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Tag: skynet

Today was ‘vrouwendag’, as we say in Dutch. It should be International Women’s Day every day I sometimes think…

Also at SonicAngel, we have recently welcomed a lot of women in our team. And it undeniably changes the dynamic of a team. My experiences with it are incredibly positive. At some time at Skynet, we were 4 out of the total of 8 that were women. Karin Dehaeseleer, who was my trusted right hand / assistant for 8 years. Valerie Janssens, at that moment in charge of communication, now leading digital media communication at RMB/RTBf (I’m a board member there, btw). Carine Leroy, leading HR and steering us at that time through heavy expansion with the launch of BelgacomTV, and now at Sofina. And finally Patricia VandeWiele, doing an amazing job in charge of legal en regulatory affairs, still at Belgacom. And the entire team at Skynet was a fierce mix of passion and professionalism, or of PRIDE as we called it back then (Passion – Reliability – Imagination – D – Enjoyment)

From adding digital media activities to the ISP Skynet, to launching BelgacomTV, to building a digital media sales house, growing games-, kids or sportsportals, we kindof were at the forefront. Even if the Skynet team remains one of the stronger internet teams in Belgium, I don’t feel that the same edge in leading innovation is still there, and that they missed the ‘social’ aspect of media a little. Probably some divergent opinions there :) I’m quite sure that if they would be given some freedom, there is still so much talent that that it would create the same drive and innovation again. And the important part in getting it done at the time, was the balanced mix of ambition and achievement, of strategy and implementation, of passion and structure. And let me assure you: the mix of men and women was crucial in that dynamic and balance!

So also at SonicAngel we completed our organisational structure today, and I was reminded again how many women are playing a crucial role in our team. I even thought in the afternoon of releasing a communication about that, because women are actually taking over at SonicAngel. But finally I didn’t. The main reason is that the International Women’s Day is ‘celebrated’ every year, but the real work starts the day after.

And so we’ll communicate it that day after !

G’night, bart

(Dutch)

De eerste weken van 2009 hebben we in België doorgebracht. Het was fijn om vrienden en familie opnieuw te zien, net als sommige ex-collega’s en een aantal onder jullie! De afgelopen jaren hebben we veel tijd in het buitenland doorgebracht, wat maakt dat het contact met een aantal mensen toch verwatert.

In de dagen na Kerstmis werd ik ook geconfronteerd met een dilemma. En wel met een dat een aantal jaren geleden minder moeilijk was geweest. Laat me dat even uitleggen.

Ik heb een aanbieding gekregen voor een topmanagementfunctie in een erg interessant bedrijf dat verschillende Europese landen overkoepelt…

Lees verder (op www.express.be)

Whatever, a Wavre based ‘search’ company from Belgium, just released the beta of their MicroPlaza. This is a tool that combines the power of search, twitter and organizing your news. Review of Techcrunch here. Pretty cool. Also, the founder (Olivier Verbeke) and chairman (Philippe Lemmens, once my boss when he was CEO of Skynet) are a strong couple, although there are some catches and hurdles to overcome. But who hasn’t. Thumbs up.
Plus: I have 20 invites if you want to start using it – click here!

Also potentially a nice move: Netlog and Joost partner up to deliver Joost video via Netlog user base. Joost has been failing to get a lot of usage, and I’m not completely convinced of the demographic fit, but Netlog clearly might get some numbers for Joost. Both have the same investors (Index Ventures), so at least some intra-VC value gets created.
Except the initial (wrong) bet on the P2P technology (but who could know streaming video would become THAT good in only a year), I think another hurdle is the partnership proposal of Joost to broadcasters. They usually propose revenue share, but no TV company will never except that. Never. (disclaimer: I was President International at Netlog + Senior VP of Europe’s 2nd largets broadcaster some time ago)

bart
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Hey all,

for our meet-up in Bilzen next week, I asked if you had any specific questions. And yep, you do …

So I’m thinking of not doing a traditional ‘speech’, and replace it by a conversation. Again, it’s a small gathering of about 20 people – and it looks like it’s gonna be fun. So we’ll probably start with the following, and I’ll go deeper into whatever you find interesting.

Quesions I received until now:
- is it true that you are going back to Skynet ?

continue reading…

zi6_0818Over the last days I got a number of messages of people indicating ‘why the hell’ I am selling a number of porn movies on BelgacomTV under the name ‘Preview Skynet ’. Some people still think I’m ceo of Skynet.

Initially, I didn’t get it. But just to explain: BelgacomTV has a great collection of OnDemand movies, and in order to make it easier for the audience to choose a movie, there are a number of categories: new, drama, comedy, documentaries, etc… And now there is also a category ‘Skynet Preview’. I initially explained that it’s probably a mistake, and that Belgacom is (finally) using the Skynet for what they should use it on BelgacomTV: a collection of movies on demand for kids with the Kidcity brand (that’s Skynet’s kid portal), or a selection of user generated clips that’s suitable for TV screen, or other cool content or innovative format.
But I kept getting messages for days – and got this screenshot. And it is indeed true: a category for preview of porn movies!??

I could write a post about the missed opportunities, about the fact that a lot of people have left the Skynet boat (mainly due to a lack of the disinterest from Belgacom in the company), or lack of ‘web’ leadership that made that TV is doing great, but web/mobile innovation and products are rather poor. But I guess it’s just an error and it will be corrected today.

And it’s maybe the begin of using the company and the talent in the way it should. Skynet has moved into the Belgacomtowers, and maybe it has put them back in the eye and attention of the belgacom management. There’s still an incredible team in place, plus some new hires that I met over the last months that are really good.
The financial and economic crisis is pushing the industry to change drastically, and change creates opportunity.
The creativity and can-do attitude from Skynet, combined with the marketing and distribution power of Belgacom + the mobile connections of Proximus + the BelgacomTV media product can lead to a new and reinvented team and company, the can be a leader in the domain in no time.

I tell you: the talent is there, the momentum is there, and the opportunity is there. And a team that can innitiate/launch products like free internet, ADSL, web portals, blogs or BelgacomTV (to name a few) have the ability to be near the pulse of what’s next ! Guide them well, allow to dream and trust the team. Simple ways to have skynet be one of the technology and digital media leaders again. Sounds like a newyearswish.

bart

On the plane this morning from Brussels to Stockholm I ran into one of the first persons that ever worked for me at Skynet. He has a successful international career in an international technology company. On top of that, I will have a quick dinner at the Stockholm airport this evening with another former Skynet colleague who needed to give a speech in Sweden. What an incredible amount of talent we once gathered at Skynet… but more about that in one of the next posts.

Anyway, when reading the newspaper, there was an article about the lack of entrepreneurship of Belgian students, Apparently Belgium is ranked last (last!?) in a study on the ‘western world creativity’.

The main reason would be that universities don’t encourage or support to start your business.
Well, I can totally believe that. I had the pleasure of attending studies or courses in University of Hasselt (then still LUC Diepenbeek), Universities of Liege, Vlerick in Ghent and Antwerp, plus some time at Columbia and Harvard in the US. Yep, even if I had to work and lend a lot – I wanted to learn as much as possible at a certain moment, hopefully for my entire life.

Truth being told and looking back on it, LUC/University of Hasselt (where I stayed for 4 years) didn’t really encourage risk-taking. I had a great student time (especially off the campus) and education was pretty ok, but a educational facility that encourages no sport, culture, entrepreneuship or politics lacks ambition. They are doing much better now. But would I be 18 again, I would probably leave after 2 years or so. Hell, they even managed to organize exams until the day after the Rock Werchter Festival. No joke: the Monday after probably Europe’s best 3 or 4 day festival there was 1 (crucial) exam. For this reason only one could boycott the school. That said: the school could be the perfect example of creating a multi-disciplinary intercultural school, establish a mini-Europe of Hasselt, Liege, Maastricht and Aachen and become a perfect test ground for research, start-ups and collaborative entrepreneurialism.
Damn, I would like to help to support that one day to do something back to the region I love so much.

Top of mind – here are some more possible reasons:
- Once you start a job in a corporate environment, all incentives to create disappear. Great salaries, comforting social security, company car: ‘hey, we are all in a comfort zone.’ Why risk anything?
- There is not a lot of support to take the risk. There actually are many initiatives – you probably should hire an ‘initiative programs’ manager to really understand all government programs, but this should be at the center of our attention. High taxes, an insecure future after 60 and few effective government support that really work. The risk is part of the fun, but when I see how Scandinavian companies and universities are working together…
- We probably celebrate and ban companies and their leaders too much. Just look at technology alone: Option, Real software, Ubizen, Lernhout&Hauspie – all of them won prestigious Manager or Company of the year awards… People that start and fail are doomed. So different to a culture where this is cultivated.

Over the last year I constantly hear that Belgian’s are great managers but poor entrepreneurs. There is probably some truth in it, even if we are the country of small business, where true innovation could come from. But we have all the elements at hand to build something amazing, being at the heart of Europe and with knowledge of any imaginable domain.

Entrepreneurs make that a country remain on the edge of research. Employment creates prosperity, and in our welfare system it is going to be crucial since employee and corporate taxes fund the sustainability of our prosperous country.

I admire people that create. That Dare. That dare to dream and give it all they have. I have talked, read and reflected about it so much over the last weeks and months, and the conclusion after today’s encounters with friends colleagues confirms the same: what holds us back? Why are we afraid to give up “security” before we are even 45? Even if it can be a choice which I respect, but why do young (university degree) managers nearly always choose the sure and well projected path, and not the risky but adventurous road of daring to follow our dreams? I would like to know the percentage of young graduates that choose a career in consulting or finance, to switch to an operational managerial function 5 to 10 years later to become CEO or Director when they are 50.

It doesn’t only have to be creating companies, but my generation doesn’t enter the risky world of politics a lot either. Nor do we discuss a sense of duty towards society and do what we idealistically believe in so much. I once heard Mark Eysckens (Belgian Minister of State) say that it is better to be an ideologist without illusions than an illusionist without ideology. Yeah yeah, sounds like the back of a calendar quote– but why do we, the post-baby boom generation, remain so nice, good and modest? I read about the explanation that we are the unlucky ones, after baby boomers we need 2 salaries to afford a house; we have unsure retirement plans and whatever… Give me a break.

Anyway – no judgement of anyone meant. Accept myself maybe.

bart

04-12-2006
Bart Becks appointed Senior Vice President of SBS Broadcasting group
Hey all,
although I don’t usually indicate professional Skynet news on my blog, I’ve received so many calls, sms’s and mails that I’ll post some personal news here as well.

After 8 fantastic years at Belgacom Skynet in Brussels, I will move to Amsterdam to work for the SBS Broadcasting group.

Hereby an extract of the complete press release:
“SBS Broadcasting Sarl announced today the appointment of Bart Becks (34) as Senior Vice President New Media of SBS Broadcasting Group, with a start date of January 1, 2007. The announcement was made by Patrick Tillieux, acting Chief Executive Officer of SBS Broadcasting Group.In the newly created position,

Mr. Becks will be responsible for the overall development and coordination of digital media services and revenue streams based on the internet, mobile devices, interactive television services and other emerging digital platforms across all of SBS’s operating units. He will be based in Amsterdam.”

A successor was appointed, being Eric Brant, a great senior leader from Proximus. You can find more about it via the Belgacom press center.

No-one leaves a fantastic company and team easily – so it was not something decided overnight. This said, I’m really excited to go to Amsterdam and build out a new future within the SBS group. I sincerely think and wish for Skynet to keep growing like the past 4 years, and for everyone to find the same passion and pride! The direction team in place will surely lead in that direction.

More later.
bart