AUCKLAND - New Zealand-based Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom claimed a "massive" response to his new file-sharing service launched Sunday, suggesting it could be the fastest growing start-up in history.
The mega.co.nz website, which replaces the outlawed Megaupload, went live at dawn, exactly a year after armed police stormed Dotcom's Auckland mansion and arrested him in the world's biggest online piracy case.
Dotcom, who wants his new venture to repeat the success of Megaupload, which boasted 50 million visitors daily, said there had been "massive" initial demand.
He initially tweeted there were "100,000 registered users in less than one hour. Fastest growing start-up in Internet history?" and reported an hour later the site was overloaded.
"Massive demand. Incredible," he tweeted before adding there were "250,000 user registrations. Server capacity on maximum load. Should get better when initial frenzy is over. Wow!!!"
Users complained about they had difficulty registering because of the overwhelming response.
"I can't even sign up, it's jammed," one potential client tweeted. "I can't get to the site," added another.
Mega promises to use state-of-the-art encryption to ensure only users, not the site administrators, know what they are uploading.
That would theoretically stop authorities from accusing administrators of knowingly aiding online piracy, the central allegation facing Dotcom in the Megaupload case.
The 38-year-old Dotcom, a German national who changed his name from Kim Schmitz, is on bail in New Zealand as US authorities seek his extradition on a range of charges including money laundering, racketeering and copyright theft.
They allege Megaupload sites netted more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners more than $500 million by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows, music and other content.
Dotcom denies any wrongdoing and the charges, which carry jail terms of up to 20 years.
His extradition hearing is due to be heard in August.