Interview Date: July 30, 2023
Interviewer: Jeff Baumgartner
Jeffrey Glahn, SVP of Global Sales for Xperi/TiVo, talks about his engineering career path from the military to product development at Comcast, Motorola Home, Google, TE Connectivity, and his move to sales at TiVo. He describes working long hours for Comcast in building broadband and voice services. Glahn next moved to Motorola as the lead for their DOCSIS gateway. He describes working at Google for Marwan Fawaz and their focus on software development in addition to hardware for home products. He describes his work in the data center business for TE Connectivity. Glahn surveys the current landscape of cable operators using TiVo’s IPTV platform to provide video services as a profitable addition to broadband and predicts set-top boxes will be around for a while longer. He also mentions TiVo’s deals with Vestal in Europe for smart TV technology and BMW using the TiVo platform in its cars in the future.
JEFF BAUMGARTNER: Hi, I’m Jeff Baumgartner, and I’m glad to be here again hosting another edition of the Hauser Oral History Project. I’m honored to be joined by Jeff Glahn, an industry vet that’s spanned — I was looking at it here — Comcast, Motorola, including the days of Google, right? TE Connectivity, and most recently with TiVo and Xperi. So Jeff, thanks for being here.
JEFFREY GLAHN: Jeff, thanks for having me out, it’s great to be here.
BAUMGARTNER: Glad you’re able to do it. So before we dive into your career and how you got down the road, talk a little bit about your background in respect to school, if you want to talk about it, but also you had some time in the military too.
GLAHN: That’s right, Jeff, yes. So after high school, I decided to go into the Marine Corps. And my parents, who obviously raised me very well, great people, they wanted me to go directly to college to just get a business degree, engineering degree, and just be a normal kid.
BAUMGARTNER: And you said none of that. (laughs)
GLAHN: None of that. I grew up with my cousins who were all older than me, and they all went into the military, so I grew up looking up to them. And I wanted to not just prove to the family, but prove to myself that I could do that. Probably one of the best decisions I made in my life early on. I enlisted in 1995 and was stationed at Camp Lejune, North Carolina. I was based in an infantry battalion down there for several years, and I just absolutely loved it, Jeff. The life, the military life was everything that I had expected. You know, great friendships, you’re meeting people from across the US that you probably would never have met, and just learned the values of teamwork and hard work and ethics and integrity very early on. In the Marine Corps, my sergeant instructors pointed me out as a potential leader early on. And after being promoted to Squad Leader in my infantry battalion, they appointed me to a special program for officer commission. So when I had the opportunity, I took it to go to Penn State and just get a Bachelor’s degree so I could go back and be what I wanted to essentially be, is a lifetime career officer at that time.
BAUMGARTNER: Oh, and that was the original thought.
GLAHN: That was my original plan. And it was at Penn State in a lab, in a class where I met a nice young girl who’s now my wife. And we dated in college, and we obviously got to know each other very well, and know her family. And when my commission time came up when I graduated, I decided to pursue a life outside of the military. I owed several years of reserve duty, but I knew that there was a better life there and raising a family.
BAUMGARTNER: Something different than your original thought, yeah.
GLAHN: I just kind of took a U-turn away from that. But what was pretty — a little bit of a serendipity at the time, and the details behind that, at the time, my brother-in-law was working in the network operation center at Comcast. This was approximately 2000, and about six months before I graduated, he had given my resume to several folks, several executives over at Comcast. And at the time, Comcast was — they were launching high-speed Internet for the first time; Project Jump Start is what they called it. And when I went down and interviewed, it was pretty amazing, Jeff. Going from the country, Penn State, traveling down to Center City, Philadelphia, and meeting this business and having these folks at Comcast talk about what they were doing, and launching high-speed Internet, and bringing this new technology to market. There’s something about that first meeting, that interview, that just clicked on me, that this is the people I want to be with, and what I want to do.
BAUMGARTNER: Well, did you — it feels like you talked to a lot of people who are in this industry — we’ll call it cable — that label is kind of shifting and so forth today. But you talk to a lot of people who get into that industry, and you don’t find a lot of people who were in school and said, “Okay, when I get out of school, I’m going over here to cable.” It seems like there’s like a fortuitous situation, or in your case, like somebody just passed your resume over.
GLAHN: That’s right.
BAUMGARTNER: But did you have any idea from that point that this was going to be an industry for you, or did you just kind of learn about it when you came onboard?
GLAHN: I had no idea, Jeff, it’s a great question, because my roommates at the time, they were all looking at banks, and you know, they were all looking at Wall Street and all those firms. I actually was pretty far down an interview phase with Raytheon and one of their subsidiaries that actually played more to what I was working on in school and the technologies that I was working with. When I met with Comcast, I can’t put my finger on it, but there was just something about the people I met with and the vision that they had, and how excited they were to be working on this special program that was going to bring high-speed data into everyone’s homes. And to me, by just seeing their enthusiasm and hearing that vision, I wanted to be part of it. And when I came back to university after the interview, I told my girlfriend and my friends that I’d met with this company, Comcast. And of course, you know, it wasn’t a big name at the time in 2000.
BAUMGARTNER: Well, this was before all the big M&A, you know, when they made some big — yeah.
GLAHN: Before AT&T broadband, yeah, before all that. And so everybody was a little surprised that I came back with this. And my wife, my girlfriend at the time, said, “That sounds like a plan. If you’re into this, let’s go do it.” And I was very lucky I jumped in at a time when Comcast was growing, you know, Jump Start bringing over all the high-speed data, building DOCSIS, building broadband. I was initially assigned to help —
BAUMGARTNER: What was your role during that period?
GLAHN: I was initially assigned to help build applications. My background was mainly software development, so just SQL databases, open NMS, the actual network management systems. Building those systems was essentially what they brought me in to do. And what was great about the process, Jeff, was as you can imagine, this program was moving very fast and very broad very quickly. We had cots in our cubicles, you know, that’s how hard we were working, it was practically day and night, and we had a limited staff. And through that process over several months, as I wrote applications, capacity planning applications, and network management applications, I really just fell more in love with the business as we went working with different teams. I met a person, John Treece, who ended up bringing me onto his team. John at the time was, I believe, Senior Director Of Broadband Engineering, and I was doing a lot of applications work for him and his team, and he saw the value of bringing me into that organization at a time where, you know, John was building a large organization. It was broadband engineering; he handled a lot of the operations. And then John’s team, we also had a responsibility for new technologies and assessment. So as you could imagine, a 23-24-year-old fresh out of school writing applications, going through this amazing almost like a startup type of feel. John started to bring me over on new programs, so one by one, I was getting involved in DOCSIS certification. I was learning how HFC worked, right, learning all the different components.
BAUMGARTNER: Right, and that was not any of your background at all.
GLAHN: Nothing at all. I was — it was almost as a master’s degree, going to work every day and getting a master’s degree in technology. And at the time, you don’t think about it, but you’re moving so quickly and learning so much from so many different experts, right, in the business that, you know, I look back, and it was just truly a special place to be. And the technologies that we were working with were everything from the home to the headend and also the IP network. It was just really an incredible time to be there. And obviously working with probably the most incredible experts in our industry at the time and learning from them was fantastic.
BAUMGARTNER: Right. And it’s probably difficult to like pinpoint one or two people. You mentioned John Treece, but in that part of your career, were there specific influencers or mentors that you would point to in those days?
GLAHN: At that point on those early days, John Treece for sure, certainly. He also had a military background, there was other folks on the team that had a military background, so they made me feel at home. I loved their work ethic; I loved their passion for the business. Rick Gasloli, who was at the time my VP of Engineering, you know, just having opportunities where the first year or two of your career, being in a room and being able to provide briefings for people like Rick Gasloli and Ray Celona, and provide a technology assessment was just amazing. And they listened to me, they invested in me. Rick Gasloli put me up for the Comcast Leadership Program; I think I was at Comcast maybe two years at that point. And I was incredibly humbled by the amount of people that applied for the program. And here my VP of Engineering was propping me up and putting me into this program. It was just an amazing time.
BAUMGARTNER: Interesting. I was trying to think of like the early days of broadband, so you were there kind of at the starting gate for that. And you think about today, broadband is kind of the cornerstone for a lot of the cable operators. But when you were kind of looking back, what was your expectation or your thoughts about where broadband could go? Because I think at one point, a lot of the questions were like okay, we’re getting a lot more speed, but there weren’t a lot of applications yet that took advantage of it. And of course, today you look back, and it’s obviously this, that, and the other one happened, you know, video streaming, and so forth. But what were your thoughts back then in terms of the potential? Because I remember being on dial-up, and it’s like well, okay, I got email and some web browsing. But yeah, there wasn’t a lot to do like you do today where it’s driving everything now.
GLAHN: That’s right. At the time, it was limitless, right? We were — at the time, we started talking about bringing over, you know, introducing voice so we could get to the Triple Play. And then at that point, the thirst for speeds, consumers’ thirst for speeds, it blew us away. We would double speeds, we would think okay, we’re good for another year, perhaps a year-and-a-half. Well guess what? We were doubling within a couple months, and speeds just kept on growing exponentially. So the amount of growth and usage, really at that point, we knew we were onto something big. Introducing voice, we started dabbling in some early streaming video technologies, some very early work in what would become IoT. But having the ability to almost, you know, see these in a lab every day at the advanced technology level, it was great, Jeff, just exploring and looking at the possibilities where it would go.
BAUMGARTNER: Right. And then I want to talk about kind of the next step. So you were at Comcast, and then you went to Motorola, which I guess was Motorola Mobility, Motorola Home. What brought you there?
GLAHN: So while I was working at Comcast, I decided to take classes to get an MBA. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it at the time. I knew that having a technology degree was great, I loved being an engineer, it was just a great experience, but as I dealt with and worked with the product teams and product development teams, something about that experience just got me super excited. And seeing how our product developers were going in and basically inventing products from its inception point and driving those out to millions of subscribers, that to me was, you know, that’s where I felt I wanted to be. So at night, I pursued my MBA over at Drexel University and really thrived in learning more about the product development lifecycle, the marketing —
BAUMGARTNER: Is this while you were still at Comcast?
GLAHN: I’m still at Comcast, so I found time late nights and weekends to pursue that.
BAUMGARTNER: When you weren’t sleeping on the cot in the cubicle.
GLAHN: When I wasn’t sleeping on the cot, I was — exactly, so sleeping on a desk at Drexel. (laughs) But yeah, it was a time where it was a great growing experience. I’m really happy I went down that path. And a few months later after, I’d say 2004, I was working with all of our technology vendors, so Cisco, Arris, Motorola — they were sort of mainstays in our labs — and always had constant engagement with their engineers and their teams. And I think we were in a meeting or just making small talk, and I mentioned that I’d love to be on the product development side. And at that point, Motorola was hiring a global product lead for their DOCSIS gateway, so these are the DOCSIS Wi-Fi routers, voice over IP, cable modems. And this would be an opportunity, a major step up to call on global service providers and essentially do what I wanted to do, is build something and take it to the masses. So Motorola, I told them I was interested in doing something like that, they snatched me up in the interview process, and things went very quickly. I did not want to leave Comcast, it felt like I was leaving a family behind.
BAUMGARTNER: Well, did you go to Horsham though, or where did you end up?
GLAHN: Yeah, so I was in Philadelphia, Horsham was the office where that team was based out of. And it was, I’ve got to tell you, that was a big jump, right, because being an engineer, working in a lab every day or working in small teams, I got very used to the mindset of going in and working on a technology and making the technology work and more operationally focused. Going to Comcast — or excuse me, going go Motorola where they essentially gave me a great deal of autonomy and essentially gave me the responsibility to run that entire product line, and that meant packing up my bags, getting on planes, going to new continents, meeting new people, meeting different service providers. And I think that’s the first time I’ve learned where there wasn’t — I learned the Comcast way, the Comcast perspective, and it was amazing that I had that foundation. But then you know, going to Motorola where you’re working with J:COM, and you’re working with the Liberties of the world, you’re working with Charter, and you’re going to Latin America, it was a fantastic experience. I just learned that there’s so many great ideas and so many things happening in this industry, and I really enjoyed driving the product and driving new innovations to market. But frankly, what I found out most, what I enjoyed the most in life was, it was the aspect of working with technology leaders every day and working to help solve their problems and create solutions that could help solve their problems. So I was spending so much time developing the product and working with the customers that I caught the attention of the sales organization within Motorola.
BAUMGARTNER: Okay. Because you came in with an operator mindset in a way, coming from Comcast where you were able to diversify that thought, I guess, as you looked around the globe, really. So then they said, “Hey, what do you think about sales?” And what did you think originally? You’re like, “Wait a minute, I kind of like what I’m doing.” Sales is — I guess every job has pressure — but to me, it’s like hey, sales is a different kind of pressure.
GLAHN: It’s a different kind of pressure. I’ve got to tell you, at first, Jeff, candidly, I came home, and I was newly married, so I had a mortgage and started a family. So going home and letting my wife know that hey, I’ve been invited to join the sales team, you know, she was a little surprised. Up until that point, I would say that I was probably an introvert, you know, I really didn’t seek attention, I didn’t particularly like to speak in large groups, so I was sort of just a quiet engineer, and my wife was very surprised.
BAUMGARTNER: Sales, okay, how do you get there from there, right? Well how did they get — because if they identified that, right — and then what was it like in the beginning to learn how to sell? Because I did some sales where I was like just selling like an out-of-state newspaper — “Do you want a paper?” “No.” “Okay, bye.” (laughs) It’s relationship building, there’s a lot to it, particularly where you are.
GLAHN: It is. You know, frankly, I had a tremendous group of talent behind me that were helping to mentor me at the time. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have been successful if it wasn’t for the leadership that was in place at Motorola, and particularly people that are in our industry today, like Tom McLaughlin, for example, Sal Ternullo; these are people that brought me in their wing and taught me fundamentals of what it takes to be a good sales leader. I’ve got to tell you, Jeff, it took a serious adjustment. In meetings, I’d went from engineering the platforms and being operationally focused, to being in product where you have to be the expert, and you have to talk all the time and build a solution, to being in sales where your job now is to be more strategic and to listen. And to me, it took — I had very patient leaders in that process. Overnight, you just don’t walk out of the gate and become the number one sales performer in the company; it takes time. But like I said, having the ability to work with people like Tom McLaughlin and Sal Ternullo early on, and just watch them and watch the art of how they built the trust and rapport with customers, and how they worked to solve a problem but facilitated the right teams and the right people to connect with each other, to me, that was just the art that I inspired to be and had learned over the years with them.
BAUMGARTNER: Yeah, because it feels like it’s definitely a process, to be able to do that and do it well, especially in this industry where sales cycles are not short.
GLAHN: They’re not short, yeah, they’re not short.
BAUMGARTNER: So you have to anticipate a lot and try to figure out which direction they’re going in.
GLAHN: I think what helped me the most, Jeff, is by having that operator experience, and by working together with engineers for years and years, and from working with the product folks. I think that what I brought to the table was, when I did listen, I had the ability to carry on those conversations with technology leaders from all these firms, right? So having the global experience that I picked up from product management roles, from having the ability to sit down with the VP of engineering and say, “Okay, what is the issue? What is the vision?” And help with that strategic alignment, that helped me considerably along the way, versus if I didn’t have that background, I think I would’ve struggled quite a bit.
BAUMGARTNER: And you were also there when Google acquired the Motorola Mobility assets.
GLAHN: That’s right, correct.
BAUMGARTNER: Just curious, what did you think of it at that time, because with an experience with a company like that? Because I know on my end, you know, keeping an eye on it, trying to report what’s going on, we were spending a lot of time trying to figure out what Google would end up doing (laughs) with that. We were like all right, we were scratching our heads there. But yeah, I was kind of curious what your experience was during that. They were interesting days, at least from our side of it.
GLAHN: Very interesting days; we moved faster. You know, it was a big change that Google came in and changed a lot of things out considerably, especially with the executive leadership team. I think we practically had a brand-new executive leadership team. So what I found out very quickly, though, is — you know, at the time, Google brought over Marwan Fawaz, and I got to know Marwan really well in the process. And when Google came in, I would say that I was still — I wasn’t a junior account executive, but I certainly wasn’t one of the senior sales leaders. However, Marwan brought me in and worked with me very closely, would travel with me to see my customers, and I spent a lot of time with Marwan and learned, just from being in the same room as Marwan and just watching how, and listening to how he conducted himself, and how he conducted business and just looked at strategy. I’ve got to tell you, Jeff, it was just — I learned a lot from Marwan. And I’m really pleased that, you know, just having that opportunity just to work with him during that time was great. At that same time, Google was working to make — I think it was a time for transformation. I’d say prior to Google, we were a very hardware-focused company — not a bad thing — but I think Google earlier on saw the need of more of a hybrid and the value of having a software solution. So we did some very interesting M&A at that time, especially around the areas of IoT, smart homes, so having exposure to that. And having that innovation funded essentially by Google, and having kind of that new set of leadership, it was different, but I think it was for the better of the company, and ultimately better the industry.
BAUMGARTNER: From our side of it — my side of it, it felt like kind of a very important mile marker for the industry. And like you said, it was kind of a transition period going where it’s like okay, we felt like something big had to happen to kind of redirect things for the industry. And we kind of know where things all ended up with, you know, the way the M&NA worked out. What Google ended up doing, especially on the video side, is really interesting. But yeah, it was — we were trying to get our heads around what all this was going to mean. And I think we made a few good guesses, but I think we were probably wrong (laughs) on a few things as well, but hey, that’s the nature of the business. So you were there for that, but then TE Connectivity was like a next step for you. Because you were there during the Motorola, the Google days, and everything that transpired there. So what happened to get you kind of on that side of the business?
GLAHN: So Google, we were acquired by Arris, our entity at that time. And at that point in time, I think I was at Motorola for a little over nine years, close to 10 years. And the times there were just phenomenal, but I had the opportunity to go over to the TE Connectivity. Several of our senior executives from Motorola had made the transition over to TE Connectivity in the years prior, Tom Lynch, Ed Breen, and they had approached me. TE Connectivity had approached me about coming over and essentially taking my focus from service provider, using that knowledge, but going to a — they wanted my help to drive them to a new space, which was data centers, which were a pretty exciting time to be in 2012-13-14.
BAUMGARTNER: Why is that?
GLAHN: When I came into the role at TE Connectivity, very different. You know, I had spent my entire career in —
BAUMGARTNER: Yeah, this isn’t DOCSIS, this is not — (laughter)
GLAHN: Yeah, I spent my entire career on the service provider side. But at that time, the datacenter business was really starting to pick up steam. And if you remember, it was during the — it was really a transition from the mainframes, you know, IBM dominated the market, EMC still dominated the market, and this is roughly 2012. But what was happening in the background was this very exciting new technology called hyperscale, and the hyperscale data center was in the process of being sort of theorized and starting to be built. And my team, when I came in, I learned very quickly. I met with IBM, I met with EMC, I met with all of our top customers. And the mainframe folks, they were headed to — essentially exiting the business. But started working and talking to Google, I was talking to Amazon, AWS, you know, working with Facebook, LinkedIn.
BAUMGARTNER: Some small companies. (laughs)
GLAHN: Yeah. But historically, no one really knew what they were doing in that space and working to drive capacity.
BAUMGARTNER: Were they still feeling their way around?
GLAHN: It was amazing. They decided to take that entire strategy of the mainframe and switches and routers in the data center, and then essentially build their own, right, build their own equipment in their data centers. So my team positioned ourselves, I went and presented to Tom Lynch and to the leadership of TE Connectivity, and I asked them to start to pivot so we could transform into capitalizing on this new strategy for these operators. I’ve got to tell you, at first it was a major change. TE Connectivity did — they specialized in IBM and EMC for decades, you know, they were the sole provider of hardware. So when I made this presentation, quite frankly, there was a lot of questions, right, you know, this — the new —
BAUMGARTNER: Oh, they didn’t just rubberstamp it, “Sounds good, Jeff, go do it,” yeah. (laughs)
GLAHN: Yeah, the new sales leader wants to come in and completely flip it upside down. But we did, we worked extensively with the strategy teams from these other companies. What was great is, our products were essentially a very good fit, although they were — you know, we were marketing essentially the same parts that we marketed to IBM. We could bring those into the data center with a little bit of tweaking and help build that hyperscale data center. So yeah, looking back, it was a phenomenal time there; we grew that business significantly. If you look at TE Connectivity today, the data center business is one of the largest businesses that they have today that’s still, you know, the flagship businesses are still calling them, Google, AWS, and all these data centers.
BAUMGARTNER: Interesting, yeah. So you’re there for kind of the beginnings of a lot of things, high-speed data with DOCSIS, you’re there for, you know, when Amazon and Google started to become the cloud (laughs) is kind of where things went. And then because you enjoyed change so much, you joined TiVo.
GLAHN: That’s right, yeah.
BAUMGARTNER: So this is way before the merger with Xperia and everything.
GLAHN: That’s right.
BAUMGARTNER: Now how did that occur then because — and maybe what was the most compelling thing about the move to the video side, which you know, is today really focused on streaming? And I can’t even remember when you were first coming onboard was — I wasn’t sure how far along TiVo was with their service provider strategy or not.
GLAHN: So this is another one of those serendipity moments. I was in Santa Clara for a meeting — I believe we were at a lunch meeting at a restaurant — I was with, at the time, the senior leaders at TE Connectivity. And at the table next to us was John Burke, who was formerly president of software at Motorola, a longtime GM at Motorola, and we catch eye contact and —
BAUMGARTNER: Just happened to be —
GLAHN: — happened to be in the same restaurant. And when our lunch was over, they wrapped up around the same time. And John came over and let me know he was over at TiVo — excuse me, Rovi at the time — and John was the chief operating officer at Rovi at the time, and he had said, “Hey, I miss working with you, and I’m over at Rovi and would love to have you come over and just talk with us at some point,” you know, wink-wink, “And maybe come over and provide some sales leadership.” And at the time, I said, “John, thanks — no thanks” because it’s a great thing going on with TE Connectivity. But then I’ve got to tell you, Jeff, I went home, and for the next couple days, I thought about our conversation that John and I had. And I really missed the service provider business, you know, I had just missed doing business with companies like Comcast and Charter and all these service providers. I just, you know, I wanted to get back into that — not that the data center business wasn’t fulfilling, but it was a very transactional business, quite frankly, in the data center business. You know, you don’t — it’s not like this business, you know, I don’t really know who the buyers are. You see — you might talk to the buyers on a couple phone calls. You might go in and do a — you might talk to the engineering team a few times, but you don’t develop a long trust rapport with that clientele. And quite frankly, I missed it, and I missed the people, like Jennifer Yohe at Comcast who was really a very key partner of mine. I missed folks like Geoff Shook at Buckeye. So after I thought about it for a few days, I decided to go down and talk to John in the office, at Rovi at the time, met a few folks like Matt Milne and Dave Longacre. And they started talking about a broader vision at Rovi, because at the time Rovi —
BAUMGARTNER: Did they have TiVo at the time?
GLAHN: No, they did not, they had i-Guide and Passport, and they had great technologies, but very IP-focused, intellectual property licensing type of company. And it wasn’t my cup of tea, you know, I was a product and solutions-oriented sales-focused — And when I came in and visited, they had all talked about — they couldn’t tell me exactly what was happening, but they were talking about a meaningful shift and a meaningful investment that they were going to make in product.
BAUMGARTNER: It’s like, “If you want to find out,” (laughter) “sign on.”
GLAHN: Exactly, yeah, so it was another one of those, you know —
BAUMGARTNER: “And we’ll show you what’s behind this curtain if you just do this thing,” yeah.
GLAHN: I found out like everyone else the day it was announced. But I’ve got to tell you, it sounded great, it sounded appealing. And I’ve got to tell you, from working with John Burke at Motorola, you know, very highly respected in the industry, and I knew when he said they were going to make big investments and where — the path that they were going in the future — When I find a leader that I respect, I jumped onboard. And yeah, within six months we had acquired TiVo, and the rest is history.
BAUMGARTNER: Right. And I think TiVo has really transformed itself over the years, obviously a DVR pioneer. I mean we had the first — at our house, we had the first model, right?
GLAHN: Yeah, thank you.
BAUMGARTNER: Well, so they were giving — they were like — it was funny because they were like, “Hey, here, we want you to try this DVR thing, you’ve got to find,” you know, so they gave one to us to try out, and then we ended up buying it, because even my wife was like, “Hey, this is pretty cool.” You know, even with this telco return and all this stuff, you had to kind of get the guide data and everything. But obviously, they became a pretty key partner for operators, even back in the QAM video days, and now it’s all about IPTV and streaming. What has been like to navigate, to be along as they kind of navigate all that, and as the company kind of figured out where it needed to go to be where it is today?
GLAHN: What I love about TiVo is, it’s an innovation-focused company. When Rovi acquired TiVo, TiVo had already acquired Fan TV and Digitalsmiths.
BAUMGARTNER: I heard of Fan TV, yeah.
GLAHN: Amazing startups, amazing technology.
BAUMGARTNER: That was really interesting, I remember watching that going, that is really interesting. They did get Time Warner [Cable] onboard to try it out and stuff.
GLAHN: They did, they were very far out, yeah.
BAUMGARTNER: It was something we hadn’t really seen before.
GLAHN: They’re amazing people. And what was great is that their founder and their head of engineering had stayed onboard, Jim Denney, you know, Chris Doon, we had an exceptional product team and engineering team that was onboard. So when it came time to transition from Linux, you know, that DVR space, to the cloud, if you will, we had some of the top pioneers in the industry working for the company. And through just talking to customers, talking to prospects, and talking to folks that were looking to make that transitioning, and you know, building off the parts of Fan TV, building off the best of TiVo, building off the best of Digitalsmiths, you know, we essentially created — obviously next to Comcast Xumo, we created a very compelling industry-leading platform that we continue to grow today.
BAUMGARTNER: Right, yeah, I want to talk a little bit about that in terms of we’re going to talk about the future of the set-top and things like that, kind of get your thoughts. But kind of looking at where things are today with video, I mean how important is it for the operators to effectively become these super-aggregators, right? Because DTC has been out, the direct-to-consumer. A lot of people are getting used to buying apps, but you know, we’re kind of it’s starting to go the other way. So I think some consumers still gravitate to direct-to-consumer and stand-alone apps, but a lot of the shift has to do with these all-singing, all-dancing platforms.
GLAHN: Yeah, Jeff, it’s becoming increasingly important. So if you look at our IPTV ecosystem today, it consists of hundreds of operators, right? We’ve got, I’d say, the mid tiers, smaller-tier operators rely on us for their cloud-based pay TV applications today. But you said something really interesting — it’s aggregation. And what we’re finding today — and I think what you’re going to see in the months ahead, quarters ahead — is operators that have historically not embraced a video model. We’ll go back to embracing a streaming aggregation model as part of the broadband offering. What we’re seeing is —
BAUMGARTNER: Where broadband is leading.
GLAHN: Broadband is leading, historically, broadband has been growing at a high rate everywhere. But what we’re seeing across the board are these broadband providers, service providers that compete solely on broadband. The numbers are starting to soften. You read any earnings release, operators are sometimes plateauing, some are just growing at small single digits.
BAUMGARTNER: Well, the market is saturated.
GLAHN: Saturated, exactly.
BAUMGARTNER: You can only ride that for so long.
GLAHN: Exactly. So what we’re seeing is all these operators are looking to differentiate their portfolios. And we are talking to operators, even traditionally that have not been in video.
BAUMGARTNER: At all?
GLAHN: We’re talking about introducing — some have been in video, some have gotten out, and some have not been ever in video that are talking to us to get in video.
BAUMGARTNER: Okay, they just came in as a broadband service provider.
GLAHN: That’s correct, yeah. So ISPs, for example, we’re seeing a huge uptick in demand from broadband ISPs, right, these folks that have —
BAUMGARTNER: For video.
GLAHN: Exactly, they built fiber out. They get to a point where they’re winning some subscribers away from the incumbents. However, they feel that they could further grow their platform if they have a lighter-weight streaming video service that can aggregate all the applications and OTT, take advantage of that, and bundle it with their broadband. They see a future where they can win more business from some of the larger incumbents in that area.
BAUMGARTNER: And actually make some money doing it.
BAUMGARTNER: Okay. Because I mean today, it’s funny, it’s interesting in today’s — the strategic focus tends to be all over the map, really. You know, you’ve got some that — like okay, we’ve had our legacy systems, yeah, we want to transition to like an app-based IPTV type of service. Some are sticking with broadband and just going to let their pay TV business just trail off into the sunset, whenever it does, and then you have some maybe the smaller ones who are just getting out of pay TV and focusing on broadband only. So it feels like there are three different directions that they’re going in. But you’re saying that even the ones that are kind of broadband first, they can still do that, but there’s still a desire to —
GLAHN: That’s right, that’s exactly right.
BAUMGARTNER: — either maintain or get into the video business in some shape or form.
GLAHN: Exactly, we’re seeing the same trends. Of course, QAM business and video business is in a decline worldwide. Where we’re seeing growth is, operators that have our IPTV product are growing IPTV product because they’re doing a great job of bundling with broadband. These operators are going to all IP networks, and they’re driving that vision forward. But it’s interesting that more and more — and I’d say this is probably a trend over the last three to six months — where we’re seeing just a very high-level demand, new operators coming into our ecosystem, signing with us quite frankly because they’re looking for that lighter weight. They’re not looking for the full pay TV experience, but something that they could layer into their broadband and market to their broadband subscribers through the emergence of AVOD and FAST types of technologies that could add more value and differentiate and grow.
BAUMGARTNER: Because they can participate in those ad dollars too, right?
GLAHN: It does, it contributes to it. We’re out here at the show talking about that this week, absolutely.
BAUMGARTNER: It’s interesting because I think the discussion on video has definitely started to, has migrated directly into the platform idea. Because I remember years ago, it used to be which cable operator is going to go over the top and market pay TV as a virtual MVPD outside their footprint. And for years and years, the operators like Neil Smit at Comcast at one point said, “No, that dog doesn’t hunt because there’s not a lot of money to be made.” But it’s different as a platform where the ecosystem is a lot deeper than when you’re just trying to sell pay TV subscriptions.
GLAHN: Yeah, exactly, and you’re seeing it with Comcast Xfinity today, right, with Xumo making the deal with Charter.
BAUMGARTNER: And you guys getting into smart TVs, I know initially in Europe.
GLAHN: That’s right, yeah. We announced a large deal with Vestel over in Europe that’s going to put us into a serious, you know, a material footprint to get into that business. I’d say that you haven’t seen the end of announcements; there will be more operators. And why they’re coming over to TiVo is, you know, we don’t want to compete directly with the Amazons of the world, the Googles of the world, or even the Comcasts of the world, right? What we do is, we partner with these brands, like Vestel brands for example. I wish I could tell you more, but we partnered with these Vestel brands.
BAUMGARTNER: Oh, you can tell me. (laughter)
GLAHN: We partner with these brands like Vestel, and we create an experience that enhances their brand. So we are the technology behind their brand, so it could be Vestel TVs powered by TiVo, right? So stay tuned, you’ll see more of these announcements being made of companies that want to keep their brand, keep their autonomy, and launch with TiVo.
BAUMGARTNER: I think the idea of an operator-supplied smart TV is really interesting. And I knew the folks at Vewd were kind of on that path, even before the Xperi deal, so we’ll see where that goes. We’ve seen what Comcast and Charter will do, but also Sky in the UK with the Sky Glass thing. So where that takes me is like what’s the future of the set-top (laughs) because a lot of functionality — I mean granted, there are a lot of streaming devices and everything — but a lot of the functionality is now being built into these connected TVs. And I could look back and maybe lose count on the number of times that somebody somewhere declared the death of the set-top box, yet here in 2023 when we’re talking, you know, it’s still around in some shape or form, you know, QAM video whatever. But is there always going to be a place for the set top or some sort of separate device?
GLAHN: For a long time, Jeff, I think is the short answer. Everyone has predicted the demise of the set-top. But I’ve got to tell you, if you’re looking for just a compelling experience, fully managed, aggregating with these apps, our set top device partners just do a remarkable job in staying current, ensuring that we’ve got an ecosystem that we can continue to build on. So folks like Evolution Digital, Kaon, they’re just enablers in the market, and we don’t see those going away for a long time.
BAUMGARTNER: Yeah, and again, the big thing is the platform, it’s not necessarily the device that’s delivering it, it feels like.
GLAHN: And I’m glad you mentioned platforms. There’s one other area that we see a significant amount of growth in, and it’s a bit outside the purview of streaming video in the home or service providers. But we recently made an announcement with BMW, and this fall, BMW cars will be powered by TiVo. And what we’re doing there is essentially, if you pay attention to the automotive, what we call the connected car market, the experience of the in-cabin experience is becoming very similar to your living room, right, where people consume content and people are looking to search and recommend and personalize.
BAUMGARTNER: It’s another premises.
GLAHN: Exactly. So what’s really exciting, Jeff, is we’re taking our platform that we built for smart TVs, and we offer to service providers, and now we’re entering a new market segment in automotive, with the first win being BMW. So in the next couple months, expect to hear more out of this group. But I will mention what’s exciting about it is, it’s a platform, if you will. It might not be a set-top box, it might not be a TV, but our platform will also be running on obviously car manufacturers in the future.
BAUMGARTNER: Yeah, it’s extensible in a lot of different ways.
BAUMGARTNER: And as we kind of near the end of our time here, I wanted to have you reflect a little bit and maybe look forward too. So you have more career left, (laughter) but what are you the most proud of about your career? And what do you think your personal legacy will be, or what do you hope it will be, as we sit here today anyway?
GLAHN: That’s a deep question. I would hope that — I love building teams that are built on great cultures, integrity, and my hope is I can coach and mentor and pass the torch on to people that keep our industry strong and going and as remarkable as it is today. And that starts with just taking the time out to coach folks and mentor folks. And like I said throughout our conversation, I mentioned names of people, and those are people who, if I didn’t have those, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today, quite frankly, in the industry. I hope that I can leave several Jeff Glahns too, at some point — hopefully I’m only at the midpoint in my career — but hopefully I can walk away by doing that, making the industry a better place.
BAUMGARTNER: All right. And as far as like the industry, the last one, a better place. So what do you think it’s going to look like in 10 years? It can be any piece of it, you know, video, broadband.
GLAHN: With the way technology is moving, Jeff, certainly I think — yeah, I’d be remiss to say if there’s more consolidation in the business with operators. It’s going to be really interesting with what happens with 5G and where operators go with the MVNOs and a wireless offering, I think that’s going to do some wonderful things for our customers. But I think the future is continuing to see innovations in smart home technology. I think we’re at the beginning of smart home technology, the emergence of generative AI, we’ll see how our industry embraces AI and where does that go. But I think it’s a bright future. And if the last 20 years is going to be any indication of how the next 20 years is going to be, it’s going to be a remarkable time, for sure.
BAUMGARTNER: Great. Well thanks, Jeff, I think that’s where we’re going to leave it. But thanks again for all your insight and sharing some great amazing details about your career, and to give us a little thought about the future, so we’ll have to look back.
GLAHN: Jeff, thanks for having me.
BAUMGARTNER: Sure thing, thanks.