An otherwise limp Sky TV annual meeting was enlivened when a shareholder objected to board candidate Derek Handley.

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The entrepreneur has been on Sky's board since 2014 and was up for re-election, along with fellow director Geraldine McBride.

With the vote pending, retail investor Coralie van Camp stood up to say, "Since the government CTO debacle, a lot of information has come out about his business activities that have lost investors a lot of money."

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She said it was unknown if US buyer Meredith Corporation was happy with The Hyperfactory after it bought the startup co-founded by Derek and older brother Geoff Handley for an unknown sum in 2010.

Another Handley startup, Feverpitch had lost investors $3 million she said, while a third, Snakk Media, had seen its market cap slump from $60m to below $1m.

Handley's work with Sir Richard Branson's charitable foundation was all about self-promotion, in her view.

Taking the microphone to respond, Handley said: "I have learned a lot more through my own failures or losses than I have through any successes. And I think as New Zealanders, we really should value more the growth and the character-building of people's efforts when they don't succeed in the way you hoped - as opposed to taking them down or taking them out of the equation."

The CTO candidate said he was "barely 22" when Feverpitch failed. And he said while he appreciated Snakk investors had lost a lot of money, it was still an active, $10m-by-revenue company.

Losing money was "part of the game", when you were an entrepreneur, Handley said.

"Since I graduated from Victoria University in 2000, I never worked for anybody else. I only ever tried to create businesses." He said he had lost track of how many, but it was 30 or 40.

He said he had also put money into around 20 startups founded by others and that as an investor in early stage technology companies "I accept that there's a high chance I won't get that return back. You're hoping that the ones that do work outweigh all the ones that don't."

Sky chairman Peter Macourt backed Handley, telling shareholders, "For entrepreneurs, success and failure go hand in hand and the trick is to have more successes than failures."

The chairman added that Handley "is very thoughtful and he challenges - in the most proper way - the management of the company. I think he's making a tremendous contribution."

Handley was savaged by a number of commentators in the wake of the CTO debacle, including Herald contributor, Brian Gaynor who detailed the poor post-IPO performance of two Handley-founded companies, Fever Pitch and Snakk, concluding "Two unsuccessful NZX companies is one too many and his offer and acceptance of the country's CTO position was bizarre."

In the final event, Handley and McBride were set to be re-elected by a wide margin. Final results won't be released to the NZX until later today, but proxies were overwhelmingly in favour of returning both directors to the board.

Sky TV shares - already under pressure - fell sharply after the Vodafone takeover was blocked. Graphic / NZX.
Sky TV shares - already under pressure - fell sharply after the Vodafone takeover was blocked. Graphic / NZX.

Elsewhere, there was little nourishment for investors.

Despite indicating at its full-year report on August 24 that it would offer guidance at its annual meeting, there was no forecast today. Chief financial officer Jason Hollingworth said it was too early in the financial year to offer any numbers.

The company refused to comment on a recent buyout rumour.

And there was also no word on who would replace long-serving chief executive John Fellet, who announced his intention to depart back in March, although Macourt said he hoped to name a successor "in the near future."

Sky’s average revenue per user per month (arpu) is on the decline, in part because of price cuts to its satellite service, in part because ondemand services Neon and Fanpass are priced a lot lower than its traditional channels. Graphic / Supplied.
Sky’s average revenue per user per month (arpu) is on the decline, in part because of price cuts to its satellite service, in part because ondemand services Neon and Fanpass are priced a lot lower than its traditional channels. Graphic / Supplied.

Macourt - who has been on the board since 2002 - indicated he would follow Fellet out the door. Succession planning for a new chairman would begin once a new chief executive was in place, he said.

At today's AGM, Fellet reiterated Sky's plan to release a small, internet-only box at some point in the next 12 months, similar in size to Apple TV. As previously flagged, it will support apps from Netflix and other third-parties (a radical move for Sky, but old-hat for pay TV providers worldwide).

He also reiterated plans for an app-only service at some point.

Asked by the Herald if Sky's internet-only box would include a Lightbox app as well as Netflix, CFO Hollingworth said it would run on Google's Android OS and be "open source", allowing people to install any app they liked.

Earlier in the meeting, Macourt gave a backhanded slap to Spark as he spoke about problems with streaming. See more on that, plus analysts' punts on Sky's prospects for the next 12 months in the Herald's earlier coverage.