Chris Kranky

Recent Posts

Verizon Hub RIP

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

Verizon announced (or mentioned) the death of their Hub home phone, plenty of bloggers mourning it. If you remember, I told you it was DOA on the day it was first mentioned. Dumb idea fighting a market trends towards mobile devices.

But I was left wondering, how in the hell did Verizon manage to get so far into this project without someone asking the “Emperor has no clothes question?”. I recognize that some senior cube dwelling manager ever fearful of their job sat and happily sang the praises of the product. But where was the executive oversight?

I remember an old telco story from long ago. A long time telephone company executive, who had started with the company climbing telephone poles straight out of school, drove to work each day and stopped on a corner where a pay phone (remember those) sat looking. The executive always wondered, “how much money does that pay phone actually make?”. He thought about it every time he drove by and one morning, arriving in the office, he called down into the bowels of the company to an old friend, Joe, who hadn’t move much on the corporate ladder. He asked Joe if he couldn’t dig around and find out how much money the payphone on the corner of 3rd and Elm made for the company, purely to amuse himself. Joe was all to happy to find out.

So Joe set about getting the data to this innocent question until Joe’s boss found out about the quest. Joe’s boss immediately consulted with his own boss and the two quickly concluded that this wasn’t a random simple question but a much deeper question, a question about the state of financial health of the payphone business unit. The group had long worried that payphones were dying off and this sort of executive attention was the last thing they needed.

By now, Joe’s boss and his boss had reached the business unit owner of the payphone division, who predictably felt that an all out war needed to be waged. So the division commissioned a 3rd party business consultant to come in an do an independent assessment of the continued financial viability of the entire business unit (the consultant was told to make it look good). Weeks passed, spreadsheets were done, charts charted and words written and in the end a 150 page report was completed titled, “State & Outlook of the Telco XYZ Payphone Division”. It was beautifully bound, a sight to behold.

The payphone division business owner booked a meeting with the executive in question and at the appointed time arrived and presented this fine milled report to the bewildered executive. Questioning the business owner why they had spent such huge amount of time and expense on this, they replied it was due to the executive’s own question (which of course the executive had long ago even forgotten).

The ‘net is company’s move out of fear not opportunity and often will do stupid things. I’d suspect some Verizon executive meet with OpenPeak, thought it mildly interesting and asked some lower level director to take a look at it and went off to play golf. By the time the executive sees this again, 2000 people are working on it because “he wanted it” and now he’s either too scared or powerless to stop it. He should spend more time playing golf would be my response.