Tiscali was born in January 1998. It is not certain that it was January 8, which by the way was a Thursday, but I could not identify the exact date of departure of this company even asking the founder, Renato Soru. Not even in the book Tiscali. An all-Italian story, the journalist from New Sardinia, Alberto Franchini, cites the exact date, which we therefore pretend it was today just to be able to report a story that for a couple of years made Italy talk and that it is still on the market (a few days ago the announcement of the merger with Linkem). In short, an important story for this Almanac.
In the cited book there are some interesting details on the origins of Tiscali. Renato Soru is originally from Sanluri, where he grew up and he had studied in the high school of the Piarist fathers and graduated with 48, not a great grade. His real school, Soru himself would say years later, was his parents’ grocery store: “My mother gave me the list of credits to be collected and I knocked on the door of those who owed us money”. Gracefully, you can imagine knowing him, but also firmly. After graduation, Soru moves to Milan to study at Bocconi and soon finds a job in a finance company. At 35, in 1992, he earns well, but he doesn’t enjoy himself and so he decides to return to Sardinia to fix up his mother’s shop. Create supermarkets and hypermarkets, not without clashes, but at some point he discovers the Internet: Nicola Grauso in Cagliari founded Video On Line and then Soru sells everything and goes to the Czech Republic to open the local Video On Line branch. Two years later, when a European directive sanctions the end of Telecom Italia’s monopoly as Grauso’s star quickly disappears, Soru realizes that his time has come. He founds a company, initially to enter the telecommunications market, and indeed calls it Telefonica of Sardinia, focusing on the business of long distance telephone calls; and then focuses on the Internet and the company becomes Tiscali, “a magical place, truly inaccessible, between Dorgali and Oliena, a myth because in the mists of time the Sardinians took refuge there to resist an attack by the Phoenicians. A nuragic site discovered in 1910 by the archaeologist Ettore Pais … what could be a better name for the company that was supposed to be a miracle and a myth warrior against the giants of the sector? “.
In October 1998 Soru will meet Elserino Piol, who gave him the money he needed to try to go public: “For the first half hour he seemed like an Internet addict, then I realized he had what it takes”.