It was 6:30 on Sunday morning, August 9th, 2007 when Ted Morgan, the Boston based CEO of a little location technology start-up called Skyhook Wireless, got a totally unexpected call from an absolute stranger in California.
Who calls a complete stranger at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning – especially from California, where it was 3:30 am?
Only one man, of course. Steve Jobs. And Jobs was calling Morgan to license Skyhook’s technology for his new iPhone. The rest of the successful relationship between Apple and Skyhook, of course, is history – but it’s been captured for posterity in a Harvard Business School case study used by faculty to teach entrepreneurial students how to manage this kind of out-of-the-blue opportunity. Every entering student at Harvard Business School is taught the Skyhook case. But only one or two may be lucky enough to have a similarly magical experience with their start-up.
Morgan and Skyhook are also in the news for quite different reasons. After originally working with Google to provide Skyhook technology for the Android platform, Morgan claims that Google put pressure on Motorola and Samsung which “forced” them to choose Google’s own in-house location technology over Skyhook’s. So Skyhook is now involved in a lawsuit against Google’s supposedly anti-competitive behavior and Morgan told me his side of the story when he came into our San Francisco studio. Given today’s identification of the Google data engineer behind the company’s controversial Street View project, this interview with Morgan, who is one of Google’s most persistent critics on the data and location fronts, is particularly timely.
Skyhook is the leading provider of location positioning, context and intelligence worldwide. Skyhook developed the Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS). Taking advantage of the hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi access points throughout populated areas, WPS consistently provides accurate location information indoors and in urban areas. Skyhook Wireless obtained tremendous overnight growth in January 2008 at the Macworld Conference & Expo, where Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that the iPhone and iPod touch would use their Wi-Fi Positioning System as the location...