Thursday, November 23, 2006

Appreciating Tech in Waterloo

I appreciated getting invited to Deloitte's Tech Appreciation dinner last night at 20 King in Kitchener/Waterloo. Waterloo is the home of RIM, Open Text and Bill Gates favourite university - the University of Waterloo. UW has an awesome reputation for maths and computer science. Deloitte are the accounting rock stars of the Waterloo tech space having figured how to stay close to entrepreneurial techies moving out of the unviversity - and how to keep young companies alive through SR&ED tax credits.

The Waterloo tech crowd is - a typical tech crowd - bright and interesting. I was fortunate enough to sit beside an ex-client and good friend Flavio Gomes of Logisense Corporation. Flav is turning Logisense into a serious player in the IP billing space.

Hot off Pubcon last week, I was pretty clear that if there's a threat to the internet as we know it - it's from Google's overwhelming dominance.

Flav disagrees and his perspective makes a lot of sense - the real, and serious threat is from the carriers, and the ISP's - the guys who've layed the road, own the road and control the toll booths - and have stood by to watch Google and others create billions of dollars of value while the highway business has been turned into a commodity. From Flav's perspective the road owners and the tool booth guys aren't going to stand around forever - they're going to claim their share of the action. The technology exists to do it - including categorizing all the different types of traffic, and charging a fee for each. If he's right - and the logic seems compelling - the wild west days of the current internet business boom could be in serious jeopardy - or not, providing you're in the business of helping collect tolls, like Logisense is.

Other interesting conversation was with Tobi Jenkins - banker, VC and wife of Open Text CEO Tom Jenkins. Tobi has gone into property development - setting up a cool spot called TechTown near UW's incubator center. Tech town is high tech offices, day care, banking and a state of the art health club all in one spot. A consumate business person and marketer, Tobi had brochures at hand for anyone and everyone. If I heard her correctly, TechTown is scheduled to open in May 2007. Get your runners ready.

All in all an outstanding evening put on by the Deloitte group in Waterloo for their technology clients.

1 comment:

Flavio said...

Jim, from what I'm seeing, most of the attention is currently paid on the big killer apps like Voice, Video, Music and it makes sense.  That stuff is finally driving big revs.  In time however, I can see it trending more to consumer produced content i.e blogs. Exactly how  I’m not sure yet, but its something to keep an eye on.

Another thing to consider is Google and their build out of access networks.   I think they understand the threat of the Telco in terms of governing their traffic.  While it’s a small issue now, you can see them probing into owning the roads and “highway” as it were.

If one of the tier 1 Telcos bought Google... say Verizon, Comcast, Nextel etc they would be unstoppable  The Telcos knew long ago (10+ years) that content convergence was important to their agenda.  Time, AOL, Vivendi etc...but it was a horrible failure. Back then, rich IP based content was largely conceptual and the vision was ahead of its time. Now it’s real and generating big buzz.  Unfortunately the convergence fiasco of the 90’s gave the Telcos a failing grade in the eyes of the investor/market when it comes to content.

As a result, we have the Googles of the world rising unopposed.  The ecosystem seems compelling\large enough to inspire the Telco's to give it another shot and one way is leveraging their positioning as a gatekeeper.

Anyways, just thoughts on my content toll booth conspiracy theory;)

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