Interviews

“MediaKind is a mission, not a rebrand”: Georges Dabbaghi VP, Sales – MEA

Georges Dabbaghi, VP, Head of Sales – MEA at MediaKind, formerly Ericsson Media Solutions, explains how a 150-year heritage and a new corporate identity will offer the regional industry end-to-end solutions needed to embrace media of all kinds.

MediaKind, the new identity for Ericsson’s Media Solutions business, was unveiled globally last month, through a series of events and a live global webcast. In Dubai, the event was attended by the company’s channel partners as CEO Angel Ruiz elaborated on the vision of the new company. The new company will bring together media technology providers Aspex, Azuki Systems, Envivio, Fabrix, HyCGroup, Microsoft Mediaroom and Tandberg Television.

On January 31, 2018, BroadcastPro ME reported that Ericsson had sold its majority stake in Media Solutions to US private equity firm One Equity Partners. While Ericsson has retained 49% of the shares in Media Solutions, One Equity Partners, which reportedly has “deep expertise in media and telecom”, joins as new majority owner.

We asked Georges Dabbaghi, Vice President, Head of Sales – Middle East & Africa at MediaKind, about the rebranding, the challenges faced along the way and the company’s vision.

Critics have commented on the length of time the rebranding has taken. Did it adversely impact your operations here? Do you forsee a phase in which you have to regain momentum among existing and new customers?

MediaKind has set off on a mission, rather than a mere rebrand! This mission is set to drive next-generation live and on-demand mobile and multi-screen media experiences, and be the industry’s leading independent media technology company. We have spent a good amount of time with our customers and partners in this region discussing this mission and the steps needed to fulfil it, and were given unanimous support, as such focus and mission is needed in the media industry today.

Besides the name change to MediaKind, what in your view is new about the company?

The main novelty is that MediaKind is designed to embody the concept that media should inspire and unite humankind. MediaKind draws on Ericsson’s 150-year heritage of bringing communities together through fixed and mobile communications, and unites a number of media technology pioneers under one common identity. It addresses a new age where media is the fabric of society, captivating audiences, changing perceptions and bringing us together.

As I understand it, there will be a process of transition as Ericsson divests its 51% majority stake to private equity fund One Equity Partners, a move to be completed in Q3. Will there be any impact on your operations during this period?

Not at all. The team that will run MediaKind has been carefully put in place, from top management all the way down, to maintain seamless operation and business continuity to our customers. There is definitely more focus and proximity to customer needs and while our operations, product support and offerings continue as normal, MediaKind’s team will be more focused and attentive to our markets and customers with the new enabling structure.

Will One Equity Partners have representatives overseeing the Dubai operations? How will their presence help you?

MediaKind’s executive management was announced on July 10. We’re led by CEO Angel Ruiz, and in the region, we are part of the EMEA structure led by SVP Alex Borland. And both the board and executive management decisions will shape our regional presence in Dubai and the Middle East.

It was mentioned at the launch that Ericsson had spent $3 billion on the portfolio of assets going into MediaKind. What are these assets?

MediaKind combines the strength, power and heritage of media technology pioneers Aspex, Azuki Systems, Envivio, Fabrix, HyCGroup, Microsoft Mediaroom and Tandberg Television. It currently serves more than 900 cable, satellite, telecom service providers and broadcasters around the world, enabling them to compete and differentiate with immersive media experiences. MediaKind’s end-to-end video delivery solutions include Emmy award-winning video compression solutions for contribution and direct-to-consumer video service distribution, advertising and content personalisation solutions, high-efficiency cloud DVR, and TV and video delivery platforms.

MediaKind delivers these products and solutions at scale to nine of the top 10 global telecommunications companies, nine of the top 10 cable companies, nine of the top 10 satellite operators and eight of the top 10 broadcast/media companies.

When you look back at your own history and the state of the industry in the MENA, what are the big lessons learnt and what is your inspiration going forward?

We constantly learn from our experiences in MENA, as we have been a prime contributor to the media video infrastructure solutions here and remain committed [to the region], while many others have abandoned it or are about to.

MENA is a challenging market with unique attributes where infrastructure necessary to carry mass scale media to end users is still developing, and it faces challenges such as content availability, piracy and reach.

Building on our regional presence, we have sought to natively complement the value chain with media infrastructure solutions and services, simplify the integrations, enrich the UX experience and allow a plethora of encoding and transcoding features and protocols.

Our customer base in the region is growing and the main inspiration I can extract is that commitment, customer focus and excellence in offer and delivery pays.