Ivan Seidenberg, the CEO of Verizon, appeared on “The Charlie Rose Show” yesterday talking about the communication company’s plans for global growth, network neutrality and the role of government. For the record, Verizon plans to build out its wireless business internationally within the next 5-10 years, and about one-third of that growth will be through acquisitions. However according to Seidenberg, any buys will wait until pesky regulatory hurdles such as buying an individual wireless license on a per-country basis are taken care of by regional consolidation.
His position on network neutrality was in line with most carriers. He stressed that Verizon has every right to create and deliver content over its pipes. He also said the role of government was primarily to step back and let the capital markets do their thing, but that if it wanted to boost IT spending by mandating electronic health records, Verizon is cool with that.
But it was Seidenberg’s quote about the need for an executive to always be looking ahead that stuck with me. When Rose asked him what happened with rival Motorola (MOT), notably how the telecommunications equipment company could have gone from making a hot phone like the Razr to its current state, Seidenberg said:
“The failure to create new things quicker than the old things eat you alive.”
Coming from a man who is watching his landline business erode as Verizon makes huge investments in both fiber and wireless, this is knowledge Seidenberg has won through actual experience. Om once compared Verizon’s position to that of trying to balance on a high wire while wearing skates. Seidenberg is doing it, but unfortunately for Motorola, Nortel and GM (all companies Seidenberg mentions), not every executive can manage this trick.