TalkingHeadz Podcast with OJ and Simen of Neat

by Dave Michels

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Evan Kirstel 0:12
So Dave, we have a couple of great guests coming up in the video conferencing space. But before that all the excitement seems to be around social audio. And I was just reading your amazing insider report on the state of play and social audio. What is going on?

Dave Michels 0:29
You know, it’s absolutely amazing. I think it’s because of our podcasts that people have discovered how effective and valuable audio only can be. But we’ve talked about clubhouse before and clubhouse accidentally, in my opinion, nailed it. The reason I say it’s accidental is because there’s no way they could have had a plan around this pandemic. But when you can’t go to the local pub and can’t socialize. clubhouse is a pretty darn entertaining way to interact with people. But what’s amazing about it is how many imitators are coming. Put on the insider report and I link to all of them. Let’s see, we got Facebook, we got telegram, Twitter, let’s Good for you. I’m sure. Discord. My talk out of China, tick tock at a china Instagram, slack and LinkedIn have all announced some sort of clubhouse knockoff?

Evan Kirstel 1:19
Well, for us, this is kind of like coming home again, because we came up in a world of voicemail and group voice messaging and audio conferencing and phone calls. So this is a new world that’s discovering the power of voice.

Dave Michels 1:34
You know, it’s funny, because we talk about social networks, we talk about chat rooms, but you know, of course people are typing. We talk about conversations, but of course people are typing and clubhouse kind of say Well, hey, why don’t we have chats and conversations using our voice? And it was like the most innovative breakthrough in conversational technology in quite some time. So yeah, I think voice carries a lot. It’s a little less stress. I find it well with the exception of talking to you I find conversational a little less stressful but no, it’s interesting you voice carries a lot more information than the text can so not as much as video but certainly more than text. Let’s get the video let’s find out what’s going on in the video from what I guess. Let’s do it. I

Evan Kirstel 2:16
have to get on to my my clubhouse room. So let’s hurry through this interview so I can moderate okay.

god 2:23
Talking Heads is a semi monthly podcast with interviews of the top movers and shakers and enterprise communications and collaboration. Your hosts are Dave Michaels and Evan Kirkstall, both of which offer extraordinary services including research, analysis and social media marketing. You can find them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or at talking That’s pointz with the Z and Evan Kirstel . com. That’s KIRSTEL.

Dave Michels 2:52
So, Evan, today we have our first doubleheader. We have two guests on this episode of talking heads, and they’re both from Norway. We’ve got odd Johnny wins. No better known as oj, and we’ve got Simon tiger, both from me. Do I say need no or need Norway or just need? What’s the name of your company? Guys?

Unknown Speaker 3:11
Just need to just need Yep,

Dave Michels 3:12
Just Neat. All right. Well, great. Thank you for being here. We’re gonna start I gotta start off with I guess I’m not sure how to say this, right. But I’m gonna start off with raptou Lera. Is that the way you say? Congratulations and Norwegian? It is. Thank you. All right, nailed it. So he had a spectacular year or 13 months or whatever. However, you’re counting in Norway. I don’t know how you count. But you had a spectacular year, your first year of sewing stuff. I understand you tripled your team. You sold like 20,000 devices, there’s something like 2000 customers. So just curious, how did that compare with your business plan? Well, I

Simen 3:45
would say that our business plan that’s deep in a drawer somewhere, I think it’s probably like four times or something. What we originally were planning and I felt like that was aggressive when we first got started. So it’s really been beyond all our expectations. What do you think Lj?

Evan Kirstel 4:00
So oj? Do the business plan include a global pandemic that forced everyone to work from home? Because that would have been pretty for cyfle? No, it didn’t.

OJ 4:09
It didn’t Definitely not. And kind of I was actually kind of if you asked me this time last year, I was starting to become quite pessimistic, actually, with regards to this year and kind of how things were going to pay allows kind of how do you kind of start a company focused on meeting rooms when there is no one in the offices? Right? I would say that’s kind of why kind of assignment said that’s gonna we were we are quite far ahead of what we were originally planning. And then we had the pandemic on top right. So I think we could say that we are fairly satisfied with the 2020. Well, excellent.

Dave Michels 4:42
I want to get back to the we’re going to talk about need, obviously. But let’s start off with some introductions here. Neat wasn’t your first video gig so Oh, Jay, I think I met you when you were heading up Cisco collab. But that wasn’t your first video gig either. So How and when did you get into video?

OJ 4:59
Oh, wow. Kind of how long do you take this story, but kind of let me try to cut it short, though that’s got about the start of this millennium, I was actually working as a consultant and I was starting to be a little bit tired about telling other people what to do. So I decided that I need to do something on my own, and it

That never gets old. I love telling people what to do.

Yeah, no, that’s true. But I decided I wanted to get some real hands business experience. And I was looking at this Norwegian company called Tandberg, which at that point in time was like about the size need is today, actually not far off. And I decided that, of course, people had to see each other kind of when they were communicating across distances. And of course, video is the new voice and kind of video is the new way of communicating. So I decided to join that you could call it a startup at that point of time. Little did I know kind of with my I would say limited technological experience at that point of time, that kind of ISDN lines was a problem and IP wasn’t really proliferated at that point in time. So can Oh, there was some tough years for sure. But I think we did the best out of it. And that’s how I ended up in Cisco as well

Dave Michels 6:06
as part of the acquisition because Cisco acquired Tandberg correct. Yeah.

Evan Kirstel 6:11
Was it Tandberg or Cisco? Where you got met Simen, or how did you guys

Simen 6:15
well, actually, that story starts back in I think it was like 2001 or 2002 or something, because oh, TJ and I share a passion which is skiing, and we actually met at a ski lift and hitsville in Austria, and this is a recruiting trip. So oj was working at a consultancy. I was a student, and was looking at potentially joining this. And so we met in the ski lift. He gave me a few pieces of advice. And I think that was kind of the my way into Tandberg, one of them later, left out consultant we never worked together there. But when I left I called oj I knew he had gone to Tandberg, which was a company I knew in Norway and I, I said, Hey, you got an opportunity for me here. And he said, yeah, we just might. So that was the start of that. That was back in. I guess I started at Tandberg in 2005.

Dave Michels 7:00
Yeah, interesting. And I met at a ski resort once but it was nowhere near that ski lift though. But it was pretty much at the bar.

OJ 7:09
That’s where we ended up as well.

Unknown Speaker 7:11

Dave Michels 7:12
he did video. Tandberg. Let’s see. Oh, Jay, you did video Tandberg and then you did video at Cisco. And then you went off to a condo? You did video at a condo. And then you did video back at Cisco again because Cisco bought a con a con Oh. And then when you love Cisco, I recall vividly you telling me that you are done with video. So how did you get from being done with video to meet

OJ 7:36
too much unless business I would say kind of it’s just too much that was left to do kind of when you get that break of it and kind of you see that there is still room for tons of innovation. When I started in tambor kind of one of my dreams was that kind of the predominant way for people cook to communicate was going to be through video. And we weren’t nowhere near I would say when I left school, and I was tired of it because I guess I was a little bit disappointed to some extent in terms of what we have achieved and kind of that I’ve spent 1015 years of my life trying to do it and could have not gotten further. But I think when I saw what soom was doing, particularly into our some democratizing video and kind of getting video in everyone’s hands, that was a true motivational boost to some extent to rejoin. And then when Simon and the team came over to me with kind of a particularly good couple of good ideas, I would say I was fairly easy to convince to join the game again.

Evan Kirstel 8:29
And Simon, you, you followed oj down the piece from Tandberg to Cisco, and then you took a little diversion over to exit. So what was that decision?

Simen 8:39
Yeah, I worked very closely with oj at Tandberg and Cisco, in in various roles. And at pexip, I had the pleasure of probably being the, you know, the biggest competitor of economy. So TJ, and I found ourselves fighting the market and in a good way, which was a lot of fun. And what I left pexip, after like three and a half years in 2015, I think that was around the time that I kind of was sold to pexip. to Cisco, I thought it was done with video too. And I gotta say that that’s kind of when, you know, the idea for need kind of started cooking, because I was for the first time in my career. I was outside of the video bubble, I was in the real world. And I realized that nobody was using video. You know, I was at a different startup in a different industry. And we had two sites and I wanted to connect the two sites, obviously, I wanted to get a Cisco endpoint, because that’s I knew that was the best endpoints and the entry. Couldn’t afford that right? I had to work on this startup and clean it up a little bit turnaround case. So I ended up with some web cameras solution. And that’s when kind of this idea hit me. Like, why isn’t it possible to simply go online and buy something, get it shipped to you plug it in and make it work on the on a cloud solution? Right? I mean, why isn’t this as simple as a as an Apple TV or an iPhone or a sono speaker or there was no product or no, you know, manufacturer that could provide that customer journey for us, you know, small couple ago so I think that was kind of where the you know, idea was probably born,

OJ 10:01
I would actually add on that curve, if you don’t mind. Because I think we are in a particular time in history from my perspective, because kind of there is at least two areas that is coming together at the same time. Number one, I think we have what Eric and zoom has done with kind of from a cloud service perspective, in terms of making this kind of easy to deploy easy to kind of use deploy out in organizations and easy for a smaller organization to just start use is a major shift for this type of industry. The other piece of it is the fact that technology has moved on and could almost argue that probably from a cell phone type of industry, what has happened to the compute side of things, and what’s happened to the kind of the sensor side of things has made things possible. That was not possible, even three, four years ago.

Dave Michels 10:47
So I just want to ask Simon about your timing, because obviously need had really good timing about when this started with the pandemic, when all that stuff from motorist perspective, he sold a condo and accident that nicely. And that was done. From your perspective, you left pexip before the IPO. So if you could do this all over again, would you would you have stayed at pexip overdue started need to talk to us about your timing here.

Simen 11:13
Day one, I look back in my career, I feel so grateful about the opportunities that have come up and the things I’ve been able to jump on. So I would do nothing differently. And if it wasn’t for, you know, me leaving pexip, I wouldn’t have had this experience with this other startup and see the world from the outside, I wouldn’t have had you know, so this is a you know, trail of things that have happened. So, so I gotta say that it certainly feels like my whole career has been building up to this point in time, right? Because, you know, I feel like 2020 and with the pandemic, you know, it really feels like the start of video conferencing, I think, you know, most of the world out there will be looking back and say, Yeah, 2020 was the year of when we started using video, nobody’s gonna care that we’ve been doing this for 1520 years prior to that, and some people even even longer than that, right? So I gotta say, it feels like a great time to be in this industry and add needs. And with all the development that has happened is, as oj said, there’s been there’s so many things that are coming together now, to really make this into what we’ve been dreaming about since you know, the early Tandberg days to get video out to everyone to the masses.

Evan Kirstel 12:17
Yeah, speaking of coming together, so at one point in your career, you’re competing against each other, and then you’re collaborating now working together? You know, is this a Norwegian thing where socialism brings everyone together in a positive way? And also, why do so many Norwegians love video conferencing companies in particular,

OJ 12:38
it used to be one video company in Norway, right, which was Tandberg, that company was, I would say, probably the pioneer of this type of industry in many respects, right. And at this point of time, there is a dozens of companies that have created billions of dollars in value out of it. And it’s created kind of a pretty good cluster, I would say for video technology. And kind of now we are even kind of saying taking the second leg of the journey with regards to people from around the world are applying into need to move to Norway to work in video technologies. I think from the start of Hamburg, we’d kind of all these type of companies growing out of it, sometimes competing, sometimes collaborating, but I think it’s gonna have it’s this good competitive spirit, right, kind of when you drive Formula One, you’re competing with your teammates, to some extent, right. But it’s all for making the races better. It’s all for making the cars better. It’s all for going faster around those circuits. And I think, you know, that is a little bit kind of the feeling in the Norwegian video industry that Yeah, sometimes you compete, sometimes you work together. But it’s all for making these products better, and kind of making our customers enjoy these type of experiences, even more than I did before.

Simen 13:52
Working alongside with people in the same company working as competitors. I mean, getting all those perspectives really kind of help you develop that respect for each other. I mean, when you’ve seen a person from the inside of a company and also outside and being professionals competing in the market, I think that just helps build a stronger relationship.

Evan Kirstel 14:11
I generally try to compete with Dave Michael sometimes when I don’t really have much more respect for him. So I would really question that. But Dave, what do you think?

Dave Michels 14:20
Well, I want to get back to need here, you stay out of the seven. Let’s get back here to needs but I gotta ask first, because I don’t even think I know the answer this. What do you guys do? Who’s the boss? What are your titles at me?

Simen 14:32
So my title is CEO, and I’m still the boss. So I’m trying to figure out what that means. But I think basically, I’m trying to you know, help support the team in whatever way I can to make them do their magic and that oj what is your role?

OJ 14:44
I guess my role is a chairman of the company right? But the thing is that obviously the beauty of Scandinavia is that kind of we are almost a little bit of a merge of different management cultures right kind of where you could see that kind of we have taken some part of the economy ation management culture, which is more of just in time, and that being on time type of culture, we’ve taken some part of the more American or Anglo Saxon type of management culture with the positive attributes of that and merge it into something that kind of Evan said that social democratic, I wouldn’t really call it that. But I think kind of there is a very low, there’s not a big hierarchy in our organizations, kind of, I think we are just all defining a goal, what we want to achieve, were all defining where we want to be. And then everyone is pulling in the same direction in trying to achieve that. And you know, if I’m helping out with discussing engineering problems, or trying to be the chairman pushing assignment for reaching bigger quarters, it’s kind of part of the same game, I think we work very well together to achieve the best that we can do as an organization.

Dave Michels 15:47
I have to chuckle a little bit when he described that oj because I know that when you hear for when you’re talking about just in time, you’re thinking about driving your car, and I’ve driven with you in your car, and I know exactly what you mean by just in time, and I don’t think it’s what anybody else means. But But anyway, let’s get to you guys launched you guys were a stealth company. Rumor broke, you know, I think ours, we got a couple of pretty good secret hours before you came out of stealth, which was ad zoomtopia 2019. And I was in San Jose, I was there. I was pretty excited. I think oj you were up on the keynote stage. And you had your team there. And I saw Simon do a presentation. So why stealth? Why isn’t topia and how did that all go? Well, I

Simen 16:29
think it was important for us to make a big bang, this was something with Eric on stage. And oj on stage. I think, you know, the industry kind of understood that significance, we wanted to kind of get it get as far as we could before. We shared this with the world, it was a big privilege for us, as a startup to be able to launch at an event like that, right? I think it was like 2400 people in the audience, big event, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to experience you know, launching a startup in that way again, so it was a fantastic way to get started. And I think it was also important for us to show the significance of this partnership. And how neat and zoom had really come together. Neat was really started together with zoom to solve these meeting room challenges. So I think all of that kind of was supported by this, this launch.

Evan Kirstel 17:12
And zoom was already booming in 2019 10 year, overnight success story, as some people have called it, including Eric, from my perspective, you know, looking back, you had already invested a lot in video, why do you need to what was the rationale considering all the hassle and sleepless nights and challenges of creating a startup again,

OJ 17:34
the thing is that although we have done lots of video, and I think we were tapping ourselves on the shoulder As for what we have achieved, I think we were far off what we were hoping to achieve with regards to get getting people to everyone and kind of there is I would say there is a whole range of innovation that needs to happen in terms of getting there and I think need from the start. were questioning and rethinking pretty much everything. Have you tried to buy a video system kind of like three years ago in terms of how do you do that? How do you then kind of from buying a system need to connect it to some sort of registrar in terms of making a call all of that from our perspective, or kind of from what the team came presented to me from democratizing not only the meeting service, but also kind of the meeting devices were, I would say pretty much undone at that point of time. And that was part of the idea. And that was also part of why zoom was the preferred partner here because when Simon and the team came with these ideas, I said to them, there is no doubt we need to have a chat with Eric around this because when we see what they have done in terms of getting video in the hands of everyone, that was a big part of it.

Dave Michels 18:40
How do you even call somebody like Eric? I mean, you guys were you guys were enemies. You guys were pexip you guys were economy because we’re Cisco. Hey, Erica, let’s get together and talk about a business plan. Um, how does

OJ 18:50
that even happen? The long in the short of that was that kind of me. And remember, WebEx was bought into Cisco just a year before Tandberg and kind of when Tandberg was brought bought into Cisco, I would say kind of Eric was the probably a lot of people will get offended by me saying this, but berec was one of the few that really understood the significance of video back then. And kind of he was a big backer of what we were trying to do in Hamburg. And he said was very big pusher for the fact that, you know, we need to redo everything and think about video ins inside of Cisco as well. And then he said, Okay, if you guys are not listening, don’t go out and do that myself. And I kept in contact with Eric and Canavan been discussing with him many, many times in terms of whether we should do something together. And then with this opportunity emerged, it was a very easy phone call to make setting up that meeting.

Simen 19:37
Yeah, and I guess I was working with Oded back at Cisco too, right. So we were trying to integrate WebEx with the MC use from the Tandberg acquisition so Odette and I were heading up that together so Oh, good. Who’s

Dave Michels 19:47
that zoom. Now? I thought he came from Red vision. I didn’t know he was at tambor two is that that was prior to that.

Simen 19:53
Well, no, he wasn’t a timber. He was a WebEx. So he came into Cisco with a WebEx session. So that’s where we met him at Cisco. Yeah,

Dave Michels 20:00
yeah, I’m glad you mentioned that oj about error because I knew Eric was at Cisco, but I forgot that he was at Tandberg as well, so you really just putting the band back together is what you’re doing.

OJ 20:10
Now Eric was never a temporary but kind of, he wasn’t he was not temporary but he was like a big I would say advocate inside of Cisco for the video and kind of

Dave Michels 20:18
use a WebEx. Yeah, he was at WebEx when Cisco acquired WebEx. Okay, right, right. Correct. So is there anyone else that we should give a hat tip to since we’re talking about all these extended family members here anybody else that you bet you just mentioned? Oded. He’s he came from Red vision is at zoom. He’s working with you closely. Anybody else that we should acknowledge at this point in this podcast?

OJ 20:38
Oh, wow, kind of Are you ready for that? That would be a kind of a long session. And this industry is kind of made up by people that have been there for quite a while I would argue there is always some new fresh blood coming in. But you know, there’s quite at least I feel myself that every door you walk in kind of you meet someone you have worked with before or met somewhere

Evan Kirstel 20:56
else. Switching gears a bit neat is an interesting name. Simon, it’s orderly tidy, kind of the opposite of Dave Michaels. But But I looked it up in Norwegian, it kind of doesn’t mean anything. So

Dave Michels 21:09
it means nothing.

Evan Kirstel 21:13
What languages your company name is in English, it is something else it is English.

Simen 21:19
And and I think that, you know, coming up with a, you know, company name is hard done that before pexip was a bit of a challenge. But, you know, I think NEET was a name that originally we had a longer name, but it was too long. Eric actually said, you know, we need something simpler, we need something catchy, something you know, so we, we had to work on that. And we ended up with neat, and I think once we kind of landed on neat. I mean, it is the the word, the English word, right? And, and the significance of that, that really triggered us because everything we do, we want it to be neat. I mean, if you think about, you know, what we’re trying to do here reinventing the customer journey, and really making this. So simple and easy. rethinking every step of the way. Here, we want the purchasing process to be neat. We want the out of box experience to be neat. We want all the user experience to be neat. It’s kind of like, you know, when we discuss something internally, and some somebody brings up that argument and say, Oh, you know, we got to do that. That’s neat. That kind of seals it right. There’s no more arguing going on. If it’s neat. That’s what we have to do. That is really part of what we

Dave Michels 22:17
do. But is it a problem in Norway has been called nothing. I mean, there’s

Simen 22:23
no need doesn’t really mean anything in Norwegian

Evan Kirstel 22:27
regard. It goes McDonald’s or Starbucks. So yeah, Come on, give them a break here. Alright,

Dave Michels 22:33
well, let’s continue here with the language stuff here. Because we talked about collaboration, you guys are making the hardware designing the hardware, the software is some blend of Chinese, Hebrew, Southern California in there, there’s got to be some good stories in this in this effort. How does how does this all come together?

Simen 22:52
Well, I think that’s that’s kind of the the cool part here. And I think it played a part of the attraction of how need came about because you know, the opportunity to design hardware specifically for solving the challenges of zooms customers, and then bringing together the hardware with, you know, the, the platform on that hardware, with the zoom software with the zoom cloud. I mean, that’s really how we’re making this take another step right into in terms of the whole experience. So I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, the whole point here is to bring that hardware tightly with the software at all levels and all the way into the cloud. And that’s what you know what we’re hard at work with zoom and zoom engineers on to really make that come together.

Dave Michels 23:33
So here’s a question I’ve never asked anybody on the podcast before but I think I could ask you guys this. And I could probably only ask it this year. Tell us everything that you’re shipping today. What are the product names? So what are you what are you actually shipping today? We’re

Simen 23:47
shipping meat bar, we’re shipping meat pad, which is the controller across and scheduler across our portfolio. And we’re shipping the need to board so we’re currently shipping three products. We have announced three more products that we’ll be shipping later this year. And that’s need BB Pro, which is the bigger brother of kneebar its needs frame which is a new sleek personal device and then need one which is an all in one USB, you know camera microphone speaker device.

Evan Kirstel 24:18
Interesting. Simon so I’m a prosumer I guess I call myself so you have a neat bar. What is the neat bar pro? Bring me is that sort of like an iPhone pro?

Dave Michels 24:27
It’s just worth it because he likes to buy things that’s a pro he just wants to know. Yeah,

Simen 24:33
yeah, it’s it’s kind of like I mean, we’re thinking of it again we want to keep our portfolio neat. Right? So if you think about it, you know the neat bar is that bar form factor where you have the flexibility with the screen right use whatever screen you want. Bar Pro is the bigger brother everything you love about the need bar, all the simplicity all that he does, but just you know couple notches up in terms of compute and camera and speakers and microphones. The point of the need bar Pro is to cover that larger meeting space. The D bar can’t cover. So I think, you know, when we launched the kneeboards, and topia in 2019, people came to our booth. And they said, I love this. I wish you had it two years ago, when you bring it out the bigger bar, right? That was kind of the most popular question we got as we launched the new bar. So I think you know, bar and bar pro together should cover probably 95% of all meeting spaces. And there’s gonna be some overlap here. I think a lot of customers will go for the neat bar Pro, even in medium conference rooms, and even down to the smaller conference rooms, because it’s been just an amazing experience.

Evan Kirstel 25:30
I think I might hold out gay for the need bar promax glass.

Dave Michels 25:34
I thought it was based on the content that you’re having a professional meeting, you use the Pro. And if you’re having a stupid meeting, you use the other one. But I guess I guess I have that wrong. So let me ask you about your business plan here, because it seems pretty flawed to me. So Oh, Jay, you’re making hardware needs making hardware for zoom and only for zoom. But your competitors are making hardware for lots of companies. That just seems inherently like you’re limiting yourself, is there? What’s the logic here?

OJ 26:03
I guess the logic is speed, focus and innovation to some extent, you know, that’s why kind of we said that when you’re starting a small company, right, it’s easy to say that you’re going to conquer the world and going to do everything, but kind of if you can achieve something in life, you need kind of that focus, and you need that speed and innovation. And that’s kind of why we said that. We want to design a beautifully integrated experience, from the device hardware, through the software, on the devices through the cloud. And that’s why we said at the first step, we just need to focus on one cloud service in terms of getting that done. And I think you’re seeing elements of that in terms of the innovations that are that we are doing right. I think a lot of people look at innovation as this big breakthrough type of things. And there are elements of that which I will cover as well. But I think that of the entire purchase process, install process registration process, this all kind of from, from the time you look at it from on the web through you have it installed in your office, I think that’s what is done inside of neath is done very neat. From my perspective, it’s kind of easy to read or not, I think it would be hard if you try to do that with two or three different manufacturers at the same time, people are recognizing that and seeing that. Also elements like you see the need symmetry, which is kind of from my perspective, one of the most breakthrough features that is hit the video industry in my lifetime in his industry, that is a type of feature that I think you need to work very tightly together with the hardware manufacturer in terms of doing it inside of the room, all the way back through the cloud provider in terms of getting it done and making sure that kind of that type of experience goes through in the meeting experience. So that’s kind of why we are have been working closely with zoom been focusing on zoom. So far, we will see that what the future brings. But at this point of time, we are having very good business and growing, I would say quicker than I’ve ever been part of growing a company together with Sue.

Dave Michels 28:03
So just to clarify that. I think symmetry is the feature that adjust the size of the participants so that they’re all about equal or,

Simen 28:10
well, symmetry is basically the feature where you know, we use machine learning and AI to find people. And then we crop them out. And we bring them forward. And we make sure that you know people sitting at the back sitting at the front, they’re all equally sized. And you can see them well. Right. So that’s kind of why we call it symmetry because it restores that symmetry between the physical meeting space and the virtual participants. Right.

Dave Michels 28:31
So you so the opposite of symmetry is cement, because it’s kind of frozen or locked. Right? So it’s either cement or symmetry. Yeah.

Evan Kirstel 28:37
Makes perfect sense. Fast forward a bit. How does this story end? Oh, Jay, is Cisco going to acquire NEET? And an ever growing virtuous circle of video Nirvana? Is that is that maybe one idea?

OJ 28:51
Now? Where are those things? And I kind of I think there is, from my perspective, there is tons of innovation left to do in this intersection between kind of the hardware in we today we talk about meeting rooms, but I think we should talk about spaces because I think going forward in the future, we will have video available everywhere where we go, I think kind of even if you’re sitting everywhere there is a screen or everywhere there is an opportunity to interact with other people, I think we should have the opportunity to bring them in both physically and kind of virtually. And I think that is the type of innovations that we’re pulling forward. Look at Columbia, us, we talked about the symmetry feature with Cairo, you will see quite soon, we will also have the audio bubble as we call it, which is kind of what you see is what you hear. So only hearing the people that you’re seeing on the camera, not all the background noise around those type of innovations will bring video to every space where people meet, from my perspective, where is that going to be acquired by by Cisco? I don’t think so. I think you know, this company has its full right or to stand on its own feet. And I think you know, it’s going to be interesting actually, to see kind of how far we could push this and how I would say a revolutionary type of innovations that we will be able of doing from where we are today.

Simen 30:05
Yeah, I would echo that. I think we’re on a roll at night. I mean, it’s it’s a lot of fun to be working at NIDA. I usually say that, you know, the, the part that I’m most proud of about neat is that is the team and the people. I mean, it’s an amazing team of people. And, you know, so much creativity, so much execution focus, great combination. So I think that we’re gonna have a great run here in terms of the innovation and bringing products to market, and we’re getting a lot of good feedback from customers. So we’re gonna be pushing this as far as we can and bring the video world forward.

Dave Michels 30:34
Oh, God, when you mentioned, the symmetry you were talking about is one of the one of the most interesting features you’ve seen in a while in your long career in videos. Let me ask you both not counting neat innovations. What do you think were some of the biggest innovations or money? I want one answer from each of you? What were the biggest innovation in video over the span of your career? Let’s say what are your favorite products or, or software features or something? Simon, you wanna go first? Yeah, I

Simen 30:59
would say the move to cloud. I mean, back when I started Tandberg, it was all on premise. And that really limited video. It was only for the few complicated, you know, expensive installation. So getting video into the cloud. That’s been the biggest thing for me.

Dave Michels 31:14
Yeah. All right. OJ?

OJ 31:16
I would echo Simon on that. But I was going to if I were to choose another one, I think it’s the whole multi site area, kind of, and there has been tons of innovations in that space with regards to layout, how many participants can are pinning participants and those things, but I think you know, the fact that kind of on video, being able to bringing multiple participants into the same meeting, being able of seeing each of the participants i think is kind of a very important innovation.

Dave Michels 31:40
I’m sorry, you both of you got that wrong. I was looking for hardware. I was I thought you will say something like that, ie 20 or something, something like that. But it’s all right. All right. Yeah. So is your opinion,

Evan Kirstel 31:50
is to get Dave gets way too excited about hardware. I love hardware. But But speaking about hardware, I think the excitement should be about software. But pexip in our condo, we’re excited about web RTC back in the day. How did that technology play out? Did it meet your expectations?

Simen 32:08
No, I would say absolutely not. It’s interesting how, you know, a new technology comes out. There’s a lot of promise. And that, of course, that’s not always aligned with the needs of the market and execution that you need. So I, I think, you know, one reflection i would i would bring, though, I mean, when I was at pexip, WebRTC was particularly interesting, because it was really, you know, pecs was all about interoperability in the in the beginning, right, bringing Microsoft and Cisco Systems together. That was kind of where we started. And web RTC obviously had the promise of like really democratizing video and bringing it out to everyone. At the same time, I would say that, you know, if you look at some of the cloud players, they’ve been less focused on, you know, interoperability as such, and more focused on the simplicity and ease of having anybody join, which, again, you know, web RTC could have a play on that it does have a play in that. But you know, if you look at companies like zoom, they’re doing a lot more advanced stuff than what you can do in web RTC, right. So I think that you know, the requirements of the customers and being able to bring this quality and reliability to the point where it actually works well, for customers, you can’t wait for for the web RTC standard to pick it up, right. So you have to move faster and go beyond that,

OJ 33:15
there’s always going to be an I would say a conflict between kind of standardization and innovation, the drive for standardize anything, which is good, from our perspective, because kind of you’re getting a good stable baseline is always good. But the thing is that kind of companies like ourselves are always going to be pushing innovations on top of that. And that’s kind of where kind of when you see the promises, when everyone talks that that is the standard, that’s going to happen, everyone’s going to use it never gonna happen, because kind of there are going to be people that are pushing innovations forward. And I think you know, that’s good for everyone.

Evan Kirstel 33:47
Yeah, speaking of innovation, let’s take a step back and look at the industry landscape. can zoom compete with Microsoft and Google and Facebook and Cisco are, you know, this is a battle of giants? candidate win? Oh, J.

OJ 34:01
To some extent, you can see that this pandemic has shown a little bit of that, because you could argue, right, kind of why shouldn’t Google take it? Or kind of why shouldn’t Cisco take it giant organizations, right, that could be pushing this and should be dominating the industry, kind of if you are taking that EC view on it? I think the reality is that the users will always go for the better type of product, they will go for the better type of service and the better type of experience. And I think, you know, they don’t care what name your company has, as long as it’s easy to get access to. And it’s kind of easy to, to join these type of meetings. And that’s why I believe that I’m a firm believer that there is going to be room for companies like zoom, which has become a giant in his own. Why, because it has just a phenomenal product that is easy to start to use for all types of users being the small SMB type of organization, or being kind of the larger enterprise type organization. And I think that’s why you have seen that zoom has emerged as the Winner out of this pandemic when everyone was turned to video because it’s a good service that’s reliable, that is easy to start using has tons of features, which is useful when we are kind of conducting meetings like this.

Dave Michels 35:12
All right, well, I need to wrap this up, because I know you guys need to get back on the slopes here. So let me ask you about something Simon said you you said 2020 is the year that a lot of people have discovered video. For many people. It’s the year video industries began. Is it also the year that video industry ended? I mean, what’s the future? What? Are we going to be doing more video? What’s your What are your thoughts on the future? What comes next?

Simen 35:36
I think most people have realized how productive they can be with video, right. And we’ve spent a lot of time and effort you know, the last 1520 years and a lot of money trying to help people understand how wonderful video is. And it took a pandemic to kind of you know, convince people at the same time, people are pretty sick and tired of sitting at home. And, you know, staring at the screen as well, people are social animals, they want to get back, they want to see each other they want to be physically together. But I think what’s really gonna be different now is that, you know, people are gonna be thinking about that next flight. Right? I know that just domestically in Norway, we had people that travel a lot between cities, we’re not that big of a country, but you know, people are not going to do that anymore, right, they’re going to think twice before they go on a plane to do a one hour meeting somewhere. So I think that that’s going to change forever. And I think that whenever people get together, there will always be somebody who’s not there, right? I mean, the flexibility and kind of the respect for people’s, you know, own choices of where they want to be in how they want to work, have really, you know, open up. So I think that wherever people are physically together, they will need to have video capabilities to bring in the people who are not there. I think that you know, this, it’s really interesting to talk to our customers around how they’re thinking about their offices in the office spaces. There’s a big, big array there of what people are thinking about. But I think one thing that is recurring here is that people are starting to think about office spaces, the place where people come to meet and meet together, and be social and be creative. Maybe people are going to be sitting at home when they want to work, because obviously sitting at home is good for you know, when you work alone and to be focused. This, I think that you know, a lot of the office spaces are changing, and will probably be changing forever. Because you’re not going to go to the office as much to sit down at a desk, you know, you’re going there to meet your colleagues, it’s gonna be a lot of fun to see how that changes as we get back to the office.

OJ 37:25
If I could add on that, I think if I had two predictions out of this pandemic, and kind of the 2020 as the kind of the start of the video here, I would say that number one, I think as a result of the pandemic, I think we will see an explosion for global talent. I think kind of where you are earlier, you need to move to one of the tech hubs to start to work in tech and kind of have a relevant career in tech. I think now, you could work from anywhere. And I think that’s going to be kind of a very big shift in the war for talent and kind of the attraction for talent to be able to providing those type of capabilities. Secondly, I think every meeting from here on out is going to be a video meeting, we’re going to have video everywhere. Talk about needs, right, we used to have one office in Oslo. Today, we have hundreds of offices because every home every cabin, every car has turned into kind of a meeting room. And I think that is the new normal we will see. And that’s kind of why I think you need the high quality sensing with a high compute inside of every of those spaces to make sure that we are able of providing new type of experiences for the people that are going to enjoy it from remote from here on out.

Dave Michels 38:30
Well, that sounds really exciting. I think it’s, it’s great what you guys are doing, it’s wonderful to see the innovation occurring out of neat. I’m looking forward to the neat frame because Evan gave me a neat frame, but it’s just a picture of him and I don’t really need that. So good luck with your new products. And I can’t wait to see what you guys are going to keep doing. So thanks for joining us.

OJ 38:49
Thanks for having us.

Unknown Speaker 38:50
Thanks a lot, David.

Evan Kirstel 38:53
Well, that was the most informative conversation I’ve ever had about video conferencing from Norway.

Dave Michels 38:59
Well, that doesn’t really say much though.

Evan Kirstel 39:01
That is true. But I have a strong urge now to fly to Norway to partake in this skiing culture

Dave Michels 39:08
of astronomers to fly anywhere right out to this year. What What did you take away from that amazing discussion Dave? I actually really enjoyed it and I love how accessible they both are. You know they’re these are these are two legends that have been in the video industry for so long. And they didn’t flinch at any question. And they were just so so open and honest about everything. I just, I really enjoyed it.

Evan Kirstel 39:26
That is the Scandinavian way open, honest, straightforward. I

Dave Michels 39:30
love it. I really enjoy talking to oj and Simon and I’m looking forward to our next podcast as well. It’s gonna be with Bill Wagnall, the CEO of Sangoma and he just announced the completion of the acquisition of star to star and of course the sangoma acquired to Jim before that, so it should be a pretty interesting conversation.

Evan Kirstel 39:48
Interesting company making big moves until then.

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