SCTE member since 1974 Title: CTO, Broadbus Technologies Broadband Background: Tom Jokerst’s history of service in the cable industry spans 35 years and includes time at Continental Cablevision, CableLabs, Charter Communications and Broadbus. He co-founded the SCTE Gateway Chapter, served on the SCTE Board of Directors with a special role in establishing the BCT/E, served on the Digital Video Subcommittee, has spoken at SCTE’s ET events and chaired the 2005 ET program subcommittee. Your CV spans a lot of SCTE territory. How did you begin and what have you seen? It took me several years actually to get into SCTE because at the time, you actually needed a sponsor that was an existing member. For me that was going to be Cliff Beyersdoerfer, a charter member, but he passed away before I got a chance to join. So I had to find somebody else, and that took a while. Ultimately, I found my way in and started attending what used to be called “reliability” conferences. The SCTE went through a series of ups and downs, and I went through some of that and saw really strong people like Tom Polis just give of themselves tremendously to help the organization. That was really the time when it transitioned from a club to a real organization. I saw the organization really blossom when John Clark came aboard. He brought the ability to market the organization and create more of a sense of purpose and open the organization to a much wider audience. You played a role at CableLabs too, right? I was there for two years. I was the second person to participate in what they called an Executive on Loan program. Tom Elliot from TCI was the first. My last two years at Continental were actually at CableLabs. I was VP of science and technology. The reason I was there was to try to ground the efforts of CableLabs in what the operating community and industry needed. How does your earlier time at Continental compare with the later time at Charter? The warmest spot in my heart for any company that I’ve ever worked for was Continental Cablevision. And that was in large part due to the culture there: one of honesty and straightforwardness and being very customer-focused. It attracted a set of like-minded people. Primarily, that was fostered from the top down, from Bud Hostetter and Irv Grousbeck. So 17 total years at Continental made an impression. For Charter, in the time prior to the public offering, there were a lot of similarities, especially a very strong culture; in Charter’s case, three founders. I was the 12th employee at Charter, and lot of people who worked at Charter told me that this was the closest thing that they had found to Continental Cablevision, which is quite a compliment. You patented something along the way, a tool for upstream noise mitigation? I spent a lot of time in the early days, prior to what I would call successful two-way networks, trying to make unsuccessful two-way networks work. This one patent that you’re referring to is just a way of separating noise that was generated within the home from actually getting onto the reverse path of the network. Simply using filtering around the ground block to actually decouple impulse noise from getting back to the return plant. Why did you join Broadbus? At Charter, one of the major products I took on was VOD assessment: looking at companies that could enable us to get into the VOD space and do it right. We did an exhaustive analysis of the vendors that were in this space, and the only one that actually checked all of the boxes on our requirements was a company called DIVA. They had proprietary server but a strong roadmap to a more open standards-based product. Now, I also knew that you also didn’t want to be in a sole-source situation because a company could go out of business, which is what happened with DIVA. You want to have options. But none of those companies were what I considered to be a great second source. It happened to be the timing was such that I attended the first CableLabs/Silicon Valley summit. One of the companies that presented was headed by Jeff Binder and Bob Scheffler. What they had was an approach to a video server that addressed all of the things that I had been looking for. They had a vision of on-demand television and the ability to scale that and to have a hierarchical relationship between servers and storage that would scale to virtually any practical requirement. The company had patents and ideas for a video server that they had already applied and been successful with in the audio industry, using solid-state memory. At that point, I brought Broadbus into Charter. Everyone was impressed, especially with the potential. And we patiently waited for them to get their funding, and waited and waited and waited. And it turns out that they needed someone to sign up with them. They needed some leverage, and things were such with Charter that I’d done most of what I wanted to do, the company had gone public, the company was bigger. So the timing was right. What can you say about the team at Broadbus? Bob Scheffler in the early days was the chief architect and the CTO before I joined the company. He’s the co-founder and had been together with Jeff for 10 years or more. So it’s really those two guys who had the vision, and I came along a little later to add some weight and help move the company forward in the cable space. What kind of guidance have you offered? I’ve tried to instill a really strong sense of importance in dealing with the customer and customer service. Typically at one of our installations, our servers will attach to a layer 2 or layer 3 router, and often times there are programming issues and routing table issues, and technically that is something that someone else should take care of, but our team is so good and it is just so matter of fact to them that they either do it for the customer or walk them through and show them how to do it. At the end of the day, we don’t walk away until the customer is happy and the system is performing the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the culture that I’d like to think I’ve helped instill.