We sat down with Business Development Intern Bobby Samuels to discuss his summer research, the VR industry, and Pixvana’s unique company culture.
What are you working on at Pixvana this summer?
When I started, I was given five different projects to complete over the course of the summer, ranging from customer segmentation to analyses of scaling different parts of the business.
What’s your background?
I’m from Los Angeles initially. In high school, I got involved with the newspaper and I continued that in college at Harvard, where I got really involved with the newspaper. Those experiences helped cultivate a passion around the intersection of content and technology. VR is a fascinating medium that really is the next generation intersection of content and technology.
I know that you’re currently getting your MBA—will you tell me about that?
After college, I worked for a couple years in San Francisco, and now I’m back at Stanford Business School. I just finished year one and am about to start year two in a couple months. I’m studying a broad array of topics; some courses are more on a specific area or discipline while some focus on broader sets of skills.
You already talked a little bit about this already, but what has drawn you to VR and what do you find most compelling about X-Reality?
It’s such a new form for content, defined pretty broadly. Content includes work from traditional media company, or a movie studio, or VR training for businesses. And it’s so immersive and allows for such a new breed of experiences to be created, that the possibilities are really exciting and almost endless. I think it’s a fascinating industry to watch develop over the next five, ten, twenty-five years, and that’s really what drove me to it. In terms of how I found Pixvana, I knew I wanted to do an internship in VR, and in particular, at a software platform. I’m lucky I found and was introduced to Forest and the Pixvana team, and it really went from there.
What have you learned since starting here?
VR is a really young industry. Some of the technological developments and enhancements that Pixvana is doing are just the beginning, whether it’s some of the distribution and cloud technology or this idea of foveation. That will only continue to develop. The big realization for me is how much open space there is in VR, and I think Pixvana is in a really interesting position to grow as the industry grows along with it. It doesn’t seem like there’s anyone trying to do what Pixvana’s trying to do and that is quite heartening. I think I also didn’t quite understand the fact that everyone—in media in particular—is thinking about VR. There’s a question of when and not if. That was also sort of a surprise.
I’ve also learned a lot about Pixvana and what makes it so special. It’s always nice when you’re told upfront what the culture is and the company really delivers on that. I was told that at Pixvana it’s fairly flat, you have access to anyone, folks are happy to explain things in as much detail as you want, and things are very transparent. That’s proven to be absolutely the case. I can’t imagine a company where an intern gets invited to a board meeting in their second week, which is what happened to me, and I think it speaks a lot to the entire Pixvana team and the culture broadly. My ideas were presented and discussed at the meeting and led to an outcome. It’s pretty unusual to give an intern that much access and that much responsibility this early in the game. People have been incredibly open and incredibly helpful as I’ve ramped up. All hallmarks of Pixvana.
What’s one of your favorite VR experiences?
The 360 videos that Pixvana creates utilizing the medium so well and telling stories in truly immersive ways. For instance, with the Seahawks and Sounders videos, you really feel like you’re there. It’s so immersive.
What’s next for you?
Next is going back to business school for my second year and then figuring out what I want to do after that. I’m still interested in a lot of different areas, but the intersection of content and technology and VR in particular is right at the top of the list of interests. We’ll see – who knows?
Thanks so much for taking the time to educate us about the VR industry and your work here. Best of luck with the coming school year and beyond!
About Bobby Samuels
Bobby is an MBA Student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Previously, he worked in a Business Development at LiveRamp, an AdTech company based out of San Francisco. Originally from Los Angeles, Bobby graduated from Harvard College, where he majored in economics, minored in statistics, and was President of the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson.