Again, the two moves aren't directly connected, but Louisville, Colo.-based CableLabs just finalized a lease at 180
The new facility will be led by John Carney, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s SVP of advanced engineering, who is on loan to CableLabs through 2012 to get it established. Carney, a founder of interactive TV technology pioneer MetaTV (now part of Comcast), is being joined by CableLabs SVP of Technology Development Jean-François Mulé, who joined the R&D outfit in 2002 and will head up the new office's technical staff.
Liao, who expects to spend up to 20 percent of his time at the new digs, says CableLabs plans to add another five to 10 employees in San Francisco later this year. CableLabs already has listed three job postings for the California office: senior software engineer/software engineering manager; software engineer; and software engineer-test.
"There's a lot of good talent in the city itself and in the North and East Bay," Carney says, noting that Google has a significant presence there. The new site is also located between Comcast facilities in Mill Valley and Mountain View, so the new CableLabs office will also have access to the MSO's lab space and test equipment.
"This is a major commitment that we're making," Liao says, noting that the CableLabs board approved the idea when he was hired in 2009. (See Panasonic's Liao Is New CableLabs CEO and Liao Puts the CE in CableLabs.)
Injecting cable with the Bay Area's culture for innovation and its software talent pool, as well as helping cable establish stronger relationships with the area's startups are among the reasons CableLabs set its sights on the region.
"The Bay Area has a unique culture that's grown up over time, that's created companies like Facebook and Google, and going back to HP," Liao says, noting that companies in the area are "leading what's becoming the next generation of the Internet."
"Although there are plenty of other regions that have this sort of startup mentality these days, I think the Bay Area is still the king of that," he adds.
CableLabs is also pitching a tent there as the industry gets ready to become a more prominent player in the deployment and development of applications, which Liao believes is the "the next big challenge" that cable is facing.
Cable is making progress in that area with technologies like Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), which can be used in any class of set-top box, "but the next stage will go beyond that" as MSOs and programmers continue to target a larger set of devices and apps that aim to enhance the traditional cable experience, Liao says.
Although the San Francisco office will be focused on cable innovation, he stressed that the CableLabs West coast and Colorado teams will be collaborating on several projects.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable