming months, will help both Australian and Asian businesses move into the global marketplace."

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