By Corey Moss
Last year I picked two bonuses – one was the show-stopping VIRTULARIUM (at the NEC Display Solutions booth), a joint solutions provider immersive experience from the creative technologist mind of Techno Shaman Jon 9. The other was the Draper, Inc. rebrand, so meaningful to me as Draper was a true partner of mine for years in commercial integration sales. I was overjoyed to be at the show witnessing this momentous occasion for them.
This year I have three bonus picks (two in one of the categories), and an honorable mention.
- Eric Yuan, Zoom
Eric Yuan is an amazing individual. I’ve known him for almost five years now, and I have to say that Eric’s leadership and team approach are inspirational in ways I’ve truly never seen before. He’s the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur, which was recognized recently as he won the prestigious 2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year® Award.
Eric’s backstory is also truly an inspiration – in October 2017, he was interviewed by Medium, and he was asked about it: *
I first envisioned Zoom when I was a freshman in college in China and regularly took a ten-hour train ride to visit my girlfriend (who is now my wife). I detested those rides and used to imagine other ways I could visit my girlfriend without traveling — those daydreams eventually became the basis for Zoom.
I decided to come to the U.S. in the mid ’90’s because of the Internet, which I knew was the wave of the future. It was red hot here, but hadn’t yet taken off in China. The first time I applied for a U.S. visa, I was rejected. I continued to apply again and again over the course of two years and finally received my visa on the ninth try.
I arrived in Silicon Valley in 1997 and joined WebEx, which at the time was a real-time collaboration company with about a dozen employees. The company grew very quickly and went public within several years of my arrival.
In 2007 WebEx was acquired by Cisco and I became Cisco’s Corporate VP of engineering, in charge of collaboration software. I often met with customers, and in my conversations with them learned they weren’t happy with the current collaboration solutions, including WebEx. I firmly believed I could develop a platform that would make customers happy, so in June of 2011, I decided it was time to make the video communications solution I imagined during my college train trips a reality.
And of course, that solution became Zoom – launched in 2012, and the video communications platform I have used since early 2013. This after I had become tired of using Webex — poetic justice I guess. Zoom has had a meteoric rise like I have never witnessed before in all of my years in the AV industry, and Eric has proven with his vision, continued engineering innovation and platform enhancement with his team at Zoom (Eric himself being an Engineer), along with his happiness mantra that such could be possible.
Zoom being named a Leader (along with Microsoft and Cisco) in the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solutions and named a 2018 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Meeting Solutions certainly proves this. In fact, Zoom’s first year at InfoComm, I was one of the people who suggested to the company that the time was right for them to be there. The enormous crowd I was standing among at the booth late in the afternoon on day 2 at InfoComm 2018 proves they certainly made the right choice there too.
“Zoom’s growth in the enterprise shows the need for modern, frictionless video communications that other services just haven’t provided. I am grateful for the incredible partners that have joined us in this mission, from high-quality hardware providers like Crestron, Polycom, Logitech, and many more, to our world-class reseller and referral partners. We believe that communications technology can enhance the ways people work together, instead of getting in the way. Our partners are helping us achieve this goal.” – Eric S. Yuan, Founder & CEO of Zoom Video Communications, Inc.
My congratulations to Eric Yuan on receiving the EY Award, and for becoming someone who has transformed video communications, UC in the industry, provides happiness for the customer, his team at Zoom, and all of those who know him.
* Read more of ‘The Inspiring Backstory of Eric S. Yuan, Founder and CEO of Zoom’ here.
- Nancy Knowlton, Nureva
Nancy Knowlton is also an amazing individual, I’ve known Nancy for quite some time and her leadership has been an inspiration for me for many years – beginning with my days in commercial integration sales.
Let me first admit that my beginnings in the AV industry in commercial integration sales launched off of one single product – the SMART Technologies SMART Board. The SMART Board blazed a path for me and my sales business, as in every K-12 school that I put it in it would lead to more installations (some in every classroom) along with referrals. Colleges and universities in New York and New Jersey became some of my best clients with SMART products as well, leading to even bigger integration jobs – projection, videoconferencing, control, large rack systems, custom integrated technology furniture and more.
In the early 2000’s, a meeting of SMART dealer sales reps was organized at the manufacturer’s New York City showroom. I didn’t attend all manufacturer’s meetings, however I had found out that CEO Nancy Knowlton was going to be there, and in turn I had to be as well to meet her, being the head executive at the company that produced my cornerstone product. I had known a few women executives who had a stake in the AV industry at the time, and I had to meet another that day.
The show room meeting itself did turn out to be very important, and meeting Nancy Knowlton was an absolute necessity in terms of getting to know the person out in front driving the company, as well as the efforts in education. I was always inspired when training K-12 teachers and highed ed professors on how to use the SMART Board, SMART Sympodium (later Podium), the Notebook software and more.
And while selling to education was easy, corporate continued to be a challenge – I kept looking for ways to leverage SMART in the corporate environment, though for the most part to no avail.
Which brings me to the current day, and the story of Nancy Knowlton and Nureva.
See more of my story about Nancy Knowlton (and an interview) here.
Transformative Industry Organization:
In early June, major manufacturers and leaders in professional audio video, working together under the Avnu Alliance, announced Milan, the first fully realized, standards-based protocol built for deterministic, interoperable, future-proof media networking in the Pro AV market.
Milan is a user-driven protocol built on top of IEEE Audio Video Bridging (AVB) open standards with added specification requirements for professional media to ensure that all Milan devices will work together on a Pro AV network. Milan is the Pro AV market-defined protocol and toolkit that provides manufacturers a specific set of rules and directives for products to be built with requirements for the network layer and the application layer including media streams, formats, clocking and redundancy, and thus once tested and certified, form a fully interoperable ecosystem for deterministic networking in the Pro AV market.
“The Milan initiative is a long-term approach to change the way the Pro AV market does AV networking. We encourage companies seeking a technically superior network, that guarantees interoperability and is not limited by the confines of proprietary products, to join us and participate in building out this ecosystem,” said John McMahon, Meyer Sound and Avnu Alliance Pro AV Segment Chair.
Find out more about Milan here.
Invict (my Innovations Showcase pick)
At InfoComm, I like to make a startup pick, where these companies are usually found in the Innovations Showcase. Last year’s pick was Owl Labs, manufacturer of the Meeting Owl, who I actually met with in a scheduled session in an enclosed room on the show floor.
At InfoComm 2018 I spent time with a few companies in the Showcase, and decided on Invict, one of my Bonuses as a quality transformative startup.
Here’s what you need to know about Invict:
1. Truly searchable A/V. Invict‘s main focus is to convert any source of audio and video into truly searchable A/V, targeting both the problem of how to find a specific audio/video file and and to pinpoint whats inside. For this Invict uses AI to analyze and extract the data in the video and audio, generate insights and create searchable tags and moments, while still allowing the users to enter search tags manually.
2. Open non proprietary approach. Invict manufactures a full line of products including Enterprise Video Management software, transcription software, lecture capture and interview recording appliances and discussion systems, with the capacity of working together to deliver a complete front to end solution. Nonetheless each of the parts is completely open for integration with third party solutions. Customers can choose which components they want and integrate them with their existing infrastructure.
3. On premise. While all of Invict‘s software is Linux based and fully cloud deployable, the approach is to make its solution completely available for on premise installation without dependency on cloud services. All of the solution, including speaker independent transcription and language processing, is available to work offline. This allows users to keep full control of their content within their own infrastructure without any single fragment of audio, video or text ever going to a third party server and thus eliminating the security/confidentiality concerns many customers have.
Find out more about Invict here.
Honorable mention: Noah Kaplan, President at Leon Speakers “Advanced Technical Design and Imminent Disruption” – listen to this interview hosted by Katye McGregor Bennett.
OK give me disruption just once here…
See you at InfoComm 2019!
With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, Convergent Tech Talk and Convergent Week. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers. Find him talking about a whole lot of things, tech and otherwise. On LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/mosscorey/.