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CEO Interview with Marc Trachtenberg, Teliris CEO and Co-Founder

July 14, 2008 | Chris Payatagool

This interview originally appeared in Richard Line's Telepresence and HD Videoconferencing Insight Newsletter at

Marc_Trachtenberg.jpgTrachtenberg explains how Teliris MultiTouch technology provides the collaboration tools necessary to extend the Telepresence experience beyond the audio and visual senses
Marc Trachtenberg is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Teliris and is responsible for the strategic direction and management of the company. He was instrumental in developing and launching the first Telepresence virtual meeting solution in 1999. Under Marc's leadership, Teliris has grown to be the leading innovative provider of Telepresence solutions - with a fifth generation suite of solutions. Prior to Teliris, Marc was CEO of Mycroft, a leading technology consulting firm focusing on network security and infrastructure. Marc is a recognized Telepresence visionary. We interviewed him on 30 June 2008 and this is what he told us:

Editor: Am I correct in believing Teliris invented Telepresence?

Marc: Teliris was formed in February 2001.  Lazard Freres was the first to install our Teliris VirtuaLive(TM) Telepresence solution in their New York, London and Paris executive floors and these systems are still in use today. Teliris has been at the forefront of Telepresence innovation ever since and remains so today.

Editor: What innovations have you announced this year?

Marc: We made Telepresence more affordable in June 2008 with two new products:
Teliris Personal Telepresence(TM) at an RRP of $32,000 is the first cost-effective single-screen Telepresence solution for private offices and individual users. It can be fitted into any existing conference room via a flexible pedestal-mount. It can be used as a secondary computer monitor for local presentations.


Teliris Express Telepresence(TM) is a new cost-effective Telepresence solution that accommodates 4 to 6 participants with 2 or 3 screen options. The price of $99,000 and $125,000 is affordable and quickly recovered through travel costs savings. It is designed for smaller businesses. It fits into any existing or new conference room.


The third innovation is our Multi-touch Surface Computing solution which we announced at InfoComm in Las Vegas in June 2008. Our demonstrations were watched by huge crowds throughout the show. This invention is truly a new milestone in Telepresence development. It creates tables over which documents can be passed to the remote site. It makes data collaboration interactive and feel the same as if all participants were in the same room.

This is our second major innovation in Telepresence. We are working on numbers 3, 4 and 5... so watch this space.

Editor: How are you marketing Multi-Touch Computing?

Teliris InterACT TouchTable(TM) and Teliris InterACT TouchWall(TM) employ revolutionary technology invented by Teliris. They are the next big development in Telepresence. These two new multi-touch offerings are the first to provide the collaboration tools necessary to extend the Telepresence experience beyond the audio and visual senses. And you don't need a Windows PC or Apple Mac to share, mark up and save copies of documents.

Teliris CEO/CTO Marc Trachtenberg demonstrates the InterACT TouchTable

Our own patented technology using Multi-Touch allows for documents, video, audio, presentations and a wide range of other content to be instantaneously shared and manipulated across any number of locations, naturally and easily, as if participants are in the same room. It features a unique gesture recognition algorithm that allows users to interact naturally with intuitive motions and that requires no user training.

For example, place fingers on the document and spread them apart, and the document gets bigger. Place two fingers on the document, press to grab it and move it around the table. The technology is similar to that of the Apple iPhone where you pinch pictures to enlarge or reduce them.

Editor: How has this new technology been received?

With total amazement. One of our beta sites told us "we simply did not believe this could be done." The crowds were 10 persons-deep at our InfoComm booth just to see it working. Engineers from Microsoft and Smart Technologies were amazed at what we had achieved. It connects people in a way no one thought possible.
It's a completely new approach to collaboration that sets the stage for how companies will continue to use Telepresence to naturally and effectively meet across any distance. It took us 18 months of intensive R & D to develop and we will release it in September 2008. You can see it working on our web site

Editor: When will we know the pricing for Teliris InterACT TouchTable(TM) and TouchWall(TM)?

We expect to announce prices at the end of July. We expect about 30% of our revenue will come from Telepresence Collaboration tools very soon. We believe that about 50% of existing and new Telepresence rooms will want to include it.

We expect other companies, including our main competitors, to be interested in this innovative technology and we will be prepared to license components of it to them.

Editor: Have you been rushed off your feet at Teliris with new orders for your Telepresence systems?

Marc: Yes we have. Our order book has gone through the roof. We took orders for nine Telepresence systems today. We can no longer offer immediate delivery as we could six months ago. There is a huge order backlog and we are expanding manufacturing capacity and hiring new staff to cope with the rising demand.

As regards market share, we estimate that Teliris sold more Telepresence solutions than Cisco and Polycom combined in Q1 2008. Analysts estimate that the overall market in 2008 will be for 500 to 600 Telepresence systems, but this may be an underestimate. What is certain is that Teliris will win a large share of the fast growing market.

The justification for using Telepresence today is so easy. Travel by air is time-consuming, uncomfortable and getting more expensive. A company that installed 9 Teliris systems recently told us that they saved £900,000 in travel costs in the first two months alone.

Editor: As the first vendor of Telepresence rooms, what have customers told you they like best?

Marc: All users of Teliris Telepresence tell us that Telepresence is an experience which draws emotions out of people. They say Telepresence has the ability to elicit emotions from people. It is an emotional experience because you feel you are in the same room as people at the remote site. Our users tell us that by comparison using High definition videoconferencing is not an emotional experience.

You have recently announced customers coming back for the fifth round of installations. What makes an organisation with Teliris Telepresence want more installations?

Marc: The main reason is that people feel comfortable using Telepresence for a meeting. Teliris offers an easy-to-use managed service with all network details as a Teliris responsibility. Customers find that once their staff have used Telepresence, they want to use it again and again. As a result it is the rooms with Teliris Telepresence not normal conference rooms that are the most heavily booked.

One reason is that Teliris Telepresence rooms offer video at 60 frames per second. We delivered our first HD solution with 720p video in 2003 and we have offered a 720p and 1080p capability in Teliris solutions for the last two years.

Customers find the utilisation rate with Telepresence rooms are much higher than with a High Definition videoconferencing system stuck in the corner of a room and often forgotten. This means the cost of Telepresence installations is quickly recovered and as soon as demand exceeds supply new additional installations are easy to justify.

How does a company become a channel partner of Teliris.

Marc: We have a head of channel sales: Jim Kaufold and the best way would be to e-mail him at: [email protected]. They should indicate whether they offer: (1) sales but no installation capability; (2) sales with installation; or (3) sales, installation and technical support. We are particularly interested in vertical specialists serving financial services and telemedicine. The partner's capabilities would be validated in a simple way.

We started the partner program in January 2008 and we have 4 active partners so far. We also have distribution deals in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, India and Japan. As the market grows we are looking for channel support in the United States, Europe, and Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Editor: Do you think Telepresence has come of age?

Marc; Yes it has. And Teliris with its innovation and the largest installed base of Telepresence users is proud to have done the most to reach this level.


Editors Note: For the record Teliris did not invent telepresence. TeleSuite was founded in the fall of 1993, Digital Video Enterprises was founded in 1995 and patented the transparent telepresence podium display the same year. In spring of 1997 TeleSuite installed their initial tele-dining systems in six Hilton hotels.  In 1999 Semetech deployed the first TeleSuite group systems between Austin and San Jose.   Please see the Lab's Telepresence Industry Timeline here:
HPL_Telepresence_Timeline_Feb07.pdf and send any corrections to HSL(at)  


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