Ash Crick has many strings to his bow. He's been an IBM consultant, video producer, professional skydiver, and musician. These days, he's the chief technology officer (CTO) at Malaysia's iflix, which in a few months will start offering subscription-based TV and movie streaming services to consumers in South-East Asia.
iflix is backed by Catcha Group, an investment firm founded in 1999 by Patrick Grove, Ken Tsurumaru and Luke Elliott. The company has invested in 60 publicly listed Internet companies and private startups around the region, including ASX-listed iProperty Group.
Crick is also joined in Kuala Lumpur by former Quickflix CTO and chief innovation officer, Tim Parsons, who has been a technical advisor to iflix since last year, as well as chief content officer, James Bridges.
As CTO, Crick is driving technology strategy and building up the company's 'science and engineering' team with local talent.
"We are Aussies who are learning the South East Asian cultural quirks in a town none of us have lived in before, and enjoying it immensely working on a successful little project. I'm loving it, Kuala Lumpur — it's a beautiful city and great hub in the middle of everywhere we are aiming to be," he says.
iflix is tackling markets in Asia on two fronts — launching into Malaysia and the Philippines, while building over-the-top (OTT) content to deliver services to populations in an Internet environment considerably less reliable than what is offered the western world.
"Malaysia, the Philippines, pretty much anywhere in this region is going to be much lower quality of service than you would find in Australia or the US. It's got its own unique challenges but that's actually what makes it quite fun."
Crick says the iflix team is also keeping a close eye the OTT market in Australia and Netflix's recent arrival through deals with major broadband providers, including Optus and iiNet.
A varied career
Crick has had an extremely diverse career starting with the formation of an IT consultancy in the early 1990s before touring as a keyboard player in guitarist Tommy Emmanuel's band between 1997 and 1999.
He served as a chief architect and technical project manager at large UK-based hardware reseller, Equanet between 1999 and 2002; technology director at Datography, head of engineering at Blue Freeway; as has held senior IT and CTO roles at several tech firms and start-ups up until 2012.
"There something about technology — constantly solving problems, being at the cutting edge and finding difficult problems is something I've always been drawn to," says Crick. "IT has been a constant thread, even while I have been doing the other things."
Crick landed at IBM in late 2012, consulting to National Australia Bank (NAB) on its long running NextGen core banking program.
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