|A widely publicized project to transform a man-made platform in the English Channel into a 'safe haven' for Web businesses too hot for terra firma has failed due to political, technical and management problems, one of the company's founders said. |
The former chief technology officer of HavenCo said on Sunday afternoon that he left the project because his business partners had become nervous about hosting ‘objectionable’ material and were leading the company toward financial ruin, with only about six customers remaining.
A HavenCo representative disputed Lackey's characterization of the company's problems and said he was no longer in a position to know details about its workings. 'We have a moderate-sized installation which is growing monthly, very many more than the alleged six customers and their servers in operation, and in the last eight months or so have been able completely to reengineer our network and its international connectivity arrangements,' the representative said in e-mail on Monday.
When HavenCo launched in June 2000 to widespread press acclaim, including a ‘Wired’ magazine cover - its founders promised to transform a windswept gun tower anchored six miles off the stormy coast of England into a co-location facility that would be a virtual home for businesses that were too controversial to place their servers elsewhere. The name of the company was derived from the concept of a safe haven from governments around the world that have become increasingly interested in Internet regulation and taxation.
HavenCo is located on a rusting, basketball-court-size fortress erected by the British military during World War II to shoot down Nazi aircraft. Roy Bates, the eccentric 'crown prince' of “Sealand' landed on the abandoned platform in 1966 and claimed it as an independent nation with its own currency, stamps and flag. Although its legal status is unclear, Sealand lies within the territorial boundary of 10 miles claimed by England.
A Sealand representative said in an e-mail interview on Monday that 'HavenCo is a viable operation. It is moving from strength to strength.'