Merging digital broadcasting

«In 1991 I participated in the purchase of an IT company from a bankruptcy estate. It provided professional financial information to trading desks via satellite. We renamed it «Tenfore», moved it from Denmark to Switzerland, hired a number of really smart software people, developed the technology much further, and achieved the British cable Innovation Award. It was the first company in the world ever to transmit digital data via cable networks, and I think it also was the first to broadcast digital data via satellite. We built an international distribution and sold it to a group of investors.

After that I co-founded The Fantastic Corporation, a broadband communication enabler, with Peter Ohnemus and my other long-term friend and business partner, Frank Ewald. It took off like a rocket. Intel, Reuters, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Lucent, Loral and Kirchgroup soon invested in it, and we made joint ventures with BT, Deutsche Telekom, Kirchgroup and Singapore Press Holdings. I was responsible for the Intel, Reuters and Kirchgroup relationships as well as our joint venture company with Kirchgroup. After less than three years we had seven of the ten largest telecoms in the world as clients. Our revenues were now soaring and we were approached by a number of banks offering to take us public. We chose a consortium led by Goldman Sachs and were listed with the shares more than 40 times oversubscribed before our 3-years anniversary. This was of course during the great IT boom.

At one point in our second year of business, the management of Intel, who had a board seat, suggested that we should write a book explaining the technology we pioneered. We agreed, and I was suggested as lead author. The name of the book became Data Broadcasting – the Technology and the Business. My co-authors were Peter Pircher, Chief Technology Officer of The Fantastic Corporation, and Jens Bodenkamp, who was Intel’s director Business Development Europe. The introduction was written by Awram Miller, Senior Vice president of Intel worldwide. All three incredibly smart people – we did the whole thing in two weeks (a personal speed record). The book explains how digital broadcasting can be merged with two-way Internet communication.

The story has a rather disappointing ending. After our company’s phenomenal start, we were hit badly by the bubble and subsequent crash, which brought our main partner, Kirschgroup, into bankruptcy and slowly stopped investments within our business area. The company slowly faded, although it did remain solvent through the crises. However, I still think the book we wrote was good.»

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