Leaving Skyrove


What are the implications of having been wounded?

This subject seemed to be a mini-theme within the week. You have an injury and it’s healed but the fear remains.

You’ve been burned by something in the past so you overreact the other way.

Fear of getting hurt [again] is normally what creates these situations.

I, again, this week, found myself analysing exactly WHY a certain stimulus made me see red. I’m quite confident in my own abilities and morality, so it normally boils down to the one main affront to my civility: Do NOT presume to tell me what to do, when I know better than you do.

And: watch your tone. You can disagree either politely or rudely. There is just no excuse for rudeness in my book!

The coolness that is 44 Stanley

The coolness that is 44 Stanley

Another theme of recent weeks has been people with whom I have various relationships asking me how much they should share with other people who are inquiring about things. It’s come up a few times now, in different circumstances. Happily, the answer is always the same; always, always, always. Tell the truth. When you’re not hiding anything, and when you’re adding value that can’t be copied, you have nothing to fear. Also, the truth always comes out eventually so why try to hide it? Why ever try to hide it?

So, obviously, the news hit the press this week that I’m no longer with Skyrove. It was an easy decision in some ways, but to say it has been easy is a stretch. A lot has changed in the last 4-5 weeks, and more may well change in the coming 4-5 weeks. I’m all for change, but this is a lot, and it’s been a lot to absorb emotionally and physically.

It’s amazing to me how quickly things can change. But yet another reminder that loyalties are to people, and that the brand with which we choose to associate our loyalty or hang our hat is just that: a brand.

It’s an exciting time. If ever I doubted that I was an entrepreneur I no longer do. To have the luxury of being able to concentrate fully on what I am doing is exciting. I have absolutely no doubts that this direction makes sense, given the industry trends that I am seeing. But to see possibility and to deliver are two very different things: you can have the best mousetrap in the world but without the right sales approach and price, you’re not going to sell a single one. So this is where the uncertainty is, but even in the uncertainty is potential.

Eskom caused a dark, silent workout on Tuesday!

Eskom caused a dark, silent workout on Tuesday!

There is a CTO I am trying to recruit, and he hit me up on Skype chat Wednesday morning to ask how things were going. So I said “Well this happened, and that, and this other thing. But yeah a bit bogged down by admin such as waiting for company registration number to come through, etc.” and his reaction? “WOW! How many new startups generate that kind of momentum?”

Fair enough, I guess, from the outside. But it’s not really a startup. I did meet some proper startups this week, one of which is leaving Stealth I mode for Stealth II mode …. Fun times, but the guys are smart, and they also knew how to help explain how to structure certain incentives I wanted to set up in the most tax-efficient manner possible.

This is not Silicon Valley. Admin and legal fees, and dealing with banks and payments and such administrative minutia has been a big time suck in the last week. I don’t like such things.

Speaking of things I don’t like, in terms of my CrossFit season it couldn’t have come at a worse time. After week 4 I was at least in the top 48 (42nd to be exact), and I was probably the only one in the entire CrossFit world to celebrate the announcement of 14.5 which is 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 thrusters & burpees. Aka a suck-fest of note; but also a workout that is right in my wheelhouse. Easy to say before I’ve done it; ha! But I did a reverse version of it, at altitude, for 6 minutes, and really did not enjoy it. Even less did I enjoy the next day’s metcon of ascending heavy kettlebell swings and sprinting: it was a 7 minute AMRAP and after the first 2 I was thinking I was in bad trouble! Back to why I love CrossFit …. Constantly varied torture!

Johann Werth, after the best performance in Africa on 14.4

Johann Werth, after the best performance in Africa on 14.4

The week started in Joburg and ended in Cape Town. Now it was fascinating how it started in that Monday morning set the tone for the whole week. Good Skype call with some partners, followed by meeting a thought leader of note, to help recruit him into my consumer education campaign around digital rights. What happened after I could not have predicted, but I met some very interesting guys and we wound up having dinner that night, which led to my invitation for the next night, which was a networking dinner set up by the MD of the South African branch of a large IT company and included, amongst other interesting folk, bigwigs from ICASA and one of the major mobile carriers.

So I got to nerd out on type approval, punt our WAPA spectrum plans, and talk about education, which seems to be a pet passion of quite a few of us in telecoms. It’s strange how when you start down a path, and you start talking about the subject, it then comes up everywhere. Actually that’s not strange. There’s a cognitive bias for that. I just can’t remember the name.

Chilling on the tarmac in the rain. Just another day on the commuter trail.

Chilling on the tarmac in the rain. Just another day on the commuter trail.

Other fun stuff? Long lunch with Jens (one of my faves!!), Skype catchup with a friend in from the GSMA, 3.5 hours attending 3 separate meetings at a partner company (starting to feel like I work there which is dreadful because the coffee is abominable), meeting the software architect for our project, and a much-overdue catch up with one of my favourite guys at Cisco. And if good coffee wasn’t enough, Cisco even has a receptionist who says funny things (see below), and a worldwide spectrum expert named Dr Pepper! You can’t make that up …

As if that wasn’t amusing enough I got to hear a few choice words. Hearing Cisco talk about Ruckus is probably like hearing me talk about MWEB. Competition is SO AWESOME.

Made it back to a rainy Cape Town (it had been sunny in Joburg), and one of the first things I did was go have coffee with Dominic at Rhodes Memorial. Walking in there it reminded me of California: the light, the smells, the temperature of the air. Yes, I miss that place sometimes.

Just like I'd miss this place

Just like I’d miss this place

Dominic is a character. The sort of guy who influences really big stuff, quietly, from behind the scenes, and no one knows about it except the people who know. And to be honest, as with most things, the people who need to know, do, in fact, know. No one wants to be famous to the man on the street. What a nightmare! Ok, I lie, some people do; but not me.

I remember when I first met the man, and then the first probably two meetings after that where I maybe understood a third of what he said. Now? I’m telling him some stuff, a lot of which I probably shouldn’t know, and much of the punchline of which I will save for my talk at the upcoming Wi-Fi Offload Summit. But, on the plus side, if he thinks I’ve got my understanding of what will NOT work down, it’s no guarantee that I am going in the right direction but at least I’m not going the wrong direction. Yes, a compliment from someone you really respect means 10x anything else.

The Cape Town sun the next morning nearly singed me on the roof deck where I caught up with another former competitor and maybe (hopefully) soon partner. I remember the first time I met this crew too; and the first time I met another competitor (now friend). Things can change very fast.

My boys :)

My boys 🙂

The sun was setting later that afternoon as I left the pub where we had our last hurrah. Speaking of compliments from people you respect: some of the nicest things that have been said to me were in my goodbye card from the Skyrove team. I remember almost like yesterday when I first walked into that office to meet the team. I was probably as nervous as they were; I had no idea what I was doing but a vague idea of what I was capable of.

Things are very different this time around. April is going to be a fun month.

... and two of my other lovelies!

… and two of my other lovelies!

  • “Derry adores it. But the thing is, Derry has very low expectations.” – Josh
  • “I’m not a model. I get out of bed for sunshine.” – Ingi
  • “They were worried it was going to create this jelly around the earth that would block GPS. But my understanding is that they solved that. ” – Josh
  • “You know, the funny thing about that fight is that I think they left together!” – Paul
  • “When you count; you must count consecutively.” – Rick (the irony is that was not my problem, forgetting what round I was on was!)
  • “He’s like: ‘John, they’re only aware of it because YOU told them!’” – John (cat’s out of the bag now…)
  • “How are you going to price this?” “I don’t know. That’s why you’re here.” – Ellie & Johann
  • “What? How did you do that?” – Ellie (normally people say this to me!)
  • “Where do I fit? I don’t.” – Geoffrey
  • “Exactly like you said.” – Blake
  • “Like you said just now; I can tell pretty easily if someone doesn’t like me. And I’m not ok with that.” – Jens
  • “I’m sorry. You’ve called the wrong Cisco. This is the Cisco that deals with IT. Not with peanuts.” – Cisco receptionist
  • “Throwing yourself under heavy weights as fast as you can is counterintuitive.” – Catalyst Athletics
  • “I miss my unicorn. Wait … that came out wrong!” – Ellie
  • “Do you think he’ll keep his job?” “No.” – (this was the wrong answer … sigh)
  • “I’m predictable. You’re predictable. You predicted my response to this whole thing, even down to my emotional reaction. Right?” – Ellie
  • “If you get this right, it’s huge.” – Dominic
  • “No, you clarified a few things that made me respect you even more.” – a fan, apparently
  • “Well. I wasn’t expecting that.” – Ellie
  • “I’ll get you a short cactus.” – Stefan
  • “Yeah. I’m taking the Ruckus dog, so you’ll need a cactus.” – Ellie
  • “The pain doesn’t stop. Don’t expect it to.” – Patrick Barber

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