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He's one of the most successful New Zealanders on the global technology scene - and you've probably never heard of him.
David Hughes - the media-shy founder and chairman of Silicon Valley-based Silver Peak - has sold his networking company to Hewlett Packard Enterprise for US$925 million ($1.3 billion) in a deal that closed on September 21.
Hughes declined to say what percentage of Silver Peak he owned at the time of the sale, but did confirm he'll join HP as part of the deal, serving as senior vice-president of the US giant's WAN [wide-area network] business within its Aruba network, which competes head-to-head with Cisco.
Although he's spent all of his working life overseas, Hughes was born and raised in Auckland, where he told podcaster Paul Spain that he initially wanted to be an architect before falling in love with the computer of the time - the TRS-80 and Apple II when he was 12.
By age 14, he had taught himself programming and took it upon himself to contact companies who had advertised full-time programming roles, and asking them for part-time work. He soon had a jam-packed portfolio of clients, including a maker of building management systems and an electronic sign maker.
"It certainly paid better than my paper run," he said.
After completing an electrical engineering degree at the University of Auckland, Hughes was awarded a scholarship that took him to the University of Wollongong, where three years later he gained a PhD in Philosophy - and immediately had telecommunications networking job offers in Australia, Canada and Japan.
He initially snubbed the Japan offer, thinking he had no facility for languages but, after a second approach, he decided to push himself out of his comfort zone and ended up working in Tokyo for three years in the early 90s.
He then moved to Silicon Valley, working for Stracom then Cisco before becoming entrepreneur in residence at legendary venture capital outfit Benchmark Capital from June 2003 to June 2004 - and it was Benchmark which bankrolled Hughes as he set up Silver Peak with US$63m in capital.
In a Wall Street Journal interview during Silver Peak's early days, Hughes told the paper that "We focus on the scale problem."
He had become convinced years ago that data volume was going up faster than bandwidth, or the speed at which it could be moved. Indeed, data centres operators, lacking the bandwidth to move large amounts of data between data centres, often send physical backup tapes by courier instead.
Silver Peak became one of the pioneers of "software-defined networking" or using smarter software management to speed the movement of large amounts of data over hardware pipes, and streamline the way it's managed across wide-area networks.
The privately-held company has never released financials, but the size of HP's buyout offer indicates it was generating a good few paper-runs worth of profit.
In splendid isolation
Imagine returning to New Zealand in these times of Covid and being able to do your fortnight's quarantine in your own hotel.
Yesterday, Cooper and Company opened The Hotel Britomart in the heart of the popular Britomart precinct in downtown Auckland.
That is a venture by multimillionaire Peter Cooper.
In fact, Cooper had been in the United States for some time just before the new hotel's opening, specifically at California's Newport Beach where his US operations are headquartered.
He is understood to have quarantined recently at Albert St's Hotel Crowne Plaza Auckland, so not quite in the boutique luxury of the Britomart, which will serve wines from his Northland estate, The Landings.
The lawyer turned property investor has interests in Auckland, Newport Beach as well as Southlake, Texas, so he's a bit of a globetrotter.
He also happens to be one of Aotearoa's wealthiest Maori, having created a major global portfolio of real estate interests.
So haere mai, Peter and like the Dave Dobbyn song says, welcome home.
Uniting with the friendly skies
Former United Airlines executive Larry De Shon has been re-elected to Air NZ's board after joining in April and brings with him nearly 30 years' experience of the good the bad and the ugly he's seen at the US carrier.
At Air NZ's virtual shareholders' meeting this week he was asked what he would do differently for the airline "knowing United's track record for service".
That record in the past three years includes high profile cases of passengers being dragged from crowded planes and the death of a dog in an overhead bin, although De Shon wasn't there at the time. He left United in 2006 for Avis Budget Group where he rose to lead the company of 30,000 staff globally.
De Shon spent 28 years at United, an alliance partner of Air New Zealand, and held executive roles across key business areas such as airport operations, marketing and on-board service.
During his time as the head of United's worldwide airport operations, he oversaw the airline's ground operations, logistics, safety, customer service, product development and internal communications teams.
He told shareholders via video that in his time at United "you have a lot of good experiences and you have a lot of hills to climb and learnings — there are things you can reflect back on."
De Shon is the only Air NZ board member with direct airline experience and said he'd want to watch and learn "and not to make the same mistakes that I made or others made during my career at United". The airline is one of the biggest by fleet size and number of routes but last year the Wall Street Journal ranked it eighth out of nine US carriers on a number of service criteria.
He said post-Covid Air NZ could evolve to come back stronger.
Any connections to United will come in useful as a much smaller Air NZ international operation will rely more heavily on alliance partners to retain and protect its global footprint.
What it cost to cancel Trenz
In a wipeout year for international tourism there was a million-dollar plus sliver of good news following the cancellation of the industry's showpiece event.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa on March 18 pulled the pin on the Trenz show scheduled for two months later in Christchurch.
That threatened to leave more than 650 sellers (New Zealand tourism operators) international buyers and trade booth holders out of pocket at a time when they were looking down the barrel of the worst year in the industry's history.
It was the first cancellation in the event's history and more than 1500 delegates, including 360 buyers from 29 different markets around the world, had been expected in what would have been a further boost to the recovery of tourism in Christchurch.
As businesses around the world battle with insurers over whether they are covered by business interruption insurance (BI), the insurance claim for Trenz was not made under a traditional BI insurance policy, says its broker Marsh.
"A specific event cancellation insurance (ECI) policy (the class of insurance is known as contingency) was put in place to cover the event should it be cancelled, abandoned, curtailed, postponed, or rescheduled."
Marsh says that when it became apparent the spread of Covid-19 outside of China was going to affect international travel it closely advised TIA of the trigger that was required for a valid claim on their ECI policy.
"Concurrently we worked closely with insurers during the escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic to keep them up to date on NZ government policy changes which would trigger a claim under communicable disease extension."
When the Government announced on March 19 that public gatherings indoors would be limited to no more than 100 the broker notified insurers a claim was being made on the ECI so a loss adjuster could be appointed.
Three months later the money had been paid, much to the relief of TIA which points out having the right insurance was "enormously reassuring during a period of considerable stress".
Around the world most businesses with interruption insurance have not been able to claim for the Covid-19 lockdown because the policies only cover physical damage to the property.
This in turn put the spotlight on a recent High Court case in London that found cover could be provided for policies that had extra clauses involving public authority bans on entering premises.
Hrdlicka stretches credulity
It possibly wasn't a sight that Virgin Australia staff - many of whom are still wondering if they'll have a job by year's end - wanted to see.
On Sunday, incoming director Jayne Hrdlicka stepped off her flight at Brisbane airport … and straight into a waiting stretched limousine, according to a report in the Australian.
"You couldn't make it up," the Murdoch paper snipped.
After two weeks in quarantine, Hrdlicka is expected to become Virgin Australia's new chairwoman, following the airline's recent A$3.5 billion takeover by US private equity company Bain Capital.
Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration on April 21, in hock to the tune of A$5b amid the Covid crisis.
And even as Bain's buyout was confirmed
last month, chief executive Paul Scurrah announced 3000 of 9000 remaining staff would be laid off - and said he could not rule out more redundancies if borders remained mostly closed.
Bain has a reputation for hard-nosed cost-cutting, as Hrdlicka will be aware. The American was a senior partner at the private equity firm before moving down under for a series of executive roles at Qantas, JetStar and a2.
Thus the incoming chairwoman reportedly ordered a van to collect her from her flight, and was irritated when a limo turned up, apparently in "a perfect shade of a2 white".