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The world has come full circle for Richard Tang over the course of 25 years. The 54-year-old founder and executive chairman of Britain’s oldest internet service provider argues that two very different types of crisis have determined his company’s trajectory.

Zen Internet was founded in 1995 after Mr Tang and his brother came up with the idea over a few pints of beer in a pub in their home town of Rochdale, an old mill town a few miles north of Manchester, and gambled that internet access was destined for the mainstream. Having launched the business, Mr Tang lived in fear that a large group such as BT would spot an opportunity to dominate the nascent market for internet access and he was right.

Yet it was UK electronics retailer Dixons that pounced. It launched Freeserve in 1998 and scuppered the business model of dozens of internet pioneers by giving

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