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Polycom's Jeff Rodman: How I Founded a $2 Billion Company with a 95 Cent Book from RadioShack

July 26, 2016 | Telepresence Options

Polycom_ Jeff_Rodman.jpg

Story and images by Jeffrey Rodman / Back Channel

Polycom's co-founder on the best investment he ever made, and why thinking small is a big idea

"Every minor detail is a major decision. Have to keep things in scale, have to hold to your vision." -- "Bit by Bit," Stephen Sondheim

It was March of 1991 and Polycom co-founder Brian Hinman and I were on yet another urgent trip to buy components.

Brian and I had known each other for years. We first worked together in 1984 starting PictureTel, a pioneer in creating the hyper-efficient video compression techniques that are still a driving force of the Internet. When, a few years later, we decided to form Polycom, it was to build things that let people communicate not only with video, but however they wanted.


Left to Right: Jacob Morgan (Workplace of the Future expert) and Jeffrey Rodman conferencing in the round with the latest Polycom video conferencing gear.

As startups do, we had a lot of ideas. Better video communications, text, "content" and graphic communication were some of the concepts, but we decided to start with audio. Shortly after building Polycom's first working breadboard, a 5 GHz wireless microphone system, it became clear that we needed something with a wider appeal and decided that an open-air audio system, something like a super-speakerphone, would be just the ticket.

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