Thursday, July 26, 2007

SunRocket's AOL Management Defended by ... AOLers

I guess I had to see this coming: the former CTO of AOL links to this blog and states that SunRocket wasn't a management failure. Mr. McKinley, of course "it was more fundamental than that" but beware of how you phrase your arguments. Between the lines I read "wasn't a failure of AOL managers". As the acrimonious guy in need of healing (thanks!), I'll tell you that the arrival of the AOL management made a salvageable situation completely untenable. Millions were wasted on acquired solutions that had already been solved in-house, without having to pay consultants to shoehorn scalability into something that only scales vertically anyway. The hubris of not taking stock of the situation and looking at your working assets before throwing wrenches into the works is mind-blowing.

And while I agree that there are issues with the business model of VoIP providers in general (and it's good you caught that on the AOL side), start-ups are about risk. SunRocket's failure was to bring in telco and big company management, that did not buy into the founders vision. All they wanted is to do what telcos do: build it, and bill for it. And you're right, you can't compete in a free market doing that.

Nice to stick up for your own, but remember the folks in the SunRocket debacle also cost your options a great deal of value too. Why else would your head of broadband be quoted saying "Broadband is irrelevant"?

In other news, it seems that nobody cares to read about Turkey. Blog traffic dropped to near zero, so I guess people prefer to look at their own navels. I'll let you get back to that.

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Blogger dp2 said...

From my perspective, the debacle was less of a management failure; rather, it was more of a leadership failure.

Ultimately, it really doesn't who specifically did--or didn't do--whatever. Had SunRocket become the next Google, Cisco, or Skype, management collectively would have shared the spoils; so, they collectively will share the blame in this case.

The leadership (or lack thereof in this case) failed to lead. Period. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase Bank, once stated, "I'd rather have a first-rate execution and second-rate strategy anytime than a brilliant idea and mediocre management." He also stated, "You don't run a business hoping you don't have a recession." The point is no single failure should sink a company.

Listening, vision, respect, and courage are important components of good leadership. Several--but not all--of the ex-AOLers in leadership came on board projecting an elitist aura. They bragged constantly about their former accomplishments, offended numerous people in the process, and lost site of the goal: to make SunRocket a better company. Nevertheless, it would be a grave mistake to pin this debacle only on those people. Everyone in leadership was jointly--not necessarily equally--responsible for a certain portion of what did (or didn't) happen.

5:30 AM  

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