Tech industry collision to benefit Chicago

January 17, 2005


Typically collisions are bad. Mike Mulica, CEO of Bridgeport Networks, thinks the smashing together of cellular-telephone technology with emerging voice over Internet protocol technology will be a boon for Chicago.

On Thursday, Mulica hosts a Global Convergence Summit at the Fairmont Hotel to explore the coming seismic shift in the telephone business.

His aim: make Chicago headquarters for the revolution. He wants to position his Chicago-based company as a leading software merchant for the coming battle.

"We're pioneering mobile VoIP," Mulica says. "There's a real opportunity to build an ecosystem that's local because there are a lot of companies in Chicago that are going to benefit from the convergence." He cites Motorola, PCTel, UTStarcom and Lucent.

"Two industries are colliding," says Mulica, referring to the powerhouse cellular industry invented here by Motorola and the emerging Internet telephony business.

Mulica's bringing to town tech legend Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and inventor of the Ethernet, to evangelize about Internet telephony. Presenting the cellular industry view is Tom Wheel-er, former CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, who guided the cellular industry through its phenomenal growth.

"There's going to be a dramatic reduction in cost to subscribers and an enormous change in the way that service providers [phone companies] are structured," says Mulica, who worries about potential chaos in the future communications marketplace. "We bring a place for the industry to land that isn't a free-for-all."

If you're wondering what new technology is going to rock the world, it's VoIP, and the future will be outlined by Mulica Thursday at the Fairmont.

Concourse buys Ingate Tech

Joe Beatty, president of Chicago-based Concourse Communications, a provider of wireless networks in major North American airports, today will announce the acquisition of California-based Ingate Technologies. Ingate specializes in placing for-profit Internet terminals at airports. The acquisition allows Concourse to offer Web access to travelers who don't have their laptops. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Ignition partners

When Microsoft CFO John Connors stepped down last week, few Chicagoans noticed he joined Bellevue, Wash.-based VC firm Ignition Partners.

Two of Connors' partners, Bill Malloy and John Zagula, were recently in Chicago searching for promising early stage companies in software and communications. Malloy trained at Kellogg, and resides on the North Shore. Zagula grew up in the west suburbs, and trained at Marquette. Can they be persuaded to open a Chicago office? Just asking.

NextFest, Next June

Wired Magazine last week confirmed that NextFest will be held at Navy Pier. NextFest showcases state-of-the-art innovations, and is expected to draw more than 25,000 visitors.

The event kicks off with a free-for-students education day on June 24. World Business Chicago's Dan Lyne snared Wired's NextFest for Navy Pier.

Bits & bytes

Libertyville native Katie Graham is looking to fill one of the top technology posts in Chicago. The Heidrick & Struggles search executive is screening candidates for the CIO role at Sara Lee. The position is a plum in this town, and Graham's phone has been ringing fiercely.

Tech events are big this week. i. c. stars holds its third annual stakeholders meeting today at Bin 36, Judith Sprieser, CEO of Transora speaks. ... Office of Emergency Management and Communications Executive Director Ron Huberman appears Wednesday at the Society for Information Management meeting at Spiaggia. .. . Joel Berez convenes the MIT Enterprise Forum Wednesday at Gardner, Carton & Douglas to reflect on, "What happened to my stock options?"

Lisle Tech Partners CEO Adarsh Arora hosts TiE (The IndUS Entrepreneurs) Thursday evening at Gardner, Carton & Douglas for an "Acquisition Transaction Role-Play." The event explores what goes on behind the scenes when a start-up company faces an acquisition offer. ... Bruce Montgomery advises the 700-member Chicago chapter of the Black Data Processing Associates when it holds its 16th annual awards ban- quet Saturday at the Hyatt Regency.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.



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