What does the UK Technology Mid Market look like?

What does the UK Technology Mid Market Look Like?

I have been working in the UK Technology Sector since 1998 and have spent hours and hours analysing the sector.  While my research is far from complete, I have identified over 1,300+ companies in the UK mid-market, which I define as companies with revenues of £5m to £100m.  This is fertile ground for Private Equity companies as well as Corporates seeking to make acquisitions in the UK market.

I thought it would be interesting to share a little of my research results to give you and idea of what the UK Mid-Market sector looks like.  (Please note: The data in this piece of analysis has been sourced from Companies House returns which only cover England and Wales.)

Many of my clients have sought acquisitions based on very limited criteria including revenues and geography and I will use these two variables to illustrate the composition of  the market.

Turnover

The stratification of these business by turnover tells an interesting story;

  • £5m-£10m – 453 companies (34.6%)
  • £10m-£15m – 263 companies (20.1%)
  • £15m-£20m – 152 companies (11.6%)
  • £20m-£30m – 186 companies (14.2%)
  • £30m-£40m – 81 companies (6.2%)
  • £40m-£50m – 54 companies (4.1%)
  • £50m-£100m – 119 companies (9.1%)

Notice, that 80% of the companies have £30m revenues or less.  The distribution of these companies by revenues is shown in the graph below.

 

Graph showing the distribution of UK Mid Market Technology companies by revenues

Geographical Distribution

When addressing a market, the geographical location of a company is a key factor in evaluating its suitability to whatever strategic purpose is being considered.  I have always found it helpful therefore to be able to analyse the geographical location of company data sets.

In the image below you can see the geographical distribution of the 1300+ companies in the data set.

Map of the UK Mid Market Technology Companies

In the image below, I have drilled down to examine the companies which are in the South East of England, showing how more detailed analysis can be achieved.

South East England UK Mid Market Technology Companies

 

 

 

What next?

This work leaves many questions unanswered. Here are a few…

  • What sectors and subsectors are they working in?
  • What strategies are these companies adopting?
  • How profitable are they?
  • What does their 5 year track record looks like?
  • Who owns these companies?
  • Are they independent?  Subsidiaries of international companies? Part owned by Private Equity firms?
  • Are they acquisitive?
  • Are they struggling, surviving or soaring in this market?
  • Are they in need of external capital?
  • Are the owners/directors looking to sell their businesses and retire?
There is still much work to do.  
If you are interested in raising capital or doing M&A deals in the UK Technology Mid-Market sector, why not give me a call or drop me an email to discuss your strategic objectives.  You can reach me at jbdcolley[at]aol[dot]com.  
Thank you for joining the Conversation.

iExecutive for iPad from NutKase Accessories – Video Review

 

Following my exciting interview with Oliver Page the Founder of NutKase Accessories, I wanted to share with you why I am excited about my iPad iExecutive NutKase.

You can listen to the interview here.

 

I hope you find the Video informative and helpful.  Let me know what you think.

 

You can find Oliver’s website at www.mynutkase.com, his Facebook Fan Page is at https://www.facebook.com/nutkaseaccessories, and on Twitter he is @nutkaseforipad

If you listen to the interview, you can find out how to get a 20% Discount from Oliver, a generous offer he has made for members of the Six Minute Strategist Community.  Hint you will need to know where to find him.

If you want to email Oliver (to place an order for example :) ) he can be reached at nutkaseproducts[at]gmail.com

Thank you for joining the Conversation.

Full Disclosure: I have no affiliate relationship with Oliver (April 2012) but I would really like to do something about this 🙂

 

Do you have an iVideo Hero? Let me introduce you to one!

As you may have realised I have been teaching myself how to make videos with my iPhone as part of the blog since the beginning of the year.

Well I have found a great new source of inspiration in the form of Jules Watkins at ivideohero.com who has an amazing CV in television and is a real expert on video. You can find his course here (affiliate link)

He has created a course which teaches you all you need to know to really get the most out of your iPhone using its full 1080P HD camera and I am already trying out some of his ideas.

Check out this video below I have made incorporating a couple of tips from Jules.

[Read more…]

6 iPhone Accessories you never knew you HAD to have!

This is my first Technology Gadgets post and I thought I would share with you 6 fun gadgets which you can use with your iPhone.

I use some of these and the others are definitely on my wish list but unfortunately the budget does not always stretch far enough.

I hope you find these gadgets interesting and fun.  The article does contain Amazon Affiliate links and if you want to support the site, I thank you and please email me to let me know so I can thank you personally.  Of course, you can simply go to Amazon and input the name into the search function which will enable you to bypass the Affiliate link if you prefer and that is cool too!

Photo Cube Printer £119.99

This little printer allows you to charge and print direct from your iPhone without nee ding to download your photos to a computer.

It also works with an iPad, iPod Touch and the Android Samsung Galaxy S smartphone.

iPhones and iPod Touch can dock directly and iPads and Samsungs connect via a USB cable.

You need an App to connect which is free and available from the Apple App Store or the Android App store.

The printer uses the dye sublimation thermal transfer process to print photos.  The printer itself only comes with a trial ink cartridge so a separate cartridge purchase is necessary (£22.50).   Printing speed is approximately 55 seconds per sheet.  Available from Amazon.

Dimensions: approx 7″(L) x 4″(H) x 6″(W) Weight: 3.1lbs What’s in the Box? Printer User Manual AC Adpater power Cord Trail Ink/Photo Cartridge

Benq GP2 Mini Projector – £574.99

If you thought the printer was fun – how about a Projector.  I have the Keynote App on both my iPhone and my iPad and this would enable me to project my presentations.  I currently use a small portable projector which I have to run from my MacBook Pro.

This little LED projector has a dock for an iPhone or an iPod Touch.  It also has an optional battery pack, short-throw projection, unparalleled multimedia connectivity and two 2W stereo speakers.

When running at 100 ANSI lumen brightness on a fully charged battery, the projector can provide 3 hours of entertainment.

It can project onto a big screen up to 160” in size! It is important to ensure that your iPhone or iPod application supports TV-Out. The dock also charges your iPhone or iPod Touch.

You can connect your MacBook with a USB cable and the projector has 2 GB of internal storage so you can preload your presentation before you leave the office and travel light!

It is HD Ready with a 720p Resolution and its compact size means that you can project it in small spaces with a minimum 42″ distance to the wall.  At the same time it offers a high contrast ratio of 2400:1 and 200 ANSI lumen brightness, the GP2 gives you ultra-refined color definition with sharper text.

Native Union PoP Phone – £24.99

 

This is a corded, retro style handset that simply plugs into your iPhone.

For those of us of a certain generation, it has real nostalgia appeal, for you youngsters presumably high novelty value.

It comes in a range of colours and in fact Amazon list several different types by different manufacturers so its worth shopping around.

 ION iType Wireless Qwerty Bluetooth Keyboard for Smart Phones and iPad – £29.99

 

This little gem makes typing into your iPhone or iPad a great deal easier.  It is more compact and £20 cheaper than buying a blue tooth Apple keyboard.

The Bluetooth wireless connectivity means that there are no cables or docks.

It works with Apps, Browsers, email, calendars and more.

The rechargeable lithium ion battery gives 80 hours use on a single charge and it comes with an iPhone stand and a leather carrying case.  Product dimensions are 17.8 x 1.9 x 12.7 cm ; 136 g.  The boxed product weight is 454g.

How can you resist this!!!

Versus Zync Black Bluetooth Sportsband Headset – £41.95

This actually works with any bluetooth device but I think the styling is so cool it is perfect for iPhone owners.  You can even use it to make Skype calls on your MacBook Pro.

It will automatically pause music playback when taking a call and supports  remote control of play/pause, previous/next track, volume up and volume down.

Charging is via a 2.5mm jack.  The boxed weight is only 272g.

 

Bose Headset Series 2 – £129.00

While on the subject of headsets, check out this little piece of electronic wizardry from Bose.

This allows you to hear calls better, even if the external ambient noise changes and is particularly effective in windy conditions.

It has a soft flexible StayHear® tip (which comes either for the Left or Right ear – so you need to buy the right one for you).

It conforms to the A2DP Bluetooth standard so that you can listen to music or podcasts (like A Conversation with the Six Minute Strategist – Shameless plug 🙂 ) from your iPhone.

Bose products are not inexpensive.  I have a set of Bose noise cancelling headphones and I absolutely love them.

Well thats it for this little forage around the market place.  I hope you will forgive this indulgent foray into technology and I hope you have found something you never knew you HAD to have. Surely you have a birthday coming up soon?

If this proves popular, I have a more toys and gadgets I can share with you.  Do let me know!

Who is Winning the War of the Worlds?

In case you had not realised, there is a war going on out there!

Actually, there are two wars going on in technology -the war for the “On line World” and the war for the “Off line World”.

So, who is winning this War of the Worlds?  By this I mean the major competitive conflict being fought out by the worlds largest Technology Companies.  This is not a conflict where there are only two combatants or is there likely to be one winner.  However, among the largest companies, it is possible to differentiate strategies which are being pursued for their own corporate goals and which shape the world we live in – both off line and on line. In this post I want to explore what is going on in more detail and to comment on the body count!

In this post I will identify the core combatants and their strategies.  I shall identify their historic markets and show that the new markets are evolving and that they are being keenly contested by our combatants.  I will summarise some of the recent activities of these core combatants and finally try to identify some of the major mega trends driving the future of these technology wars.

Who are the Combatants?

The top Six combatants are shown below

  • Apple
  • AOL
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Amazon

 

With the sad passing of Steve Jobs, the mantle of Innovator-in-Chief is up for grabs.

What are their strategies?

Lets try to sum them up concisely

  • Apple – Walled Garden – vertically organised hardware, software and content blended with fantastic design
  • AOL – Content, as seen by the acquisition of the Huffington Post
  • Facebook – Social Networking – the ONE with “ALL the Names”
  • Microsoft – Software – Operating System and Applications – computing ubiquity
  • Google – organising the world’s information…and access to it – search is the gateway to the internet
  • Amazon – global e-commerce, cloud computing services – disintermediation and virtualisation

What are the markets/battlefields in this struggle?

The core markets are defined by the combatants.  In the recent past you could have defined the major combatants by the dominant role they held in the markets

  • Apple – Niche Computing Systems
  • AOL – web portal
  • Facebook – Social Networking
  • Microsoft – Enterprise and Desktop software
  • Google – Search
  • Amazon – online book selling

Each is/was a dominant player in its own area.  However today new markets are much more complex and competitive. The companies are trying to maintain their historic position while moving aggressively into the newly evolving and emerging technology markets.

These markets are:

  • Smart Phones
  • Mobile Computing (Tablets)
  • Mobile Computing (Apps)
  • Content
  • Social Media
  • Operating and Application Software
  • Search
  • eCommerce

Where are the current battle being fought?

  • Operating Systems; Windows 7.0, Apple OSX, Chrome
  • Hardware: Desktop computers, netbooks, tablets and smart phones
  • Web 2.0 technology; HTML 5.0/Flash/Windows 7/Java
  • Web 2.0; podcasting, blogging, tagging (Like, +1), RSS, social booking marking, social networking (Facebook, Google+)
  • Search; Google, Bing, AOL
  • Gaming; iOS/Android/Online/Consoles(Nintendo Wii, Microsoft xBox, Sony Playstation)/Facebook(Farmville, Mafia Wars)
  • Applications; Android/iTunes/Windows/RIM
  • eCommerce; Amazon/iTunes/eBay
  • Mobile; iOS5/Android (Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich)/Windows 8

As you can see, there are further dimensions to this war: this is happening online and offline (recent example being all the patent wars being fought in the courts over smartphone intellectual property).  In addition, this is a war in both the B2B and B2C space, with different strategies, approaches and tactics being required for each.

So, What are the tactics?

Each corporate action or decision is made either to advance the company in the direction of its core strategy or to create competition for one of the other players in the market – i.e. to make it more difficult for them to succeed.

  • Primary Offence – Strategy
  • Secondary Offence – Tactics
  • Primary Defence – Strategy
  • Secondary Defence – Tactics

So what has been going on?

Apple

Apple has moved from its original (and very cool) iMac computer into a broader spectrum of consumer electronics.  The genius of Jobs was not that he invented anything but that he perfected the integration of hardware and software to deliver amazing products.  The iPod became the defacto music player, the iPad the coolest tablet computer (in a market which conventional wisdom had decreed was dead), the MacBook Air is the coolest laptop computer and of course the iPhone has been widely accepted as the market leading smart phone.  But the iTunes and the App Store have enabled the company to commercially exploit the software that the Apple hardware can use to an amazing extent.

In doing this Apple is leading the market in mobile computing.  The newly introduced iCloud when combined with iOS5 operating system for the iDevices and OSX Lion is moving the consumer into cloud computing and broadening the market for Apple hardware, software and applications.  The new Siri personal assistant voice interface on the iPhone 4S is another example of continued market leadership through perfecting existing technology.

AOL

AOL is one of the (relative) laggards in this war.  AOL still has scale and attracts a considerable amount of traffic.  It is too big to be ignored.  It has been moving more strongly into content – the acquisition of the Huffington post – but it fundamentally lacks direction.

Facebook

The Facebook platform continues to grow and to grow in complexity.  With Timeline you can now build an online record of your life in text, photos, video and audio formats.  It is expanding its horizons into News, Movies, TV.  Mark Zuckerburg’s ambition is clearly to make Facebook the ONLY place you need to inhabit on the internet, particularly if all your friends are there too.

Microsoft

Since the start of this century, Microsoft has been playing catch up.  It originally missed the internet technology step change.  However, recent editions of its software platform are now showing that the giant’s momentum is beginning to make an impact in the business and B2C markets.  Windows 8, due out next year is already being hailed as an important further step forward towards integrating its software across all platforms – desktop, tablet and mobile.

But Microsoft is going further.  Its strategic alliance with Nokia shows it is serious about the mobile market, it has been making massive investments into cloud infrastructure and moving its software increasingly towards a SaaS model.

Google

The past few months have been momentous for Google.  The (open source) Android mobile operating system has been widely embraced by mobile phone and tablets OEMs (including the Amazon Kindle Fire).  The June launch of Google+ has brought a real challenger in social networking to Facebook in just a few months.  The company acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion giving them a wide spectrum of mobile patents as well as, for the first time, their own smart phone handset capability.

Google also owns YouTube which is now developing its own content creation strategy.  In the meantime, the Google search engine is on track to deliver $30 billion revenues in 2011.

Amazon

Steve Bezos has long since left book selling behind.  Amazon is now a global ecommerce business and has leveraged its online strength into a market leading cloud data service.  The Kindle e-reader, designed to encourage digital sales from Amazon, has broadened its attack on this space.  At one end the $79 minimalist Kindle moves this into the broadly obtainable consumer market space and at the high end the Kindle Fire is set to try to take on the iPad but at half the price.

So What mega trends will drive the future strategy in these Wars?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infiltrate

Ten years ago the desktop computer was our main interface with the computing world, on and offline.  Bill Gate’s vision of a desktop in every home, a radical vision in the early 1980s, had broadly been achieved.  Today the technology landscape is radically different again.  Technology devices are pervasive and many people have several; desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, media players all provide us with access to media, networking, computing and the internet.

Digitise

The marginal cost of an additional sale of a digital product is zero.  Everything that can be digitalised will be and technology makes it easy to consumer this media; books, music, movies, TV shows, games and social media.

Revolutionise

This technology momentum is changing the way we interact in our daily lives in almost every sphere you can consider.  If it is not affecting you today, it is only a matter of time.  The information age is taking shape and we are moving beyond the post industrial world.

Disintermediate

Business models are being forced to evolve.  How can you compete in the offline world if your competitor has access to a global market for his goods and services online.  The cost of access to information is rapidly trending to zero and in this new world there is no room left for middle men who add little value but either increase the price of products and services or reduce margins.

Consumption

There is an explosion in the consumption of digital data and this demand is being met by the exponential increase in the creation of digital data.  Where ever you have an online presence, you will have the opportunity to access and consume a wide range of digital information

Data

This is the final step in the value chain.  The access to all the data that we input and create by our interactions online creates the new “oil” which lubricates the financial engine of the internet.  Mastering, interpreting and exploiting this data is the fuel which drives advertising revenue.  The more information these companies gather the more they can predict collective and individual behaviour and demands.

Conclusion

I have tried to get a lot in here and I hope you have gained some perspective on the present and future roles of six of the largest technology companies.  The most exciting thing about this is the high rate of innovation being driven by this competitive tension as I have tried to demonstrate in my final paragraphs.

If you like this please RT.  If you would like to receive more from me, The Six Minute Strategist, please subscribe and join my mailing list.  You can comment below or email me at john[at]jbdcolley[dot]com.  Please also go over to iTunes and you can subscribe to the “Conversation with the Six Minute Strategist“.  Thanks for joining the Conversation!

The Six Minute Strategist Guide to (almost) Free Content Creation Part 1

 

 

Following my Content Strategy post last week, I was asked by a contact on Ecademy if I could help explain how to go about making a Podcast.  So Peter, here are some thoughts on Podcasting, making Videos for YouTube and Screencasting.

 

What I will endeavour to do here is to help you with suggestions for hardware and software, identifying where ever possible the free options.  I will also share with you some of the best sites that I have found which have much more detailed instructions on what to do.  This will helpfully enable you to learn from some of the real experts (of which I am not one) in these fields and get started quickly.  Hopefully once you understand some of the techniques and terminology you can then develop your own publishing journey.  Please come back and share what you find.

Full Disclosure

I have NOT included any affiliate links in this post nor are there financial arrangements in place with any of the sites or people I mention in this article.  This is not a monetisation scam.

Deciding on Content

The first step – and the one I cannot help you with – is deciding on the content you want to share.  My recommendation is to have a clear objective, if you are producing this for a specific purpose.  If this is a means of extending your Blog content, I would only say be passionate, informative and helpful

Hardware     

Clearly you need a computer – either an Apple Mac or a Microsoft PC.  I will endeavour to make sure to cover both schools as we go through.  It is certainly helpful if your computer has a built in camera although this is not essential.  It should be reasonable modern as video in particular is a large file format and older machines may not run very quickly when editing or converting file formats.

For a microphone – you can use your mobile phone.  However if you are keen to get a reasonable quality level, I would recommend finding a microphone (perhaps integrated with a headset if you are only doing audio) which has a USB connection rather than a phone jack connection.

Have a look at your App store for Apps which enable you to turn your smart phone into a voice recorder.  There are several of them – simply search for voice recorder.  A word of advice, you should aim to be creating MP3 files and you should check that your recorder can do this or you can convert the file to MP3 once you have recorded the file.  To do this you will need to find an MP3 Encoder if your software does not allow you to do this from within it.

If you are interested in learning about some really high end equipment, visit the Podcast Answer Man Podcast Equipment page but this is really not for beginners.

Software

In order to put together a good quality podcast you will need some software to either take your video recording for further enhancements or to do the recording in the first place.  On the Mac this is Garage Band which comes freely pre-installed on your Mac.  You can also purchase an App for the iPad.

To find out how to use Garage Band tale a look at this video from YouTube – http://youtu.be/GqAwTcH_EAE

 

 

If you are working with a PC download the free Audacity software from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/.  It also works on GNU/Linux.

 

This is a brief introductory video on YouTube which shows you how to use Audacity in just over 3 minutes. –  http://youtu.be/IqJw94YozTU.  You will need to download the Lame MP3 converter from http://lame.sourceforge.net/ to convert your files to MP3 format after recording.

In order to distribute your podcast you will need to find somewhere to put it on the net.  This involves hosting and then distribution via an RSS feed to get the podcast up on iTunes. The Podcast Answerman videos (see below) explain how this can be done.

Tips and Tricks

A few thoughts on production.  I must stress that I am still learning about this.  I have recorded an opening sequence and a closing sequence so that each edition of my podcast has a similar structure and feel to it.  I also try to break up long pieces of spoken words every couple of minutes with a little 10 second jingle.  This gives more structure and a chapter like feel to the podcast.  You can if you wish have a back ground music track running but just make sure that you are complying with all the copyright laws or get permission of the owner of the track to use it.  Also try googling for “royalty free” or “creative commons” licenced music.  Check out the new Vimeo music store (thank you to Amber and Sarah at TWIT’s Social Hour Podcast for this tip)

If you want to make the recording and publishing process very simple and fast let me recommend a free service that I use.  Go to ipadio.com and register an account. Using iPadio you can upload an existing file or record one directly there.  To make life even simpler, download the free ipadio App from the itunes (only iPhone at the moment I believe) and you can record on your phone and at the press of a button upload this recording to the iPadio site.

iPadio also sorts out all the RSS syndication and enables you to distribute your recording to a number of social media platforms including iTunes.  When I set up my podcast “A Conversation with the Six Minute Strategist” this is how I did it.

Another free posting and hosting service is Podbean – while I have not used this service I have heard of others who have.  Check it out, again its free at www.podbean.com

If you have a wordpress blog, check out the Podpress plugin. The podPress plugin gives you everything you need in one easy plugin to use WordPress for Podcasting.  You can find out more at http://www.manvswebapp.com/podpress

Promoting

Once you have published your podcast you need to promote it:

  • Put links on your email signature blocks
  • Put a link on your site
  • Make a video about it – put this up in YouTube and on your blog or website landing page
  • Get some business cards made up promoting it
  • Find other Podcast Directories to list it
  • Ask your listeners to review it in iTunes (or the other directories and tell their friends)

How To Guides

Podcast Answer Man has a free eight part video course on his site which takes you through the process of creating a podcast and getting it out there.

The videos can also be found here on YouTube

Part 1 – An Overview of Podcasting – http://youtu.be/-qD9AsooUcU: I have embedded this one below to get you started.

Part 2 – Tagging your MP3 Files – http://youtu.be/YRWMGc4Ixm0

Part 3 – Equipment Options – http://youtu.be/2f_QHNRsnXw

Part 4 – Website & Media Hosting – http://youtu.be/hVxAxc17GaA

Part 5 – Proper RSS Feed Setup – http://youtu.be/J8BsR5995QU

Part 6 – A Proven Podcasting Workflow – http://youtu.be/1k_0mPb6efI

Part 7 – Your Journey Starts today – http://youtu.be/dESvCO2YcV4

Part 8 – Q&A Session – http://youtu.be/YETRin7u5jA

Jason van Orden has a free step by step tutorial on how to podcast which can be found here.  – http://www.how-to-podcast-tutorial.com/00-podcast-tutorial-four-ps.htm.  Jason has lots of recommendations and links which you should check out for more detail.

You can find more comment and helpful advice from the PodcastGuy at www.thepodcastguy.com.  I would also suggest checking out his podcast on itunes for more helpful content and advice.  You can find a link on his site here: http://www.thepodcastguy.com/category/show/

As a final tip, go and do your own search on YouTube and on iTunes for videos and podcasts about podcasting, find some you like and watch and listen to the content.  In particular if there is a specific problem which is causing you difficulty search for it specifically on YouTube as someone has almost certainly made a video about how to solve it.

In next week’s Part 2 I will cover making videos and screen casting.

If you like this please RT.  If you would like to receive more from me, The Six Minute Strategist, please subscribe and join my mailing list.  You can comment below or email me at john[at]jbdcolley[dot]com.  Please also go over to iTunes and you can subscribe to the “Conversation with the Six Minute Strategist“.  Thanks for joining the Conversation!

6MS Eye Piece Sep 30 2011; Does this Kindle Fire you up?

 

Steve Bezos came out with his new “iPad busting” Kindle reader yesterday, the Kindle Fire!

Reuters carried an article on the announcement which you can read here.

Priced at less than half the entry level iPad at $199 Amazon and Apple are all set for the tablet wars this Christmas.  Lets hope he can make enough of them to meet demand – when the first Kindle came out it quickly sold out.

I think the interesting thing here is that we have two closed garden strategies pitching against one another.  Both Apple and Amazon want to sell you a piece of hardware which is the entry gate into their walled gardens of content.  Once you are in, they would both like to lock the gate behind you.

In practice, I can download Kindle applications to my iPad so it is possible to have it both ways.  While I am strong Apple fan, I think this new Kindle is really going to light up the competition and thats a good thing!

If you like this please RT.  If you would like to receive more from me, The Six Minute Strategist, please subscribe and join my mailing list.  You can comment below or email me at john[at]jbdcolley[dot]com.

 

 

 

6MS Eye Piece 15 Sep 2011 – Still Playing Catch Up!

There was an interesting article on the FT website yesterday.  “Intel and Google form Android Chip Alliance

In short it seems that Intel is teaming up with Google – another vote for Android – and moving away from the once nearly ubiquitous Wintel alliance.  This leaves Microsoft and its new but not yet launched  Windows 8 platform weakened.

What strikes me as significant though is that although these announcements purported to show both Intel and Microsoft (at separate developer conferences) becoming more competitive in the mobile space, Intel is not launching new products until the first half of next year – for which read no sooner than the 2nd Quarter next year.    We understand that Windows 8 is still a year away.

While these announcements are interesting in the sense that alliances are shifting, this all looks like good news from the Apple perspective.  In my view (and I am an Apple Fan and product user) the competition for the iPhone is still weak (although the open source Android system is getting wide adoption) and to my mind this just shows that the competition is still playing catch up!

If you like this please RT.  If you would like to receive more from me, The Six Minute Strategist, please come over to my site and join my mailing list.  You can comment below or email me at john[at]jbdcolley[dot]com.

 

BskyB puts its head in the Cloud

Last week BskyB announced that it has reached agreement to acquire The Cloud Networks (“the Cloud”) – a European Wifi provider – for “less than £50m”. For the year ended 31 December 2009, the Cloud is reported to have net assets of £17.9m, but it seems no profits to report.  I have been struck by how little comment has been made about this deal which I regard as both interesting and strategically significant.

Who are the Cloud?

The Cloud was founded in January 2003 and today it has 22,000 WiFi hotspots in 7,000 locations across 12 European countries. In Feb 2005 The Cloud acquired Airnyx in Germany, in July 2005 Net Chek-in was a further German acquisition.  This was followed in December 2005 by Canova Wireless.  GANAG, a German hotel-specialist WiFi provider was bought in Jan 2008. (Source: Wikipedia).

Financing

The company has had three rounds of finance.  In July 2004, at a time when the company had 4300 hotspots in the UK, 3i and Accel partners invested a “significant” amount of money.

In 2007 the company raised £5.3m and a convertible loan of £1.5m from Accel Ventures and Provide Venture Partners, a Swedish fund.

A third round of finance was secured in October 2008.  The company raised €15m (£8.5m).  Ferd Ventures, the Norweigan investor put up €7.25m with existing investors Accel and Provide Venture Partners collectively matching this.  GP Bullhound, the Cloud’s corporate financiers also invested €300,000.

The acquisition price suggests that investors have made a reasonable return but this has not been a stellar investment. It is perhaps significant that in an infrastructure dependent business such as this, the capital required to achieve scale is significantly higher than in a web-centric or intellectual property centric (software) business, for whom scalability is easier to achieve on a £ for £ basis.

Why is this a significant deal?

Despite its significant footprint, the Cloud was struggling to reach profitability – it had the hotspots but lack direct access to a significant customer base.  Its main competition (in the UK) was BT OpenZone who have the customers to put across its network and more recently O2.

For BskyB this acquisition is a tacit acknowledgement that TV and satellite/cabele connections are really yesterday’s news.  In the future data/video/news will increasingly be accessed though mobile devices and in order to reach the multiple platforms – smart phones, tablets and laptops – BskyB needed to control a means of connection to these devices which they can bundle or sell to their customers.

I suspect that they will inject substantial capital to improve the reach of the WiFi network and take BT on with a competitive offering.  This should be good news for customers as WiFi access should now move towards commodity pricing and general availability.  For BskyB the money is not in the WiFi network but in the overall subscriptions to their content services to their 10 million UK customers, which they can now offer across a broad spectrum of devices not just TV.

One week after the deal (16th January 2011) O2 has announced that it is launching a 15,000 strong nationwide network of public hotspots, free to all users whether you are an O2 customer or not. They have said that the network will provide speeds up to 24Mbps and a fair use policy of 10GB per month.  This puts O2, BT Openzone and The Cloud into a three way competitive land grab.

Already since the deal, the Cloud Managing Director Naunton Dickens announced that the Cloud was going to make WiFi available free in the City of London for upto 15 minutes per day.  This is not as generous as the O2 announcement but clearly indicative that the competitive landscape has changed significantly in the past week.

It will be interesting to see in the near future whether BskyB announces any significant upgrades to the network or explains its plans to move to higher WiFi speeds and bandwidth which will be needed to provide significant rich media streaming services.

One thing is clear to me, this is a clear milestone in the evolution of public mobile data access and I look forward to a brighter and more connected future because of it.

What do you think?  Please leave me a comment and if you like this, please RT.

Launching The Six Minute Strategist

Welcome to the Six Minute Strategist !

This is where Corporate Strategy and Business Development meet the Internet, Social Media and Web 2.0

Each Topic – Six points in under Six minutes

 

The Six Minute Strategist concept is designed to create a framework for focus and communication.  By using Magic Hexagons, topics and issues are broken down into six points which can be explained in under six minutes.

The aim of the site is to help Entrepreneurs GROW their businesses, improve their profitability and maximise their value on Exit.

What do I do?

I specialise in advising companies operating in the Technology Sector but of course the internet applies to all companies and many of the lessons I have learned about my own business applies to yours.

On this site I want to provide you with an ever expanding range of resources covering:

1. Start Ups

2. Capital Raising

3. Growth

4. Social Media

5. Mergers and Acquisitions

6. Exits

With over 20 years experience evaluating and advising companies, this site is designed to share my learning with you.

Come and visit the website and let me share what I have learned with you.

And if you have a Corporate Strategy, Business Development or Social Media question I will do my best to answer it in my Blog.