Tech investor Roger McNamee unplugged

Roger McNamee and I have known each other since the mid-1980s when he was the lone tech investor at T. Rowe Price and I was an editor at Macworld magazine.


Roger McNamee and I have known each other since the mid-1980s when he was the lone tech investor at T. Rowe Price and I was an editor at Macworld magazine. He went on to be one of most highly regarded tech investors and a Silicon Valley rock star (check out The Flying Other Brothers), and I stayed with the journalism thing and confine my musical activity to air guitar. I caught up with Roger prior to his participation in a Churchill Club panel, "Buy, Sell or Hold: The Outlook for Technology Stocks."

In our audio interview [the interview can be download as an MP3; if you’re already subscribed to our podcast feed, it will show up in your podcatcher automatically] Roger says (0:45) that he doesn’t expect much lift in the enterprise computing sector for the next two or three years, which he attributes to a lack of compelling applications and continued overhang from the big spending boom around Y2K at the end of the millennium.

On the subject of Siebel, Roger doesn't see the CRM provider going it alone: "To a first


approximation, every new license for the major enterprise applications that are client/server-based has already been bought... there will be a few companies that grow to be large enough to require SAP or new Oracle installations. The reality is that customers would love to see higher integration across the entire core suite of applications, which suggests that Siebel ulimately gets acquired by somebody." He also thinks that Web service applications will take ten years to evolve best practices that are accepted across a large enough universe to encourage packaged applications in any individual category.

Consumer technology is on a faster growth rate, and Roger believes (8:43) that the most successful products will help people make better use of their time, such as mobile playback systems that allow you to take your movies with you. But he also says that people who spend hours on travel services looking to save $50 on an airfare or investing without sufficient domain knowledge is a terrible

use of time. Roger's latest venture, Elevation Partners, moves into the entertainment space, which he says (13:28) has historically avoided technology: "The technology strategy of choice is to try to erect barriers around intellectual property to prevent theft, but those barriers are also barriers to consumption. They are in effect limiting their markets and aggravating customers at same time. Digital rights management is about giving customers a product they want, in a form they want, and at a price they want to pay." Technology is creating new forms of distribution that go directly from creative people to consumers. Roger says that Elevation plans to pursue a strategy that is "fundamentally different and complementary to the powers that be," investing in music, video game and online areas. For the near term, investing in entertainment without stirring up someone's nest of bees will be an artful act, but it won't be a new experience for Roger and his partners, which include U2's singular Bono...

We also have an MP3 version of the full Churchill panel packed with all kinds of tech investor advice here...