Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part interview.Summus is driving up revenues and offering more content for multi-media networks through a series of “risk/reward” partnerships, the company’s CEO tells Local Tech Wire.
Gary Ban, who took over as the firm’s top executive officer, talked with LTW about how Summus operates as a business and plans to move into other markets. He also talks about his favorite Summus application.
How does your revenue model work – do you pay to license content or do providers share in the revenue stream?
Both, we have license agreements for specific content and pure revenue sharing deals. It’s all about risk/reward, and every deal and every content partner is different.
You noted 11 major carriers are now offering the Swimsuit product. How does your relationship work with the carriers? Do they pay to license? Are you added to their list of content providers?
Our carrier partners share in the revenue with the applications and content we provide. Based on our early entry into the market, we have established a strong reputation with carriers and we leverage those relationships to bring content and applications that their customers are asking for. To date, carriers have not paid a license fee for any of our content — I cannot speak for other developers in the space, but most carriers do not work that way.
Does Summus’ technology work only with phones or is it applicable to other wireless devices?
Summus specializes in the mobile user experience regardless of device type. We have developed applications for BREW•, J2ME•, Symbian, and PocketPC. Our expertise exists in our understanding of the mobile environment and the limitations of each respective environment. We mold the content to maximize the user experience.
Do you envision other markets, such as enterprise applications for private networks? For other types of networks such as WiFI and high-speed wireless broadband such as the service now available from Nextel?
Absolutely, this market is just getting started and will explode over the next decade. The networks may change but the content and user experience from a mobile device will remain a string challenge. More information will be available and at much higher speeds but the ability to view and manipulate the data from mobile devices will always present a challenge.
Summus has had difficult times in the past. Is the firm over the hump, so to speak? You did indicate the firm may have enough cash to get to cash-flow positive.
I believe we have Summus on the right path now, focusing less on technology and platform and more on key brands, user experience, value and profitability. I wouldn’t say we are over the hump but the hump is getting smaller.
What factors led you to take the position with Summus?
Several factors played into my decision to accept my current role at Summus. First and foremost I did it for the employees and shareholders who have helped this company weather a very rocky downturn in the market. I felt compelled to help right the ship and put Summus on a path to prosperity. Secondly, this is an exhilarating market to be in right now and to have the opportunity to lead a great team really fires up my entrepreneurial spirit.
I assume you use the content and applications yourself. What are your favorites, and why?
Of course. I play Texas Hold’em several times a week with the handle of “mrban”. I also use SI, and our Fuji application as well as several other game applications and a new financial application that will be commercially available in the coming months. No need to be tied to your PC/Internet any longer — time to define your own mobile experience.
Part One of Interview: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=9395