MSUA’s opening MSS CEO panel moderator Tim Farrar should have been behind a drum set instead of a podium so he could roll off the endless jabs and zingers being thrown between these heated competitors.
The discussion started off cordial – with executive leaders from Iridium, Inmarsat, Orbcomm, ICO, Thuraya and Terrastar congratulating Globalstar CEO Jay Monroe for yesterday’s $574 million in financing won from the French government’s Coface credit agency. Of course, pot shots were subtly tacked on… Iridium CEO Matt Desch and Inmarsat CEO Andy Sukawaty went so far as to team up and agree with each other in order to show their surprise at the game-changing financial move.
But things got a lot more awkward and uncomfortable as the session went on. Desch and Sukawaty, as expected, went at each other’s business models. Sukawaty even likened Iridium’s polar coverage as reaching “penguins and polar bears.” Desch’s comeback questioned Sukawaty’s praise for the consumer market. “It’s just not profitable.”
And, of course, the other CEOs said stuff too – mostly advertising their new gadgets and services. But, the fact that this was largely overshadowed by the zinger-fest brings up an interesting point – are these hostilities a sign of confidence, or worry?
Some of Globalstar’s competition would have liked to see one less speaker on the panel (see Iridium’s aggressive ‘trade from Globalstar to Iridium’ campaigns), but as Tim Farrar humorously points out – “This panel is like the ‘Hotel California,’ no one ever leaves.”