Alex Hern has been a major entrepreneurial player since the inception of the Internet. Seeing a need for a way to navigate this new, vast ocean of information, he designed Inktomi, the most powerful search engine available before Google. Inktomi powered MSN, AOL, and Yahoo. And what’s more, Inktomi was specifically designed to be kid-friendly, so everyone could search the internet without finding something they didn’t mean to find. Hern has licensed Marvel characters as a kid-friendly way to navigate the web. He sold the company for $1.5 billion in 2007, in the midst of the Great Recession.
While designing search patterns for Inktomi, Hern made yet another discovery that would also be a path into changing the future for everyday working Americans. The files of DARPA, the Defense of Advanced Research Projects Agency, became accessible to Hern through his powerful search engine, and in those projects he saw the first spark of innovation in the research of networking computers together to manifest super-computing, which wasn’t available at the time. This would be the proto-thought to Hern’s current brainchild, Tsunami XR.
Jump forward thirty years, Hern has more great tech-ventures under his belt. He served as director of Yesmail, which was an early internet web directory back in 1995. Working much like a directory that would be seen in the actual world, Yesmail was a catalogue of where to find people, business, and information on the internet. It became one of the top 10 most visited sites on the web. Based on it’s large email base, the company formed a powerful email marketing business for it’s different brand clients.
Hern also served as director for Arcsight, a company that made it possible to get an overall view of a single computer’s security systems. This was a new, more efficient way of protecting an individual’s cyber well-being that hadn’t been done before. Hern describes the old ways of cyber security as plugging up different security holes with different, specialized security softwares, rather than one giant way to look at all the holes at once. By creating this, he made it possible to better protect the cyber security of a whole generation of Americans. Hern sold this company to Hewlett-Packard for $1.5 million, in the midst of the great recession in 2007.
Now, Alex Hern has dedicated himself to a new project, but one that was spawned over a decade earlier. A cross-reality workspace for businesses and clients to meet, where everything remains and exists where you left it, even after the virtual space has been vacated. You can now meet with people virtually without leaving your couch or desk and pick up where you left off. The most notable features of Tsunami XR are co-presence, persistence, and on-demand, and within this shared, virtual space, so much is possible. In a interview, Hern gives the example of being able to scale objects into the shared space, so things that need to be seen in person can be virtually seen from anywhere. There’s also the capability to work in this shared virtual space away from others to ideate, brainstorm, of write on whiteboards (together or separate).
A methodology that Hern employs in his entrepreneurial efforts is complete and utter focus on whatever pursuit he is working on. 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. In his practice, turning off one’s phone and zoning in on the one most single important task everyday is the best method.
Alex Hern has been able to remain on the cutting edge of internet and technology incubation since the early 1990’s. Speaking with Daniel Budzinski of the Art of Success podcast, Hern remarks on the importance of timing for young entrepreneurs. If the technology that’s being developed is too early for its time, like Tsunami XR would have been in the 90’s or early 2000’s, then the pursuit has a high chance of failure, because the lack of capital there would be for it. The technology could be right on time, but if there’s no competition for it, then what’s the point? “That Goldilocks principle of just-right is super important,” Hern explains. “You’ve got to be the right product at the right time.”
Learn more by reading this article on Patch.com