Disruptive Forces: The Leaders Speak – Craig Malloy, Lifesize

Craig-Malloy-1114Profile: Craig Malloy is the Founder and CEO of Lifesize. Prior to founding Lifesize, Craig was also the founder of ViaVideo, which was ultimately the backbone of Polycom’s video business.

Craig’s backstory: Craig started Lifesize in 2003, oversaw its acquisition by Logitech in 2009 and served as CEO until 2012. Drawn back by his unceasing passion for the industry and reinventing video technology, he returned to Lifesize in 2014. Craig’s video communications experience dates back to 1994, when he worked at VTEL Corporation in Austin. He was General Manager of Polycom’s Video Communication Division for more than four years, leading up to his establishing Lifesize. He received his BS from the United States Naval Academy, and his MBA from the University of California – Los Angeles. Craig brings two key tenets with him to his leadership role at Lifesize: taking care of your people and creating an environment where they can maximize their creativity and achieve their professional goals.

I would like to thank Lifesize CEO Craig Malloy for participating in this next series on Disruptive Forces in AV/IT.

CM:  Craig, thank you very much for joining us today. Tell us about your personal journey with Lifesize.

lifesize-1114CMalloy: I founded Lifesize along with Michael Kenoyer and Pat Vanderwilt in March of 2003.  Lifesize was the second company we started.  We also founded ViaVideo in September 1996 with two others (That became the video business of Polycom, after they purchased us in early 1998.)

At Lifesize, our first unique value proposition was high definition video calling over 1 Mbps public IP networks.   I remember at our first trade show, visitors to our booth thought we were cheating; that what we were doing was not technically possible.

We grew very rapidly, and in December of 2009, Logitech purchased us for $405 million.  After two years of integration into Logitech,  I left Lifesize to scratch my entrepreneurial itch and start another company.  That was fun, but I missed video and Lifesize.

The market was changing very rapidly.  Global public cloud infrastructure, incredible mobile device technology, and the inexorable march of Moore’s Law and its effect on conference room systems has turned the video communications market on its head.  Everything you thought you knew about what was technically possible and how customers really wanted to deploy has changed.

That was a really interesting challenge from a technology, business strategy and leadership standpoint.  How could we re-invent Lifesize to be a leader in the new world of video communication, now that the real mainstream market has started?  That’s why I returned as CEO, and couldn’t be more excited about the future.

CM: Can you give us your perspective on the current state of AV/IT convergence?

CMalloy: For most of my career in the video communications business, deploying conference room systems and on-premise infrastructure has been a significant AV and on-premise data center integration project.  Systems were very complex and our reseller partners excelled at unraveling all that complexity.

The current state-of-the-art solutions in our market – and the ones that are being adopted at an exponential rate of growth in businesses large and small – are Cloud infrastructure that looks and acts like a web application, freely available desktop mobile apps and very low cost yet high quality conference room systems that are as easy to set up as an Apple TV.  It’s absolutely incredible how fast everything has changed.  There is virtually no AV integration or data center configuration needed for most implementations, save a few large integrated board rooms or training rooms.

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The trial and purchase of video communications now looks more like buying Box or Salesforce licenses with low cost connected conference room devices attached.

CM: How do you see cloud-driven strategies as being beneficial for your partners as well as the enterprise?

CMalloy: The global public cloud infrastructure changes everything.  Our partner on this project is IBM SoftLayer.  We currently run call registration nodes and multiparty calling servers in seven data centers around the world, with more coming on line every month.  Even more important than the data centers, are the network POPs that connect to the network backbone in virtually every country in the world.

Massive public cloud architectures like SoftLayer will never run out of computer memory or bandwidth.  No business could ever hope to replicate the cost or scale of such a network.  Multiparty calling ports have gone from being more expensive that an ounce of gold in an on-premise deployment to unlimited in number and free in the Cloud.  This allows Lifesize to offer an incredible value proposition to customers, and to deploy video communications very cost effectively and simply to every person on any device, and in every conference room in their organization.

CM: With the escalating usage of mobile devices as well as BYOD programs in the enterprise, how do you see your application(s) fitting within that structure?

CMalloy: The global public Cloud combined with the rise of smart mobile devices is really what has given flight to providing the “every person, every conference room” experience.  The current crop of mobile devices, i7 laptops and 4G networks make HD video calling possible from virtually anywhere.

Conference room devices will continue to be important, but the use cases are changing.  No longer just for board rooms and training facilities, companies are looking to deploy a system to every room where a group of people can meet.  Sometimes this will take the form of an appliance-like device that is deeply connected and integrated to the Cloud service, and sometimes it will be a device that acts like a webcam and microphone optimized for use in a group environment.  These BYOD systems are gaining in popularity both for environments where employees walk into the conference room with their laptop and for fixed environments with a Mac, Windows or Linux computer attached.

Lifesize participates today and will continue to provide innovative best in market solutions in both these conference room application categories.

CM: Any last words for your partners as well as the rest of the industry?

CMalloy: It really is a whole new world in video communications.  The new paradigm for enterprise solutions is connected conference room devices for wherever people meet, mobile and desktop apps for every device used by employees and a low cost, scalable Cloud service with business class features, security and support that ties it all together.

I’ve been waiting more than 20 years for the start of the mainstream market where we can truly change the way people communicate, and I’m excited to see that day has finally arrived.