Alex Hern is a serial entrepreneur who has been in the business of creating companies for over 25 years. He specializes his work in the development of early-stage technology and life science companies, focusing his work today on incubating startups. He co-founded and served as the director of Inktomi, the company that helped power the search engines for MSN, Yahoo, and AOL. He also co-founded and served as the director of Yesmail, the email marketing and web directory system. Less than a year after the founding of Yesmail, the company sold for $650 million to ModusLink Global. One of Alex’s most successful business ventures was co-founding and serving as the director of ArcSight, a cybersecurity company which was sold to Hewlett-Packard for $1.5 billion.
Most recently Alex Hern has founded Tsunami XR in order to explore his long-standing passion for virtual reality.
Where did the idea for Tsunami come from?
The idea to create Tsunami XR came from the transition that is currently taking place in the computer industry. We are moving from a CPU-driven era to one that is GPU-driven in the computer as well as the mobile world. With this transition, there has arisen a need for new software applications and platforms – ones that can effectively leverage the capabilities of more powerful graphics cards that come with today’s PCs, tablets, and mobile phones. Tsunami is creating a powerful collaboration platform for engineers and scientists that is rooted in such advancements in graphics technology.
After I studied the virtual reality market, I saw that VR was valued at around $6 billion two years ago. Market experts today predict that this industry is going to reach over $200 billion in the next four short years.
What’s one trend that excites you in your industry?
There are several current trends taking place in the industry which I’m excited about. AI and machine learning are both intriguing as far as seeing what kind of
tasks we can teach computers to understand and perform. Cloud-based computing for graphics-intense applications is also exciting because it can be applied directly to what is happening at Tsunami, including endpoint devices in areas like augmented reality.
What are a few of your passions apart from business?
I enjoy mentoring others and sharing the experiences I’ve had to help others succeed in their own endeavors. I also enjoy writing. I’m very focus-oriented, which is a difficult trait to achieve in today’s world, but it is indispensable and very gratifying. I think it’s impossible to multitask effectively, even though we all attempt to do i
t every day. Writing helps me concentrate on what’s important and gives me that focused mindset and a linear thought process.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in y
Focus on your goals. As I mentioned above, we tend to try to multitask a lot, which can really break your concentration when you’re working. It’s a very straightforward thing to advise but a surprisingly difficult mindset to achieve.
I would also advise anyone to do what they love to do and put forth all of
your effort to make it into a career. Figure out a consistent time and place where you can think about your ideas on how to do precisely that. Escape your distractions like your mobile phone while you’re in that mindset. Sticking to a routine can help you set aside time to pursue your career goals as well as personal goals.
What are some common misconceptions about your industry?
With so many startups receiving a lot of fame and investment money, I think a lot of people fail to recognize that not everyone succeeds. Startups are difficult to create and manage, so very few people make it in the industry. Building effective teams of people, staying patient and staying focused are all essential traits, and not everyone has them. Of course, good luck and excellent timing don’t hurt success either. Most opportunities with pursuing end up being time-sensitive so stay focused and you won’t miss
out on them.
What predictions do you have for your industry over the next 5-10 years?
Cross reality (XR), coming from a mix of virtual reality and augmented reality, is something that is going to be at the forefront of computer hardware and software in the near future. Advancements in AI and machine learning have paved the way for what’s to come in the next decade. I think that the next big leap forward in computing will be cloud-computing for graphics-intensive software and applications.