Richard Tang, the long-time CEO and founder of Rochdale-based broadband and telecoms provider Zen Internet (since 1995), has announced that he is stepping down from his role. Under the plan Richard will effectively swap jobs with Paul Stobart, the company’s current Chairman.
Over the years Zen has managed to establish a good reputation for itself and is continuing to show good growth. Today Zen is home to almost 500 staff and well over 100,000 customers in the UK, with company turnover reaching £64 million in 2017. Going forward the ISP also aims to become a £100m business within 3 years and a £250m one within 10 years.
Richard recently set about laying the ground work for Zen’s future growth, not least by changing the company’s management structure and adopting a board of directors for the first time. As part of that Zen then hired former Sage executive Paul Stobart to chair the company.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Richard and Paul now plan to swap jobs within the company on 1st October 2018. The move will free up Richard to do more promotional work as Zen Internet increasingly looks to take on the big four ISPs (BT, Sky Broadband, Virgin Media and TalkTalk).
Richard Tan, CEO of Zen Internet, said:
“Over the last few years I have done more and more to promote the business through my blog, media work and speaking at events. This would give me the chance to become the face of Zen and address our biggest challenge: that most people haven’t heard of us.
At Zen, we believe in doing things differently. It was crucial for me that anyone replacing me as CEO was absolutely aligned with our people-first approach. Paul brings all of that and more: He is an excellent communicator, a visionary, and an inspirational leader of people who brings a wealth of strategic experience in running transformative technology businesses.”
By the sounds of it Tang will now be looking to emulate Richard Branson by “doing wacky stuff” and has suggested (tongue in cheek) that he could “paraglide across the English Channel promoting Zen … But I also want to get the message out there that there is a better way to do business.”
Richard further suggests that Zen could conceivably revise upwards their £250m target and go for something even bigger. As ever only time will tell and we note that the UK telecoms market is going to become increasingly complicated over the next few years, with many different infrastructure operators now vying to build their own full fibre networks. Zen may have to do some more adapting in the future.
Equally there are plenty of cautionary tales to be found from ISPs that grew too quickly and as a result ended up losing some of the quality that made them so attractive in the first place. If Zen does make a push to take on the big boys then they’ll need to be careful not to make the same mistakes.