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Internode and Rocksoft founders back publishing start-up

Thursday, 9 February 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Tech entrepreneurs Simon Hackett and Ross Williams have given their support to publishing house MidnightSun Publishing, with Williams investing a “substantial” amount in the start-up.

 

MidnightSun Publishing was founded by Australian author Anna Solding in partnership with friends Peter Cassidy and Ross Williams, a computer scientist and founder of Rocksoft.

 

In 1996, Williams submitted a patent for a variable length data partitioning system, which has since become the basis for data deduplication technology in the computer data storage industry.

 

Rocksoft, a data integrity and data storage company, was founded in 2001. With Williams as chief architect, Rocksoft developed the deduplication technology to a commercial product.

 

In 2006, Williams sold his company for US$63 million to the US-based Advanced Digital Information Corporation, which was in turn immediately acquired by Quantum Corporation.

 

According to Solding, Williams has invested a “fairly substantial” amount into MidnightSun Publishing, although no figures have been revealed. Williams will also provide technical support.

 

“About a year ago, Ross and I were having lunch, and I was very disgruntled with the publishing industry,” Solding says.

 

“I’m a writer and my book was getting shortlisted everywhere but no one wanted to publish it. He said, ‘Why don’t we start a publishing company then?’”

 

Solding says MidnightSun Publishing, to be launched in Adelaide tomorrow, was established to encourage greater diversity in book publishing in Australia.

 

“The publishing industry is experiencing major restructuring due to new technology, but the barriers that face new writers are greater than ever,” Solding says.

 

“Rather than overlook new writers in search of the next blockbuster, we intend to publish a wide range of interesting titles.”

 

“We believe MidnightSun has an advantage as a niche publisher that can exploit the technology revolution that is transforming the publishing industry.”

 

“This will allow us to offer our titles in whatever format the reader wants, whether that’s a traditional bound book or one of the burgeoning electronic book formats.”

 

“Ross will provide technical support on a day-to-day basis… But he’s not employed by the company – he’s just there to help.”

 

Solding has also received support from Simon Hackett, who recently sold his broadband company Internode to iiNet for $105 million.

 

Hackett, whose wife is friends with Solding, will undertake the official ribbon-cutting duties at the launch of MidnightSun Publishing.

 

“When we were deciding who to have at the launch, Simon came to mind because Internode is really big in Adelaide and he’s just sold it, and so many people know about it,” she says.

 

“At this point, [the involvement of Williams and Hackett] brings a little bit of publicity – it’s getting out there… But that’s just the start of it. It’s the books that will make or break us.”

 

“However, we’re going to use technology to ride the publishing wave.”