Given our position as the only TMT focused law firm in South East Asia, when the opportunity came to attend the Asia Pacific Pay-TV Operators Summit (APOS) at the end of April, we didn't hesitate to RSVP.
Organized by Media Partners Asia, and its influential CEO and friend of the firm, Vivek Couto, APOS brings together leaders from across the media spectrum to talk shop about their business strategies, recent deals and network with their peers. The event was filled with major players from satellite owners, platforms, set-top box manufacturers to a raft of the big content owners. As the only external lawyers in attendance, we had the opportunity to build our profile, make new business connections and meet up with existing clients and contacts as well as accelerate our learning on key issues facing the industry and affiliated businesses in Asia.
Whilst the days were heavy with meetings and presentations, as one might expect from the media broadcast industry, the evenings were long and sociable with amazing drinks, dinners and parties hosted by The Walt Disney Company, Fox International, Sony Pictures Entertainment - culminating in a lavish closing dinner hosted by MNC (Indonesia's largest pay TV and free to air provider). No sign of the European recession here…
Particular highlights were connecting with senior executives in the firm's heartland of television media: Rob Gilby of Disney, Andy Kaplan of Sony Pictures, Jonathan Spink of HBO (with whom I had a lively debate on the threat posed by technology players producing their own content to keep/attract eyeballs to their offerings such as AppleTV, Facebook etc…to be continued over lunch soon!), Alan Hodges and Sean Cohan of AETN International and half the board of MNC as well as senior representatives from Scripps Networks, Turner, Discovery and old friends such as Mark Whitehead at BBC Worldwide. We also meet some interesting new companies like Persuasive Networks based in Hong Kong who are set to become the first bespoke Asian content provider in the region.
Now that's time well spent! The fact that the conference took place in Bali wasn't half-bad either.
Back on the ground, and as a means of looking to develop our "Changing Business" role in Asia, we've become members of CASBAA which is the region's representative body for television. We were invited to become members following an initial introduction to Simon Twiston-Davies and John Medeiros made by Hass Aminian of SportFive and we are very honoured to have been asked so quickly to become members of their regulatory committee as well as to co-author and brand a piece of market research looking at the OTT offerings in Singapore which should be available for dissemination in October this year.
We've gotten to know the British Chamber of Commerce well over the past six months and are very pleased to have our engagement with them recognised by Elle becoming a member of their CR committee and me having been put forward for a board seat on the young professionals arm (they draw the net very widely…below 42, one is eligible…).
We have also been speaking to the larger banks (UBS, Standard Chartered and JP Morgan) as well as to the British and American Chambers of Commerce about co-hosting a seminar around M&A trends and the rise of TMT-driven transactional activity.
No, not online…following APOS, I hosted a drinks evening at Ku De Ta for a bit of high-end networking with the added bonus of magnificent ocean sunset views.
Along with a fast-pass residency card at the airport, PPS club membership (to access Singapore Airlines' unbelievable lounges) a must-have in Singapore is a membership to a "club". From day one, I've been asked which club I'd be joining, and considering the variety and quite frankly the somewhat eye-raising costs, this is not an easy choice. But I've finally made up my mind and taken a membership at the Singapore Cricket Club which is right in the heart of the CBD and I fully intend it to be my new meeting room. Besides the fact that it has the best view in town of the Singapore Grand Prix, it just so happens to be a hub for business movers and shakers. The club has been opened for 125 years and with over 3,000 members it's a great place to be social and do business in an offline sense of the word.
Walking the Walk - An Afterword…
In the last blog I expounded at some length on the need to be "more than lawyers" and a great example is Jonathan Choo's new international arbitration blog which has garnered a great following. Using the holy trinity (in search engine optimisation terms) of linked-in, twitter and the blog, Jonathan's profile has risen from the bottom of page 11 to entry three on page 1 of a Google search in just 2 months.
As a technology firm, we need to walk the walk, practice what we preach (and any number of other clichés) but it's pleasing to see tangible results. The key to longevity however will be to give clients the insight, influence and innovation they're looking for.