Charlie Nooney, CEO of IP-based video delivery solutions specialist MobiTV, has overseen a lot of change in his 10 years as chief executive, including a recent agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) which could enable the 800-plus pay-TV providers within NCTC’s membership to remain competitive through transitioning their offerings to IP/app-based solutions.
Nooney has held a number of executive positions including president of Technicolor Network Services, chairman of Screenvision and CEO of Premier Retail Networks. He also spent 15 years with Disney/ABC Cable Networks as EVP of affiliate sales and marketing.
Chief Executive spoke with Nooney about his decade at the helm of MobiTV, and the challenges of leading a company in the rapidly-evolving mobile tech space.
Q: What are your thoughts on leadership and how it impacts building a company culture that breeds success?
A: Leadership is ever-evolving. No matter how old you are, it is an ever-evolving process and you continue to learn and try to develop new leadership skills. I have a couple of simple philosophies. One is, “Would I want to work for me?” That is one I keep in mind at all times. “Would I want to come in every day and work for me?” Most days I would! There are a few days I wouldn’t go near me!
And then, “I am only as good as the people I have around me.” I know those are very simple things, but at the end of the day, I think people always underestimate hiring. As much emphasis as people put on it, I think people still underestimate hiring. Because you know, you’re really only as good as the team and the team’s ability to work together.
Now that doesn’t mean everybody has to be best friends. But at the end of the day, you have to really think about skill sets, think about the types of individuals you are hiring. Make sure that when you interview someone, you are not only looking at a piece of paper, but you are looking at the individuals. And that is how you build teams.
“The worst thing as a leader you can do is to put your feet in cement and never change.”
And then, probably the biggest thing is making sure that you keep the vision in front of everybody. And the vision can evolve. The worst thing as a leader you can do is to put your feet in cement and never change. So, the vision can evolve, but you always have to keep your vision in front of people. If you do that, it challenges you to make sure the vision makes sense, that you are not jumping around from spot to spot, that it makes sense. But it also forces you to make sure that it evolves and stays ahead of the curve.
Q: Are there any characteristics that stand out when you are looking to add somebody new to your team or promote from within?
A: The first one I always keep in mind, “Do I want to have dinner with this person?” Because if I don’t want to have dinner with them, I don’t want to work with them. I know that sounds kind of silly, but it is always in the back of my mind.
It really comes down to the fact that you look for people who have good work ethics. Obviously, being a CEO who is running a technology company made up of software engineers, I can’t quiz them on how to write code. But I trust people who can. So you know, the skills sets are important, but really, whatever size you are, if you convey that culture of, “This is who we want to be, and this is our values, and this is who we are,” whether you are 50 people, 500 people, 5,000 people, that will resonate.
Q: What are some of the biggest changes that you have seen in the mobile tech space over the past decade?
A: I have been charting the changes in this industry for a long time. But over the last 10 years, if you look at some of the things that really made this industry what it is, certainly you have to look at things like the invention of the iPad.
It sounds like a very simple thing, but prior to that you had very segmented delivery systems for mobile devices, for TVs, for web service, etc., and then you start having these new forms come in, and all of a sudden you have this form factor that no one had anticipated. So, from a content standpoint, it became very disruptive. It really disrupted new technology. People talked about convergence forever, but all of a sudden it was here, and everybody had to no longer live in this single space of, “I am only going to deliver my video to a set-top box. I am only going to deliver my video to this.” And I think that was a big change in the video sector.
And, certainly, you can’t discount the emergence of Netflix. I mean, at the end of the day, I think that that is probably one of the big changes that the industry is impacted from, because you have a company like Netflix coming on and making such a disruptive impact on the industry. I mean, certainly it made a difference to Blockbuster!