Alex Hern and the Access of Digital Workspaces


Before Google existed, Alex Hern was part of the company that developed the largest search engine of the early internet era, named Inktomi. Not only did this search engine power AOL, MSN, and Yahoo, but hern actually licenses Marvel characters as a way to make the search engine more kid friendly.


One aspect of Inktomi was that it could access academic reports and journals across the internet, making large scale research and academic scholarship available to the public. DARPA, the Defense of Advanced Research Project Agency, was able to be accessed by Inktomi. Here, Hern saw the beginning thought of what would be behind his current brainchild, Tsunami XR.


After Inktomi, Hern directed and developed several burgeoning tech companies, as well as served on special projects for Lockheed Martin. Hern served as director at Yesmail in 1995. The company began as a web directory on the internet, acting as a way to catalogue and access information about people, businesses, and websites of the internet, much like a directory is used for restaurants and residences in actual life. Yesmail eventually became a large email marketing company, due to its extensive inventory of contacts.


Hern also designed a new type of cyber security that was integral to the development of IT and cyber protection. At the time, as each new, large scale security breach issue occured, a new security software would be developed to stop it. Hern described it as hundreds of holes being plugged up by hundreds of different fingers. No one software looked at the whole system, until Hern’s company, Arcsight, came around. Arcsight developed a software that looked at the whole security system of a computer, making it easier for an IT tech to pinpoint security issues. This revolutionized cyber security for a whole generation. The company was so solid, that it sold for $1.5B in the middle of the 2008 recession and financial crises.


In Alex Hern’s current entrepreneurial undertaking, the original trappings of DARPA’s workspace networks finally takes form. Tsunami XR, the X and R standing for cross reality, is a shared workspace made possible through virtual reality. It can be accessible by smartphone, laptop, or headset. Within the shared, virtual space, clients and business partners can meet to sell an idea, discuss a pitch, or brainstorm on to separate whiteboards right next to each other, all without leaving their cubicle and from the comfort of their own home.


The difference between Skype or other shared virtual space, like live video games, is the possibility of persistence and co-presence. Persistence entails that the virtual space continues, it “persists”, even after its been left. One or both may always re-enter to find things as they left it, just like an actual room or office. Co-presence is the ability to operate separate of the other participant while within the space, rather than in Skype, where both must look at the same screen to participate. This allows people to ideate separately, but together, in the same virtual space.


Tsunami XR’s platform creates a virtual working environment with the realism of live interactions, allowing people to contact each other beyond the boundaries of geography, time, or physical space. The environments of this kind of workspace has key advantages over methods like traditional video conferencing, such as creating persistent digital workspaces which users can join, exit, and later return, and easily invite others to participate. Tsunami XR offers their clients this kind of working experience without having to spend the costs of developing such systems in-house. Tsunami-hosted application services help teams expose operational efficiencies, model and develop complex products, and increase workforce agility and productivity.


Hern’s method of productivity for his entrepreneurial efforts is complete and utter focus on whatever pursuit he is working on. In his practice, turning off one’s phone and zoning in on the one most single important task everyday is the best method. He explains that four to five hours everyday on whatever it is that’s needed to keep the business expanding, growing, or moving forward is the best way to reach one’s goals. The supposed advantages of multi-tasking are a myth to Hern.


“That goldilocks principle of ‘just right’ is super important,” remarked Hern, in an interview with the Art of Success podcast. “You’ve got to be the right product at the right time.” This wise quip speaks to Hern’s sense of impeccable timing in the past, and now. A product like Tsunami XR, riding in on a wave of new VR and AR technology, experimentation, and promise couldn’t have existed before now, though the idea was there back in the 1990’s. Hern warns young entrepreneurs of creating businesses built on technology that’s before it’s time, or without competition or relevance, because there’s a high chance funding could run out. Know the market like Hern, and there’ll be a better chance of success.



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