how big the city is ... it's been an amazing week in Shanghai - my first trip - and in the last throes of Chinese New Year. I love big things, and Shanghai is vast. Howard Roark would have approved.
UT Starcom, through my old friend Darleen DeRosa who has just started in Marketing there, invited me to speak at their Executive Summit, and it's been fascinating. One of their main products is "Rolling Stream" which is a proven end to end IPTV solution which they claim is the only single vendor end to end IPTV solution in the world. It is a broadcast TV and video on demand solution. Their view of the world is that if you are going to "do IPTV" you have to go unicast [from unique IP address to unique IP address - that is long tale ready] at scale, and you have to do media streaming as opposed to download and play. All very interesting, and about 100 senior mngt from telcos around the world have shown up. Peter Blakemore, a Brit, is COO taking over as CEO in July. David King their Senior VP of Sales and Brian Caskey their Head of Marketing are the kind of people who you meet and - you just know - you're going to be in a dialogue with moving forward - they are switched on, uninterested in anything which is not excellent, travelling constantly, and making UT Starcom a global leader. I'll smile when they make the cover of Business Week.
I spoke about Emerging Tech Trends, and Venkat Vekatraman of Boston University spoke about Web 2.0
I found the Chinese to be some of the most uncharming people on earth. I think I'm still a bit tainted by the French [where I lived from 88 to 93 and then in 97] who are the most charming people on earth. They so want you to like them - they try so hard to engage, provoke, irritate, charm, but never leave you alone. The worst thing you can do to a French man is to ignore him. You get the sense in Shanghai that not only are the Chinese ignoring you, but they want you to ignore them. Robotic comes to mind. Opposite end of the spectrum to the French. The fact that they have [to have] their own new year speaks volumes about where we're going... :)
And another blow for Microsoft with Sony's Blu-Ray format getting the market nod. I heard at dinner tonight that the small print of Paramount's contract to adopt Toshiba's format was that if their parent company went Blu-Ray that they could also. Game Over, and game over for Yahoo too. I think we all know that Microsoft is going to get Yahoo - it's only a matter of when. We're watching the final act of an independent Yahoo. A lot of [very smart] people say that Terry Semel was the reason a very successful web 1.0 company was not able to jump to the next curve. He didn't come in and do enough media deals fast enough, and I would add that nothing trumps founder passion. The troika of Tim Koogle and Jerry Yang and David Filo and then Semel, Yang and Filo has always seemed quite different than the Schmidt, Brin and amazingly so tired can't remember the name of the other founder of Google - yikes. Maybe it's worse inside Microsoft than we think outside.
Well in the all important Adam and Eve battle of the sexes for the most defining action in the Mars Venus dialogue in this Valentines Day month, I think for 2008 so far we have a Mexican Stand-off between Sarkosy and Bruni who have married and Mills and McCartny where the battle seems to be more a question of how much to buy her silence. Yet another reason not to get married.
I met a great little company in Shanghai called Fugumobile which does a blend of mobile marketing and mobile gaming. The CEO of Vodafone India is an investor, and they're working with some major brands. Run by an Indian doing business out of Shanghai with a Hong Kong based company with brands from all over the world - this global start-up looks hot.
And for start-ups like Fugumobile with a team which speaks English and Mandarin you could see what the opportunity for Translution was. Translution was a software company based out of Malvern which provided automatic email translation into another languague. So I could write to Francois in English, and he could receive it in French. It desperately needed to be a free application downloadable on the web. The mngt team and Board couldn't see that if you get the volume you've won, and you can put a business model in place afterwards. The mngt and Board had missed the last inflection point in the market as things moved to web service and the consumerisation of technology [a la Skype where it was adopted by early adopters and broadband users, and then ended up in the office whether the CIO had it in the official IT policy or not] probably because they came from established SW businesses like Dr Solomon's etc, and just were too far away from where the market had moved on to. They persisted in trying to sell SW licenses to small businesses, and I begged repeatedly that they would rethink their go to market as I think Translution's value proposition was solid, their go to market was flawed, and they will not be happy to find another company doing what they wanted to do in the market.
so post 1 - finito - ok back to work