NEDAS Boston Interview with Karl May, Founder and CEO of Join

By Caroline Kurdej

With more than two decades of IT industry experience, Karl May is the Founder and CEO of Join, the Digital Concierge built on a secure national network to deliver IT on-demand to flexible office environments. Prior to the creation of Join, Karl was the founder and CEO of Treq Labs, Inc., a company that pioneered the software-defined router that has been deployed by hundreds of enterprises, including Telstra, BT, and NTT.

Karl began his career as a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard, contributing to the first Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC). In the mid-90s, Karl and his colleagues at Silicon Graphics built the very first on-demand television platform together with AT&T and Time Warner, a breakthrough which paved the way for TiVo, Apple TV, and other products that changed the way we consume content. After SGI, Karl joined the fledgling LANcity operation of Bay Networks as Vice President and General Manager to productize and commercialize the very first broadband cable modem. He and his colleagues led the work to create the DOCSIS standard.

Telecom Newsroom recently sat down with Karl to discuss the challenges and exciting opportunities on the horizon for the telecom industry, as well as Join’s role as a complete IT product stack-as-a-service. Karl will be sharing his knowledge as a speaker at the NEDAS Boston Symposium, taking place on July 18, 2018.

Telecom Newsroom, Caroline Kurdej (TN-CK) Question: How has the telecom industry changed in the past 12 months?

Join, Karl May (J-KM) Answer: There are three key markers of the future of telecom that have recently surfaced throughout the industry. These are regulation, vertical integration, and consolidation.  The repeal of net neutrality regulations introduced by the Obama Administration in 2015 will likely force many operators, some of which are already working around the restrictions, to distinguish themselves to customers. This is evidenced by the claims made by Comcast and other providers that they will maintain neutrality.

AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner also positions the company as a direct rival to Comcast, combining content and its distribution. We should anticipate other similar vertical mergers in the future. In addition, T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint will likely signal to others that scale is one of the determiners of long-term success.

TN-CK Q: What do you predict will be the long-term impact of emerging technologies and trends implemented in the coming 12 months?

J-KM A: Innovation in networking technology has been, at best, uneven over the course of the last 20 years. However, the emergence of new software-defined systems and virtualized network functions has the potential to upend the current supply chain. It’s conceivable that in the coming years, chip and software companies will disintermediate the OEM link in the value chain.  This has the potential to redirect hundreds of billions of dollars in value to other participants in technology.

TN-CK Q: From where does the bulk of funding come for wireless infrastructure solutions? Does this need to change for sustainability?

J-KM A: There has always been, and should continue to be, a tight correlation between the funding and monetization of infrastructure. While I have heard many people speculate on the risks associated with shared funding, there has been little discussion about how the earnings will be distributed among contributors. The system vendors have financed basic research and then covered their return with sales to the service providers. The service providers then make market bets on how they can monetize the systems in networks, and ultimately the funding comes from end users that pay for the benefit of the service. There is a ripe opportunity for new entrants to disrupt this value chain which will broaden the risk sharing, but also allocate returns to other parties.

TN-CK Q: How does technological innovation create competitive business advantages?

J-KM A: Technology rarely creates competitive advantage on its own. In 1998, the search engine battle had been won. AltaVista, a spinout from DEC, owned the search engine market.  The problem was that it did not have a sustainable business model. A couple of grad students from Stanford combined a superior algorithm with a novel business model to build out their infrastructure, creating Google. Today, Google has a market cap of about $800 billion and AltaVista is all but forgotten. Technology creates new ways to deliver value to customers.

TN-CK Q: NEDAS is a regional association. What do you look forward to most as a participant?

J-KM A: Our company has recently started operations in the Boston area, and we want to use this opportunity to introduce ourselves and our value proposition to the community.

TN-CK Q: What are your company’s key differentiators?

J-KM A: Join delivers a complete IT product stack-as-a-service, combining its own software platform with purpose-built hardware and a simplified pricing model.

TN-CK Q: What excites you about the future of the telecom industry in regards to wireless and wireline technologies and trends?

J-KM A: We see the shifts among the incumbent service providers as an opportunity to disrupt established business practices and refocus on delivering a superior set of products and services to customers. We’re also reversing the perception among customers that they should always settle for mediocre experiences.

TN-CK: Thank you for your time today, Karl. We look forward to seeing you at the NEDAS Boston Symposium on July 18, 2018!

The upcoming #NEDASBoston 2018 Symposium will tackle groundbreaking wireless and wireline technology trends and the ways in which they will be implemented, as well as explore exciting future prospects for the telecom industry. To register for the NEDAS 2018 Boston Symposium and take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the panelists, click here. To learn more about the association, visit

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