Blog Post

The Legacy Players: Dauman and Seidenberg Try to Brainstorm

At Fortune Brainstrom techThis morning at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Half Moon Bay, the opening keynote session was a Q&A between Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom (NYSE: VIA), and Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), moderated by Andy Serwer. It sorta fell flat for most of the session…maybe it was the sleepy and overcast morning, or maybe the pairing of the two together was a bit too incongruous.

Dauman: Great content is never a commodity. With technology and deeper engagement, you reinforce those hits. The Hills on MTV is the perfect example…TV, online, mobile, international and more. A great brand supported by great content, there has never been a better time to reach consumers, and more deeper way.

Content standalone vs. content+distribution (and Viacom’s stock has underperformed the market for the last two years): It is all about execution..the market will ultimately recognize performance. You have to be financially strong, have a good clear strategy.

Seidenberg: Our strategy is very easy to articulate: we are in the network business. We want to bring 100 Mbps of capacity to fixed line customers, and 3-5 Mbps throughout for our mobile customers. People might think networks are a commodity, but it is not. There is a lot of intellectual property, there is a lot of management expertise, etc. This whole thing about voice is free is just a marketing slogan who want to push other things through the system.

FiOS growth: Where we have been in the markets, where we have been selling 24 months or more, we have said we have 30 percent share. It is very viral growth…most of the press calls it a me-too product, but the market knows better.

Asked about competition with cable: “We don’t like to see it that way, but if we get 85-90% market share, we will be happy.”

What is it going to take for U.S. to be competitive in broadband and wireless? Seidenberg: All of the operators in U.S. have laid out plans for 3G and 4G plans, whether it is us or anyone else. Over the years we have had different standards from all the companies. Europe did that better. As we have common architecture on 4G, you will see a better seamless experience.

Is Europe better? They have done very well in 1G and 2G…They have not done a good job with 3G… APRUs are very low. The underlying business in U.S. is light years ahead of others.