VOL. 127 | NO. 126 | Thursday, June 28, 2012
Pera’s Philosophy: ‘Build on What You’ve Got’
By Andy Meek
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a three-part series looking at Robert Pera, the potential new owner of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Toward the end of his technology company’s most recent conference call with analysts to discuss its latest earnings, Robert Pera – the Silicon Valley multimillionaire who wants to buy the Memphis Grizzlies – shared something local basketball fans have been particularly eager for.
It’s a sense of how Pera operates – though, of course, what Pera presented was about business instead of basketball, and it was for the benefit of analysts listening in on that May 1 call about the performance of Pera’s company, Ubiquiti Networks.
Toward the end of his presentation along with Ubiquiti chief financial officer John Ritchie, Pera talked about the philosophy with which he runs the company he started after leaving his job at Apple Inc.
“My business philosophy and engineering philosophy – everything I do is about leverage,” Pera said. “So, if you look at how we’re (building) these new technology platforms, we’re reusing what we’ve already developed and adding something new to it to apply it to a new market. And if you look at how we’re creating an addressable market, we’re following a similar philosophy.
“It’s about leveraging and expanding and using what we already have.”
Grizzlies fans might take note of that, as they wonder about the intentions of the California businessman whose bid for the team became known a few weeks ago and which is currently being studied by the NBA. While that process is under way, Pera is not allowed to talk publicly about anything from the team to the NBA to the terms of his deal.
However, his experience starting a tech company, funding it himself, taking it public and fending off competitors – which includes what he told analysts last month will be an impending uptick in the company’s legal efforts to protect its brand – all help Pera’s leadership qualities come into focus.
“My business philosophy and engineering philosophy — everything I do is about leverage.”
This is the final story in a three-part series looking at Pera’s experiences at the helm of Ubiquiti.
Pera is the kind of CEO, for example, who’s reportedly more into product innovation than operations and finance. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that Pera financed the company himself and assembled the necessary components – like a board, advisers and an intellectual property strategy – along the way.
He knows when to pivot. On his personal blog, Pera has discussed in detail the times when strategy shifts needed to be made – and made quickly – because of threats from competitors.
That’s all the more critical for his company, which is essentially in the manufacturing business. It means he’s constantly on the lookout for competitive products, cheaper products – and blatant knockoffs of Ubiquiti’s products and various intellectual property, which Pera told analysts the company is unafraid to write increasingly bigger checks to lawyers to defend.
Last week, Ubiquiti announced the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has granted its application for a temporary restraining order against a company Ubiquiti has filed a lawsuit against, alleging illegal counterfeiting of its products. Ubiquiti called the lawsuit a milestone in its “worldwide campaign to vigorously protect its intellectual property and its customers.”
Earlier this year, Ubiquiti also hired a new general counsel, Jessica Zhou, with experience in intellectual property matters.
The bottom line: the young CEO is going to the mat to protect his company’s interests.
“A key differentiator across all of our platforms is our intellectual property,” Pera told analysts. “Whether it is our proprietary technology or our highly regarded brands. And we plan on increasing our legal efforts around intellectual property and brand protection to protect our customers from counterfeiters.
“Whether through patent or trademark filing or seeking legal retribution from those that infringe on our patents and steal our technology and potentially damage our brand, we intend to increase our focus and financial commitment to this area.”