Synchronoss CEO: ‘Messy is good for us’

Glenn Lurie
Before joining Synchronoss, Lurie spent nearly 30 years at AT&T, where he led the wireless and consumer business. (Monica Alleven/Fierce Wireless)

As U.S. and other carriers around the world contend with flat to lower revenue growth and “frenemies” like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook, they’re faced with a “messy” situation, according to Synchronoss Technologies CEO Glenn Lurie.

As it all comes together, “it’s going to be messy,” he said during last week’s Mobile Future Forward (MFF) event hosted by Chetan Sharma Consulting. While it’s good for consumers and businesses, it’s messy for those in the middle of it.

“One of the reasons I joined Synchronoss and I’m excited to be at Synchronoss is messy is good for us because we’re there to support that messy and make it simple. We’re there to help make those things easier for them and be a support mechanism.”

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One of the areas in which Synchronoss is supporting wireless carriers is in premium cloud services. Cloud represents its top revenue-generating platform based on its partnership with Verizon and others on its white-label cloud platform.

Synchronoss is seeing significant interest around the globe in partnering for a premium cloud offering and “our funnel is the largest it’s ever been,” Lurie told investors during Synchronoss’ second-quarter earnings call last month, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. The company was also making progress with a “material new white label cloud customer” as that unnamed customer was preparing to launch.

According to Lurie, the content on a smartphone has become more valuable than the smartphone itself. It’s the photos, contacts and other things on the phone that make it so valuable, and that’s something every carrier can turn to their advantage. He believes the operators are seen as trusted keepers of this data, and each carrier should have its own premium cloud offering rather than ceding it all to Apple’s iCloud or Google’s Android shop. 

About joining the ‘other side’

Lurie joined Synchronoss after a long and distinguished career at AT&T, where he stepped down from his role as president and CEO of AT&T Mobility Consumer Operations in 2017. Synchronoss earlier this year announced that AT&T was expanding how it uses the Synchronoss Out-of-the-Box-Experience (OOBE), a customizable digital distribution channel.

At one point during the discussion with Sharma, Lurie quipped that carriers are hard to work with, something with which a lot of folks in the room seemed to commiserate.

“I spent 27 years working for a carrier, now I spent the last year and a half focused on every carrier, and what I’m seeing globally is carriers have to figure out how to make money. Revenues are down, revenues are flat, not everywhere but pretty much everywhere,” he said, noting that according to CTIA, U.S. operators are going to spend a collective $275 billion over a number of years to build out 5G, and they have to find other ways to make money.

In an interview last summer, Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner said that the cloud services arena is highly dependent on economies of scale, and Synchronoss doesn’t have the scale of an AWS, Microsoft or Google so it has to differentiate on better service, platforms and software that comes with it. “The big question is, it that enough?,” he said.

Not one to mince words, Lurie, who helped launch AT&T’s IoT business, said it’s only going to get “messier” in the near term for the wireless ecosystem, adding that there’s only going to be a few winners, and right now a lot of people are vying to compete in OTT, the IoT and other areas. “It’s going to get harder,” he said.