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Todd Katcher

Todd Katcher Managing Partner

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7 Tech Decisions that Make you Say HMMM.

When you read a lot you come across a wide range of articles and information that raises an eyebrow and makes you say "hmmmmm".

Queue the music video

This is a short list of 7 Decisions made by Technology companies that make me say "Hmmmm." There will be more, and feel free to add your own. As a note, these are not in order of importance, and while the actual numbers or dates may be off -- the points are still the same. I'm blogging, not submitting a term thesis.

1. Yahoo Buys Geocities

Yahoo is notorious for having great vision and the inability to see that vision to reality. They are a case study of bad management. Here is an early example. In 1999, Geocities was the place where you can go to make your own personal website, interact with others and add all these cool plug-ins. Yahoo, bought them for $3.6B with the intention of wrapping it up into a personal experience called My Yahoo. Sounds like early Myspace, Facebook, Wordpress? Vision, but no follow-through. 10 years later it would shut down in pretty much the same fashion. Yahoo notoriously offered $1B for Facebook in 2006. You can draw your own conclusions by the discrepancy in offer price and current value of the three companies. (Link)

2. Microsoft Posts Videos on Youtube

Microsoft has been doing a good job of coming up with quirky videos to drum up interest and social awareness of their products. They have some good ideas when it comes to stirring the pot and comparing themselves to Apple and other companies. Microsoft posts a lot of links on Facebook, who is a partner (MSFT gave them $250M for that right) and it's a good effort, EXCEPT the videos are all posted on Youtube, who is owned by Google, who makes money off the advertisements they place on Microsoft's Youtube channel. Here's an idea -- Microsoft needs it's own video portal, ie. Vimeo - a company that crushes Youtube with high quality content. I wonder how many ad dollars Google makes off MSFT Videos?

3. RIM Received Patent for Angled Keyboard

RIM, maker of the Blackberry, today (May 9, 2012) received a patent that it originally applied for in 2009 for an angled "trapezoidal" keyboard. In 2009, RIM and Palm were the only ones with a physical keyboard. No one since has tried the angled keyboard and RIM continues to lose market share, down 40% from the same quarter last year. And at their latest event, touting their 10.0 operating system, they had zero devices and no partners to announce. (Link)

4. SPRINT starts selling LTE phones in April 2012

SPRINT was first to the 4G game with WIMAX, which was supposed to transform the industry and failed. As others migrated to LTE and some used gimmicks to confuse customers with what amounts to 3G+, Sprint waivered and finally gave in, dropping their partner Clearwire and committing to rolling out LTE+. By the end of summer 2012, Sprint expects to be in 5 cities -- but that hasn't stopped them from not only announcing phones, but releasing LTE phones that are not backward compatible with the current WIMAX, but will work with 3G. A huge marketing push behind such phones is lined up for selling a device based on speed that cannot be obtained yet --- and even when it is, only 5 cities will have minimal coverage. Huh? (Link)

5. Windows Phone 7.5 $250M Marketing Push

Microsoft invested a few hundred million in Nokia, with the return being that Nokia will become the hardware arm (in a way) for Windows Phone. The agreement is long-reaching with each other investing $24M in app development and offering developers $18,000 per app (based on criteria) for developing for Windows Phone. Sounds like a good idea, except that Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are coming out later this year and the head of the phone division said that Windows 7 phone hardware won't run Windows Phone 8. Microsoft is so fed up with getting beat up in talks about strategy that they released a system that is only temporary and in the heart of consumers -- a con. It's been reported that people love the Windows Phone, but they want to wait for Windows 8. Throwing money as a situation isn't going to solve the vision issues... and that's why no other company has actually released a Windows Phone to market -- only proto-types. Maybe that's why their Marketing Chief left after 5 months. (Link)

6. Yahoo makes Cuban Rich

Yahoo was at it again in 1999, when it was on a buying spree to be a destination portal without knowing what to do with the assets. Like the Joker said -- Yahoo is like a dog chasing a car, he wouldn't know what to do if he ever caught it. Money! Money bought what was basically Youtube before Youtube existed. Yahoo bought from Mark Cuban for $5.7B. Yes, that Mark Cuban. was described as the Number 1 broadcaster for Audio and Video programming on the web. Sounds like Youtube circa 2006, when Google bought them for $1B. Where is now? Yahoo doesn't know either. (Link)

7. HP buys PALM, then Kills it

Raise your hands if this seems odd. An executive at HP leaves and goes to run PALM where he champions the new PALM Phone that is seen as the best phone without an ecosystem (reference Apple) -- and then sells that company back to HP for $1.2B, profiting significantly on his stock in both HP and PALM. HP never creates one phone with the PALM operating system, basically abandoning the PALM OS and turning it over to an opensource project. HP has yet to come out with a phone strategy after first creating a phone division for windows and then abandoning that too, seemingly not seeing the synergy between, phone, printer, computer, monitor, and web services that every else is now seeing -- reference Samsung / HTC / Apple. (Link)

This isn't a conclusion to the article, just a break. Add your own thoughts below. How does all this apply to your business? Do you have a great idea and no follow-through? Then maybe a solution is needed, like a partner... Steve had Woz, Bill had Paul, Bill had Hillary, Obama has Hillary and Michelle, etc. The absolute best companies are headed by a visionary and a "doer" -- we may not always know who they are, but they are there.

Todd Katcher
Digital Dealership System

c: 615.669.5244
twitter: @digitaldealers

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