Former BT CIO buys trendy telco platform startup

Former BT CIO buys trendy telco platform startup

BT said Tuesday that it has acquired Ribbit Corporation, a Silicon Valley startup (working in "Telco 2.0" indeed) for US$105m (£53m) in cash.

The idea of the Queen Mum of wiring and ducts buying groovy Ribbit -- developer of a software platform for building IP-based voice apps -- is interesting in itself and yet more proof that the bad old BT, with its rep for protectionism and blocking anything that challenges its cash cow POTS and leased line services, is gone.

It's also nice for the backers and staff of Ribbit, a company with plenty of buzz that now has plenty of dollars, and all at the tender age of two years old. Not bad for a company that seemed to have picked up "only" $13m in funding.

It's also a bit of a bit of a slap for some sites that thought this was a done deal for $55m, or about half the price of the final transaction. Maybe they were getting US dollars mixed up with sterling.

But maybe the most interesting thing of all was that the BT person quoted in the press release announcing the deal was the irrepressible JP Rangaswami, managing director of service design at BT, the former CIO of BT Global Services and, before that, CIO of Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and BT Global Services.

Rangaswami, a scion of the Sixties, blogger and Grateful Dead fan, is very much not Peter Bonfield and he is emblematic of the new offshoring-friendly, more innovative BT. He shares a (chaotic) office with BT CEO for design and group CIO Al-Noor Ranji as well as a cast of others dropping by that appear to fit in one or both of the CIO and 21CN development camps at the company.

Confused? You should be, but this combination of internal- and external-facing roles may well represent the answer to an old canard of a question.

That question being: Where is the CIO role going? The answer: Everywhere, mate.

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