Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part conversation with the new head of Trinity Convergence.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Salim Bhatia is well aware of the perils posed by offering technology solutions and opportunities to markets that either aren’t quite ready or are changed by regulatory forces.
That is one of the major reasons why the co-founder of Broadband Technologies (which changed its name to Pliant and went bankrupt after his exit) sees a bright future for Trinity Convergence.
“It’s always about customers and making sure that you are solving are a particular problem that the customers find necessary and compelling,” says the new chairman and chief executive officer of Trinity. “You need to be sure that the environmental factors are appropriate.”
Broadband was one of the first companies to embrace the potential of high-speed networking companies. It also was among Research Triangle Park’s first high-tech eagles, with stock selling as high as $45 a share. But Bhatia later left the company and then joined the management team at MindLever, which he helped sell. He also serves on a number of boards and organizations.
Back in the corporate saddle, Bhatia is focused on Trinity’s opportunity to embed its software across the wide range of markets opening up for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) networking technology.
Times can change
But as good as market trends seem to be for VoIP, Bhatia points out that the future was bright for Broadband, too.
“Regulation was a major factor I determining the needs of telephone companies,” he says, referring back to the days before telecom deregulation. “Under one regulatory regime, what we did was extremely valuable as evidenced as the big contracts we were able to get. In another regulatory regime, we became something that was optional and could be done later.
“The most important thing in a company like Trinity is to recognize the value that you have to build through a focus on what is critical out there, to build partnerships that are critical.”
To make Trinity essential, Bhatia is pointing out to partners and customers the value of VoIP infrastrcture – from multiple points such as lowering costs and increasing productivity. If potential customers don’t see immediate return on investment, they aren’t going to buy in this tough economic climate, he says. The telecom industry’s capital expenditures are being reduced drastically as a result. Fads are out. Gimmicks are out. The bottom line is back in vouge.
Trinity’s focus isn’t on the enterprise but on the hardware and software builders which are creating the infrastructure for converging voice and data networks. Bhatia is looking to work with companies such as Motorola, Texas Instruments, Intel, Cisco, Nortel and others — to name a few — from the silicon layer up.
“As a company, we need to become the preferred software solution enabling VoIP in wired, in wireless, in modems,” he says/ “We are making sure we are providing the complete solutions the customers need.”
From boardroom to frontline
Bhatia was recruited to join Trinity’s board and then put in the CEO chair in part because of personal relationships struck over the years as part of RTP’s entrepreneurial community.
“Trinity’s investors who knew me from past experiences asked me if I would provide some advice to the founders, I went to the board, and one thing led to another,” he says. So why jump back in the fire?
“I enjoy the challenges and the excitement that come from running a company. I’m happy providing some advice, but for the right kind of situation I could see getting back in and doing something, making something happen.
“It’s a smart group of people who have done a great job at this point.”
Bhatia replaces Jeff Critser, who helped found the company and moves into a business development role. But Crister had been saying for some time that Trinity was searching for a new CEO after securing its latest funding round so he could focus on expanding Trinity’s market.
“Every company has a life cycle, a phasing, of what kind of skills are necessary for doing what is best for the company,” Bhatia says. “This company is at the stage where commercialization and partnerships and building significant value beyond the product is important.
“Jeff likes the business development function very much, and the company needs that very much.”
Just this morning, Trinity announced a new release of its software with new features. And Bhatia says the company “is OK for now” in terms of funding. Down the road, he believes Trintiy’s value is huge.
“This certainly could be a hundred million dollar business.”
Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.