Experts from Cisco, OnStar, PocketThis, and Mayfield Discuss Opportunities on the Horizon and Prospects for New Wireless Ventures

PALO ALTO, CA–September 20, 2002–A standing room crowd of private equity investors turned out Thursday evening to hear from Cingular Wireless CEO Stephen Carter and a panel of wireless market thought leaders during “State of the Art: Wireless.” Hosted by technology-focused boutique investment bank Garage Technology Ventures, State of the Art is a series of invitation-only gatherings designed to bring together private equity investors, thought leaders, and emerging technology companies to explore the future technology trends, business models, and investment opportunities in specific technology sectors.

“WiFi, 3G, GSM, CDMA: Millions of dollars have been invested in the very wide world of the wireless,” said Garage CEO Guy Kawasaki. “The tide is out now, but the experts agree there will be room in the marketplace for new companies and opportunities for investors. We hope this State of the Art’s exploration will help stimulate investment opportunities.”

In his fireside chat with Kawasaki, Cingular CEO Carter said, “For proliferation of new services to take effect in wireless, you need a combination of advanced networks, cool devises and great applications. It’s the compelling applications that are going to draw more people to a data environment. And, cool applications can come from anywhere–nobody really has a franchise on good ideas for creating wireless applications.” For its part, Cingular has created a developers program to make it easy for individuals or groups to build applications with access to a live network.

Mayfield partner Janice Roberts warned the audience, “The U.S. is behind and slow about cellular. I’d like to see the industry be more active in helping to build momentum in the market and get us caught up with what’s going on in other parts of the world, and capitalize on those opportunities.”

“Many think wireless is dead, but in fact we’re just now at the beginning of the wirelessly connected world,” said panelist J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., principal analyst with MobileTrax and partner with Diamondhead Ventures. “We’ll likely see great innovation as both local and wide area wireless data networks finally get built out. Security, manageability, seamless over-the air synchronization are examples of ripe areas for investment.”

In addition to Ms. Roberts and Dr. Purdy, the panel of experts and entrepreneurs from several wireless sectors included:

  • Nancy Benovich Gilby, CEO, PocketThis
  • Jane Macfarlane, Director of Advanced Technology Planning, OnStar
  • Bill Rossi, Vice President and General Manager, Wireless Networking Business Unit, Cisco Systems

Panelists were asked to identify favored areas for potential growth and the factors they see as obstacles to adoption of wireless services. A pop quiz, on the prospects for future wireless developments, yielded thumbs up to several categories, including:

  • Security
  • 2.5 G
  • Phones with PDAs
  • Enterprise applications
  • Consumer applications
  • Wireless LAN networking infrastructure software

“Security is the biggest impediment to the adoption of WiFi in the enterprise,” said Cisco’s Bill Rossi. “We’re generally seeing IT being very conservative. But I think, when we begin to see new applications that will change and it will really begin to rock.”

“Global wireless messaging is a very attractive proposition and could be very exciting when you think of voice, data, rich media, pictures and video,” Roberts opined.

Nancy Benovich Gilby gave insight to content developers: “People are really stepping away from being connected too much. They want to be able to choose. They want personal choice when they are mobile.”

OnStar’s Jane Macfarlane envisioned what the future holds for wireless networks. “From an advanced technology perspective, I’d like to see 802.11 in automobiles next. Then, the next step is to think of vehicles as mobile networks.”

About Garage Technology Ventures
Garage Technology Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm located in Silicon Valley focusing on emerging technology companies on the West Coast. The firm is currently investing in its third fund, a seed-stage and early-stage fund anchored with an investment from CalPERS. Unlike some venture funds, Garage is happy to support first-time entrepreneurs who are building the next great technology company.

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