NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Former CEO of Apple Computer John Sculley is heading up Live Picture, a company working to bring high resolution, practical imaging to the Internet. Sculley joined CNNfn's Fred Katayama on "Digital Jam" to discuss Live Picture's latest ventures, as well as to offer some insights on Apple's current situation.
Here is a partial transcript of the interview.
FRED KATAYAMA, CNNfn Anchor, DIGITAL JAM: Well, first off, tell me about Live Picture. What role is your company playing in bringing imaging over the worldwide web?
JOHN SCULLEY, CEO, LIVE PICTURE: Well, the best way to think of it is that the web today is basically a text-based medium, but media is on there. It is more like decorations than anything particularly useful. What we're doing is trying to be a real innovator for high quality photographic resolution multimedia. At this time it's not about what you do on the stand-alone personal computer, but it's what you do on servers. And we've developed a technology that's called multi-resolution network imaging that's based on some work that we did with Microsoft and Eastman Kodak and Hewlett-Packard and Intel.
KATAYAMA: As a user of the Internet, how would what I see be different or change because of your technology?
SCULLEY: Well, if you look at a web page today, you'd see a simple low resolution gif image which is not printable. What we do is, at the same latency, deliver very, very high resolution images that can be panned and zoomed and can show you close examination of products and services, ideal for electronic catalogs. That's an $80 billion industry. We think we can play a role in helping build server-based multimedia for the electronic catalog industry.
KATAYAMA: Now, I understand you also have panoramic images.
SCULLEY: Yes, we do many of the kinds of things that Apple has done for a long time with QuickTime-VR, and we support QuickTime-VR, but our stuff is not optimized for any particular operating system. It's optimized for narrow-band networks, so that you can be able to screen this at very high resolution.
KATAYAMA: Now, you're also investing into some Israeli companies. You told me earlier you just came back last night from Israel. Why the attraction to companies out there?
SCULLEY: Well, my brothers and I invested in some twenty different companies and we are primarily focused on businesses where the markets are being redefined, many cases by new technologies and where we can build big brands. We're marketing people. In Israel we see extraordinary technology, particularly in multimedia digital imaging, telecommunications. But there's not much marketing. And so the chance to be able to take technologies that have already been created and match them up with markets in strategic relationships, build management teams in the United States is what we're doing.
KATAYAMA: John, aren't you worried? Some Israeli experts told me earlier that there's a shortage of software engineers in Israel. Of course, we face that in the U.S., but particularly in Israel, and that's driving up some of the wages there that made the country competitive.
SCULLEY: Well, it's true that there are about 1,200 engineers that come out of the universities over there each year. And that there's a lot of demand for those engineers in business, and so the salaries are coming up. But they're still 10 to 20 percent lower than Silicon Valley salaries, and the skills are particularly important in areas that we have interest in, so I think the most exciting monster market opportunities won't have much trouble getting engineers. It's going to be the less interesting businesses that'll have a harder time finding the technical people they need.
KATAYAMA: John, you mentioned Apple Computer earlier. What do you think about the return of Steve Jobs to Apple?
SCULLEY: Well, I've been gone for going on five years. So, I really don't have any up-to-date information. But I think it makes a tremendous amount of sense. Steve is a terrific product developer. Apple missed the web. They missed Java. They missed NCs. There's clearly an opportunity for someone to build a server-based NC to go into the education market. My guess is, if anyone can do it, Steve can do it. And I think the outlook for Apple is a lot better than it's been for quite a few years.
KATAYAMA: So, you think they can bounce back from their troubles.
SCULLEY: I've been pretty consistent on saying that... if they could get a management in that understood how to get products out and something about marketing. It looks like that's what they're doing.
KATAYAMA: And speaking of management, any insight as to who may be the next CEO of Apple?
SCULLEY: I have no insight on that, no idea.
KATAYAMA: Do you still remain an investor in Apple shares?
SCULLEY: No, I own no Apple shares. I have no interest to. But I obviously want to see them be successful.
KATAYAMA: How difficult is it nowadays to find a CEO for a leading high tech firm in Silicon Valley?
SCULLEY: I think it's a lot easier to find top world class people to run small companies than it is to find people to run big companies.
KATAYAMA: Why so?
SCULLEY: The reason is because you get in on the ground floor. You get a much bigger equity upside if your company's successful. And people want to come in where the strategic inflection point is not about the early seed round, because a CEO can't do as much there as a founder can, but at the point where a company is ready to scale to be a larger business. And those are the most attractive businesses. We just brought in a terrific CEO to Live Picture, Kate Mitchell who had been vice president of marketing at Oracle, and we're at the point now where we're building a very strong team.