Introduction to Verizon Innovation Centers

For me, this was a very interesting talk by Jack Tang (former UW EE alum) who was Director of Verizon’s Innovation Center at the time of recording. I am interested in entrepreneurship and tech innovation in general so I found this talk enjoyable to watch. For one, it made me further appreciate Verizon as a company. Prior to this, I did not know that Verizon is a relatively young company (founded in 2000), with headquarters in New York, has over 175k employees, yearly revenue on the order of $120B and growing 5-8% annually. 

Verizon Innovation Center is a program that entrepreneurs, and companies can take advantage of where they can consult with experts from Verizon and utilize some of Verizon’s own testing labs & services to help facilitate in bringing their products to market. Verizon can also play the role of matchmaker where they can connect companies for their mutual benefit. The interesting thing here is that Verizon has committed to not taking any intellectual property or ownership claim from these companies in the context of their collaboration. Verizon’s long term hope is that the companies eventually do use Verizon services and products for their companies but Verizon does not require this. There are two Verizon Innovation Centers currently: one in San Francisco, California and the other in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Jack Tang recognized the following growth trends in his talk: Connecting Computers (originally led by AOL through providing internet to folks in 1995), Connecting Information (led by Google and Wikipedia in 2000), Connecting Expressions (led by Youtube in 2005), Connecting People and Activities (led by social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Yelp) and the next subsequent trend to be Connecting Everything Intelligently (such as cars, devices, trees, trash cans, houses, etc.). The last trend is where Jack Tang believes Verizon is well positioned to continue to innovate and help companies and entrepreneurs accelerate. Verizon has helped build solutions in a wide array of domains such as Smart Grid, Broadcast Audio, Education, Healthcare, Network Access and Entertainment. I do agree with this trend that Jack illustrates and I believe that this democratization of being able to build internet access in devices is a very powerful driver for innovation in the IOT space. 

Another observation I made is that looking at the website for Verizon’s Innovation Center is that they also seem to offer cloud services. One of the areas they are proving service for is in video streaming, which can help facilitate live streaming of content. This area seems to somewhat overlap with other cloud providers such AWS, which also has similar offering through Elemental suite of services (called AWS Elemental MediaLive).

For more information on Verizon Innovation Centers feel free to visit their website: https://www.verizon.com/about/sites/default/files/annual/delivering-innovative-solutions.html

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