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I’m totally wiped out after a full day in LA that included a board meeting at Oblong, a 75 minute interview on This Week in VC, strange drinks at Volcano Tea with some LA entrepreneurs, another interview on TechZulu before the Launchpad LA event, and then a Launchpad LA event. Mark Suster – who is everywhere on the LA entrepreneurial scene – was my gracious host, interviewer, and master of ceremonies for the day. I predict he sleeps well tonight.
I’ve got nothing left to say since I’ve already said it at least twice today. So – I’ll leave you with the This Week in VC interview.
I’m on a six week rhythm in Seattle for the three boards I’m on up here – Gist, BigDoor, and Impinj. While I don’t have them perfectly synced up, I’m hopeful that I will in 2011. In the mean time, today full of BigDoor and Gist.
It was an absurdly beautiful day in Seattle. When the sun is out, this place shines. The day started out at the new Founders Co-op office where BigDoor is located. It’s about 33% full but that’s going to change next week when TechStars Seattle begins and fills out the place. It’s great space, in a great location (near the new Amazon campus), and is covered with IdeaPaint.
Everything about the BigDoor meeting was great. It was a tight, focused two hours. Since we invested about six weeks ago, over 300 companies have signed up to try BigDoor’s system and I expect 10 will be in full production by the end of the month. If you are looking to add game mechanics to your site, it’s the easiest and fastest way to do it. They’ve just rolled out a new website that explains it, along with a refreshed / simple pricing model that is free up to 100k API calls / month. Oh, and they served sushi for lunch which just rocked.
I got a ride across town to Gist where we spent most of our time on the August and September product rhythms (Gist is now on a monthly product focus – everyone in the company focuses on one specific area of the product and the next two months are filled with goodness.) Gist has also refreshed their site – if you haven’t ever tried it or haven’t looked at it in a while, go give it a shot – it’s grown up nicely.
I’m off to LA for an Oblong board meeting tomorrow and lunch by their amazing in house chef followed by an appearance with Mark Suster on This Week in Venture Capital live at 2pm PST followed by some LaunchPad LA stuff that Mark has pulled together.
All of these companies are doing well so its a fun action packed two days on the east coast. And yes, I’m way over stimulated after a month in Homer with just Amy.
Jason and I were at an Oblong board meeting last week and spent the entire day at the company. It’s grown a lot over the past few months and it was fun to spend time with a number of folks we hadn’t met before. The first Oblong baby was born while we were all eating lunch which resulted in lots of good cheer, karma, and the revelation from another member of the Oblong team that his wife recently found out that she was pregnant.
But the best part was playing with a bunch of the new cool shit that Oblong is working on. It’s one thing to look at what Oblong is building (as in the TED Video below); it’s a whole different experience to actually get your hands on it. Fortunately they are driving hard toward that and we expect a Q3 product release that will start bringing Oblong’s g-speak spatial operating environment to the masses.
“In five years when you buy a computer you’ll get this.” John Underkoffler, Oblong’s Chief Scientist, at 14:20 in the video.
I’ve been friends with John Underkoffler since 1984 and we’ve been investors in Oblong since 2007. Ever since I first met John I knew that he was an amazing thinker. John, his co-founders at Oblong, and the team they have assembled are creating the future of user interfaces. This year has started off incredibly fast for them – they’ve spent the last five months scaling the business as the result of several large customers and are in the home stretch of releasing their first “shrink wrapped product” in Q3. Get ready – the future is closer than you imagine.
If you are a long time reader of this blog, you know that I’m a huge believer that the way we interact with computers in 20 years will be radically different than how we interact with them today. I’ve put my money where my mouth is as Foundry Group has invested in a number of companies around human computer interaction, including Oblong.
For the past few years, every time someone talks about next generation user interfaces, a reference to the movie Minority Report pops up. Sometimes the writer gets this right and links it back to John Underkoffler, the co-founder of Oblong, but many times they don’t. Today the NY Times got it right in their article You, Too, Can Soon Be Like Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’.
That’s a picture of John Underkoffler at Ted on Friday giving one of his jaw dropping demos of Oblong’s g-speak spatial operating environment. Lest you think this is science fiction, I can assure you that Oblong has several major customers, is generating meaningful revenue, and is poised to enter several mainstream markets with g-speak derived products.
The company has been steadily building momentum over the past few years since we invested. The TechCrunch article The iPad Is Step 1 In The Future Of Computing. This Is Step 2 (Or 3) gives you a little of the history. More of the history is at Oblong’s post origins: arriving here that go back to 1994. I personally have stories going back to 1984 when I first met John, but we’ll save those for another day.
While there is an amazing amount of interesting stuff suddenly going on around HCI (and we have invested in a few other companies around this), Oblong is shipping step 2 and about to ship step 3 while most are working on step 1. As John likes to say, “the old model of one human, one machine, one mouse, one screen is passe.”