Tech, Telecom: The Energy is Back

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog - Tehrani.com
Rich Tehrani
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Tech, Telecom: The Energy is Back

 Communications, wireless, consumer electronics, cloud computing, virtualization -- in a turbulent market, it is good to be in technology.

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Monster.com was one of the companies I considered to have a natural monopoly in the US job search market a decade ago. Amazingly, social media sites like LinkedIn and Craigslist are making Job sites less relevant and as a result Monster just picked up HotJobs for $225 in cash to shore up its decreasing market share.

A decade or so ago it was common knowledge that satellite radio would eventually make a huge dent in the business of traditional radio companies. While this was certainly the case, the rise of iPods and streaming radio stations like Pandora have changed the game, adding pressure to not only legacy radio stations but those of the satellite variety as well.

The success of Pandora shows how rapidly a smart idea with excellent execution can disrupt markets with billions of dollars of investments - virtually overnight.

It was pretty well known that Pandora has had problems in past years because of their success and the amount they had to pay in licensing of the music they stream. So to me it is fascinating to read how the company is generating tens of millions of dollars in traditional advertising from large companies and is now reaching out to smaller advertisers as well.

Technology disrupts - it allows anyone with an idea and a dream to almost instantly change customer behavior. It is this fact that adds massive excitement to the industry for me. Keeping up with the changes in media, communications and tech can be exhausting but at the same time if you aren't up to date on the competitive landscape you can be wiped out by a company you never heard of.

Today Nick Bilton over at the New York Times devoted time and energy to beat up George Packer at The New Yorker for bashing Twitter without actually using it. Interestingly I agree with Packer that the obsession with the service is excessive but then again, it has changed my business overnight. If TMC, a leading communications and technology media company didn't not only embrace Twitter but become experts in social media, we risked being disintermediated out of existence.

Check out a great excerpt from the article:

Most importantly, Twitter is transforming the nature of news, the industry from which Mr. Packer reaps his paycheck. The news media are going through their most robust transformation since the dawn of the printing press, in large part due to the Internet and services like Twitter. After this metamorphosis takes place, everyone will benefit from the information moving swiftly around the globe.

The excitement and energy of tech was evident a few weeks back at ITEXPO where TMC hosted the world's first ever Startup Camp Telephony (video, Jamie Siminoff keynote) with Larry Lisser and many people commented the conference was like Silicon Valley recreated in Miami. Thanks to people like you this launch event was a grand success.

Dave Michaels had some nice things to say about the conference at Pin Drop Soup and I have some of the excerpts below and highlighted for your reading pleasure:

Well, back to ITEXPO and the telecom world, I finally met Larry Lisser - who so far I had only met through Twitter. Larry is a principal of Embrase Business Consulting which guides telecom (and other) startups. The idea of Startup Camp was "to better expose and support the very early stage: those companies disrupting in the trenches, those still bootstrapping, those without the benefit of PR budgets to generate the visibility and partner opportunities they needed to get to market faster. Those in voice, mobile, video, network and other forms of emerging telephony." Quoted from Larry's Blog.

What I need to state clearly here is this was an electric event. It should not have been - this was not a start-up crowd. Nor was it well timed - it was at the end of a long day of sessions and exhibitions. Time to go back to the hotel. But instead, it was a packed event - guessing 200 people. The energy in the room was unlike any other ITEXPO session. I attend quite a few telecom events every year and I never describe any of the meetings or sessions as "electric". But that's what startups do, and startups just don't fit into my normal world of enterprise communications. There is plenty of innovation among the enterprise players - but it isn't raw. It is filtered and branded. Google was quite innovative with Google Voice, but the real innovation came from Grand Central which Google acquired. These are the early Grand Central's. Telecom isn't particularly associated with young vibrant companies - the barriers to entry over the decades were significant. But like so many other industries, the web and new APIs are unleashing innovation in even the most stubborn industries.

It was so nice to this innovative startup spirit alive at an industry conference. The transition from digital to VoIP was not as disruptive as many predicted. But now that VoIP is here, the real possibilities are arriving - a wave of new products and services are transforming the industry. No assumption (albeit dialtone makes sense, T1s are cost effective, long distance is expensive, whatever) can be assumed to be true any more. The industry is about to deliver new services ranging from visual communications to location-based solutions that were either incomprehensible a few years ago or promised and unfulfilled for decades.

TMC moved into its new corporate HQ this week and we have had a few visitors so far - in every meeting I have had there is more optimism than I have heard in a long while. With great news like Acme Packet and Cisco beating numbers and mergers like Comcast/NGT which took place yesterday, it is a very exciting time indeed (and once again) to be in communications and technology.



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