In a typically forthright keynote address early this week at the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum, Clarium Capital’s Peter Thiel argued that our current technological progress is “decelerating and stalled out.” But not all the luminaries at the Aspen Forum shared Thiel’s pessimism. Krish Prabhu, for example, the recently appointed President and CEO of AT&T Labs, who also keynoted the Forum, remains bullish about America’s technological innovation, particularly that driven by what he identified as an increasingly “intelligent” digital network.
“This is not your grandfather’s AT&T,” Prabhu – a former partner at Morgenthaler Ventures and CEO of Tellabs – explained to me about AT&T Labs when I sat down with him in Aspen after his keynote. The purpose of the 21st century Labs, he explained, is delivering innovation to start-up entrepreneurs. Thus AT&T’s $80 million investment in their Foundry incubators, an initiative that has already born fruit both in Israel and in Texas and will soon open in Palo Alto.
Not everyone loves AT&T, of course. But Prabhu’s new role and AT&T’s serious investment in their Foundry network is promising news for entrepreneurs seeking to prove Peter Thiel wrong and accelerate American technological innovation in the 21st century.