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Dan Moloney: Mister Credibility

Dan Moloney, president of Motorola mobility
and recipient of this year’s Vanguard Award for Associates
and Affiliates, is best known for one core characteristic:

When digital video was in its infancy, and the supplier community
was racing to build set-top boxes and headend gear
that both emulated existing analog services and took them
that digital step further, Moloney was the guy who kept the
company’s MSO customers calm and in the know about the
realities of progress.

“We were so late,” recalled Ed Breen, now CEO of Tyco
Corp., who ran what was then called General Instrument.
(Motorola purchased GI in 2000.) “Dan was the guy who went
around to customers and said, ‘Here’s the schedule, here’s why
we didn’t hit it, here’s where we’re going.’ He’s credible because
of that — there is just no DNA in him that would enable him
to B.S. anyone.”

“Dan is a steady-as-he-goes guy, always has been,” said Tony
Werner, chief technology officer of Comcast. “You always know
what you’re going to get with him.”

“If there’s a deal and he shakes your hand, it’s a deal. You
don’t need to put it in writing,” said Frank Drendel, founder
and chairman of the board of CommScope. “What Dan
Moloney has above all else is absolute integrity.”

Those traits are serving him well at Motorola, considering
the volumes of curiosity about the intentions of its new owner,
The unflappable Moloney gets asked “all the time” about
the intentions and directions of a Google-owned Motorola —
and handles it with his signature blend of credibility and forthrightness.

“Here’s how I look at it: This is a great business, and a business
that’s reinvented itself very successfully, several times,”
Moloney explained. “It’s a valuable business, too, and Google
wants to make sure they retain that value. I can never predict
what Google will do, long-term, but the best thing so far is their
commitment to continue to allow us to invest in the business.”


As a child, Moloney wanted to be a musician; he played the
trombone in high school and in a junior varsity jazz band at
the University of Michigan. He graduated in ’81 with an electrical
engineering degree, continuing directly to the University
of Chicago, to earn an MBA.

From there, he landed at General Instrument in a program
to groom new executives in strategy and finance. He chose the
(former) Jerrold Electronics division in 1986, reporting to then-
CEO Hal Krisbergh.

At the time, in the early to mid ’80s, cable technology was all
about channel expansion and set-top box advancements. “GI
was connected to everybody and was at the core of what was
going on. It gave me an opportunity to meet some fascinating
people, and to get involved with all the new stuff that was constantly
going on.”

Colleagues note Moloney’s unwavering work ethic. “He works
way harder than the typical executive,” Tyco’s Breen said.

“Before the Internet, a lot of us would come in on Saturday
mornings to work,” Geoff Roman, corporate VP of strategy and
business development for Motorola, added. “Dan was always
there before me, and after I left.”

Employees describe Moloney as a thoughtful leader, with
genuine concern for their well-being. He believes in communication
— of the good and the bad — and in setting realistic
expectations, said several current and former colleagues.

Those traits ultimately placed Moloney in the top spot at
Motorola Mobility, running everything related to subscriber
(set-tops/gateways), broadband (cable modems/CMTS) and
network infrastructure (optics, amplifiers.)

That means he spends most of his time helping to facilitate
the gigantic transition to Internet-protocol technologies.
“We think the transition will happen in three phases
— cloud, network, and home — and all three will evolve at
different rates,” Moloney said. “I think we’ll move through
this hybrid world, of QAM and IP, then move out from a
gateway to other clients in the home.”


A fascination with interactive television weaves through Moloney’s
career, starting in the late 1980s with an analog “app”
called “Cable Stock Exchange” — putting stock quotes on the
TV screen — and including the first electronic program guides.

“There were big questions about whether you could bring interactivity
to the analog world, both technically and economically,”
Moloney recalled. “Getting that first EPG out felt great
when it was done, but there was a lot of real pain to get there.”

These days, that interactive thread continues, as Motorola
Mobility establishes what of the Google Android suite to harness
for cable operators. Of the three groupings of Android
products — operating system, applications marketplace, and
the product manifestations of Google TV — the most interesting
to Moloney are the apps. “The concept of bringing more
apps to the traditional big screen is intriguing — the question
of how you bring that wealth of activity to the TV, in a way that’s
consumer friendly.”

Moloney, who lives in suburban Philadelphia, spends
much of his time on the road, commuting back and forth
from Motorola’s Chicago headquarters and its many other
facilities around the world. So when he’s home with wife
Stasia, that’s where he wants to be.

“When you travel all the time, you cherish being home,”
he said.

He’s a proud father of three grown children: Sean, 24,
in his second year at the University of Pennsylvania Law
School; Kristyn, 22, who graduates this Spring from Penn
State University; and Lisa, 19, in her second year at West
Chester University.

These days, Moloney spends his time planning the internal
machinations of the Google merger, and girding the
company to respond quickly to marketplace needs.

In areas where Google’s and Motorola’s product lines
overlap, such as with digital rights management, Moloney’s
classic candor shines through: “There are areas of
definite agreement, and areas of definite disagreement.
That’s to be expected. But it’s manageable.”