WebCentral revenue soars on managed services

WebCentral revenue soars on managed services

ASX-listed WebCentral Group has attributed a fivefold increase in its half-yearly revenue to the acquisition of its online hosting provider, WebCentral.

The Group, which previously operated as FTR Holdings, recorded income of $28.72 million, up from the $5.05 million recorded in the corresponding period the year before. Of this, its net profit was $2.2 million. Overall, revenue growth for the six-month period to December 2004 hit 26 per cent.

WebCentral CEO, Andrew Spicer, said the company had seen a strong increase in demand for managed services, through its direct hosting services as well as resellers. This was prompted by several new contracts, including deals with Cricket Australia and Flight Centre.

"We've now got 4000 managed exchange accounts and growing," he said. "This has a long way to go though. We see more opportunities in the longer term for us by acting as a hosting partner to other ASPs. We don't plan on becoming a premium airline reservation operator [for example] anytime soon."

To help foster further take-up in its wholesale ASP business, Spicer said WebCentral would be launching a new product and service to help partners rapidly scale up their customer base.

The product would encompass billing assistance and help with go to market strategies, he said.

"We are already doing this to a degree, but the new product is fine tuning our offerings," he said. "It is expected to be launched within the next six months.

Spicer said the company was also focused on building up its customer base across the corporate and government sectors in both Australia and the US.

"We have a lot of ISPs and telcos as partners now," he said. "Our biggest challenge is taking them up the value chain to resell more of our corporate and government products."

Another area of growth was in providing hosting services to the technical advisor channel, Spicer said. This included companies that provided assistance to small businesses trying to get connected online.

Spicer said WebCentral began providing its premium email products to organisations operating in this space a year ago.

Since then, it had signed on several hundred players to resell application hosting services, he claimed.

"We're now trying to target the bigger players," Spicer said.

FTR acquired the remaining 50.6 per cent stake in the WebCentral business for $19.6 million in July last year. This followed the company's initial purchased of a 49.4 per cent share in the hosting provider in 2000.

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