About– LLOYD ERNST
Lloyd Ernst, 44, has had a distinguished career in the Australian IT industry as an internet pioneer and entrepreneur. Over the past two decades he has worked for industry leaders including Apple and Microsoft and founded two of the nation’s largest ISP and web hosting businesses – PowerUp and WebCentral. Today he is forging new links between Australia and China with the advanced software development company SinoCode.
Born in Queensland, Lloyd’s commitment to the state has never wavered, even as his businesses grew and external pressures mounted to relocate to southern states. Instead, he invested heavily in developing the infrastructure and resources necessary to build world-class operations in Queensland.
Focus on the IT Industry
When Lloyd co-founded WebCentral, he set the standard for web hosting in Australia. It is now Australia’s largest web hosting company, with 60,000 sites and domains under management and annual revenues of more than A$40 million.
The company offered Australian businesses a cost-effective way to mount and maintain business sites, including online shopping facilities and database functionality. WebCentral was one of the first web hosting companies to promote the idea of customer self service. Its Mission Control application gave customers an unprecedented amount of control over their websites and email communications. Not only did this make the business more cost effective, it also empowered customers to take control of their IT investments.
An innovator himself, Lloyd was quick to recognise new technologies with potential. Rather than waiting for others to trial these products, Lloyd invested significantly in supporting the latest technology on WebCentral’s hosting platforms. For example, WebCentral was one of the earliest adopters of the SQL, ASP, .NET, PHP and Pearl programming languages.
WebCentral was also the first company in the world to provide Microsoft Exchange in a hosted ASP environment. This close relationship led to WebCentral receiving the Global Hosting Partner of the Year award from Microsoft in 2004. This was the first time the award was won by a company outside the United States.
Lloyd’s time at Microsoft taught him the importance of leveraging partner and distribution channels. WebCentral’s partner developer channel comprised more than 2,000 active partners. The company ran an extensive training program for partners to increase the Australian IT skills base.
Keen to develop the nation’s skills base further, SinoCode has just commenced an internship program for Australian students. This program will give three or four students the opportunity to work in China for a year to gain valuable software development experience.
To service the company’s growing customer base, WebCentral built two of Australia’s most sophisticated data centres in Brisbane. Between them, the centres have more than 2,000 servers under full management and cover approximately 800 square metres. Building the data centres took a capital investment of around A$10 million – a significant investment for a privately owned business.
WebCentral attracted some of Australia’s best IT minds to Brisbane and employs 200 people across the Asia Pacific.
In 2003, WebCentral signed a deal worth $20.3 million with Queensland’s Department of Education to provide managed internet services to 1,320 schools and district offices. This was the largest public-private partnership in Australia and the largest Sun implementation in the world.
In 2004 WebCentral was sold to listed company FTR which valued the Web Central business at AUD$45m
Promoting IT Industry
Rather than simply expanding his businesses, Lloyd has become an outspoken advocate of the Australian IT industry and particularly the benefits of investing in Australia. A regular speaker at industry events, Lloyd is quick to extol the virtue of Australia’s ‘smart state’ and encourage other budding entrepreneurs to take the plunge.
Lloyd is a regular speaker at industry events, entrepreneur organisations and founders forums and addresses students in Queensland University of Technology’s EMBA program twice a year. He speaks regularly to the media, in particular ABC radio where he campaigns for affordable technology for rural areas. Lloyd is also involved with the Young Presidents Organization, a US-based initiative that promotes learning through the exchange of ideas and shared learning strategies.
As his new business, SinoCode, is closely linked to China, Lloyd now splits his time between Australia and Asia. Lloyd’s extensive network of contacts across Asia, Europe and the US put him in a unique position to promote Australia as a viable and exciting investment destination.
Through SinoCode, Lloyd is strengthening these links. The company uses Chinese developers to develop software for the Australian, UK and US markets after the design work and architecture is completed by a team in Australia.
Lloyd is a strong advocate for Broadband in the bush. When not in China, Lloyd lives 200km south-west of Brisbane. Rather than retreating to a relaxed country life, he has installed high-speed Internet via microwave links, Video servers and VOIP servers. His office in rural Queensland has much of the same functionality as any office in Queen St, Brisbane. The farm is also used to evaluate various technology solutions and projects which may benefit rural users. Presently two projects under construction include a Free Solar Powered Wi-Fi Hot Spot which travellers on the New England Highway will be able to access as they pass via his farm and MeterMeasure.com which provides farmers with a simple method to record water meter measurements using camera-phone.