CXTech Week 23 2024 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 23 2024 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:

  • LINK acquires the Portuguese company EZ4U and expands its presence in Europe
  • Podcast 72: TADSummit Innovators, Fabrizio Salanitri, Horisen
  • TADSummit Podcast directory
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

LINK Mobility acquires Portuguese company EZ4U

EZ4U, founded in 2010 and based in Porto, specializes in enterprise comms with SMS, RCS, WhatsApp, email, IVR, click to call, and chatbots (web and mobile). EZ4U’s platform enables communication between businesses and customers in Portugal, and currently serves 500 customers in sectors such as healthcare, transportation and retail.

Vasco Vinhas and Pedro Miguel Mendes are the founders of EZ4U, with about 9 employees, having raised $40k at founding from incubators. Given the general slowdown in the market, and increasing importance of scale, it made sense to for EZ4U to join Link Mobility. And for Link to strengthen its Portuguese business. It is a continuation of its M&A strategy of buying regional providers to solidify European coverage. A strategy that was on pause for a while. We discussed this with Mark Hay in Podcast 21.

Last year Link Mobility entered into a definitive agreement to divest Message Broadcast to a U.S. based private equity firm at an enterprise value of USD 260 million (EUR 243 million). So it definitely has more than enough cash in the bank for this one.

On a related topic, Link Mobility bought the messaging business off Horisen back in 2017, for an agreed enterprise value of EUR 9 million, on a cash-free and debt-free basis. The enterprise value is based on a normalized EBITDA of EUR 1.8 million multiplied by a factor of 5. This enabled Horisen to focus on the platform business, as covered in Podcast 72.

Podcast 72: TADSummit Innovators, Fabrizio Salanitri, Horisen

Fabrizio Salanitri is the CEO of Horisen (pronounced horizon). Horisen is a pure product house, they develop state-of-the-art messaging solutions, delivered hosted or on-premise. This is a fun discussion that shines a light on a shift happening in the messaging ecosystem, led by Horisen.

An example situation, a carrier agrees a gateway or firewall deal with an SMS aggregator, and while the revenue targets are met for the carrier, the experience for its customers can be left wanting. Horisen solves this problem by enabling a carrier to become the A2P messaging provider for its network, working directly with brands for running messaging campaigns. This delivers the best solution for the brand, the carrier, and customers. They have about 200 customers, including Deutsche Telekom, Tele2, and Orange. Interestingly, these carrier are some of the most vocal on the tricks from some SMS aggregators (who also brand themselves CPaaS/CPast).

The thing that shines through in this interview is Fabrizio’s moral code. What is happening is SMS is being impaired for short-term monetary gain, and driving brands to other messaging channels including something as sub-par as email.

Fabrizio is doing what is right for the whole SMS ecosystem. Spam, AIT (Artificially Inflated Traffic), scamming OTP (One Time Passcode) messages, inflated A2P SMS prices for businesses, and impairing traffic to shift brands’ routing tables are a few of the SMS ecosystem’s misdeeds.

Horisen is 25 years old and is a vendor neutral messaging product house across SMS, business messaging (multi channel messaging, e.g. WhatsApp, RCS, Viber, LINE, etc.), and SS7 (long live SS7!).

They are not part of the MEF (Mobile Ecosystem Forum).

With Horisen a carrier / Mobile Network Operator can take control over A2P SMS on its network, run a clean business, and have almost zero spam.

There’s an interesting discussion between Johnny and Fabrizio on whether the gateway / firewall deals should be considered negatively. Johnny views that carriers are allowed to close whatever deals meet their business objectives. A gateway deal enables a carrier to focus elsewhere, while the aggregator meets the agreed revenue targets. While Fabrizio makes the point that competition is good for the whole ecosystem, and carriers should consider their mobile A2P customers’ (consumer and enterprise) experiences, and the health of the overall ecosystem. And the longevity of the SMS ecosystem as WhatsApp is most definitive avoiding spam, and messaging is becoming ever more diverse.

Let’s hope Horisen becomes the future of the SMS industry, as if we accept the current situation on SMS, it will become the messaging channel of last resort. This also overlaps the point we made in Podcast 71: Change is only going to come from the carriers, the messaging monopolies want things to continue, the politically appointed FCC is limited by partisan 4 year terms. The only entity that can be customer focused in the long term are the carriers, and TMO-US could lead the charge for its customers and own benefit.

We hope to see Fabrizio at TADSummit on 22-23 Oct in Long Island City.

There’s been quite some discussion on this podcast, it is only an introduction to Horisen, not a complete pitch.

A few points I’ll make which we will discuss in more detail on part 2 are:

  • A carrier knows the top 10/20/30 brands sending A2P SMS over its network (many carriers have already done direct deals with Meta and Google) as discussed on Unifonic Podcast Episode 5;
  • A critical point is carriers MUST take more interest and control over a critical service for its customers. The issue is not, ‘it’s only 4% of revenue.’ The issue is, its 20% of the value customers perceive they receive from a telco, and the experience is getting worse.
  • The risk is SMS becoming the messaging channel of last resort because of price and poor customer experience.
  • Some in the SMS ecosystem have become hooked on AIT, spam, and fraud. MEF continues to ignore our work, which demonstrates they are complicit, despite Johnny’s love for them.
  • A carrier can have a ‘democracy’ (better control through caring about customer experience and not handing everything over to a monopoly) with 5-10 aggregators with the sanction of ‘pump sh!t at our customers/network and you’re closed off for good.’
  • The end customer is critical in all this, it’s about delivering a safe and secure communications experience. The messaging industry has lost sight of that critical base requirement.
  • Analytics and collaboration are critical to make SMS better. Horisen does not make money on the traffic, that was sold off to Link Mobility. Because they own their platform, they are best positioned to generate the best analytics.
  • Horisen is not a complete answer, they are part of a solution that can make SMS better, and takes us in a direction away from AIT, spam and fraud.

TADSummit Podcast directory

See all the TADSummit podcasts in a list:

I recommend first reading the blog article for the summary of what was discussed in the video, and then the video for the unadulterated entertainment of the Giovanni Tarone wild ride.

Don’t worry if you only understand half of what Johnny talks about, with the blog summary, and the TADSummit Shorts it sorta makes sense in the end. Though viewing your favorite YouTube short channels and then Johnny appears mid-rant is both funny and disturbing 🙂

You can also view the videos directly in these Youtube playlists:
* Truth in Telecoms:
* TADSummit Innovators:
* Truth in AI:
* TADSummit Shorts:

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

António Cruz is now Head of Discipline Passenger Mobility at Hitachi Rail. I’ve known António since his Portugal Telecom days, where he was one of the few that understood the SDP (Service Delivery Platform) was an IT problem, not a telecom problem.

Charlene (Freeman) Wright is now Sr. Director, Commercial Operations (Proposals and Contracts) at Clinical ink. We’ve known eachother for nearly 2 decadesm when she worked for Trueposition, one of my clients.

Alex Bisschop is now CCO at Conversation24.

Marek Jablonski is now Vice President: TMT – Tech and Engineering services Europe, HCLTech.

Niklas Thorin is now acting CEO at Apis Training. I’ve known Niklas for 15 years, since his Polystar days, network testing and monitoring.

Crystal Enriquez Cruz is now VP of CPAAS and SMS at CIMA Group, Inc.

Anton Ivarsson is now Co-Founder, CTO & CEO ConnectXpress AB.

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