Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
With the white noise of MicroHoo ringing in everyone ears, we asked Adobe Systems CEO Shantanu Narayen why he thinks “royal weddings” — idylic mergers between multi-billion dollar companies — in Silicon Valley are few and far between.
You know, because, giant Deathstars are better for everybody, right?
The answer: Even though some merger adviser is probably ringing to talk about “strategic alternatives” (we suppose), Silicon Valley entrepreneur-types are, like, you know, obsessed with minding their own beeswax.
I think the Valley is all about innovation and about charting your own course. And companies seeing opportunities for themselves. I’m focused on how do I continue to drive great new products and deliver value to my shareholders.
I think the zen or the DNA of people there is all about growth and all about driving new innovation.
Learning from others’ mistakes always makes business easier. At least that’s what Liberty Global is counting on as looks at digital video coming to television around the world. Chief Executive Mike Fries tell us a few of the lessons he took away from the roll-out of digital video and products like DVRs in the United States. “Be patient with your box development.” “You want to have everybody on the same platform.” “Be disciplined about the economic model… don’t spend too much on the box.” “It’s about the applications, not the content.”
All about the applications? Fries elaborates:
Winning a big deal to supply Google with maps for mobile phones would trump Nokia‘s attempts to win over pedestrians with cellphone maps, regardless of the Finnish cellphone giant’s $8 billion acquisition of map maker Navteq, according to rival map maker Tele Atlas. “Is it more relevant in the pedestrian world that we are… owned by TomTom or is it more relevant that we have a big customer that is called Google?” said TeleAtlas CEO Alain de Taeye when asked whether he was intimidated by the prospective Nokia-Navteq combination. Speaking at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in Paris, De Taeye said it was false to assume that there were now only four players in the navigation world: Nokia, Navteq, TomTom and Tele Atlas, when Nokia considered Google one of its main competitors. Both Navteq and Tele Atlas — the only two global digital map makers — supply Google.
VMware may be one of the most successful enterprise software companies of its generation with revenue continuing to grow at more than 50 percent even after it hit $1 billion, but they sure do seem to need a currency risk manager.
The company disclosed last month that its operating margins were hit by $10 million, or 2.25 percentage points, because of the weak dollar. That’s because, unlike many big technology companies which are benefiting from the impact of the declining American currency, VMware prices its products in U.S. dollars rather than the euro and other local currencies where it sells.
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar stopped by the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit to discuss the future of online video advertising and why giving users what they want trumps having it stolen.
Lambasted by blogs and analysts as a has-been even before it launched, the online video joint venture of News Corp and NBC Universal first full month as a publicly available company will probably change some minds. Its monthly usage in April beat every major U.S. television network including those of its founders. More details below:
Billboard advertising is more than a century old but the medium will survive while TV ad revenues fade in the face of the Internet, says veteran advertising executive Jean-Francois Decaux. The JCDecaux co-CEO told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms summit he didn’t care whether broadcasters or Internet companies won the battle of the living room or the bedroom, because once people leave their houses they’re faced with outdoor advertising they can’t escape, and where space is limited. “As soon as you leave your home and your children leave your home, they are basically facing our panels.”
What does the telecoms industry have in common with Cheerios? Sol Trujillo, CEO of Australian telecoms group Telstra, told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms summit in Paris telcos can learn a lot from those tasty little wheat rings. Cheerios cereal was stuck in a rut years back with people bored of the same old thing. “General Mills saved Cheerios by adding honey and developing many different flavours over the years.” A simple change kept Cheerios on the shelves. Telcos, Trujillo says, need to do the same: Differentiate themselves yet keep it simple. The man with the golden phone whips out his Telstra flip mobile and points to one button that allows users to make video calls or download a song in no time. “I can get you to learn how to make a video call in 5 seconds.” Simple. Seems Trujillo is making inroads, Australians are using more video calls than anyone else.
If you thought a company flush with cash was a pretty good thing, you couldn’t be more wrong, Hamid Akhavan, head of Deutsche Telekom’s wireless business T-Mobile, told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms summit in Paris. “The stock markets, the financial markets overproportionally reward growth. Growth to them is the sexiest thing on earth. You can produce truck loads of cash, it’s unexciting. But you could produce a little bit of growth and it’s just the coolest thing. All you have to do is take a look at Google and look at the valuation of Google and then you see how much the stock markets love growth.”
Hear that distinctive call of the software maker wooing its kind? See the mobile carrier flirting with its rival in the corner? Our guests at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit keep talking about consolidation in their industries.
Some of them expect their markets to winnow out to a handful of players. Others say slim valuations may give their companies more reasons to seek joint manufacturing partnerships. Either way, it’s hard to ignore the romance. Here are some of the things we have heard this week:
Say what you will, but Mozilla got back. In Firefox 3, the latest version of its Web browser, the foundation has made more than 15,000 changes from the last version. According to Chief Executive John Lilly, they range from big to small, including making the back button bigger.
“We did user studies that say people click the back button more than they click the forward,” he told reporters and editors at the Reuters Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York.