Longtime Vancouver entrepreneur Doug Palin is finally ready to walk away from the Internet company he founded as Pacifier Online in 1987.
Called Infinity Internet for the past decade, the company merged this month with Portland-based EasyStreet, both of which were purchased for an undisclosed amount by Seaport Capital, a private equity firm based in New York. Approximately 22 Infinity employees will relocate to Portland.
Palin, 49, said he is confident about the future of the company, which now primarily serves business customers by providing secure locations for servers and data, cloud computing and Internet infrastructure.
The new company will carry on as EasyStreet, which provides similar business services. EasyStreet's founder, Rich Bader, will take the helm of the newly merged company, said Palin, who started Pacifier to provide a few thousand local home users with dial-up connections to the Web.
He plans to help Infinity join EasyStreet, then step away, Palin said. The changeover will erase Infinity's name and close its east Vancouver office in the Columbia Tech Center business park.
"It's time for me to try something different," Palin said.
But Palin foresees a bright future for EasyStreet, which provides data services for a number of businesses and health care giants, including the Oregon Health & Science University, Salem Hospital and the Oregon Health Network.
Bader also likes the outlook for the new company, which combines Infinity's 10,000-square-foot Portland data center with EasyStreet's data center of the same size in Beaverton, Ore.
"Both organizations had been profitable. That's why an organization like Seaport would invest," he said, adding
that Seaport's funding will be used on the state-of-the-art equipment that's essential to the operation.
As for Palin, this isn't the first sale of his company. In 2000, he sold Pacifier to a St. Louis-based cable company, Millennium Digital Media. By the time he bought back the company in May 2002, it had quadrupled in size and was serving 50,000 West Coast residential Internet customers from Los Angeles to Seattle as Infinity Internet (not to be confused with Comcast's Xfinity).
But as Infinity's market was gradually dominated by large Internet conglomerates such as AOL, Time Warner and Microsoft Corp., its leaders started its transformation to a business services provider. The company invested in infrastructure, built a regional high-speed wireless network and opened its downtown Portland data center for business customers in 2004, as it lost ground as a home Internet provider.
Large providers such as Comcast and Verizon have swallowed most of that market, Palin said. "We don't have any of those customers left," he said.
Palin does not expect to retire and has no regrets about selling the business he launched 26 years ago.
"I left it in capable hands," he said. "These guys know the business."