05 – ArborXR’s Co-founders Brad Scoggin and Jordan Williams

05 – ArborXR’s Co-founders Brad Scoggin and Jordan Williams

Published: 02-03-2022
Updated: 16-03-2023

We sat down with the co-founders of ArborXR, Brad Scoggin and Jordan Williams. In the interview, we went into depth on the history of the pair all the way back to their time at SpringboardVR, the transitions and challenges to get to ArborXR and the vision they have for the future including thoughts of Meta, the Metaverse and much more.

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Mark [00:00] 

Welcome to the VR Expert Podcast. I’m your host Mark Cowles, Marketing Manager at VR Expert. And in this podcast, we’ll be sitting down with innovators, experts and creators transforming the XR world.

In today’s episode, I’m delighted to be joined by Brad Scoggin and Jordan Williams. Brad and Jordan are the co-founders of ArborXR and act as CEO and COO. Arbor as a company is on a mission to help people live more meaningful lives through the power of XR; to give them time to be more present for purposeful work, deeper relationships, and a better world. 

So, first of all, as we ask all guests, how did you guys each get into virtual reality and this industry?

Brad [00:44] 

I’ll go first. This is Brad and I do have to say we have one other co-founder, and I want to mention him so he doesn’t feel left out, Will Stackable. He is our friend, of course, our buddy, but he’s also our chief creative.

Jordan [00:58] 

And if it weren’t for him the answer to this first question would be really, really tough.

Brad [01:03] 

Yeah, yeah. That’s a good point, Jordan. So, out of the three of us, Will has always been the tinkerer. You know, he got the first headset when they first came out 10 years ago, or whatever. And I was actually in the process of starting another business and raising money for that company. And I was in town, the city where Will lived. And he said, “Hey, you gotta come over and check out this VR headset.” And I said, “Okay, I’ll come check it out.” 

And I put the headset on, and was just totally blown away by the technology. I mean, I grew up gaming, but I had kids, and I’d kind of gotten out of it. And I think the first experience I did was a zombie training simulator, which, you know, it’s not super high fidelity, but it was just so cool. And so my mind just started racing, about all the applications/ Will was sharing stories about benefits in health care and education. This was five or six years ago. 

And so for us kind of the initial ‘why’ what you hear a little bit in our mission statement today was, wow, here’s this new technology that’s going to have this massive impact on the world. What if we could be a part of helping shape it for good? And that was kind of what initially launched us in and for us, the entry point was, well, the question was, what’s the quickest, easiest entry point? And so we launched a VR arcade, which all of our friends and family thought was like, “Okay, that’s a little goofy.” But the idea was getting the space, do a good job, and hopefully, other things pop up. 

And so from there, we realized the need for software to manage location-based entertainment business, and then that then evolved into what we’re doing today. And on that journey, I’ll let Jordan speak. But Jordan joined very early on. We needed a high bandwidth person to just get some work done, and that’s why Jordan initially entered in early on.

Jordan [02:55]

Honestly, don’t have much more to add. Will is the reason both of us got into VR. Almost the same story. Went over, tried the headset that he had, and very quickly joined forces to start our path into the XR world.

Mark [03:11]

Okay, so you guys go to the point you decided on software. So, then tell me ArborXR, was it the name, you guys thought of this name one night and then suddenly decided it?

Brad [03:23] 

No. I’ll just share a little bit more of the journey because I think it’s important for who we are today, what we’re doing today. So, when we launched the arcade, we were very excited about VR. And the whole idea was, wow, this is fun. This is exciting. It’s expensive. If we owned a bunch of these rigs, I bet people would come in and check it out. 

What we didn’t realize was that the hardware especially then was not designed for commercial use. And so really out of total necessity, and being just touching the problem space, realizing how difficult it was to deploy XR at all, in a business setting, we built the very first early or very first version of Arbor, which was called Springboard initially. And it was just to solve the pain points we were feeling, really to save us an employee overhead at the arcade. 

And we ran the arcade for a few months, we launched right before Christmas, in 2016. And I had a great holiday season and kind of came up for air and realized, wow, these arcades are popping up all over the place, they’re all having the same problem. And the why for us in being in VR was we want to have a positive impact. So, the question is, how do we have the biggest impact, well, software you have a lot bigger reach than trying to do your own brick and mortar. 

And so a few months later that we pivoted to software, so it’s the beginning of 2017. And we said okay, we’re going to go all in on software. And then so for the next three years, I mean, we just built software for VR entertainment, in a business setting, location-based VR. And over that time, we became a global leader outside of China and Japan, and just learned a ton. I mean, it’s such a great experience solving a very nice problem in an emerging market. 

But along the way for us, like, gaming was fun. And I think it is very important because I think a lot of people will put on a VR headset or have put on a VR headset for the first time at an arcade that otherwise wouldn’t have access. And I like to think about, wow, it’s the person who’s going to invent the next, you know, world changing technology, put on a headset in a VR arcade somewhere. 

But for us, we were really after a more direct and meaningful application of the technology. And so along that journey, we did several deep dives into applications in education and health care. We did a lot of pilot programs, and it was just never the right time. It was like we were forcing it. And a big reason was because the technology wasn’t there, there was not a good standalone headset. There wasn’t a lot of great content. 

But it was like the end of 2019, we got contacted by a company through our arcade website, basically, that had developed some content for an oil and gas company. This company had a background in oil and gas safety training. And they had moved from in-person to PC-based and now were transitioning into VR. And they built the content, they sold the content and they’re ready to deploy and they realize oh, no. Basically, they realize the same problem we realized when we flipped the switch on our arcade, oh, no, there’s no software to manage this. And so that was like the first hair-on-fire moment call that we got, where we realized, okay, maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s time for us to actually start making this shift. 

And so at the end, going into 2020, we made a decision that we were going to sell the entertainment division and fully pivot and focus — I mean, for the entrepreneurs out there, we all know the importance of focus. I’m sure your investors tell you every week focus, focus, focus, and we were hearing the same thing. But it’s hard. It’s challenging, and an emerging market with an undefined window of opportunity. You want to focus, but you’ve got to figure out where the heck do you focus, right? And so we spent several years trying to figure out what is the focus? What is the focus? 

And it kind of felt like everything became clear. All the experience we’d built over the years. Now there’s this new market enterprise, which is a lot larger, a lot bigger opportunity for impact, a lot more direct, meaningful application of the technology. And so it was a risk. We said, okay, let’s sell the entertainment division and let’s just fully focus on doing enterprise. And we decided to sell a month before COVID hits, which was just — I think it’s — I always say that because it felt like it was a pure decision. It wasn’t like a decision driven by COVID. But trying to sell location-based entertainment-anything during a pandemic was — Yeah, so it was an interesting year. But we got it sold and going into 2021 is when we rebranded as Arbor. 

And so now, it’s basically we took four and a half, five years of experience, and have rebranded and are building a new tech stack, or we built a new tech stack that supports Android-based devices. And we’re focused specifically on the enterprise space. And I’ll say this, we use enterprise term very loosely. I mean, it’s basically from education, to health care, to training. Anything that’s not entertainment in a commercial setting that stand alone is what we’re focused on today.

Mark [08:15] 

I mean, that’s quite incredible. I actually didn’t know that backstory. So, that’s really cool and the timing. So, you made that pivot. And as you were just saying, you did a whole new tech stack. What were the challenges then in the creation of this?

Brad [08:27] 

Well, I’ll say something, Jordan and then you can add to this. I will say I think what was really cool and fun and not a challenge is that we had, it was almost like, and again, I don’t want to demean location-based entertainment because I do think it’s important. But it’s like we had this dress rehearsal. We had spent so long solving this problem at scale. And that was a challenging market because the clientele were people like us who were just excited about VR. There was no standardization at all in the location-based VR entertainment world. So, everyone was trying to figure out business models. 

And so we were trying to adapt software at scale to dozens of businesses. It was very challenging, but looking back it was excellent training to come into a more standardized market. So, it was like the team was really really excited that now they could focus on one vertical, they can take all this experience, the mistakes, the things they wish they would have done, and they could start kind of from fresh, you know, start from scratch, start fresh and build it with that in mind. But I don’t know, Jordan, if there’s any challenges you would speak to.

Jordan [09:31] 

It’s challenges that probably most people listening to this podcast are aware of, and that’s just Meta quest, Facebook. We have to build our software generally standardized for most Android devices. But there are certain specific things that we’re doing on a per device basis and Meta has been the most challenging to deal with to provide that level of support that we’re able to offer these other types of devices. And having to fix that things on the fly potentially if Meta pushes and no SF data, those types of things. 

But yeah, I would just reiterate a lot of what Brad said. We were lucky in a sense that we used these first three-four years and made a bunch of mistakes, and learned a lot of lessons that we were able to apply in this new opportunity that’s, I think it’s gone a lot smoother overall, in both how we’ve developed it from a technical standpoint, but also just how we’ve led and grown the team. And everything required on that side of things. 

Brad [10:35] 

Yeah. Startup journey, five years feels like 20 years. And in the early years, we had to go through a few different rounds of layoffs because investment fell through, and then COVID. And it just does something, it matures you in a way that hearing about it can’t, going through that pain. And I mean, you understand when you’re an entrepreneur that your decisions impact a lot of people and the risks you take. 

But when things don’t go well, and you actually see, like it’s no longer hypothetical, that things could be, you know, people could be adversely affected, it does mature you. It makes you a lot more sober minded, as we are approaching out kind of a new growth phase. 

I will say one of the other huge benefits of this go-round versus the first time, Jordan talked about the challenges with Meta. But the other hardware companies have been great. And partially because of the success, because people knew who we were from LBE, but we’ve been able to work really closely with HTC, and Pico, and even HP and just have had a lot more access at the hardware level, which we were never able to get before. 

Like before, it was always kind of these workarounds. And hopefully, you know, steam VR would push something. And so outside of Meta, which it just annoys me to call them Meta. I’m going to call them Facebook, but it’s been a lot easier because I feel like we’re more aligned with the hardware companies in the enterprise space.

Mark [11:55] 

Well, with that, I would just like to ask, since you sold off just before COVID hit, what’s been the highest high and what’s been the lowest low you guys have had?

Brad [12:05] 

Okay. So, first off, I’ll be super clear, we decided to initiate the sales process before COVID. We did not sell off till like middle of code. So, it was very painful, very, very painful. We’ve had some lows, man. Like COVID was a low. When all of your business is location-based entertainment, and it shut down for months. 

So, we were in a position where we had no revenue. We had a really big deal in the works that will be public in a few weeks actually. It was another reason we are shifting to enterprise but that deal was not done. So, that deal wasn’t done. So, we had nothing tangible in enterprise yet. Okay, that’s where we want to go, that’s where we see the opportunity. That’s where the market is. But we had no — we had actual, on paper, no traction. 

We’re trying to sell location-based entertainment that has no revenue and it was tough, because that’s not even — I mean we’ve learned to be survivors over the years. Going back to the arcade, like arcades and software for location-based entertainment aren’t really venture worthy. I mean, there’s been a few exceptions to that. But on the whole people would invest because they like, okay, we trust you guys, we believe you guys can pivot this into something else. 

But when you’re in a position of no real future and no revenue, trying to raise money to survive was — I mean, I look back and I don’t even know how we survived. I mean, it was miraculous. And the deal, so we ended up exiting Springboard to Vertigo Games, Koch Media

But what happened was behind the scenes, so we started this process with Vertigo, like in the spring. Well, we didn’t know that Vertigo was in the process of getting acquired by Koch Media. So, we had thought like, okay, we’ll get Springboard sold by August, we’ll get this other deals signed July-August, and all will be ready to go. And we were kind of in a position where if we don’t get it done by August, like we all die. 

And because of COVID the big deal drug and drug and drug well past August. And because Vertigo got acquired, that deal drug and drug and drug way past August. So, neither of those deals ended up getting signed till like the very end of the year. 

So, I mean, I’m saying imagine again, entrepreneurs imagine you see your cash flow, and you see you have the drop dead date of August, and there’s like no hope beyond August. It’s like there’s no way it’ll get that far and no way it’ll get that bad. Well we had to survive to December. And so my lowest low was the Thanksgiving of that year of like, it’s all over what are we going to do? I’ve let everybody down, we’re not going to make it. And then within the next few weeks, everything worked out. And so that’s what, you know. Lows like that though, man, they just do something to you that you can’t think any other way. 

So, I would say like right behind that though, was one of our highest highs. I mean, getting Springboard sold was huge. And the importance of getting it sold was even higher because it drug, right? So, that was a high. Signing the big deal that we signed, which will be public in a few weeks, that was a big high. And really that deal, it just when you’ve just slugged it out in the trenches for so long. And I think probably a lot of people in LBE feel this. It’s like, people don’t care about us. 

Like, we’re out here doing good. We’re trying to push the VR world forward, and there’s no recognition. It’s like, “Oh, LBE, who cares about LBE?” And so for us to get this deal done that we got done, even though it’s been behind the scenes for the last year and a half or two, I think for our team, it was just such a like, encouraging — It was an encouragement. It was an endorsement of here’s a legit company that has watched you execute for years, they’ve seen the value you bring, and they want to partner with you to go do bigger things. And I think for the team, it was just, yeah, it was a big deal for us.

Mark [15:56] 

From all of that you guys are still here and it’s impressive. And now you guys have one of the most impressive mobile devices management softwares. Going more into that because people want to hear about ArborXR specifically; why did you guys decide to go in the mobile device management software then for enterprises? And what did you guys think would differentiate you guys from the rest? 

Brad [16:15] 

Well, I think it was a very natural progression from what we had been doing. And it’s still funny to me, probably funnier to me than others when I think about — we think a lot about the problem space, obviously, right? Like, we want to be very focused on the problem space. And at a high level, the problem space for enterprise is exactly the same as what the problem space for location-based entertainment was. It’s managing devices, managing users, and managing content. 

And so it was just a very natural transition for us. And again, like, here’s a meaningful application. And also everything we did before was with tethered VR. So, we’re really excited. I mean, obviously, everyone, we all felt the weight of things shifting away from that. And so having an opportunity to kind of make a clean break, I think tethered VR makes a lot of sense in LBE, but in training and education, it just doesn’t, right, except for some very specific use cases. 

And so it was just a very natural progression. And I think, like at a high level when I think about what differentiates us, and Jordan will speak more to this and some of the specifics. But I love to say, so I grew up playing sports. We were talking before this, Jordan just injured himself playing basketball, Mark injured himself playing basketball. And my entire life playing sports, I was never a champion, I never won a tournament, nothing, right. And all of us, “I want to be the best, I want to be the best.” 

And it was fun as we were preparing for Series A last summer and kind of thinking about how we were positioning this, there was like this lightbulb moment that our team, and I’ll say our team, not me, our team is truly the most experienced, like the leading expert, the best at solving this problem of any other team on the planet. Because we kind of stumbled into it, but we’ve been doing it longer, we’ve been doing it at a greater scale, and we’ve been more focused on it than anyone else. 

And so I do think that’s a huge differentiator for us is that like, I would argue objectively, we’re the best team on the planet solving this specific problem. And what goes hand in hand with that is that we are focused on this one thing and we have been for a long time. Jornal I’ll let you speak to some of the specifics, but I like to always kind of start high-level.

Jordan [18:33] 

When we look at the industry, we look at companies like VMware, Mobile Iron, Microsoft Intune, these traditional MDMs have been around for a decade, a decade and a half that have really great software platforms for supporting tablets and smartphones. And a lot of those are supporting other types of devices like PCs and those types of things. But where they have, most really have put no effort at all, into also making those management software support XR devices. 

And to be honest, you know, even going back and answering one of your previous questions like why did you make this pivot, and how did you think about differentiating? There was probably a bit of naivety. Like, we didn’t honestly know a lot about the industry. But it just so happened to be that once we did get in, specifically on the Android side of things and then enterprise, we realized that these behemoth companies don’t have support at all for XR devices, really, with sort of the exception of VMware, but there’s a lot of issues there still as well. 

And some of some of the core things is when you’re looking at a traditional MDM versus an XR bespoke MDM for XR devices, some core things as content, the size of those files you’re needing to distribute and deploy and especially into low bandwidth areas and how that is being handled from a deployment point of view. 

And then probably the most important one is everything we’re doing inside of the VR or AR device itself. There’s a lot of core functionality there that is required to create that super easy in user experience. So, you have an employee or someone putting on a VR headset for the very first time, they know exactly, they don’t get fumbled — they don’t get lost or fumbling through menus, and those sorts of things. So, there’s a lot more that goes into that. But there’s definitely as we have found very core differences in how you manage tablets and smartphones, and how you manage XR devices. And we’ve really gone very deep, obviously, in the XR side of things.

Brad [20:47] 

And I want to say something on that note. So, as Jordan said, you know, we jumped in to the space with our previous experience, very similar. And we’ve learned a ton about the traditional MDM companies over the last year, year and a half. Early on, well, let’s just say this, what we’ve become, what’s become very, very clear is that a bespoke MDM for XR is not a nice to have, it’s a necessity. And so the stuff Jordan’s talking about, there are some deep technical things there. But it’s not like, “Oh, well, it’s a little bit better experience if you use a bespoke.” It’s like, it’s just it’s no. Like, the headset isn’t secure. So, that’s not an option. It’s got to be secure. 

And the other issue, as we all know about VR, just on the whole, is that there still is just a lot of friction that exists even oftentimes in the best case scenario. And so things like the way content is deployed, the size of the content, are you able to have total control of when updates are done, do you have to put on the headset or can you see remote? Like, little things like that, okay, it’s not that big of a deal. 

Sure, it’s not a big deal if you have three headsets, but nobody’s doing meaningful deployments at three headsets. And all of a sudden, those 10 minor friction points across three headsets, not a huge deal. 50, 100, 10,000 headsets, it’s impossible, right? And so that’s what we’ve learned, which has given us a lot of confidence in our product is like, wow, like this isn’t a nice to have. Like, if you’re going to do any type of real deployment, it’s an absolute necessity. 

And the other thing I’ll say is there are some other smaller, bespoke products that have popped up out there. And I think one of the biggest ways that we differentiate against them is that because of our experience coming into the space, we’ve been able to establish some pretty big partnerships, the one I mentioned, there’s another one that’ll be public here also in several weeks. 

And so for the last year and a half or so, we’ve worked very closely with some very large companies. And it’s just given us exposure to opportunities and sharpened us in ways that I don’t think some of the other bespoke products that are popping up, I don’t think they’ve had the same type of experience.

Mark [22:58]

Yeah, very valid point. And just like, for us, as a reseller of ArborXR, even for our events, we used to have to do every headset one at a time. And now our operations team is able to do 150 headsets all in one go, which has been a huge difference in our events team, and making the difference in the best possible events. So, so far, for us, it’s been an incredible experience. 

Do you guys have any other examples of where companies have been seeing big returns investments? Of course, you said you have some big deals coming up, but existing partners where you’ve seen bigger returns on investment for them?

Brad [23:31] 

Well, I always like to talk about one of our larger deployments because we can’t talk about it publicly, and just kind of walk through some of the pain points that we’ve helped solve. And I think anybody that is deploying at all this will feel, like this will hit close to home. Well, I will say this too, it’s been funny to us or interesting is a better word, how companies have been solving some of these problems. Or a lot of companies, a lot of people come to us and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I haven’t even thought about this. I’ve been so focused on building really good content, which is important, or figuring out what hardware I’m going to use. And I get to the point of deployment, it’s like this oh-no moment. How are we going to do this? 

We had one company call us and they had done a large deployment, it’s total mess. They called Geek Squad at Best Buy and like… It’s just funny. Early on we talked to, this is probably a couple years ago. I think BMW, the way they were getting content onto devices was putting it on a flash drive and then mailing the flash drive. 

We talked to a large manufacturing company, and the way they were updating headsets, the guy, we’re on a Zoom call. And he’s got boxes all around him. His job was to update the headsets, put it in a box, ship it to the employees. When they needed to update it again, they would ship the headset back. So, it’s like this is the most futuristic technology any of us have experienced in the workplace, but some of the solutions early on were so archaic. 

So, one of the big, one of the larger appointments that we work with that we can talk about, and it’s a very broad deployment is with a company called Axon. Axon, they invented the Taser back in the day, now they do the police body cams. And so their motto or one of their missions as a company is to make the bullet obsolete. And so they’re rolling out training across North America to police departments, it’s like de-escalation training to help police officers better handle situations. So, super cool, exactly the type of application that we dreamed about being a part of when we made the shift from entertainment. 

And so their use case is they’re rolling out thousands, tens of thousands of devices across the continent or a couple countries. So, they need to get all those devices set up. And just like you talked about how you’re doing before 150, well now put that to 10,000, 20,000 devices, that’s a huge challenge. So, we’ve been able to help them rapidly get the devices set up, get them provisioned. 

So, now they ship the devices out. They’re spread out across police departments across the country to a couple of countries. Well, now they need to make sure they’ve got visibility on the devices, where is the device? Can we manage the device? Can we continue to push content, update content? 

And then one of the other thing that’s really important right now is that most devices, I think most of us know this, unlike a cell phone or a tablet, which is generally a one-to-one relationship, with a headset, it’s one-to-many. So, you’ve got multiple police officers using the same headset. So, you’ve got to be able to track who went to the training, who didn’t, is it the right user? 

And so the amount of friction we’ve been able to reduce for them at scale, like it wouldn’t even be possible for them to roll out a deployment like this. There’s another large deployment we’re doing in education with a company called Prisms, and it’s similar there. It’s the same concept of it’s not a big fortune 100 that’s doing training at their location. They’re rolling out headsets to schools across the country, right, so same exact thing. 

Like they don’t have the bandwidth, and it’s not even in their wheelhouse Prisms is an amazing ISV. They want to create good content, they are experts when it comes to education. Axon doesn’t want to jack with the management of this whole thing. They want to give their customers better training, right? So, I think it’s been huge in removing some of the friction that really is even making these larger deployments possible.

Mark [27:28] 

Going into where Arbor is now, what are going to be the continued development of the software? For example, headsets being pre-installed before they arrive, other things that are being worked on so that people will be able to deploy directly from the factory; what does the future of the software look like?

Brad [27:44] 

Mark, you’re trying to get us to tell all our secrets. Just kidding. So, we’re very open. Early on we weren’t back, several years ago. I think we’ve matured that secrecy doesn’t really benefit anybody. But Jordan, I’ll let you take this one.

Jordan [27:58] 

Yeah. It’s a great question. So, we do have a public roadmap, there’s a lot of stuff that’s there. I mean, some core things for us, I guess we really kind of think about it in maybe two or three buckets. One is just the device management, content management side of things. There’s still a lot for us to do there to create an incredible experience. For example, a small feature but significant to some customers is being able to schedule when you deploy content, as opposed to it happening just when you click the button. There’s a number of little things like that, on the device content management side of things. 

Then the other two buckets that we think about is more specifically in the headset, like what’s happening in the headset, who is in the headset? And then potentially, we’re thinking about, I mean, obviously, in training, whether you’re doing event tracking or understanding did the user press the green or the red button and LMS integration. So, we’re still trying to figure out if and how we fit into that space. Are we just trying to help others facilitate those kinds of things? One thing for sure, we know we’re doing is building in VR single sign on. So, being able to authenticate before devices are even usable, those types of things. 

And then sort of the last piece that we’re thinking of from a feature development standpoint is more, okay, we have a lot of content that is being deployed through Arbor. A lot of this content is sort of, it’s not specific to one company. And some of our content creators are asking, “Hey, can you share my content with the companies that are using your platform?” 

So, we’re trying to think, okay, is there a way for us to facilitate those kinds of interactions where we have hundreds of ISVs developing content, we have hundreds of companies needing content; is there a way to better facilitate those connections between companies and content creators? So, those are kind of the three core buckets that we’re thinking about, from a feature standpoint as far as moving forward.

Mark [30:03] 

And in terms, you guys already have a huge amount of VR headsets. You said Pico, HTC, HP. What are the plans for further device compatibility? You’re already compatible with Vuzix, for example. Are you going to keep on expanding? Are there any ones that we can expect in the near future?

Jordan [30:18] 

Yeah. So, because at our core, we’re Android software. So, out of the box, if your device is using Android 7.1 or higher, most of our functionality is going to work straight away. There’s certain things that we’re going to have to do specific to each device on the in-headset functionality that we provide. But most of the core functionality just exists straight away. 

That being said, Brad did allude to a certain major partner that’s coming up, that’s going to allow us to make things even easier with all types of devices, which we’re super excited about, and to share, hopefully, in the next few weeks. But, yeah, our goal is we want to make sure we have the highest level of support for every major XR device in this space.

Mark [31:05] 

Okay. And your main concern would then be, or the main device where you have difficulty with is Meta then. What is your roadmap for Meta and ArborXR?

Jordan [31:14] 

Yeah. And you know

Brad [31:15]

I kind of want to quote without saying… Can I quote the, you know the line that i’m thinking of Jordan, that you just shared, don’t see the customer name. Okay, hold on. I got to read this quote really fast. And this, maybe something let me find it. This is shocking because the company that told us this is a legit company, you would think they would get a little bit stronger answer. So, let’s see. Here we go. 

Jordan [31:41] 

For sure Fortune 500, maybe a fortune 100?

Brad [31:43] 

Yeah, okay. Okay, here we go. Oh, man, I’m trying to laugh. Okay. So, this is what they told us when I spoke, this is the quote from them, when I spoke with a sales rep for Meta, they apologized and said they would have something in 2024-ish, which was an insane response. So, yeah, like, that’s still the state of where they’re at as it relates to enterprise. So, it’s weird, Mark, like part of us feels like, okay, companies don’t trust them and I think rightfully so. 

Like, how do you trust a company who monetizes everything, you know, when advertising and data. They have the best — legit headset, best headset for the price, you know, no doubt. They got all the resources, you think they’re going to continue to build that. But it seems like everything’s going towards this totally closed ecosystem. Can they do it all? They have the resources, but can they really go after both the consumer and the commercial market with excellence? 

So, there’s a lot of question marks there. And then you get responses like that, that’s like, well, we aren’t even like, really going to pay much attention to enterprise for a few years, right. So, for us, it feels like they aren’t still directly being super helpful. Maybe they’re a little bit more open with the sunsetting of OFB. But we’re just piling ahead and going to make it work. And our hope is, I don’t think it’s even possible because of who they are. But if we can continue to sign up enough legitimate players, that together, we can kind of form this coalition of like, stop doing these things, or allow us to do this thing, like it will benefit you, you know. 

But yeah, they’re the only one that we’ve had trouble — everyone else has been — I think that’s the really cool thing about enterprise versus LBE is just like I said earlier, the alignment with hardware companies. And we all see the benefit for everyone, and the willingness to work together and move this thing forward. Which is, you know, I mean, I get it, it’s business if you have an opportunity to go and win it’s hard to not take that which, you know, with Meta. But everybody else has just been so, yeah, like, if this moves the industry forward, let’s do it, which has been really nice. 

And so we expect that going forward with the additional — I mean, there’s so many headsets popping up all the time, especially on the AR side of things. And for us, even back to your question on roadmap and features, I mean, I think this probably goes without saying, but we just take so close to the customer. And again, that came from our LBE days kind of out of necessity. I don’t think we even knew how valuable it was to do that. We just did it because we didn’t know what else to do. 

And so the same is true today when we look at okay, what are the next features? How do we prioritize features? Jordan and several others on the team are on the phone all day long with customers and trying to, you know, understanding what the pain points are? How do we evolve the product? But the same is true with which devices we support, and it is nice we can support most out of the box but we’re ready to go deep with headsets and the integrations as it makes sense for the customers.

Mark [34:42] 

Okay. So, looking five years down the line, what would you guys be proud of, either being called or being known as?

Brad [34:50] 

Okay, a couple things. One thing we haven’t touched on at all, just to stay on the Meta bandwidth for a little bit here. I think we came into the space with this idealistic and really undefined vision of doing good. And if you want to have a great conversation with your team, when you’re working through core values, you should talk about defining what is good. That was funny. 

So, for us to, like, over the years, the positive impact, I mean that’s better to say, that we can have has evolved. And there are certain things we can do in the entertainment space. And now when we look at enterprise, you know, there’s some practicals that I think are really valuable. I’d love for people to look back and say, wow, Arbor really played a key role in the adoption of XR in enterprise. Because of their focus on this one problem and their ability to remove friction, their willingness to work with companies and not be greedy, it’d be a great legacy for us to feel like we played a role in helping move this industry forward. 

But the other side, another maybe more philosophical position that we’re taking and you said it in the opening. But we really believe that distraction is one of the most harmful things facing the world today. I think we all may look back in 20 years and say, wow, where could we as a society have evolved to if we weren’t so distracted? And we’re so, I mean, everything is about distraction. And so for us, metaverse is like distraction on steroids. 

And so, you know, maybe it’s too strong to say we’re against the metaverse, but I think what we’re for is that VR, AR, XR is a tool, like it’s not a way to escape. It’s not another mode of distraction. But it’s a tool that should actually make our work, our training, our learning, our travel more efficient, so that we get time back to spend in real-world meaningful relationships. Because that’s what life is all about, right? 

And so if we can play some role, and I think what — I mean, this has been interesting, Mark, over the last even two weeks, I was telling the team yesterday, in the last two weeks, I’ve had several people ask me, you probably get asked too from your friends who maybe aren’t big on VR, like, “What about metaverse? What about the metaverse?” And every time I give that response of like, “Oh, we’re actually not like, huge fans. Like, we don’t think it’s probably going to be super healthy for mankind.” There’s almost this sigh of relief, like, “Okay, like I was kind of thinking that too, but I didn’t know if I could have that position.” 

So, I think there’s a lot of value in companies like us that are up and coming and especially bigger companies that just putting a stake in the ground and just saying — We should at least ask the question of like, is that really where we want mankind to go, is into a digital world more than we already are? I think those are probably two of the big things. You know, at some point going public or a nice exit would be nice. But I think the more important thing would be the first two.

Mark [37:53] 

I like that very much. And honestly guys, I’ve really enjoyed this time. Before I let you guys go, where can our listeners find you guys online and find Arbor?

Jordan [38:05] 

LinkedIn is a core one for me and Brad, Neither of us really participate in Twitter or Facebook type stuff. But LinkedIn is solid for me. And then of course, ArborXR.com, you can reach us and find us there as well.

Mark [38:21] 

Thank you, both of you for your time. But I hope you all enjoyed the episode. If you have any comments or have any thoughts, please feel free to get in contact with them. Their LinkedIns will be in the description. And from us today, we’ll see you all next time.