Daniel Budzinski’s podcast The Art of Success recently hosted entrepreneur and Tsunami XR founder Alex Hern. As Budzinski announces at the beginning of each episode, The Art of Success centers around interviewing personalities from all different backgrounds on how they’ve learned and earned success
“These are stories that will equip listeners to achieve their own personal success,” the host says.
Hern began by outlining his professional and entrepreneurial history. Hern got his start by licensing the characters of the Marvel universe for a kid-friendly, safe search engine.
“This was in the era of Internet 1.0.,” he explains.
Soon after securing these licenses, Hern joined with a team at UC Berkley that had been developing DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) funded supercomputing technology. Hern contributed his license of Marvel characters and the university team contributed their IP, and together they started the company Ink To Me. Ink To Me went on to power the search enginges for MSN, Yahoo and AOL, all prior to Google.
Hern explained to Budzinski how his early experiences with search engines and supercomputing opened his eyes to DARPA’s technologies and capabilities. Hern and the UC Berkley team soon went on to develop NOW and COW, short for “network of workstations” and “collection of workstations”. NOW and COW offered different means of networking computers together to solve complex problems; in effect, hybridizing computers to harness supercomputing power.
Hern and his team went on to reapply this new supercomputing power to the burgeoning internet in order to manage and track the web, especially during the explosive growth of the early internet. This led to pioneering ESM (Enterprise system management): computer security software designed to address vulnerabilities from a top-down perspective; syndrome vs symptom approach.
ESM started out during rocky, economically unsound times — only 2 weeks before the September 11th terror attacks in New York City.
Despite strained beginnings, ESM went on to thrive, becoming the only tech IPO during the height of the 2008 recession. Not long after, the company was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $1.5 billion.
Through his experience with the early internet, as well as the growth and expansion of online capabilities throughout the 2000s, Hern has learned the importance of conducting research before chasing an idea, and the unyielding value of the Goldilocks principle.
All of this experience and expertise has recently culminated with Hern’s founding of Tsunami XR, which has oft been touted as “the next generation of collaboration”.
Translating real-life work methods to a digital realm is the goal of Tsunami XR. The key question that Hern began with and has returned to throughout developing the technology is, “How do people really work in the real world?”
To start with, Tsunami XR was deliberately designed to circumvent the common problem of a length adoption cycle that often accompanies AR and VR technology. XR indicates cross-device capabilities, meaning that mobile devices, lap and desktops, Oculus Rift headsets, and more can all access digital workspaces hosted by Tsunami. Users of any device are potential customers. Hern prioritizes meeting users’ needs as opposed to generating or converting those needs to fit new technologies.
Tsunami XR functions based off of two VR and AR concepts: First, persistence. In effect, persistence means that a space lives perpetually, during and even after use. The space is always “on”, as opposed to telepresences like Skype, for example. The second function is co-presence: users may share disparate tasks within the same digital space. Different users can be in different areas of the same workspace interacting with different objects all simultaneously.
Full voice and video
Unlimited number of participants
Can ingest over 300 file types, including 3D models of objects and environments
“Think about it as ‘layers on life’,” Hern explains. “What’s going to happen as we move forward and all of this evolves, there will be these layers on the physical world that are sometimes literally layered right onto the real thing, and those are called ‘digital twins’; or they’re just spaces that live virtually that allow us to extend where we are to unlimited places that we can ideate in without taking up physical space.”
Tsunami XR features full voice and video and can host an unlimited number of participants. Over 300 file types may be ingested, including three-dimensional models of objects and environments (all to scale, if required). In essence, Tsunami XR provides an unlimited digital expansion of limited physical and real-world spatial resources.
Tsunami XR even extends to virtual retail spaces that allow consumers to interact with commodities in a virtual showroom. These showrooms are further customizable for individual consumers; as opposed to general company web pages that homogenize the customer experience.
As he explains Tsunami XR’s capabilities throughout the podcast, Hern affirms Budzinski’s frequent comparisons to The Matrix and Iron Man.
Tsunami XR’s first investment round raised $25 million; the next round is looking to raise $50 million.
At the podcast’s close, Budzinski picks Hern’s brain for “million-dollar advice”.
Hern advises budding entrepreneurs to “take the money when you can get it”, citing variables “like the economy”.
“If you can’t delegate it means you can’t really trust the people you’ve hired,” he says regarding delegation and trust.
Commit to deep interviews and don’t higher too fast: “Take the time to do the homework before you let someone inside the garden wall.”
Perhaps most importantly, Hern champions focus. Give yourself four to five to even six hours of uninterrupted focus, advises Hern, on whatever is the business’s top priority at any given time of the year. For the entrepreneur, multi-tasking is a delusional myth that leads to doing a lot of things poorly.
Hern closes the podcast with the overarching recommendation to enjoy life.
“It’s okay to live your dreams,” he says. “But it’s more important to live your life.”