NBJ: Nashville Tech Players Imagine A City Without Google Fiber

Nashville Business Journal logo.jpgThe Nashville Business Journal’s Eleanor Kennedy recently updated readers about Nashville’s Google Fiber status. They reached out to our CEO, Dan Hogan, about his perspectives. Check out the article below.

To be sure, Google Fiber shows no signs of backing away from Nashville, where a handful of buildings are already connected. The company maintained its commitment to Music City in its announcement of pauses in some of other markets. And the Federal Communications Commission’s position in favor of a Louisville law very similar to Nashville’s recently adopted One Touch Make Ready policy has heartened supporters of Metro in its dispute with AT&T and Comcast, both of which have filed suit over One Touch, a policy Google has said is necessary to speed up and, potentially, complete, its Nashville rollout.

But while the lawsuits drag on and Google Fiber parent Alphabet looks to right
the ship for the fiber project, it’s worth establishing some stakes. For the tech and entrepreneurial community of Nashville, Google Fiber’s impending arrival was hailed as yet another tool in the toolbox of Nashville’s brand — a way to lure young, creative, tech-minded professionals and other stakeholders who can accelerate the city’s nascent entrepreneurial boom.

That’s why Dan Hogan, CEO of health-tech startup Medalogix, says Nashville
“needs to work hard to keep Google in our city. A Google Fiber initiative is like an outstretched hand,” Hogan said in an email. “Not only is a fiber project an important effort on its own, but it represents the possibility of greater partnership down the road. If we slap that hand the first time it reaches out, it’s not likely to come back any time soon.”

“If we lose Google, we lose part of our foothold, our brand as an emerging
technology hub,” Hogan continued.

Hogan’s perspective is consistent with that of many folks in the city’s tech and
entrepreneurial sectors, among whom you’d be hard-pressed to find someone
opposed to the One Touch legislation Metro passed in late September. Most in
that sector argue Google Fiber is an example of innovation, and outdated
legislation that pushes back on innovation shouldn’t continue.

That said, the question of the level of impact from the loss of Google Fiber has
been complicated by the national news of a slowdown, said Phil Shmerling,
founder of investment network InCrowd Capital.

“If you had asked me a month ago, I would have said that Nashville’s spot as
an early Google Fiber location would a great additive effect on our ecosystem,”
Shmerling said in an email, adding that fiber is particularly significant here
because it builds upon other Nashville Google initiatives in the city. But with
that national rollback, the calculation changes.

“The positive impact on our ecosystem is still huge if they follow through,” he
said. “But the negative impact of them not following through is not as bad. …
That is because Google [wouldn’t] say “bye” to Nashville and move on to all of
the other cities in their pipeline. … Now we know that is not going to happen,
the pain is lessoned if [Google] backs out.”

So where do we stand? Yes, if Metro Nashville loses to AT&T and Comcast and
Google Fiber backs out, or if Alphabet scales back more dramatically, “life would go on,”said Matt Houston, co-founder of beach management startup Beachy.

But, depending on the cause, that life could look different.

“Thankfully the city has moved beyond just being known for country music,
but that obviously requires continued progress across multiple fronts,” said Colton Mulligan, CEO of digital agency FoxFuel Creative. “If Google pulls
out, the Nashville brand will invariably take a hit, losing some of the
credibility as a business friendly, forward-thinking, burgeoning tech hub.”

*Originally published in the Nashville Business Journal.