Audio and HDMI Pioneer, Hagai Gefen, Dies
By: Naftali Feniger
Hagai Gefen passed away suddenly at his home in Malibu, California on June 8. His wishes were to be buried next to his mother at Hamaapil Kibutz cemetery in Israel. Hagai leaves behind his wife, Jill, and their three sons, Noah, Ari and Ilan.
After having completed his military service in the IDF, Hagai went to the United States to study electrical engineering at Boston Northeastern University. He worked several years developing audio synchronizing equipment for video editing systems at Adam Smith, paving his way in the ProAV industry. He then started his own business, Gefen Systems, out of his own home. He developed software that allowed automatic search and management for background music in cafes, restaurants and private houses. Later on, he developed audio effects management software for large AV studios such as NBC, CBS, CNN, Warner Brothers and Universal Studios.
During the ’90s, Hagai identified the potential for PC solutions in studios that required extending video, audio and keyboard signals, mainly to prevent noises that interrupted workstations in studios. His solution also allowed for the operation of several remote PCs from one workstation. Hagai developed a line of professional products, called Ex-tend-it.
Hagai was an entrepreneur in every vibe of his being. His tech knowledge and understanding of market needs were unique; he knew that digital AV was coming. HDTV technologies were only starting to be developed in the ’90s. Hagai understood it would require the development of an entire lineup that would allow extending, splitting and switching these new digital AV signals, including DVI, HDMI and USB. He began working on these developments just in time.
At that time, there was no IC (Integrated Service) that was fit for design products for switching and splitting. Together with Gefen Sysrems, we developed a market-first Cat5 DVI extender using Mysticom IC. A small group from this company would later leave and start Valens, which formed the HDBaseT standard. Gefen Systems was also the first company to use Valens’ ICs. Hagai had the ability to dare to do things he believed in, without any market research and with a lot of confidence in his way. He knew it would lead him to success.
Hagai and I both graduated with degrees in electrical engineering, although with different areas of expertise. We communicated very well and decided to join forces. The company Silora R&D was established in Kfar Masaryk. I ran the company alongside Avihu Ben David.
Hagai would annually donate a scholarship to the “Tiger Society,” an IDF special forces, as a part of his commitment to the people with whom he served. His co-workers point out his devotion and ability to lead people through any task with a smile and to form new friendships.
Hagai was a humble man, even after having sold his company. He kept running it for a few more years, and when he stepped down, he was happy that he could live carelessly. In recent years, he kept close ties with his colleagues and friends. May he rest in peace.