Navigating the Telecom Supply Chain with Matt Hiles at Mosaic Networx

I first met Matt Hiles while he was director of business development with Looking Glass Networks in Los Angeles. As a customer looking for telecom services, navigating the providers, technologies, and deal structures can be confusing. Matt took the time to explain all aspects of the business, cost structures, and how he would get us a great deal – while still making money for his company. Matt stood out alone from a world of “wheeling and dealing” telecom sales people, unique in providing the customer a level of confidence they were getting the best product, for the best price, with the best service.

Pacific-Tier: Today we have Matt Hiles, managing partner with Mosaic Networx. Hello Matt! So tell us a little about yourself, how did you get into this business?

Matt Hiles: I started in telecommunications right out of college, and I’ve been in the business, in one form or another, since – which is about 20 years. I’ve been in a variety of telecommunications, voice, and service providers. I’ve also spent a period of time in the data center side of the industry as well.

Pacific-Tier: now you are with Mosaic Networx. Can you give a little background on Mosaic. What are you, what do you do, and what type of business problems do you solve?

Matt Hiles: Mosaic Networx is a carrier neutral, data services provider. We provide a supply chain management service primarily for enterprise companies, but secondarily to wholesale providers and telecommunications providers. From a supply chain management perspective we provide a value add in three functional areas which are pricing, procurement, and provisioning.

What we’ve found is that, in the enterprise space, there is a lack, or need in one of those areas. Typically all of those areas. Where enterprise decision-makers and IT managers don’t have the depth and breadth of knowledge of the telecommunications providers and options that are available.

So we price them, then procure them, provision them, and then manage them ongoing on the back end.

Pacific-Tier: Well, that’s pretty cool. So who is your market, who would be your customer?

Matt Hiles: Our customers are small, medium, and we even have several Fortune 500 companies. We have a strong vertical in the financial services market. Specifically we work with the low-latency, high frequency trading guys. We’ve also worked with public wholesale companies who may not have the buying power we have, so we add some pricing value for those types.

Pacific-Tier: I’ve noticed you are based in Long Beach, California. Other people in your company are scattered around the United States, with diverse locations for your primary management team – does that provide you any challenges?

Matt Hiles: I imagine it provides some challenge, although It would be hard to quantify them. We haven’t really seen them. I think where we’ve done an outstanding job in is finding the right people.

We have 18 personnel in the functional areas in the company, whether its finance or operations, or on the sales side as well. So the distributed environment that we have seems to work out just fine.

Would we have a little bit more camaraderie in a common office? Probably.

Pacific-Tier: So it’s rather tough economic time right now. We’ve had kind of a sketchy run over the last year. What motivated you to start up a company in the last year or so and how do you feel about being an entrepreneur in a tough economic environment?

Matt Hiles: So, I suppose that timings everything, right? We didn’t know we would start a company in a tough economic period. But, the economy notwithstanding , I think there is always business. And for innovative entrepreneurs who can go out and create value for customers, provide them an outstanding customer experience, then good or bad times I think you can be successful.

Pacific-Tier: So what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs, graduates who are looking at a tough economy, what advice do you have for other budding visionaries and entrepreneurs?

Matt Hiles: I think you have to have an expertise. It doesn’t make a lot of sense in my mind to venture into an area as an entrepreneur where you don’t have years of background and can consider yourself a subject-matter expert. I think that is (not being a subject-matter expert) a recipe for disappointment.

But somebody who has spent their time in a corporate environment, learning an area, and then able to translate that into, you know, a startup environment, then I’d encourage them to be entrepreneurs, and entrepreneur owners.

Pacific-Tier: That’s great advice. Give a little pitch for you company. Where do we find you?

Matt Hiles: You can find our company at Mosaic Networx, and the domain is mosaicnetworx.com . if you would like to reach us we’d be happy to hear from you.

Pacific-Tier: Thank you very much for the time!

Matt Hiles is Managing Partner and Executive Vice President of Mosaic NetworX, LLC.  Prior to joining Mosaic NetworX, LLC in early 2008, Mr. Hiles was the Director of Business Development at Looking Glass Networks responsible for both Enterprise and Wholesale revenues.  He was also instrumental in the creation and development of asset-based, network infrastructure projects around the country.  Mr. Hiles has an established record of success within the telecommunications and data center industries spanning nearly 20 years.  During his career, he has held executive and leadership positions at Allnet Communications, MFS, WorldCom, Level 3, and DCI Technology Holdings.Matt attended Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, where he earned an ALB degree in Government – US/Soviet Relations.

Stimulating Green in Long Beach

Green technology and green living are nearly as popular in the world of buzz words as solving global hunger and “i-Everything.” Some cities take the topic more seriously. Looking at the Long Beach Press-Telegram on July 2nd, 2009, of four headlines, three dealt with green projects and green initiatives within the city and Port of Long Beach.

Long Beach is an important city, not only to the Los Angeles area, but also to the entire United States. With the adjacent Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach Port is the largest port facility in North America, and among the largest in the world. In addition, Long Beach sits on top of the Wilmington Oil Field, producing more than 15 million barrels of crude oil each year.

Island Grissom

Island Grissom

And yet, those of us who live in Long Beach find it one of the most exciting cities in the area, if not the country. Why? In addition to the urban renewal programs, Long Beach is a leader in green technologies and policies ranging from setting new global standards in the port, to world-renown desalination projects, to innovations in the Wilmington Oil Field that make an often maligned industry a source of pride for the city.

Cleaning the Ports

While the Port facilities may account for a large percentage of the pollutants covering the greater LA Basin, Long Beach is taking creative and positive steps to reduce the impact of container ships and diesel trucks on the environment.

Construction of the Alameda Corridor, a 20 mile largely underground train line connecting the port facilities to cargo distribution facilities in downtown Los Angeles (the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility), took hundreds of diesel trucks off the road, and further increased efficiency offloading and onloading cargo at the port. From the Los Angeles distribution center, cargo is further sent on to destinations throughout the United States and Canada, using much cleaner rail systems. Current development projects are focused on replacement of existing train locomotives with electric trains, further reducing the impact of container transfer in and out of the port.

Another recent innovation within the port of Long Beach is the new “Dockside Power System,” which allows ships visiting the port to plug into electrical systems provide at dockside power stations, allowing container ships to use electrical auxiliary power systems, rather than continuing to burn diesel while docked at port. The LA Times reports that “emissions reductions amount to 50%, even when factoring in pollution created by power plants in generating the electricity.”

Water Desalination Projects

The Long Beach Desalination project started in 1996 with a federal grant authorizing funding for construction of a pilot plant pumping 9000 gallons per day. With innovations patented by the Long Beach Water Department (invented by Diem Voung, Asst GM at the LBWD) called the “Long Beach Method,” the city has perfected a two stage nano-filtration process which reduces the amount of energy required to desalinate water by up to 30%.

Long Beach Reclaimed Water

Long Beach Reclaimed Water

Long Beach’s current desalination project called the “Long Beach Seawater Desalination Research & Development Facility” is the largest project of its kind in the United States, producing more than 300,000 gallons per day. The output from this facility will reduce the city of Long Beach’s need for Colorado River water by more than 15%.

To be honest, there are many other desalination projects in cities lining the coast, including Huntington Beach, San Diego, Oxnard, and others. However Long Beach has provided, and will continue to provide, strong leadership in global desalination initiatives.

Of the “green” headlines in the LB Press-Telegram mentioned above, one story does discuss a grant of nearly $3,000,000 in stimulus funds to further develop Long Beach’s desalination technology and innovations.

Another great project within the city is the use of reclaimed water. In 2008 Long Beach provided more than 1.5 billion gallons of reclaimed or non-potable water to various users for both landscaping, as well as “grey” water usage in air conditioning systems used within commercial properties.

The reclaimed water project is using water from many different sources, including water runoff from storms, barrier water from the Los Angeles River, and other waste water which would normally run into the Pacific Ocean.

The Wilmington Oil Field

There is no real way to have a completely clean environment when you are dealing with oil. Not only the waste surrounding drilling and pumping oil, but also the process of refining oil creates a tremendous environmental mess. The area starting in Long Beach, and passing through Carson to El Segundo supply much of the refined oil used by California drivers, and drivers in surrounding states.

Vintage Wilmington Oil Field

Vintage Wilmington Oil Field

Until we, as a culture, further embrace transportation which does not require the use of fossil fuels, we will not have a clean environment. The one concession Long Beach has made to reducing the negative impact of pumping oil from the rich Wilmington Oil Field, which underlies much of the area from San Pedro to Seal Beach, is some beautification of the oil pumping islands in San Pedro Bay.

The photo on the top of this page shows Island Grissom near the Shoreline Drive area of Long Beach, in sharp contrast to the historic photo immediately above showing the old Long Beach and Signal Hill of past, when the priority was drilling at any cost. The Honolulu Advertiser has mentioned the efforts to produce a more pleasing façade to the oil field as a “prime example of the aesthetic mitigation of technology.”

There are four offshore islands, operated by THUMS (originally named for a consortium consisting of Texaco, Humble, Union, Mobil and Shell — T.H.U.M.S.) are named after astronauts who died in NASA accidents (Freeman, Chaffee, White, and Grissom), and are about 10 acres apiece. From these island drilling platforms, constructed in the 1960s and 70s, more than 1200 oil wells have been placed. (AAPG Explorer)

To its credit, THUMS has never recorded a major oil leak or spill, and claims that “in addition to investing millions of dollars to install pollution limiting equipment throughout our operations, we are working to help meet California’s energy needs by developing a long term supply of clean burning natural gas.” (Frank Komin, THUMS facility Manager)

The Reality and the Future

While the Long Beach Port area continues to be a major source of pollutants in the LA Basin, the city and community continue to push Long Beach to be a leader in not only solving the local problems of a damaged environment, but also use creativity and technology to produce a better future for Long Beach and the world. Of particular note, the desalination projects within Long Beach are a major source of community pride.

Blogs and Trust – the Debate Continues

Riding home on a train from New York City to Long Beach (NY) gives a creative mind a lot of time to think through a variety of topics, and form a variety of opinions on those topics. In the current wired world, there are many different methods of bringing those thoughts to both friends and others via tools available via the Internet.

“I find time (to write) in airplanes, taxis, and while riding the train. I will write myself articles on the Blackberry, email to myself, and publish (to a blog) when I get home” Hunter Newby

Blogs are becoming a very popular way of bringing your story to both your friends and the rest of the connected world. Friends who read your blogs (or email), tend to have fairly high confidence that what you write is based on some level of fact. Or they simply enjoy reading your accounts of events happening in your part of the world.

Corporate blogs, or blogs based on meeting the marketing objectives of a company, are generally not accepted with a high level of trust, or respect (according to a recent Forrester report). On the other hand, those companies promoting the work of individual bloggers with an identity that both supplements and transcends the corporation tend to attract a more loyal following of readers that may even continue after the blogger leaves a company.

Hunter Newby, CEO and Founder of Allied Fiber, and seasoned blog writer, has a large following of readers spread over several subject areas. Newby often uses blogs as a record of conversations and people he meets. “I come across people every single day with unique, interesting, and useful stories, knowledge and information” says Newby.

Those conversations and experiences should not be lost. To ensure the conversations retain their value to current and future readers, it is important for Newby to format his blogs and material in a way that is “not only useful for readers today, but also informative for people in the future.”

Blogging and reporting current events are different. While journalists provide expertise in evaluating specific events, good bloggers also bring a high level of tacit knowledge and experience to the blog.

If a writer like Newby discusses a topic such as Carrier Hotels or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), his opinions and views are based on many years as a professional in the industry.

When interviewing or recording conversations with other professionals in the field, he is able to apply that tacit knowledge with the new conversation, and draw conclusions and opinions not possible if the same conversation had been recorded by a journalist.

The main issue with reading those blogs is trust. The reader has to assume that either the blogger is an expert in his field, or the blogger’s work can easily be cross-referenced and fact-checked. Most good bloggers will be a mix of both, understanding that new readers and casual readers will initially look at blogs with a level of skepticism – until a level of trust in the credibility of a blogger is attained.

Newby also warns that blogging may be used in nefarious ways, including deception and intentional misrepresentation of fact. Giving the example of Orson Welles original broadcast of the “War of the Worlds,” he notes that people expect media outlets to record and represent the truth. Orson Welles was a real, card-carrying journalist, and nobody had any reason to doubt his word.

The result of this breach of trust is a matter of history – the people of America actually believed the country was being invaded by Martians, and it caused mass-hysteria around the country.

While blogs may appear in an expendable format (most blogs are a roll of new articles by date, and in many cases are placed in a database that may or may not be permanent), search engine utilities provided by companies such as Google are becoming much better at indexing blogs. Google also provides a very powerful search utility for blog topics, adding another level of “findability” to blog topics.

As print journalism continues to lose ground to online media and blogging, and the number of bloggers continues to grow (according to the blogHerald this number may exceed 50 million), we will need to add more filters to blogs, remain skeptical, and also embrace blogs as a new media of not only receiving news, but also learning more from people around the world with ideas and opinions of interest to us in our personal and professional lives.

So the prevailing opinion is that blogs are not a problem, and that blogs are in fact a great tool. As with all things, people bring value, or take value away from the media. Blog on, and bring value to your blog.  Be a citizen journalist, gather readers, and express yourself in a positive way. Base your message or stories on fact, or back it up with solid experience.

“I get emails from people all over the world responding to my articles. I’ve even had messages from soldiers on the front lines in Iraq asking me questions on how to call home using VoIP.” Hunter Newby

If your message brings value, then you will also, as Hunter Newby, be driven to educate people in mass. Now that is a personal characteristic we can respect, and thank the blog for helping bring it to us!

 

John Savageau, Long Beach (California)

Don’t Give Up on Metro Rail Services

My preferred route from downtown Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles is the LA Metro Rail Blue Line. I pay $1.25 for a one-way trip, $5 for a day pass, and an additional investment point-to-point of around 45 minutes. That actually returns an ROI of +25 minutes during the evening, as the commute via rail is nearly half the time as driving on the 710 or 110 freeways.

Most of the Blue Line riders are blue collar workers, with a few professionals – such as myself – peppering the platforms in the Long Beach area. The Blue Line route takes you through some of the more famous (or notorious) sections of Los Angeles, including Artesia, Compton, Watts, and So. Central LA.

In 5 years riding the Blue Line I have never seen an incident of misconduct, other than the occasional over-zealous sheriff deputy asserting himself as a combat-ready ticket checker, ensuring no miscreant traveler has dared climb the train platform without having paid their fare.

All-in-all the LA Metro Blue Line is convenient, low-cost transportation serving the needs of Long Beach and South Los Angeles Country workers and commuters.

Each day LA Metro rail services carry around 300,000 riders, with very little drama compared to other large city transit systems. If you add Metro Bus Services, that number bounces up to around 1.6 million riders each day, making it the third largest public transportation system in the United States.

About once a year you have an accident involving a bus or rail car which results in a serious injury or death. Thus, if you believe in averages, one person in around 584 million passengers will be in danger of death or serious injury using Los Angeles County public transportation.

Compare this to the road and freeway system, where the California Highway Patrol site lists an average of around 60 serious traffic accidents (injuries) each day in the LA County area. To the credit of Los Angeles, the police do enforce strict jay-walking laws, limiting the number of pedestrian accidents in busy intersections.

The recent tragic accidents on the Washington DC Metro highlights the scale and violence of a train collision. Nine people died, and many more seriously injured. Tragic. And since the collision was head-on, it likely had human error as the cause. Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty described the Monday evening collision as “the deadliest in the subway system’s 33-year history.” (AFP)

Even with this globally viewed event, and the violent images displayed, metro rail and bus transit is a good thing. Metro moves a tremendous number of people, for a very reasonable cost, with very good frequency. Metro is environmentally sound, using electricity and CNG (compressed natural gas) for fuel. Metro rail is good for the people of Los Angeles, the city, and our precious So Cal environment.

Let’s not use Washington DC’s tragic event to influence or sway our confidence in the LA Metro. Rather let’s continue to concentrate our efforts to encourage development, construction, and use of public mass transit systems. We will develop safer, more efficient, and more attractive trains and buses, even in a city with a traditional love affair with the automobile.

Ride the Metro, and send comments with your impressions and experiences!

 

John Savageau, Long Beach

Why I Hate Kayaks

The Wilmington Oil Field, which crosses the basin stretching from San Pedro, through Long Beach and Signal Hill, to Seal Beach (California), is the third largest oil deposit in the United States.   A wonderful energy resource serving the United States which has provided more than 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil since 1932.

Shift to Colorado, Independence Day, 2008.  I arrived at the Denver airport (landing through a brown cloud of smog that makes an autumn afternoon in Los Angeles look healthy), rented the cheapest vehicle I could get my hands on, and started the trip up I-70 to work near Vail for the coming week.  Imagine my surprise to see a traffic jam that pretty much started in Denver, and went up the mountain as far as Breckenridge.  Even more surprising, was the fact around 85% of the traffic jam consisted of SUVs and trucks, with at least 50% of those trucks sporting kayaks strapped to the roof.

 Whales Near Seal Beach, California — Interesting idea – a state that prides itself on its relationship with nature, yet those who participate in nature, promote and evangelize nature, and promote the care and feeding of nature – appear at least to an outsider, as openly violating the laws of nature.

Shift to the period prior to the US general election.  Battle cries of “drill baby drill” come from the conservatives.  Open off-shore drilling, the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), and increase production in other areas of the US.  Reduce our dependence on Middle East and South American oil through increased production in the USA.  Stop sending money to countries who may not like Americans very much.

On a superficial level, this is all good.  On a national resource and environmental level, this may not be so good.

When we start talking about offshore drilling, we need to keep in mind we, as human beings, share the oceans with a lot of other animals and plant life.  The planet depends on a very fragile eco-system to continue producing oxygen, food, and energy.  Significant disruption to any geographic area has a ripple effect on how the eco-system operates.

In a city like Long Beach, the city leadership understands that we must find a balance between producing energy, and preserving the quality of life needed by both people and the environment.  We must drill for oil, as our nation relies on oil for growth and survival.  However oil, like fresh water and clean air, needs to be respected.

So Long Beach tries to gain the best from both worlds – producing energy, and ensuring a healthy relationship with the environment.  A partnership between drilling, and living. 

 Long Beach Oil Drilling Island — However that has not always been the case.  In the early part of the 20th century Long Beach and the Wilmington Oil Field attracted wildcatters, oil companies, and all others hoping to cash in on the financial frenzy driven by oil.  In just the Long Beach – Signal Hill area, several thousand oil wells were drilled, with no regard to the environmental impact that would result from the production of oil.  Of course the rest is history, and the Long Beach area is just now starting to recover from the toxic nightmare which followed the initial drilling.

Until recently, most thought the Wilmington Oil Field was just about tapped out.   Now we know there is a lot more oil, we just need to be smarter in how we get to it for exploitation.  In addition, we need to ensure the oil is used to meet the needs of not only California, but also as a strategic reserve for the United States. 

 Old Signal Hill Oil Field — Shift again back to Colorado in July 2008.  We talk and talk about being environmentally smart.  We talk about building new sources of renewable energy, high speed train lines, and hybrid vehicles that will use everything from natural gas to hydrogen fuels.  Then we strap a kayak on our luxury SUV, fill the tank with the high octane gasoline needed to drive that big V8 engine, and head for the hills.

As a resident of Long Beach, I see this problem, and think that conservatives, liberals, pseudo-environmentalists, and media noise makers need to walk the talk.  If you want to save the environment, and become energy independent, then maybe we need to find a way to strap that kayak on top of a Prius or other hybrid on the way up the mountain.  Maybe we don’t need the monster truck to drive to a bar or diner in West Virginia – we can prove how tough we are by riding a horse.

I think I’d start liking kayaks again if I saw more people strap the kayak on the back of a hybrid next to a bicycle, then ride the bicycle down to the ocean or their nearest stream from a common parking lot, and put into the water.   Until then, every time I need to take my rental sub-compact to a meeting not served by a metro or rail line, and see a traffic jam of kayakers driving pickup trucks and SUVs, I will be unhappy and angry.  Like the whale in the picture above, I will wonder “what are you thinking?”

 Long Beach Oil Refinery — I promote development and exploration or new forms of clean energy.  I fully support becoming a “green” society.  There is a balance we need to meet through creative and non-destructive use of natural sources of energy including wind, solar, hydrogen, and hydro power.  We can all contribute, whether it is through better personal resource discipline, or by supporting people and organizations (such as the T. Boone Pickens Energy Plan) who are dedicated to helping solve this problem.

Kayaking is a heck of a lot of fun.

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