CXTech Week 17 2021 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 17 2021 newsletter is to highlight, with commentary, some of the news stories in CXTech this week. What is CXTech?  The C stands for Connectivity, Communications, Collaboration, Conversation, Customer; X for Experience because that’s what matters; and Tech because the focus is enablers.

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Covered this week:

State-of-the-Art Conversation Intelligence: Deep Learning and Deep Understanding

Excellent review of what it takes to be state of the art in conversation intelligence with deep learning and deep understanding by Toshish Jawale, CTO of Symbl.ai, a TADHack Global 2021 sponsor.

State-of-the-art deep learning is needed for natural conversations with a conversation intelligence system and to be as close to the sophistication of a human brain as possible. But it’s not enough alone. The system also needs deep understanding to model, generalize, and then run analytics using all of its knowledge, just as a human would.

MessageBird acquires email data platform SparkPost, closes $1B round

I was just writing about SparkPost as Daniel Chalef had joined as VP of Corporate Development. And MessageBird has just bought them. In CXTech Week 41 2020 I mentioned MessageBird’s $200M raise, looks like it wasn’t enough given how rich M&A has become.

This move copies Twilio’s acquisition of SendGrid in 2018 for $2B. There’s money in email marketing! SparkPost and MessageBird have been partnering since 2019.

The numbers show M&A has become a high stakes game. Out of the range for many in the telecoms industry. But taking control of your technology so you can move at internet speed, not the roadmap set by your vendor, can also be done through the use of open source software. We’ll be discussing this at TADSummit Asia 2021 in the session: “OpenSIPS. Or How One Open Source Software Project Disrupts all Telecom Customs!” by Bogdan-Andrei Iancu, Founder and Developer at OpenSIPS Project.

Happy 10th Birthday to CEQUENS

Founded by Karim Khorshed and Ahmed Shabrawy in 2011, CEQUENS started out as an SMS aggregator and has grown to become an innovative player in the regional CPaaS market. The company’s proprietary Communication Platform offers a broad portfolio of multichannel products and solutions that are industry-focused, agile, scalable, and cost-effective.

With people in Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Some of the company’s current portfolio offerings include Communication APIsWhatsApp Business Platform, and CEQUENS Chat.

Mavenir Announces $500 Million Private Placement with Koch Strategic Platforms

Yep, it’s those Koch brothers. For most people outside the US, its the brothers that fund some strange initiatives. Oops, have I been indoctrinated by the fake news media? However, Mavenir is not one of those strange initiatives.

Mavenir were going to do an IPO in 2020, but pulled back, and instead took a minority investment of $500M from Koch Strategic Platforms (“KSP”), a subsidiary of Koch Investments Group, so Siris Capital (owner) could get a partial pay-out.

Mavenir’s history is a bit complex:

  • Xura was made up from bits of Comverse and Acision, covering traditional voice and messaging value-added services (VAS) like voicemail, unified communications, and WebRTC / RCS. Lots of traditional legacy telco revenues with high margins, and RCS. This gave them the dominant position in TMO US for RCS. And you see them pop up in Rakuten and European interconnect for RCS. It doesn’t matter your view of RCS success in the future, telcos are paying them quite a bit of money for RCS today.
  • Mitel Mobility was a roll-up of Airwide Solutions, Stoke, a predecessor named Mavenir, and Ulticom. Again lots of high margin legacy telco revenues.
  • Ranzure Networks was a startup focused on developing 5G cloud-based radio access network technology; with ip.access gives their open RAN focus.

Most of the employees are now based in India, so the cost to support those high-margin legacy telco services has dropped; giving the free cash flow to invest in open RAN and virtualized / cloud native core, while keeping the lights on in RCS until telcos do something.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Seckin Yazan is now Senior Product Manager at Rezdy, a booking platform. I’ve known since he was in Turkey (he’s now based in Sydney, Australia) working for Turk Telecom.

Rodrigo Sequeiros is now Sales and Operations Store Manager at Tele Rio Eletrodomésticos.

Alexey Chernyshev is now Senior Product Owner at DataArt. We first met at TADSummit.

Victor Pascual Avila is now Technology & Innovation Lead, CTO Office – Core Networks at Nokia. I’ve known Victor since his time in ACME Packet.

Larrison Kevin Agbo is now IT Consultant at Tekination Alliance Global. I’ve known Larry since we worked together on an innovation project at MTN Nigeria. He introduced me to Gulder Lager, best consumed in Lagos.

Rita Barry is now Director, Public Cloud Alliances at Ensono.

Stefano Merli is now CTO in Advanced Networks at Capgemini Engineering. I’ve known him through his time in Altran, which was bought by Cap in 2019.

Oscar Bello is now Ingeniero de VoIP at DialApplet.

Ryan Koontz is now Managing Director, Research Analyst at Needham & Company. I’ve known Ryan since Ericsson Raynet, yep all the way back in 1993! I know, before some of your were even born!

Daniel Chalef is now VP of Corporate Development at SparkPost. We worked together on a project at the company he founded, KnowledgeTree.

Francisco De Carvalho is now Head of Disaggregated Network Solutions Strategy at Net Reply UK. We worked together a long time ago in BT Labs.

Milovan Tosic is now Senior Director of Engineering at TeleSign.

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