Miki Szikszai – CEO, Snapper Services Ltd

“Starting off with what they called CDPD – Cellular Digital Packet Data – moving onto the first implementations of CDMA and then the later ones... and then halfway through that, this WAP thing started to pop up that said, ‘maybe there’s a way of actually starting to convert the Internet onto your phone screen’. People had got used to the Internet and were starting to use Trade Me and email. The vision was great but the execution was horrible, just horrible. Trying to convert basically stuff that you could really only see on a decent screen down to these tiny black and white screens with text input. I really don’t know what people were smoking when they thought there was a lot of money to be made at that time. But you know, we built New Zealand’s first WAP gateway so there are a bunch of infrastructure providers that would have made a lot of money out of those early stages because people had to adopt early. The bit that I always enjoyed was that you work with these big companies who’d say, “For a mere 10 million dollars, we can sell you this thing”. And then you’d come up with these guys locally who you would literally meet in the pub and they’d say, “Ahh a gateway. I could probably knock one of those up for you over the weekend”. So the first Telecom WAP gateway was literally built by one of Telecom’s staff in his garage. The server sat in his garage. And that ran the first mobile Internet portal for probably the first couple of years – until it had a couple of semi-catastrophic failures and we had to move to something else. But you could actually experiment and innovate and then sometimes you’d ask people to do stuff for you and then you’d suggest to them that you’re going to pay them for it and they’d just look at you, “This is what I do. I love this and you’re going to give me money. This is awesome”. That was probably the most fun time.”


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