GBM Interview: An IM Conversation with Dennis Moore, CEO of OQO

 

Interview with OQO's Dennis Moore I had the opportunity this morning to sit down and chat with Dennis Moore, CEO of OQO, about keeping a company agile, his schedule, his team, the Model 02, Vista Lite, Tablet PC, touch, and the new ultra-portable entrants from Asus and HP. Keep up to date with what Dennis is doing by subscribing to his blog.

The following is the transcript of our conversation. Enjoy!

Rob Bushway says:

Thanks for joining me for this chat, Dennis!

dbmoore says:

My pleasure — thanks for inviting me.

Rob Bushway says:

the news out of China this morning looks really concerning. Any impact on your partners / partners employees?

dbmoore says:

With global supply chains, such as ours, there always exists the possibility of events far away having an impact on our business. In this case, we are not aware of any disruptions, but our hopes and prayers are with the people of China, Myanmar, and all the other places where there are natural or man-made disasters,

Rob Bushway says:

We’re doing the same here.

Rob Bushway says:

You joined OQO in Sept of 07. What kind of challenges have you been facing in keeping OQO as nimble and agile as possible?

dbmoore says:

When I joined OQO in August last year, I came from about six years at SAP. SAP is a massive company, focused on helping enterprises of all sizes to achieve efficiency through standardization of processes, availability of information, and connections to business partners. SAP had over 40,000 employees then, and has grown dramatically through acquisitions since then. Moving to a company …

dbmoore says:

… the size of OQO has led me to be very grateful for the nimbleness of start-ups. OQO keeps its nimbleness and agility by working together across groups to find opportunities. Whether it is sales and marketing, or electrical engineering and software, or finance and HR, all the groups at OQO work together well to create opportunities for the company. In addition, we worked hard …

dbmoore says:

… on openness since I joined. Working with influencers in the community (such as you), with all our customers in forums like OQOTalk.com (an independent forum not managed or controlled or operated by OQO), or in my blog (http://dbmoore.blogspot.com/) — all these channels help us to really connect with the needs of our customers and prospects, so we can apply all we know and all we can do …

dbmoore says:

… to meet the needs of the market.

Rob Bushway says:

You don’t typically see a CEO of a company participating in forum discussion like at OQOTalk.com. You spend a lot of time personally reaching out, answering questions, etc

dbmoore says:

It is hard to keep up, and now quite a few OQO employees participate in the forums. No one is required to do so — all our participants are volunteers. We’ve uncovered some great opportunities, and avoided some big problems, by just contributing to the community and being open to feedback. A great example of a program that came out of the community is the upgrade program we ran for owners …

dbmoore says:

… with EV-DO Rev. 0 WWAN (3G) products. We were able to offer these customers the ability to upgrade to Rev. A, a dramatically faster networking technology, when we had it available. We did not make a profit on this program, but I think that customer programs like this really help our business and earn us a great deal of loyalty.

Rob Bushway says:

I love seeing changes like that come about as a direct result of community feedback. I know readers would love to get an idea of what your typical schedule looks like, especially that from a CEO of mobilie company. What’s on your calendar for this week, generally speaking of course?

dbmoore says:

My first commitment on my schedule is always my family. My wife is has finals this week (and then one more year of law school), so I have to be a little more help around the home. …

dbmoore says:

… Typically, I get up around 6 and take care of e-mail and catching up on the news of the industry and the world, plus getting ready for the day. Around 8, I’ll leave to drop off my son at school and head to the office. OQO is a typical Silicon Valley start-up in terms of employee hours — our sales people are in early, and our engineers stay REALLY late. …

dbmoore says:

… I have about 8 direct reports, so I have a couple of one-on-ones each day, plus meetings with customers, suppliers, investors, and partners. I try to have at least a couple of lunches or breakfasts a week with industry friends and people I’ve been mentoring. I blog when I have inspiration (and source material). I usually head home around 7 PM (earlier if my son has a baseball game), …

Rob Bushway says:

looks like a pretty full schedule. I imagine the temptation to pour in the hours is always there.

dbmoore says:

… have dinner with my son and my wife (on nights when she’s not at school), work on my son’s homework with him, play some Mario Kart Wii (or another favorite came of the month), put my son to bed, and then get work done until around 11. Then it’s vegging out with the news for an hour or so before sleeping. Not as exciting as your schedule I saw in one of your blogs …

Rob Bushway says:

yeah – it gets pretty intense here, too :-)

dbmoore says:

Well, fortunately, I can get on the Internet and the intranet (over VPN/WWAN) from anywhere, so I can get work done at the ball game, at a Sharks game, or wherever life takes me.

Rob Bushway says

have to keep with you guys! EVDO has been a life saver for me in terms of connectivity, too. that’s the beauty of the Model 02, right?

Rob Bushway says

drop it in a small bag and go

dbmoore says:

I was a very early customer of the model 01 when at SAP (where I ran the mobile applications group, among other responsibilities). The OQO model 02 and model e2 are great improvements from my perspective — much more of a tool for an information worker or field service worker (or blogger, or stock trader, or …).

Rob Bushway says

A question we get frequently in our forums is the issue of just how practical the Model 02 / e2 is as a desktop replacement. Honestly speaking, do you find it to be a practical replacement. I know I did in terms of most of the work I do. My biggest struggle came with video encoding, which does’t fit the normal applications people use.

Rob Bushway says:

but for the most part, it held up really well. Especially when couple with SSD

dbmoore says:

I honestly use the OQO model 02, best, EV-DO WWAN, 120GB HDD as my only computer. We have engineers at OQO who really require a lot more “oomph” from their computers, and they use big, honking workstations. The vast majority of our employees are now using OQO’s, and that has been the case since we overcame initial shortages. …

dbmoore says:

… Of course, we are always working on improving our products, and our customers are telling us the following: keep the product pocketable and work on things like longer battery life, improved performance, better connectivity, and adoption of great new technologies.

Rob Bushway says:

certainly, those are the strengths where OQO shines. Ok – need to ask you about future stuff. I posted some question requests on our site and to our Twitter followers – they want to know about Atom, Isaiah, Model 03, 2 GB support, future web cam support.

Rob Bushway says:

I’ve got a few more questions from readers, but we’ll start there .

dbmoore says:

We are always evaluating new technologies and working on ways to meet the needs we see in the market — the needs for a device that is convenient to have with you at all times, that can be used to do all your work and leisure needs, that has the best connectivity to networks while supporting security standards, and that has great performance, battery life, services, and accessories. …

dbmoore says:

… But I’m not making any product announcements today. Over the past year, we ramped up shipments on the OQO model 02, introduced the OQO model e2 (with EU-optimized keyboard and support for HSDPA), introduced a faster CPU (up to 1.6GHz), added solid state drives (up to 64GB), kicked up EV-DO Rev. A, introduced an outdoor-optimized display (for field service workers), and introduced …

dbmoore says:

… a variety of accessories and services (such as a 3 year warranty and accidental damage insurance). We also substantially upgraded our partnerships with Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com, Garmin, and solution providers; introduced enterprise case studies based on customer successes; and greatly increased sales. We expect the upcoming year to be just as eventful and exciting.

Rob Bushway says:

Have you followed much of the discussion around Vista Lite for ultra-portables – people wanting MSFT to get come out with a much lighter footprint? I’m curious to know your thoughts on that.

dbmoore says:

We’ve done a lot of work on optimizing our Windows Vista and Windows XP distributions, and adding our own software to make these products much more usable on a small form factor device. I use Vista exclusively myself, although I have computers at home that run XP and Mac OS X. I love Vista’s power management features, and a lot of other improvements over past versions of Windows, …

dbmoore says:

… and that is why I switched from XP to Vista. Many of our enteprise customers are not ready to make this change, however, so hopefully Microsoft will consider approaches to allow them to evolve to new versions of Windows when they are ready. There have been many published rumors about Windows 7 and future Microsoft OS’s that will be more modular and potentially lighter, but I don’t have …

dbmoore says:

… anything concrete to add to those rumors at this point. I do think it is likely that Microsoft will begin to see more competition on the desktop from Linux-based alternatives, and this will drive them to innovate to meet this market need.

Rob Bushway says:

I know you are certainly feeling the squeeze from an ultra-portable perspective, with many devices showing up with lighter footprints. The likes of Asus, HP and others have to be causing some challenges for OQO. Has their entrance been good for OQO?

Rob Bushway says:

just to clarify – lighter footprints as in terms of OS, etc

dbmoore says:

Our customers tend to be individuals and enterprises with the need to access the full Internet and applications that are available only on Windows, so non-Windows solutions have not had much impact on us. Incidentally, OQO computers run Linux well (and one customer got Mac OS X Leopard running well on the OQO), and we have many customers dual-booting Linux and Windows. As to …

dbmoore says:

… small form factor computers, such computers have been around for a long time without much impact on us. Our computers appeal to use cases where the computer must be with you at all times, and therefore must fit in a pocket, pouch, purse, or belt-clip (not in a computer bag).

Rob Bushway says:

I would agree that the size and integrated WWAN features of the Model 02 are certainly strengths, at least for the enterprise mobile user. However, I can certainly see where people might start to look at the coming competitors and certainly start to ask questions, though. Raising the discussions of ultra-mobility is certainly a good thing for OQO, I think.

Rob Bushway says:

I know you need to run in a few – 5 more minutes?

dbmoore says:

Works for me. To be honest, I’ve been doing a little work in the background while you’re typing/thinking :-)

Rob Bushway says:

same here! :-)

Rob Bushway says:

I noticed an entry on your blog about InkSeine and that it might be the app to make you start inking. I don’t see a lot of marketing from OQO in regards to the tablet pc features. I know you can’t comment about new / upcoming features, but do you see tablet pc support continuing in future models? What about capacitive touch?

dbmoore says:

InkSeine is a very cool application, and a great example of how Microsoft innovates. Another great tablet-oriented application is Mind Map, which my brother loves on his OQO. I can’t speak to the future, but touch and ink are going to be important market requirements going forward.

Rob Bushway says:

Yeah, touch is the hot buzz word of the day – thanks to Apple, of course. . Anything else on your mind you want to talk about before we close this up?

dbmoore says:

Just want to thank you for the great work you are doing. Keep it up!

Rob Bushway says:

Thanks, we all enjoying following the likes of OQO. It is certainly fun. I look forward to getting to talk with you again soon. Keep up the great work you and your entire team are doing at OQO. When you have a Model 03 ready that you want me to alpha / beta test for you – shoot me an email!

Rob Bushway says:

thanks again, Dennis

dbmoore says:

Thanks!

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