A wide ranging interview with Peter Adderton, the former founder and CEO of Amp’d Mobile, whose bankruptcy auction proceedings will start tomorrow morning in court. I spoke to him earlier this evening on phone..below are the choice quotes and you can also download the audio from the link below:
— Our original idea was to build a mobile media company, and building an MVNO was the starting point.
— The thing that took us longer than expected was the technical side of it: there was no one outside of ourselves to go look at. A lot of things we had to go out and create … that took extra time and extra capital for the company…More after the jump…
— As a content provider knows, trying to get distribution on carrier decks is very difficult. At the time, it was the right decision for us to create and control our own destiny.
— I am still the chairman and director of Boost Mobile in Australia, and there it is doing very well.
— At Boost, we did have a massive amount of challenges when launching, but we didn’t have a large amount of shareholders around the table looking for results and returns … also we weren’t so much focused on raising capital … we were out there running the business.
— You don’t raise $400 million in 18 months by spending time inside the office. Trying to ambitiously raise that amount of money, while at the same time trying to create something new and different, was a challenge that caught up with us in time.
— On the financing, we were learning as we went along. With the amount of cash that we required, it probably made more sense to go with one or two big pockets than a lot of smaller pockets.
— The biggest struggle I had [with the board] was agreement on where the company should go. We had way too many board members and then we had observers at top, and then any partner could dial in, to a point where it became very difficult for the management to manage.
— I tried to bring in strategic with VCs, with hedge funds, and that either works very well, or doesn’t work at all; there is no in-between. We got caught in that perfect storm.
— I would put down the failure of Amp’d to be more of a financing issue as opposed to an operational issue. I am not debating the fact that Amp’d had some operational issues.
— Billing and collection: What we initially built the system it worked fine, but when Bill [Stone] and Sue [Swenson] came in and saw that we needed to change it to scale. It takes months to change a billing vendor and we had a team working on that, while at the same time we were loading on the customers at a great rate. In 17 weeks, we got 100K subscribers, and little problems in billing and collections suddenly became bigger problems. It wasn’t just customers with bad credit, but it was customers with high credit who just weren’t being billed at all.
— We had a handle on the fixes, but just didn’t have enough runway to get those implemented. At the end of it, we grew too fast. We were given weeks, not months to get these problems fixed.
— I think Verizon Wireless got a bad rap out of this for no reason. Verizon did a lot to help us through the hard times. I do believe Verizon got the bad end of the stick on this.
— I would be delighted to see the Amp’d Live (the mobile media part) of the business continue on.
— What Helio is trying to do, similar to what Amp’d was trying, is exactly on the right path. The difference between Helio and Amp’d it that Helio has two shareholders that are willing to ride this through and make sure that it gets out the other end.
— The end result for me would have been to see Amp’d become a new digital media company, and be taken out by a media company, as opposed to a wireless company. Whether EVDO, Wi-MAx, Wifi or broadband, for me it was more about what was going though that pipe and how you experience the UI, than the pipe itself.
— About the story on his personal helicopter and the expenses: I have been flying for 20 years and have had the helicopter for much before I started Amp’d. We did sell Boost, and we did make money out of it, and I’m still involved with Boost in Australia.
— Anyone who knows venture capitalists know that the day they put one dollar of their money into jet fuel will be a cold day in hell.
— The one thing I have learned about the media is that you have to take the good with the bad: when you’re on the rise everyone’s there for you, and when you are going down, everyone’s there to kick you down.
— I want to continue with a team to build out what we set out to build. The more wireless pipes that are built, the more there will be a need for organization and aggregation of content. But I won’t be out there raising $400 million again.
You can stream the full interview below, or download the MP3 from here (32 mins, 12.8 MB).