Friday interview with QuickPlay CEO Wayne Purboo
You’ve got to give the guy credit for being a good sport. This week’s interviewee is Wayne Purboo, the CEO of QuickPlay Media, funded by JLA Ventures and General Catalyst Partners.
What began as a simple email chain got him roped into doing this week’s Friday Interview instalment. Although Wayne doesn’t know much about the various odds on a Vegas craps table, he’s just been named one of this year’s Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. So he’s a shooter, even if not in the casino venacular. I’ve always been impressed with his handle on the mobile industry, and when you see how much his firm has grown in a few short years, the depth of his talents become pretty obvious.
Wayne has lots of support from mutual pals, including VC Rick Segal, Taf Arafat and John Albright (Wellington Financial Advisory Council member) at JLA, Ray Sharma and Lorne Sugarman at GMP and Greg Kiessling, Executive Chairman of Bullfrog Power (also a WF Advisory Council member).
Question 1. When we first met in mid 2004, QuickPlay had maybe 4 employees in borrowed space. As I recall, you were originally trying to help Much Music (for example) build a social network of sorts – online video voting – with WAP phones. What was the original business offering?
Not exactly. QuickPlay has always been and will continue to be about mobile video and enabling a mobile lifestyle. In our early days we did pitch a lifestyle rich media lifestyle application to Much Music. However, our first commercial deployment was powering the TELUS launch of Canada’s first mobile video download service.
Question #2. What’s Quickplay up to now?
QuickPlay has developed and delivered a market-leading service delivery platform optimized for mobile video. It uses a combination of open standards and proprietary technology to deliver video and other rich media to all video enabled mobile devices. Our OpenVideoTM platform is implemented at all major carriers in Canada and we are actively growing our business in the US and Europe. In fact, we will soon be announcing our first deployment with a major US carrier.
Our open source platform is a significant advantage to our customers since it provides them with maximum flexibility for adding video services either with content enabled by QP or by other companies building videos on our platform using our APIs.
Question #3. I see that Rogers (RCI.B:TSX) is now offering “video calling”. Do you see that gaining traction?
As Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) generated by voice continues to decline, carriers are increasingly offering value added services such as mobile video in order to mitigate this loss. In fact, studies have shown that video is the fastest growing mobile service and video calling is certainly one application of that. Barriers to adoption that will continue to play a role in mobile video adoption are handset capability (estimated that 10-15% of handsets in Canadian market are video enabled), pricing, and network speeds which impact the quality of the customer experience. As customers upgrade handsets and high speed networks are upgraded the potential addressable market for these services will increase.
Question 4. Where’s the bandwidth coming from to handle all of these packets? Is it simply GSM at its best, or have the carriers truly built out their towers and repeaters?
Bandwidth is primarily coming from carriers upgrading to next generation high speed networks such as HSDPA (High Speed Data Packet Access). Latest estimate I saw was that there are over 100 speed HSDPA networks commercial launched in 55 countries.
Question 5. Canada seems to have more than its share of mobile stories (Airborne, Bluestreak, Intrinsyc, Mythum, Quickplay, Wmode, etc.). Why do you think that is?
Canada has a history of innovation and leadership in the field of telecommunications. My personal belief is that the size of the country and our love of the outdoors have created an environment that requires good communications.
Question 6. Now that you’ve been recognized as one of the Top 40 Under 40, how big does the company need to be before you’re prepared to sit back and declare victory?
For me being named to the Top 40 under 40 has been a fantastic experience. It has given me an opportunity to interact with some extremely bright individuals who have made tremendous contributions to Canadian business, education and science. I continue to be motivated by a love of technology and how it can be used to improve people’s lives. On a daily basis at QP I have the good fortune to work with an extremely capable and dedicated group of employees to help our carrier and media company customers provide their end customers with the delivery of high quality mobile video. To date we have over service deployed on 10+ mobile networks and there is tremendous interest in our service around the world. I am very excited to be able to be part of all of that.
Question 7. What’s on your iPod?
My IPod selections reflect my diverse interests and the importance of my family in my life. I have 4,000 songs of various genres depending upon my mood, a large number of audio books – primary science fiction, Harvard Business Review and The Tech (MIT). Since I travel 80+ days out of the year I also have loaded thousands of pictures of my family to keep me company.