I know Michiel Frackers likes to move fast. In early 1994, a young man from the Netherlands contacted me by e-mail. He had read The Virtual Community. He was interested in creating commercial virtual communities in the Netherlands. We had breakfast when he passed through California. He certainly seemed to grok the potential of being a service provider for self-growing communities. He went back to Amsterdam and sold the Dutch PTT 75% of the venture, which he decided to name, grandly, I think, "Planet Internet." In January 1995, they started selling PPP access at $15 for 6 hours a month plus $2.50 hour over that. They provide Internet Chamelon for Windows, Netscape and Eudora for Macintosh, ping, finger, whois, telnet, Usenet, and ftp.In April, 1995, Frackers and I met in the pyramidal technology-park-style building twenty minutes outside Amsterdam that houses the headquarters of Planet Internet. He explained that they are in the process of launching full services: Internet service provision, Website building services, and an interactive/publishing "cyberstation," inspired by HotWired. Frackers is savvy. He thinks he knows what the WELL and AOL did right and what they could have done better; he thinks he knows what HotWired did right and what they could have done better. He's done his homework, he knows his environment, he has a plan, and he is well-capitalized. Check in six months and see if he manages to build momentum. He's already signed up a well-known, notoriously opinionated computer journalist Fransisco van Jole. If De Digitale Stad is the FreeNet of Netherlands, Planet Internet is the America Online in partnership with the phone company and the post office. The different varieties of Net providers cropping up in Netherlands makes for an interesting ecology. Check here for further reports as the competing Dutch services begin to evolve distinct cultures.
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