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Telstra vows to maintain start-up mindset for new apps unit

Thursday, 24 January 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Telstra has created a new unit dubbed Global Applications and Platforms, vowing to operate the mobile apps business as a start-up, but with the financial backing to make acquisitions.

 

The new unit, which is designed to take advantage of the growth in software-driven business opportunities, will be part of Telstra’s Innovation, Products and Marketing unit.

 

This unit is led by group managing director Kate McKenzie, who said the new group will help Telstra secure a spot in what is a highly competitive segment, with many new agile participants.

 

“The future is in the software layer and there is an application for absolutely everything,” McKenzie said in a statement.

 

“With successful over-the-top players growing exponentially, we need to continue to find ways to take challenger positions in this space.”

 

The “over-the-top” players McKenzie is referring to include Google and free messaging services such as What’s App.

 

Traditional telcos around the world have complained OTTs are cashing in on the mobile web without making big investments in network infrastructure. Now they’re fighting back.

 

“Telstra is moving from providing mobile and internet services to encompassing applications and integrated services,” McKenzie said.

 

“This new software-defined world presents many opportunities, not least the ability to move faster.”

 

McKenzie said the new business will operate as a start-up, but will draw on the “considerable assets” of Telstra.

 

In particular, it will have access to funds to build, partner and purchase applications and start-ups, although these start-ups have to be at a “certain stage of maturity”.

 

McKenzie said the unit will also have global accountability, drawing from “the best in the world”, tailoring solutions for the local market and abroad.

 

Part of the unit’s global scope includes links to Silicon Valley, McKenzie told The Australian.

 

The new organisation will take effect from February 1. It will be led by executive director Charlotte Yarkoni, who will officially commence her new role on March 1.

 

Yarkoni has held senior leadership roles at EMC and VMWare; leading developers and providers of information infrastructure technology and solutions.

 

She has an extensive background in cloud-based applications, and has also worked for AT&T in the United States.

 

McKenzie said the new business will be built over the next three years, and will include a mix of existing employees.

 

“The core of the group will include the current Applications Marketplace and Experience Design team led by Freddie Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen, and the E2E Industry Verticals team led by Andy Solterbeck,” she said.

 

“The team will work alongside our Applications and Ventures group, which will continue to focus on important ventures activities.”

 

This group, which is led by Deena Shiff, has invested in the likes of Ooyala,

Dimmi and IPscape.