What you see is what you get
With football season upon us and the NBA making news, I thought this recap might be appropriate.
About fifteen years ago, or so, I was a principal in a small company named Scanz. Our primary product was a hand-held instant replace devise. This instrument could record and play back in real time both sight and sound. We called it the “Scannor”. When 9/11 came along, we realized an additional important use could be as a security tool.
It was light years ahead of its time. Today, every time you pick up a modern cellular phone think of the Scannor. It did all the basic things a cell phone does. However, it did not possess all the newer bells and whistles.
We tested it at a variety of places and what it did and its compactness literally amazed everyone. Among the places it was tested were Ontario Speedway (California 500), The NFL, The XFL and the CFL (the Canadian football league, as well as various companies in the computer industry who might be interested in aligning with us.
We had no detractors! Everywhere we showed it, we were greeted enthusiastically. We demonstrated it at the CFL Grey Cup game. They were going to make us an offer, but it was a league that at the time was underfunded.
The NASCAR people and the various tracks we showed it to were overwhelmed. They intended to get Board approval, but looked to us to do the primary funding. We were not in a position to do that.
We showed it the NFL approximately two years before the initiation of Instant Replay. In a closed door meeting with key officials: the head of Refereeing, Dennis Lewin-head of Television, members of the competition committee and Paul Tagliabue.
It passed muster and there apparently was a deal to be made. However, the deal fell apart when they wanted to know how much in advertising dollars would we commit to.
We were a small company and in no way could compete with Sony and its budget. Even though their equipment was large and cumbersome, thus, Sony was awarded the contract.
Our tests for the XFL, the League founded by NBC and the WWE, were flawless. We had a handshake deal for the next season. The only problem was there was to be no next season. NBC decided to pull out and the league folded.
Among the companies we showed the Scannor to, was Microsoft. On a hot Las Vegas Day, the Scanz entourage consisting of myself and two of my partners—David Brien and Michael McLees, along with the man who had opened up most of the doors for us to the world of collegiate and professional football, Mike Keller.
Keller, if you are not aware, was an All-American defensive back at the University of Michigan, played for the Dallas Cowboys and held key Executive positions in both the USFL and was in on the start of the XFL. There he was vice president of football operations. He has also been part of the NFL’s task force to bring the game to the rest of the world.
It was both Mike’s knowledge and contacts that gave us a chance to be seen by most football decision makers including various Bowl Games and conferences.
This was our contingent! In addition with us was our Vice president of Engineering Mike Tosch. Mike brought the Scannor prototype to the Mandalay Bay Hotel. We were to demonstrate for Microsoft.
Tosch set up our apparatus on the Auditorium stage. Then we waited anxiously for Microsoft’s representation team. As it turned out, one man represented Microsoft.
He was warm and extremely cordial. He made it a point to shake everyone’s hand. We asked where are the others from Microsoft… engineers, research people, or sales personnel.
He simply stated he was it and would report back to Seattle the results. Nice guy! A highlight of the demonstration was for Mike Keller to pass the ball to Mr. Microsoft and vice-a-versa. For about ten minutes the ball whizzed around the hall.
At the end of that period, with fingers crossed we played back what we had captured in the Scannor. It was perfect!
Mr. Microsoft was elated! As excited as we were, when it came to him, it was if we had hired a cheerleader. He was that exuberant.
Suddenly, he was spurting out additional ideas as to how Scannor might be used. He asked to toss the ball around more, which he did with Mike. He had our crew on Cloud Nine.
The meeting ended when Steve Balmer who tossing the ball, that’s right, Steve Balmer, the new Clippers owner, rolled down his sleeves and put his jacket back on. The Scannor was to be presented high on the list to Microsoft’s product development department. However, his admonition was it might take awhile.
Our meeting could not have gone better. Nevertheless, as fate would have it, Microsoft had many more things on its plate. Unfortunately, we were under funded and could not hold on although we anticipated a proposal.
Scannor is not the story! Steve Balmer is. His enthusiasm is infectious. He will continue to put money wherever it is needed to bring an NBA Championship to L.A.
Along the way, fans will get to know him and love him. Clippers players will give 150% for him. He is a doer! He also now is the wealthiest owner in the NBA.
His estimated $21.9 Billion net worth has made Paul Allen’s $13.1 Billion, second place among owners Allen owns the Portland Trailblazers and the current Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks.
Fans will find him accessible and easy to deal with. He’ll be the team’s biggest cheerleader
He is a man on a mission!
What you see is what you get!