Revolutionary Measures

Buying and selling at the Skills Bazaar

Yesterday I attended the inaugural Cambridge Skills Bazaar at the Hauser Building on the West Cambridge site. The idea was a simple one – bring together the galaxy of start-ups and SMEs from around Cambridge and help people find complementary skills to take their ideas and businesses to the next level. A great idea and a lot of thanks should go to Massimo Gaetani and Mauro Ciaccio of Cambridge Pitch and Mix for thinking it up and organising the whole event.

There’s been a lot of talk about creating the new Silicon Valley over the last week and the West Cambridge site has obviously designed to resemble US-style campuses through a combination of angular architecture and clean lines. Three things let it down however – the bitter Cambridge wind which mitigates against stopping and chatting in the open, all the parking spaces being reserved for university big-wigs and a wireless network that doesn’t work with iPhones.

Over 50 people came along to the event, offering skills as diverse as software development, product design, creative media and the unsexily titled support services, where PR resides. So a great range of talents, all keen to network and help the cluster grow. But what struck me most was how fragile this confidence was – the panel session was dominated by discussion on how to protect yourself if things go wrong or if collaboration collapses. Sure, this is always a possibility, but I think it is time for an injection of confidence if we’re going to produce more billion dollar businesses to rival ARM, Autonomy and Cambridge Silicon Radio. A bit of Californian confidence (as well as weather) would go a long way to helping companies flourish in today’s murky economy.

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November 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

BT and football: Sick as a parrot

Sky Sports Logo's from 6th January 2010
Image via Wikipedia

I wrote back in August about BT’s ambitious plans to take on Sky with live Premiership football through BT Vision. Rumours at the time were that BT’s marketing blitz was simply not scoring with viewers.

Well, quarterly results are now in and BT Vision seems to be showing relegation form. While adding 53,000 subscribers in eight months might seem a credible result, this is at a cost of £30m in marketing spend. This is even below the predicted 60,000 that analysts were talking about.

I’ve already analysed why I think BT has got it wrong, but it is worth looking into the figures. The cost of recruiting every new Sky Sports subscriber has been over £560 – on packages which start at £16.99 a month. At that rate it would take nearly 3 years to for BT to move into profit on an individual customer – and that’s ignoring operating costs and fees to Sky. It reminds me a lot of the ITV Digital debacle, when that broadcaster stumped up a whopping £315 million for the rights to show Football League – viewing figures were so low it was calculated it would have been cheaper to chauffeur viewers to some matches and shell out for their tickets and pies rather than pay the broadcasting fees. BT isn’t going to go bust in the same way but needs to think again on how it becomes a content provider, rather than a utility telco………


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November 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment