Meralco’s goal: An Internet company with a power business

Chris Schnabel
Meralco’s goal: An Internet company with a power business
The utility firm’s launching of its Power Lab is a step closer to transform Meralco into a company that embraces the potentials of the Internet

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is now envisioned to become an “Internet company with a power business” – and no less than its chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan, wants that for the utility firm.

In his speech during the launching of the Meralco Power Lab on Wednesday, January 28, Pangilinan shared that in March 2014, he along with other senior executives, spent a week in Silicon Valley, California on an intensive exposure program to get familiar with the Internet.

“It’s a totally different world,” he said.

Pangilinan shared how Netflix, an on-demand Internet streaming media, first approached Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer (MGM) Studios for media content. That time, Netflix was valued at $200 million while MGM was valued at $4 billion. To date, Netflix is valued at $28 billion while MGM’s valuation remained the same.

As such, Pangilinan pointed out that “the market is rewarding not legacy businesses like telcos but the intellectual capital you put in.”

Laying out his vision for Meralco, Pangilinan drove the point that the utility firm and the other firms in his group should embrace the Internet and its various platforms because that is where the value is.

The chairman also went on to praise Rocket Internet, its largest single overseas investment, for their culture of not being afraid to take risks and not being afraid of failure.

The market appears to embrace the company Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) invested in. The Philippine dominant carrier’s share in the German start-up firm was diluted as more investors pour capital into the company following its initial public offering in October last year.

Stepping in the right direction

Going back to his vision for Meralco, Pangilinan said the Power Lab to be a small yet significant step in the context of what is happening in the world wide Web.

Power Lab is a two-level multipurpose facility to test the power consumption of appliances and gadgets, a bid to educate Filipinos about electricity usage and energy management.

The Meralco Power Lab houses an equipment testing laboratory, a demo area, and an intelligent living space.

“We want our customers to visit the Meralco Power Lab to discover how much electricity typical home appliances and gadgets consume and realize how this impacts on their household expenses,” said Al Panlilio, Meralco senior vice president and head of customer retail services and corporate communications.

“Hopefully, this will encourage them to become more conscious about electricity use and be more energy-efficient consumers,” Panlilio added.

The distribution company has teamed up with the Department of Energy in a scheme to add orange tags to appliances, thus letting consumers know how much the appliance would cost them in kilowatt hours. –

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