Friday, May 08, 2009

Carol at MMT09

I had an opportunity to listen to Carol Realini's video-cast at the MMT09 event organised by Clarion in Johannesburg recently. I have always been a fan of Carol and respected her for the impact that she had in the IT industry. I was also amazed about the amount of money that she was able to raise to fund Obopay. After her presentations, I had two lasting impressions: She can talk up a storm and Obopay is struggling to define itself.

I am absolutely of the opinion that successful companies are very crisp about what they are and how they position themselves. It is extremely dangerous to be everything to everybody. This is why the Obopay story was so confusing. Carol projected a company that will be delivering solutions in emerging economies and in the first world, a company that is open to contract on commercial terms that is anything (from licensing to ASP or revenue share). According to my understanding, Obopay can be a consumer brand or a technology brand. I am sure she said that she would be happy to partner with banks or with mobile operators, while she wants to bank a billion unbanked subscribers she will also go after the existing banked market-segment. And more.

This means that it is difficult for her to fit into the eco-system as one does not know if Obopay is competing or collaborating... and what Obopay may decide to be tomorrow. Maybe this is what happens if you have millions of dollars to spend.


Andrew said...

I enjoyed your view on Carol and Obopay respectively, particularly as I have been following their progress.

Their story reminded me, in many ways, of Fundamo almost a decade ago!

I was delighted to hear about the MTN deal – congratulations to you and the Fundamo team.

Loretta said...

Thanks for the post, Hannes - I thought it was just me wondering about Obopay's positioning of itself. It's very reminiscent of some of the early players trying to be all things to everyone.