When you think of the future of work and communication, think Oblong Technologies. Featured in Minority Report and other sci-fi movies, Oblong has already changed the way schools, workplaces, and our government present and communicate information. With their newest product, Mezzanine, they are revolutionizing the digital conference room, fit for small and big companies alike. The company has raised over $100M+ in funding. Already working with IBM, NASA, and Accenture, Oblong Industries may just change the future of work.
LA TechWatch chatted with CFO Stewart Armstrong about their newest product Mezzanine.
Tell us about Oblong.
Computer technology is changing. We believe the era of one human, one mouse, one screen, one machine, is giving way to what’s next: a fully shared and unified experience among multiple users, devices, screens, and locations, via a groundbreaking spatial interface. This is what Oblong builds. It’s why we’re here.
How is it different?
Mezzanine is our flagship product built on our core technology called g-speak. Mezzanine™ is a next-generation conference room solution for innovative workplaces. Its multi-stream device-agnostic spatial-computing properties amplify sales presentations, power multi-location collaboration, and accelerate data-driven decision-making. This new means of collaborating visually with multiple streams of content simultaneously is so extraordinary we coined a new term for it: Infopresence. It transcends telepresence to elevate the content streams teams need.
What are some interesting outcomes from your clients using your solution?
There are so many fantastic stories to share. For a major construction firm, a five-week design review process can now be done in 5 hours. For a consulting firm, a multi-million dollar account was won within a week of installation. For a higher-ed program, students spend hours not days preparing presentations. For a security firm, issues are spotted more immediately. For a transportation company, repairs are addressed within hours. It’s all about saving time and using multi-stream and multi-surface visual communication to get to the bottom of things more quickly and with greater accuracy. That drives real value for our customers.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We’re addressing a global enterprise market of Fortune 1000 firms who place a priority on people and innovation. Mezzanine is a family of products that flexes to meet the demands of teams in meeting spaces large and small. At the smaller end, Wainhouse research estimates there are more than 45 million small to medium meeting spaces globally. Mezzanine scales for all kinds of needs including executive briefing centers, command centers, innovation labs, war rooms, news studios, conference rooms, and huddle spaces.
What is the business model?
We work directly with our customers such as IBM, NASA, and Accenture, but a key focus for us is working through our AV Integrator channel partners such as AVI SPL, Whitlock, Viju, Vega and Diversified.
Tell us a little about what inspired the business?
Oblong founder and CEO John Underkoffler was working on the future of human-computer interface at the MIT Media Lab a while back, with the intention of making a more natural bridge between analog and digital space. He was tapped by Steven Spielberg’s production team to consult on the film “Minority Report” and has also supplied vision to “Iron Man”, “The Hulk”, and other films. The technologies imagined in these films are becoming a commercial reality at Oblong and are arriving at businesses globally to facilitate next-gen communication and collaboration.
Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?
LA is a fantastic place to imagine the future, of course. There are so very many ground-breaking elements defining the culture of progress which hails from Los Angeles that you can’t help but be inspired. (Internet! Aerospace! Monokini!) Beyond that, it’s a wonderful climate to build a firm: a deep well of entrepreneurial talent, engineering all-stars at Cal Tech and Harvey Mudd, a budding downtown scene with transportation arriving from all corners…. It’s been a wonderful place to be FROM and to be grounded IN while we build our firm and our customer’s capabilities around the world.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Beyond our constant mandate to further elevate the seamless utility of products, our primary charter is to deliver the immersive visual collaboration capabilities of Mezzanine to more people. We’re doing that by scaling our product down for more spaces, and by partnering with large technology firms and AV integrators on go-to-market strategies.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
Oh interesting! We’re not seeking additional investors at the moment but we’re always open to conversations about transforming the future of work, and human-machine interface.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
Creative and quality-oriented and defining a path to the future.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
Incubator programs and co-working spaces continue to fuel a rich ecosystem of creativity. We’d love to see the city continue to provide tax advantages for those taking the greatest (yet worthwhile) entrepreneurial risks, and we’d love to see publications such as yours continue to elevate the most worthy investments.
What is your favorite restaurant in LA?
We just defer to Jonathan Gold! He doesn’t steer us wrong.