In this episode Cowen’s Communications Infrastructure and Telecom Services analyst Colby Synesael spoke with Brady Rafuse, CEO of euNetworks. They discuss the value of hard work (still), the success of so many Level 3 alums, keeping the service offering simple, and above all else, staying humble. Press play to listen to the podcast.
Speaker 1 (00:06):
Welcome to Cowen Insights, a space that brings leading thinkers together to share insights and ideas shaping the world around us. Join us as we converse with the top minds who are influencing our global sectors.
Colby Synesael (00:27):
My name is Colby Synesael, and I’m the Equity Research Analyst at Cowen covering communications, infrastructure and telecom services. Today, I’m joined by Brady Rafuse the CEO at euNetworks, who’s joining us as part of our Leaders, Legends, Luminaries and Visionaries podcast. With that Brady, thanks so much for being here.
Brady Rafuse (00:46):
My pleasure, Colby. Always a pleasure.
Colby Synesael (00:48):
This is a little bit different than I think some of the interviews you’ve done in the past. I’m actually much more focused on you as the individual and kind of how you got to where you are. And then we’ll obviously transition to talking a little bit about your experience at euNetworks, and your thoughts on the space. But just to start off, I’d love just to learn a little bit more about you and how you got in here. And I guess with that, I was looking at your bio in preparation for our discussion today. And from what I can tell you’ve been in the telecom industry your whole career, going back to 1986 when you joined BT. I guess, just tell us how did you get introduced to the telecom industry?
Brady Rafuse (01:29):
It was a bit of a stumble, to be honest with you, Colby. I didn’t leave school with the sort of qualifications I had hoped to achieve on account of the fact that I didn’t do any work, and my middle school exams I didn’t need to but my upper school exams I did. And I discovered that a bit too late. So I worked in retail, I worked in catering, decided I better get serious. So I went to college and studied some accounting. And I applied to join BT and applied to join the Post Office too that’s what other guys were doing on the course. And I qualified through the BT process. And I thought I was going to work in accounting, but accounts in BT was billing. So I then started doing my stage one senior exams, which is management accounting exams.And going to evening school where everybody had been working on double entry all day, whereas I’ve been arguing with people in Hackney they should pay telephone bill. So, I did that for a couple of years, because you couldn’t move within two years and I sort of stumbled across sales.
Brady Rafuse (02:38):
I stumbled across being data rather than voice. And sort of work through a sales environment. And then I remember going up to Martlesham and I saw the Mosaic Brite browser and I thought to myself, “Okay. I get this.” And then I’ve sort of been with the internet ever since so that’s how I got started.
Colby Synesael (03:02):
That’s amazing. I mean, there’s so many stories. And by the way, I have one somewhat similar, where you’re going on what you perceive is the natural path. It’s the path that’s being presented, there’s others around you that might be doing it. You get lucky, fortuitous, and you start to find your way. And you turn something into it’s pretty cool. But you end up staying at BT for 12 years. Was the goal at that point to be a career BT man and keep working your way up the ladder? Or were you intending at some point to pivot if you saw that opportunity?
Brady Rafuse (03:38):
No, I think I always sort of thought I’d stay with BT. I wouldn’t have to say that I gave it a massive amount of foresight. I had a pretty good career in BT, I move pretty quickly. They looked after me well. But where I was in that part of the business, it was basically getting folded into Concert, which was the AT&T and BT joint venture. One of my key mentors was over there, invited me to go and join and so that… You didn’t really feel like leaving BT per se until you left, and then you realize you’d left BT. But yeah, I think if you work… I mean, there’s 225,000 people in BT when I joined. It was a great environment. People really invested in you, invested in your development, gave me a lifelong appetite for learning. But the Concert party started and then when the Concert party finished, I didn’t really want to go back to BT with my tail between my legs because I was really proud of what we’ve done in Concert.
Brady Rafuse (04:51):
But the difference in the parents relationship from conception to birth of Concert was was pretty profound, and it was sort of a bit Dead Man Walking from the get go.
Colby Synesael (05:06):
Okay. We’ll talk a little bit about that in a moment. But you mentioned mentors. And when I look back on my career especially earlier on, there are a few people that were really influential in helping me get to where I am. Anybody on your list come to mind that you can tell us about?
Brady Rafuse (05:25):
Sure. Very early mentor of mine is a guy called Richard Hawkins Adams, who was training us to sell. So once I’ve gone over to the sell side of the business I didn’t have any experience, but he taught me how to present myself, confidence, etc, the importance of hard work. But I guess, the two most important, first was Brian Crouch, who’s Andrew Crouch’s dad. And he saw something in me when I was a specialist salesperson, got me over into the major account worlds looking after the big banks. And we had a great relationship, and he let me be. Then he told me when to rein it in and when to go. And then Neil Hobbs, who is my chairman now but who I work with a lot in BT in Concert in Level 3. And he’s obviously worked a lot of Columbia portfolio companies as well. And Neil still mentors me to this day. He’ll ask me… He’ll give me feedback and then he’ll look at me at Zoom and say, “Do you actually want to hear the feedback or not?” Yeah. I mean, I always say to anybody we do a series of interviews on all hands in the company of which you very kindly did one of them.
Brady Rafuse (06:55):
And almost universally, every executive has come back and said, having early mentors are critically important to their career. And I don’t think your early career I think, all the way through your career, it’s really important to have people who are prepared to support you but also prepared to call you out.
Colby Synesael (07:12):
And for you, you latched on to some really great mentors, who were successful in their own right. Obviously, one Neil, who you mentioned is your Chairman today, and then Crouch and then his son, Andrew, who went on to Level 3. Which I’m guessing might have been then how you got over to Level 3. Even that also played obviously a big role in terms of just being part of that inner circle, if you will, of people who were also successful and then bringing you into that group.
Brady Rafuse (07:44):
Well, I think teams are important. There were a lot of us who went from Concert into Level 3. Obviously, there were a lot of people from MFS who went into Level 3. And if you look at that group of Level 3 people now where they are, whether it’s us, whether it’s Zayo, whether it’s Equinix. There is a pretty strong core of people who are in and about the industry. And this relationships are important, Colby. You-
Colby Synesael (08:16):
Brady Rafuse (08:18):
So yeah, that was very much the case for me.
Colby Synesael (08:21):
For those who are listening who might be early in their career, what advice were you given or lessons learned early on, that you can share that even a few decades later you think still hold up, in terms of things that you wish others know at that age early in their career, or things that you wish you had known even earlier in your career.
Brady Rafuse (08:44):
I have a little note on my desk here which says, “You’re not as good as you think you are. You don’t have it all figured out. Stay focused, do better.” When you’re young in your career, there is… Hard work is a really, really important thing. And your ability to really, really grind it out. And I really didn’t do that. And I was constantly studying and I just had that work ethic. I think it’s tough sometimes to talk to our graduates when they come in. You sort of, you run this peak and you go all the way through and you graduate and there’s a whole celebration that goes on, and then all of a sudden you’re doing grunt work and it’s a discontinuity that sometimes some people really struggle with. And I think the importance of staying humble, importance of knowing what you’re better at than anybody else. What one thing are you better at than anybody else, and how are you going to pursue that? But honestly, hard work endeavor would trump everything for me, every time.
Colby Synesael (09:57):
It’s amazing for you to say that the work ethic. I tell my guys, I have a few guys on my team they’re in their 20s. And I say, “Now is your time. Now is your time to work as hard as you possibly can. You don’t have a wife or family. It’s just you. You may have a girlfriend.” And I tell them, “Now’s the time to work as hard as you can so that when you get to those other stages in your life, you’re in a better position than you are now. And that no one’s going to give it to you.” So it’s interesting, it’s this… It kind of comes back down to the old fashioned saying just hard work and work ethic, really do play a huge role in terms of people being successful.
Brady Rafuse (10:38):
Look, I think it’s really important. Again, I’m not a big fan of eating sushi at 3 AM in the morning, in the office that I see quite a lot from the PE world. And I don’t put a lot of store up presence. And I’m talking about before the pandemic. Dave or Sarah doesn’t win because they’re the first person there in the morning and the last person there at night. But the ability to have an action orientation, the ability to discharge your work on a constant basis again, I think it’s really important. The importance of repetition and improvement again, it’s an incredibly important part of business in my opinion. I don’t want to go into the 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration. I don’t mean it that crassly. But we have a methodical process of going through things over and over and over again, and get better and eliminate waste from the process. And I think your ability to really plow into that is an important part.
Colby Synesael (11:59):
Well at BT you left to get your masters from McGill, as part of a sponsored program through the company. Why did you decide to do that?
Brady Rafuse (12:12):
It was brilliant. It was a great honor. I mean, I did a master’s program that was sponsored by Henry Mintzberg. We went all over the world. I mean, it was just so fantastic. And I had really had an appetite for learning. I still do. I still read a lot, I still listen to a lot of things, I really am really passionate about that. I harass my team constantly, “Read books, read books.” Because it’s the way you learn. That program is incredible. And we started in Lancaster in England, we went to McGill, we went to Bangalore, we went to Kobe, we finished up at INSEAD. And it was 50 people on the course from all sorts of sponsoring organizations, from RBC through the Red Cross. It was extraordinary and created some incredible relationships, learnt so much in such an exposure to so many different ways and cultures. And I was working almost exclusively in an international environment at that point. I get asked questions.
Brady Rafuse (13:24):
I get asked to be on panels so constantly about, where I can talk about fiber to the home in the UK. And I’m like, seriously, there isn’t anybody less qualified to talk about these things than me. I happen to live in London. It’s useful because it’s where the maritime is so it’s good from a time perspective. I can talk to anybody in the world and not too awkward the situation. But most of my career has been in an international capacity. So learning that, knowing that being exposed to different cultures is always been incredibly important. So it was just an amazing opportunity. It was a lot of work. But yeah, it was a great pleasure.
Colby Synesael (14:04):
When you’re interviewing somebody today for a senior position, is it important to you that they have some type of advanced degree?
Brady Rafuse (14:12):
You sent me over some questions in preparation, and that’s the one I’ve been thinking about the most. I just don’t think it is. We’ve had a pretty stable team in the network so it’s the points of it move… But no, not really. I’ve always been very entranced by professionals. Because I remember when I was doing my accountancy exams, and you had to pass all of them, where we had to start again. And that sort of discipline, that lawyers and accountants have, etc. So, I sort of find that interesting. I’m talking to my son at moment. He’s really wants to do an MBA and I’m like, and I’m trying to push him as to why. What is he hoping to get from studying the MBA? And if I can understand that better, then yes. But if it’s… I don’t know where it’s European thing, but I don’t see that structure as important as potentially other things. So, I do see it for the most part, but I’m not sure it’s my earliest tickbox.
Colby Synesael (15:31):
I think the way I thought about it is, if you go to a good school, if you get an advanced degree you’re just increasing the odds, that you’ll be successful in whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish it, by no means guarantees anything. But for me if I see, let’s just pick the classic Harvard undergrad on someone’s resume. I’m probably more likely to read it in detail to really make the decision if I want to interview that person or not. Opposed to, if it didn’t say that and it said some no name school, I might be a bit more dismissive. And I would say that if they had their MBA, I’m probably also more likely to consider bringing them in opposed to someone who doesn’t. But by no means is that going to be the reason I ultimately hire them, but it might be the reason that they get the chance that someone else might not because they didn’t have that same background.
Brady Rafuse (16:31):
Yeah, I absolutely hear you. And I think also the college path in the states is far more developed than it is elsewhere, certainly in Europe. But yeah, I’m just going through the process of recruiting some of at the moment who went to Cambridge. It certainly says, “Okay. If you manage to study at Cambridge University, then you’re going to be pretty smart.” So, I mean, I’m not saying, “If you get an MBA, no, I don’t want…” That’s not my point. In answering the question, I’m not sure it’s the first thing I look for. It’s certainly doesn’t hurt.
Colby Synesael (17:13):
Just moving on. So after BT, you go to Concert which was a JV between BT and AT&T for two years. But then in December of 2000, in the midst of the telecom bubble bursting, you go to Level 3. Was it obvious to everyone when you joined Level 3 that the bubble had in fact, burst? And I guess, how quickly was it before you started thinking about Level 3 maybe not making it?
Brady Rafuse (17:42):
Well, again, you have a very flamboyant name for the podcast. And I was thinking that’s interesting, because I’m none of those things. So I thought to myself, “Look…” Neil went to Level 3, and he asked me to join him. And I’d worked with him in BT, I worked with him in Concert. He was my best friend in the world. And he was over there. I knew that the telecom bubble would burst. I mean the stock price at Level 3 was having 25 bucks when I joined, down from 125 bucks. So it wasn’t like, “Oh, my goodness, what a surprise happened.” No. I didn’t think it was going to go down to $1.89, which I think is the lowest point when I was there. We did a lot of great things in Concert. And as I said for all of the difficulties of it, because AT&T and BT were in a completely different position from when they decided to do the JV and it was like both parents hated it from out of the gate.
Brady Rafuse (18:48):
But Dave Dorman ran it, he was brilliant. I loved working with him, did some amazing things with global contracting models, etc. And I just wasn’t prepared to go back into BT with my tail between my legs. I wanted to work with Neil. I’d observed Level 3 for a long time. It carried more internet traffic than anybody in the world. And I thought, there will be these peaks and troughs. There just will be. I mean, if you think of what the 90s were like and the sort of money that were put into Telecom. I mean it was going to have to blow up somewhere. The good news for Level 3 was they’d raised more money than they meant and that was pretty lucky because if they hadn’t got that extra money, then maybe it would have been a different story. Level 3 was absolutely amazing. The quality of the people in Level 3, I’d never seen anything like it in my career.
Brady Rafuse (19:45):
Standing in that boardroom and looking around the table at Dan Caruso and Jack waters and Neil Hobbs and Jim Crow and Buddy Miller and all these people. That was extraordinary. But it was tough. It was tough.
Colby Synesael (20:03):
Your eyes wide open going into it, to your point. It’s not like you thought it was still 1999.
Brady Rafuse (20:09):
Colby Synesael (20:10):
But to your point, you appreciated the quality of the people, you appreciated the bank account. The amount of money that Level 3 had, which I’m guessing you thought would allow them to kind of weather the storm. And you were going to go there.
Brady Rafuse (20:27):
You’re imbuing me with intelligence that I didn’t have. I started and my role was to create a world where we could make sure the European carriers bought on the Level 3 network. And I’ve been there for like seven or eight months, and Kevin O’Hara asked me to become the president of Europe. And they had 1,671 people working in Level 3 Europe. And when we’d finished, there was 300 people. No amount of foresight can teach you what that’s like. And to be perfectly honest, when Kevin told me that we needed to take the business adjusted EBITDA positive or. I didn’t ask what the or was because I was pretty sure it wasn’t a great answer. And I didn’t know what adjusted EBITDA was either. We sort of worked our way through it. And again, I’m mentally proud of the time I had at Level 3, what I learned every day from incredible people and who’d achieved incredible things. And then they have this… The company I had didn’t have a switch in its network. It was the most extraordinary business in the world. And it’s had its ups and downs, as all business do.
Brady Rafuse (21:46):
But it was a great time for me, a great learning experience, met some of the most incredibly professional. Charles Meyers or Grant van Rooyen. Just incredible people. And dear friends. Yeah. It was amazing.
Colby Synesael (22:04):
Yeah. You’re mentioning all these people and hopefully, those listening to the podcast recognize a lot of them. Because to your point, a lot of people who are at Level 3 in those early 2000s are very successful now at other companies. In and around the telecom industry. I want to shift over and talk a little bit about culture. And on your LinkedIn profile, you got a recommendation from a gentleman named Brian Gant in 2009, when he worked for you at Level 3. He’s now at Microsoft. And he said, “Brady’s probably the most creative, motivational and intellectual leader I’ve ever worked for my entire career. His ability to provide and communicate common vision and rally people from completely different backgrounds to work as a cohesive and motivational organization, is what sets him apart.” A lot of what I take from Brian’s comments has to do with creating a culture. Have you been intentional about how you’ve gone about creating a culture, whether it was at Level 3, when you were the president of Europe or at euNetworks?
Brady Rafuse (23:15):
Yeah, I think so. And also, we build the content business in Level 3 too. So, which is were Brian and I work together? Yeah. I mean, I think cultures are incredibly important to an organization and a cohesive culture does. It can achieve a great deal. So it makes the sum of the parts more. And we try to be very thoughtful about how the culture of our organization is, and certainly again in Level 3 as well. Level 3 was a complex culture because obviously, it had such a huge NFS thread running through it. And which was a pretty different business from certainly prior to the unit’s stuff. So yeah, culture is everything. And I as a leader want the culture of that organization to be visible to anyone. And that is a critical piece.
Colby Synesael (24:25):
You said you have some notes written on your computer in front of your computer. Can you read those off again? Because I think those kind of represent your culture.
Brady Rafuse (24:33):
Well, okay so it’s, “You’re not as good as you think you are. You don’t have it all figured out. Stay focused, do better.” We have a set of values in the organization that I have no intention of reading out, wrote. But Richard and I, when we moved into our Worship Street organizations, we were walking down the Clerkenwell Road in London and there was this quite famous print in the window by Anthony Burrill. It said, “Work hard and be nice to people.” And we put that up in the day we moved into that office in the main reception. And now it’s in all of the office. We didn’t do that other people did that. And I think that’s culturally where I like us to be. And yeah.
Colby Synesael (25:28):
It doesn’t have to be sophisticated or complicated.
Brady Rafuse (25:33):
Well, and also… I keep hearing in my back of my head. “Well, he would say that wouldn’t he?” So again, I don’t want to sound like all high and mighty about it. But yeah, I mean, that’s what we try to do. And again, one of the things that Jim Crow said in Level 3 which was always really important to me was he said, “Look, when it comes to making a decision, when you make that decision, and then it was written about the next day on the front page of the New York Times or the Financial Times or the Frankfurt Allgemeine, and you weren’t proud to work for the company then don’t make that decision.” It’s all very well saying to people, “I want you to act with integrity.” But again that sometimes it’s hard for people to get their hands around.
Brady Rafuse (26:23):
But knowing that they would be supported if they weren’t proud of the decision they made appearing on the front page of one of the world’s leading business newspapers. It gives you… It sort of gave me a lot of confidence when I was doing a lot of really hard things in Level 3. And certainly, that’s part of the culture of the networks.
Colby Synesael (26:46):
Do you want me to read you out what I have written on my computer in front of me?
Brady Rafuse (26:51):
Yes, you should.
Colby Synesael (26:52):
All right. I have, “Deep breath. Stay calm. Be patient.” That’s all on one sticky. And then another one I have. “Have a sense of urgency.” And then on the last one, I have actually part of Cowen’s cultural values, which are vision, empathy, sustainability, and tenacity. And for me, just having these types of reminders front and center every day, gives me a little bit of a framework to kind of go about my job.
Brady Rafuse (27:25):
100%. 100%. Yeah. I write in my book every single week, I have one big thing. I have my Zelo habit tracker where I have circles in my book, and I write it out in my book. And yeah, I am a digital guy but I write out in my book and I write down the things that I care about. Resilience, persistence, tolerance, patient, being calm and compassionate. And I just write them down every time. And even if just the act of writing them, then I get 1% better at doing them then that’s worth doing.
Colby Synesael (27:59):
Moving on again, one of the companies to come out of the telecom carnage was euNetworks. Can you tell us about the company’s connection to MFN or Metromedia Fiber Networks and AboveNet and how the company was formed?
Brady Rafuse (28:14):
So yeah, I mean, MFN went pretty spectacularly bust. And entered chapter 11, which I think they were in for four and a half years before they came out as AboveNet under Bill LaPerch’s leadership. But at that time, and again, if any of this historical facts isn’t quite right, then can we put that down to my advanced years. But from the outside it sort of looked like the company turned in on the UK, and there was an entrepreneur who was part of the MFN European leadership. A guy called Noel Meaney, and he picked up all of the European assets, as in a part of the London network and then the French Metro, which became Neo which is now part of Zayo. And Noel built a company called Global Voice. And then Columbia invested in what had become then euNetworks in 2009, and became the major shareholder. And that’s, I joined as part of Colombia. I’ve come to know the Columbia guys as a result of Dan Caruso who had built it.
Colby Synesael (29:35):
Brady Rafuse (29:36):
Well, yeah. He did… Yeah. John Siegel, exactly. John and Dan had partnered in ICG, with John Scarano, and then they went on to create Zayo. And that was happening sort of pretty concurrent with euNetworks. And Dan was an investor in euNetworks as well at that time.
Colby Synesael (29:55):
Yeah. ICG was, that was great. Now let’s do that on steroids. That’s basically what Zayo was. But what they did with eu is, or with euNetworks is they basically recognized, there’s these great assets out there that we’re basically still at that time, pre 2010 is kind of the timeline to which I uses the threshold. It was trading at reasonable values. And I guess they got into, what I guess you’re saying was Global Voice and then it was rebranded as euNetworks.
Brady Rafuse (30:26):
Yeah. So I mean, it was like 23 million of revenue, and minus four, minus five million of EBITDA. And a lot of that revenue came from a data center in Amsterdam. There was a bit of a business in Frankfurt, a little bit London, a little bit in Dublin, but it was it was a pretty small business. And they were in a particular fix, they were listed in Singapore, they had some convertible debt coming due which was priced way higher than the market there at. And Columbia had the choice. They could have let it go to the wall and tried to pick up the various constituent parts out of bankruptcy, or keep it going and maybe they end up paying a little bit more, but that would be good for the customers, that’d be good for the people, etc. And they chose that path. And they’re still part of our capital structure, still our partners today and they’re amazing people.
Colby Synesael (31:32):
In your first annual report as CEO in 2009, you refer to euNetworks as a bandwidth infrastructure company. What do you mean by that term? And how was that different than how things were being thought of before then?
Brady Rafuse (31:47):
I think there was a sort of unwritten cabal between you, me and Dan, that I just wrote the [inaudible 00:31:55]. You’d create a communications infrastructure, I think, which encompassed towers, data centers, and fiber and bandwidth infrastructures was the fiber bit. And we’re all pretty happy to go along, because the other two traded much better multiples than we did. But more seriously, we really are genuinely an infrastructure business. We say with bandwidth from the ground up, we sell dark fiber wavelengths and Ethernet. And Ethernet really, genuinely is more point to point than… We do more things than that. But we’re not up and down the stack. We are absolutely an infrastructure company. And we have like 450-ish data centers connected to our network across Western Europe. Deep fiber, north south, east west routes between superhighways between, it’s all about the infrastructure. And hence that’s what we say, we want to be Western Europe’s leading bandwidth infrastructure provider. But our true fans, again, we are looking for 100 true fans. We don’t want 4000 customers we want a 100 true fans that consistently over delivering on one or two key benefits. That’s our story.
Brady Rafuse (33:05):
Again, no original thought there. I stole that directly from Kevin Kelly and his 1000 true fans. And it’s like a mantra. And you keep saying it, you keep saying it, you keep doing it. Keep working hard. Keep saying it. Keep doing it. Remember, you’re not good as you think you are. If you ever think you’re smarter than anybody else, you’re an idiot because you’re just not. Wake up humble, wake up stupid, and just hopefully go to bed a little smarter than you got up. And if you do that, and repeat, which for me next March will be, I can’t remember what years it is now. But I’ve been doing that since 2009. We’ve been doing that since 2009. We check our installs, we check how this goes, we check out sales we’re going to make, what progress we’re doing, our infrastructure projects, what network events we’ve had that week, and what our day to day position looks like. Every, every week.
Colby Synesael (34:01):
Yeah. Goes back to a lot of what you’ve been saying throughout this conversation. We said in a report last year, we think one of the more interesting things about 5G and the edge is it will enable more of an autonomous internet built for machines. Whereas today’s internet has been largely built for humans. And to layer it on even thicker, we talk about how this is what will unlock what’s been described as the fourth industrial revolution. Are you buying into any of this?
Brady Rafuse (34:35):
I certainly think about it a lot. I mean, you got remember since March 2009. There wasn’t a week that hasn’t gone past without one of my shareholders saying, “What are you doing with 5G? What are you doing with 5G?” It’s like, “Do you know what it’s like in Europe?” I mean, we still have people complaining about what they paid for their 3G licenses. And it’s complicated. Now if I look at some of the things we do, and we did a deal in Cambridge. With Light Blu Fibre and connecting to Cal Data center and some of the education and learning, high performance compute, life sciences, really interesting. Oe of the reasons why buying The Loop in Manchester was so important to us was because it’s got data interconnectivity, Manchester is an important city. But Ashley is really smart. Ashley is the managing director of The Loop and they’ve got two big sports grounds there. So that’s interesting. They’ve got the media city where BBC moved to, that’s interesting. And Manchester is quite geographically small.
Brady Rafuse (35:47):
So if you look at BAI and deal they’ve done with London Underground. London Underground is big. It’s not like Penn Station 275 Avenue. It’s huge. To go from Upminster to Ealing on either side. And how to run that network and do that, that’s not really what we do. But if I look at Manchester, Manchester is small. Negroponte said, “In being digital that communications will be time and distance independent.” It’s pretty time independent now, but it isn’t distance independent. Because in the day, when you’re in the infrastructure business, you’ve got to dig holes and you dig holes by meters. So I think there’s some really interesting opportunity. I mean, again, there’s obviously a huge machine to machine world already. Now the world of sensors and autonomous vehicles and all of those things, do I think that they’re going to come? And do I think they’re going to come much quicker than we think they are? Yes, they do. I mean, again, I often quote Future Crimes. I forget the gentleman who wrote it.
Brady Rafuse (36:55):
But he said, “People look at progress, and they look back and say this is going to have to slow down, and it never does.” And he said, “Today, the internet is the size of a golf ball. Tomorrow, it’s going to be the size of the Sun.” Marc Goodman, I think the guy’s name is. And I think about that a lot, because it genuinely do believe it. So, whether it’s 5G, whether it’s autonomous vehicles, whether it’s sensors, or whatever it happens to be, I don’t know. But I’m not sitting on the sidelines. I’m trying to be involved and engaged. But it’s complex. And it’s so complex in Europe because there are so many stakeholders from government to European Commission to PTTs. And they all have their various challenges, which sometimes can get in the way of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Colby Synesael (37:47):
One of the things I took from what you just said is that just the use cases in the internet are just going to continue to grow. And maybe we don’t need to be in the business of predicting what those are going to be or how it exactly evolves. But the use case, and effectively the need for the types of services to what you provide, are not going anywhere and will continue to expand. And from that perspective, then there should be a huge opportunity that continues to be in front of euNetworks.
Brady Rafuse (38:18):
Yeah. We’re dumber than everybody else so we just say traffic doubles every year. And I say-
Colby Synesael (38:23):
I think my big takeaway from this is you’re a very humble guy, by the way. I think you got [crosstalk 00:38:27]-
Brady Rafuse (38:27):
I always say it’s my team. You work in unit terms in the fastest growing industry in the history of the world, ever. Wouldn’t it be really disappointing if you look back on your career and didn’t take advantage of that? And that’s how we see it. And it is actually what we see. Traffic doubles every year.
Colby Synesael (38:50):
We’ve approached the lightning round of our conversation. So I’m going to ask you to keep your responses to 30 seconds or less. And I have three important questions for you. The first one is, will it make sense to merge euNetworks with a tower company at some point?
Brady Rafuse (39:09):
Don’t know. I don’t know.
Colby Synesael (39:13):
Second question. Will you be going to PTC in January?
Brady Rafuse (39:17):
Variants allowing? Yes, I will.
Colby Synesael (39:20):
Okay. And then lastly, is it still too early to talk about the Euro Cup?
Brady Rafuse (39:27):
It will always be too early to talk about the Euro Cup.
Colby Synesael (39:32):
All right. Well, with that we’ll conclude. Brady, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it. And I look forward to seeing you hopefully at PTC.
Brady Rafuse (39:40):
Always a pleasure, Colby and thank you for what you do. You do a wonderful job of explaining what we do. I always enjoy. I always read everything you write. And I appreciate it. And I’ve appreciated it for a very long time. Thank you.
Colby Synesael (39:54):
Thank Brady. Okay, take care.
Speaker 1 (39:56):
Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for the next episode of Cowen Insights.
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