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Pioneering Video Conferencing: Polycom CEO Bob Hagerty (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Nov 22nd 2007

SM: What happened after Ampex?

BH: I wanted to take more of a risk so I went to a small startup called Conner Peripherals. There was an article in Fortune about us being the fastest to the fortune 500. You have to look at them in quarters because a year was just too fast. I think the quarter I joined was a $180M run rate, and the quarter before had been a $100 million run rate. It was ramping very fast. When I joined they were at a $180M run rate and when I left they were at a $2.2 B run rate. I was there for four years. It was exciting, kind of similar to what I did at the Signal company but at a much faster pace. It was back in the computer industry and that was booming. PCs were starting up and it was a lot of fun.

SM: What year was this?

BH: That was 1989 to 1992.

SM: It was right before the internet.

BH: The Internet had been started but not really popular yet. I then joined Logitech, and was there for 3.5 – 4 years. It was a fun company and it still is. I still stay in touch with them and have fond feelings. They are just a tremendous company with great innovation. It was a fantastic time, a bit closer to consumer marketing than we had at Conner, which was primarily an OEM company. It was kind of nice to have my career all lined up with various experiences; I got to see how product management works, how general management works, how the internals of a company work, how to build products. Early on I was really involved with new products, so I saw how it went from concept to market.

SM: What was your next gig?

BH: I did a short stint helping some VC’s with a small startup which was not successful. It languished a little bit with low volume, and I came in and we got it going at a little faster run rate, but it needed a lot more funding to get it to the level where it could compete in the market. I decided to move on and Polycom happened.

SM: How did it happen? What was going on at Polycom at the time? You were not a founder, were you?

BH: No, I was not a founder. I started talking to them right after they had gone public. They went public in April and I was talking to them in the fall of 1996. I was sort of interested and felt it was curious and nice. I understood how the go to market works, and it was an interesting little company, so I said “OK”. We had some products which was the beginning of the speaker phone business, and this was not really where I wanted to be. It was almost all audio, but we had something that was data. Back then people were using transparencies, and we had a device that would take the transparency and display it in a room, and then would call another device and display what you were seeing on one end to the device on the other. We called it data conferencing.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Pioneering Video Conferencing: Polycom CEO Bob Hagerty
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