Disruption, Innovation and Authenticity
Cox Enterprises President and CEO Alex Taylor recently shared his perspective on innovation at Cox, disruption in our industries and why authenticity is more important than ever.
In a wide-ranging, hour-long conversation with Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Taylor paid homage to the company’s storied past but intrigued the 150-person audience with his futuristic vision.
“Each of our businesses is in full-scale disruption,” Taylor said. “My job is to make sure the company is around for the next 120 years.”
With disruption comes the opportunity to innovate, and Cox is no stranger to business transformation, Taylor said. He shared a story about a 1967 Cox Broadcasting shareholder report he keeps on his desk, in which his great-uncle James M. Cox Jr. reported on an investment in cable TV, speculating that “the real promise of cable is that in 20 years hence a television looks like nothing more than a picture hanging on a wall.” In the report, Cox also described the concept of a television helping viewers ‘arrange flowers better’ or ‘improve your golf swing.’
“He was talking about data,” Taylor said. “He didn’t know it yet, but he was talking about data and the Internet, which, of course, didn’t exist yet.”
With innovation rooted in his family history and the company, Taylor said he is excited about opportunities in both existing businesses and new ventures. One of the biggest growth areas for Cox is mobility, which he cited as the hotbed of innovation. “Cars are now big chunks of data – if data is going to be in every car, we want to be in the data business.”
Taylor said that today’s entire economy is in startup mode, and Cox is investing where the company’s leaders see forward momentum. One new investment is the new Atlanta Esports Ventures, which will bring an Overwatch League to Atlanta in 2019. The team will not only bring revenue but will also serve a secondary purpose to “continue to make Atlanta a cool place,” Taylor said. Another way Cox is helping its hometown and connecting with startups is through its partnership with Techstars Atlanta, an accelerator program that brings entrepreneurs to the city and helps them find investment support.
While the Cox businesses are different than they were 120 years ago, the company’s values remain. “I believe in being transparent and authentic as a practice. I didn’t come up with the values, but I understand them, live by them and try to make them relevant today,” said Taylor.
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