MBS London – Frank Meehan Interview

MBS London – Frank Meehan Interview

Mobile Breakfast Series Frank Meehan, Horizons Ventures VC: Why Operators Should Follow Telefónica & AT&T Innovation Blueprint

With MBS Seattle behind us, we are gearing up for Atlanta and London. Our good partner Mobile Groove did a nice interview with one of our speakers and my good friend – Frank Meehan who will be with us in London on the Operators/OTT panel. Frank has done terrific stints at Ericsson, 3 UK, INQMobile and now is with Horizons Venture –

Some highlights:

What must mobile operators do?

Yes, OTT players have had a hearty meal at the expense of the mobile operator, but there is still money to be made if mobile operators concentrate on what they do best.

As Frank puts it: “Going out and trying to build a social network is probably not the right thing to do, but there are some great things that operators are doing.  I particularly like the way Telefónica Digital has set up really a separate company which is designed to go after digital opportunities.  That’s the right way to do it.”

Facing the talent crisis

Operators should stake their turf (connected home, security, the Cloud, etc) and build their business. But, Frank warns, the biggest challenge for operators is talent. “A lot of the young and upcoming talent is going off to work for startups.”

What can operators do to stem the flow of talent to startups (that may one day be their rivals)? A lot! Follow the Telefónica Digital blueprint and give your talent freedom to innovate. “You’ve got to have incentives that compete with startups, or with the Facebooks and Googles otherwise it will become very difficult.”

When it comes to software solutions or the way they are developed, mobile operators should see these are the work of a “separate team outside of the operator standard operations.”

What awaits operators?

As a VC, Frank is convinced there is money to be made. “Operators are cash rich and it’s still a good business and they will snap up things, so certainly there’s an opportunity for investments to crystallize, particularly from a sale — then operators are very interesting.”

Overall, Frank says 2012 has been a great year from “an investment and a start-up perspective.” In his view, it’s “booming” — in part thanks to the Facebook IPO and the excitement it has generated around other companies that tap into our mobile Zeitgeist and requirement for social, sharing and connectedness. “Facebook is literally now the electricity of the Internet … and it’s a huge shift — you’re seeing the big companies like Spotify and others — and it’s just really dragging a huge start-up industry along with it, and it’s accelerating.”

You can listen to the whole interview here.