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July Titan: Anne Mulcahy

By - August 01, 2005

And here’s July (up soon is Bob Wright, CEO of NBC, then Omid Kordestani, of Google):


Turning the Page

Bit by bit, Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy is digitizing the copier company she helped save.

By John Battelle, July 2005 Issue

She was not the obvious choice to lead Xerox through its darkest hour, but four years and one miraculous turnaround later, no one is questioning Anne Mulcahy’s leadership anymore. A nearly 30-year veteran of the company, Mulcahy doesn’t like to dwell on her much-lauded role in helping Xerox avert bankruptcy. She’s too busy trying to get the company growing again.

Long before any of us Googled anything, we all Xeroxed everything. The company’s iconic status came despite a scant presence in homes; although Mulcahy had established Xerox’s consumer printer business, she shut it down when the company was strapped for cash. (By making tough decisions like that, Mulcahy cut the company’s $14 billion debt load almost in half.) Xerox now mostly serves large businesses, not just selling them copiers but managing “information flow” by scanning and storing documents in digital form. And despite the spinoff of its fabled Palo Alto Research Center, Xerox has still managed to innovate: It now gets two-thirds of its $15.7 billion annual revenue from products and services that are less than two years old.

Having turned the company around, what will Mulcahy do next? Many people floated her name as a potential replacement for Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard. A Xerox PR staffer told the New York Times that Mulcahy would “never, ever” consider leaving. “Why don’t you just put a fricking lock on the door!” Mulcahy says with a laugh. If she has more successes like the turnaround, Xerox’s board had better do just that. Business 2.0 sat down recently with Mulcahy to learn more about her plans.

Are you bored yet with being asked how you turned Xerox around?

Yes! It was interesting, but it only led up to the thing we really care about, which is succeeding, not just surviving.

How do you get a culture to move beyond survival and start innovating?

The most critical thing — even more critical than getting the company financially stable — was recognizing that nobody’s in this just to survive. You have to make sure there’s a compelling enough story that the great people will stick with you during the difficult times, that they will hang tight for the possibilities of the future.

Let’s talk about that future. What happens to the document on the Internet? Do you consider Google a competitor?

It would be terrific if Google’s model worked in larger enterprises, but the world those businesses live in has not only tons of digital technology but also vast amounts of manually intensive paper-based processes. Making information more accessible, more personalized, is a huge opportunity. Search as a utility is a wonderful thing, but it’s really about the journey from paper to digital for our customers.

So what does going from paper to digital involve? Are you just talking about scanning documents?

(continued in extended entry)

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Titan Column: Homer

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I’m getting caught up on my B2.0 column posts, here’s June:


Reinventing Television

Silicon Valley veteran Mike Homer wants to move TV shows from the airwaves to the grid. If he succeeds, we’ll never look at video the same way again.

By John Battelle, June 2005 Issue

Editor’s note

In the Titans of Tech column in our June issue (“Reinventing Television”), we ran an interview with Mike Homer, CEO of Kontiki, conducted by contributing writer John Battelle. After the issue was sent to press, Battelle announced a small round of funding for his new business venture, FM Publishing, in which Homer is a minority investor. According to Battelle, Homer’s involvement in FM took place well after the interview and editing of the column were done.

(My post about my dumb mistake is here)

At every important turn in Silicon Valley’s recent history, Mike Homer has been there. He got his start as an engineer and later a marketer at Apple, then joined Go, a handheld device startup that, despite $100 million in funding, failed to find its market. From there Homer landed at Netscape, just in time to see the company’s spectacular success and equally spectacular slaughter at the hands of Microsoft. After Netscape was sold to AOL, Homer jumped ship to launch Kontiki, a Net-based video-serving business, where he is still chairman, and invested in a slew of technology startups, including TiVo and Google.

For years Kontiki has labored in obscurity, perfecting a video-delivery service for corporate clients. But all along, Homer had his eye on the consumer market. He now believes that the time has finally come to put video on the Net — and he’s betting his money and his reputation on it. In April he and former Netscape cohort Marc Andreessen launched the Open Media Network, an audacious nonprofit that intends to host video files and create an Internet TV guide. Business 2.0 caught up with Homer on the day the network launched.

Why are you calling the Open Media Network “the future of public broadcasting”?

OMN is a free public service that enables consumers to view and publish legal content on the Internet. Digital distribution technology is now capable of doing a good job with video on the Internet, but there are still a lot of factors within the industry that keep producers from putting a wide variety of content online. We wanted to find a segment of the broadcasting industry that was willing to move first — and that’s the Public Broadcasting System.

So what’s holding back the rest?

First is concern over cannibalizing their current channels of distribution. Second is concern over piracy. And the third is the lack of a demonstrated business model.

How does OMN differ from other recent offerings, such as Google’s planned video service?

(continued in extended entry…)

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Ask's Paid Listings

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Unfortunately I am swamped today, and can’t spend the time I’d like grokking this, but SEW has done it for us