Motorola's Fawaz: Customers Not 'Distracted' By Google Takeover

Ex-CTO of Charter Focuses on Bulking Up Professional Services, Software Integration

Large cable operators and other service provider customers have not been “distracted” by Google’s $12.4 billion takeover of Motorola Mobility, according to Marwan Fawaz, executive vice president of Motorola’s Home unit.

Fawaz, in one of his first media interviews since joining Motorola this summer, said in his first 90 days on the job he met with many customers, including the Home group's 10 largest accounts in North America.

“Certainly in a transition period around ownership, a lot of questions come up,” said Fawaz, formerly chief technology officer of Charter Communications. “At the end of the day, the quality and execution of our solutions is what makes the big difference.”

In May, Google closed the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, with the Internet giant primarily citing the latter’s cache of patents for the deal. Google hired Fawaz to run Motorola’s Home group in late June, replacing Motorola Mobility president Dan Moloney.

Fawaz said he is “very heartened by the feedback I’ve gotten the feedback from the industry,” adding, “We continue to win business, continue to expand our footprint. Our customers are not distracted by this.”

Meanwhile, Google has enlisted Barclays to explore the sale of Motorola Home starting sometime this fall, according to industry sources. Fawaz declined to address questions about the potential sale of the Home unit.

Under Fawaz’s leadership, the Motorola product and technology road map will not radically diverge from the course under the previous regime, he said. The Home unit will continue to have a strong focus on helping MSOs make the transition to all-IP video-delivery infrastructures.

However, “we’re more focused on the delivery and execution” of solutions for customers than before, Fawaz said. In the last three months, Motorola has staffed up in two key areas: professional services and software integration.

“We are enabling our clients to enable this transformation [to IP video],” Fawaz said. “We’re reconstituting our professional services to help our customers through these transitions, especially for customers who don’t have the resources.”

The “vast majority” of Motorola’s engineers are now in software development, though Fawaz declined to provide details on current staffing levels.

At the same time, Motorola is in the process of cutting 4,000 jobs across the entire company -- including both the Home and Mobile Devices segments -- or about 20% of the worldwide workforce. Earlier this month, Google said further cutbacks at Motorola may result in additional “significant” charges. Fawaz declined to discuss the layoffs.

As part of the focus on services, Motorola has formed a new organization dedicated to strategic integration of architecture. The aim is to deliver pre-integrated packages geared around specific solutions -- such as network DVR -- that can be rapidly installed and customized for operators, Motorola senior vice president of strategy and technology Matt Bell said.

“With solutions that are pre-integrated from the bottom of the stack up to the user experience… the operator can focus on user experience,” Bell said. He previously worked with Fawaz at Charter and Denver-based consulting firm Sarepta Advisors.

Fawaz said he decided to join Motorola because he saw it as “an opportunity to impact the industry I love.”

“What attracted me the most is the talent we have,” he said. “Now I get to be on the inside driving that.”

Asked what he would ask Motorola’s top execs if he were still Charter’s CTO, Fawaz said his questions would center on the things the company is now focusing on.

“I would ask, ‘How can you help me with the transition [to IP video], how can you help me bring that quicker to market, how can you extend it to my legacy deployments?’” he said. “From my background on the service provider side, I know what it takes to scale and deploy technology solutions.”