By Kirsten Nelson On September 08, 2010
Bob Marcus Makes The Big Picture Possible At RGB Spectrum
NAME: Bob Marcus
TITLE: Founder and CEO
COMPANY: RGB Spectrum
OVERTIME: Launching his career with the
world’s largest company, Marcus quickly
realized that smaller, more innovative
companies were of more interest to him.
SCN: What did you do before you
founded RGB Spectrum?
Bob Marcus: I graduated with a
BS in engineering from Columbia
University and an MS in Industrial
Management from MIT. I began the
career I had trained for—working
for large corporations. Years later I
noted a trend. Every time I changed
jobs, I went to a smaller company.
About 30 years ago, I cashed in some
stock options, which gave me a small
measure of financial independence,
and started to do my own thing.
I had very little small company
experience and even less in entrepreneurship,
so I started by looking for
companies that I could work with—as
a contractor, partner, investor—and
spent a few years working with other
people’s deals. At some point I realized
that I knew more than the people
I was partnering with. That’s when I
started my own company, which was
outside the AV industry. I had a modest
success, sold out, and went looking
for something new again.
I went back to partnership mode
with a computer graphics animation
company, a pioneering firm by the
name of Bob Abel & Associates, and
joint ventured an animation software
company named Abel Image
Research. While there I worked on
acquiring a piece of technology that
they sorely needed—a video scan
converter. I found only one commercially
available product, and it
was deficient in an important way.
So when I left I looked for something
new to do and decided to build the
video scan converter that I couldn’t
Bob Marcus and his wife, Carol, who is director of corporate communications at RGB, enjoy
the benefits of raising a successful technology company in Northern California and actively
support the arts in the Bay area.
SCN: Was RGB the first to market with
a video scan converter?
BM: I started to design and build a
product unlike any available on the
market. So when I went to a trade
show and discovered a company
developing the very same product, it
didn’t exactly make my day. In fact,
we both got to market at about the
same time. At first I thought they
beat me by a month—they shipped
their first unit in December 1987
while I shipped mine a month later,
in January. Years later I heard that
their first unit didn’t actually work.
It was shipped at customer request
for year-end budgetary reasons after
which it was sent back for completion.
So in all probability we were
first to market after all, though only
by a few days.
Actually, we shipped two units
that day—and I got my first complaint,
though not because of a technical
problem. I sent the company
who had placed our first order serial
number 0002. The CEO, an entrepreneur
whose company had recently
been acquired, berated me for not
sending him 0001. He was still an
entrepreneur at heart.
SCN: Describe the early days at RGB.
BM: We assumed that the market for
scan converters would be good for
about five years, after which time
they would be built into computers
and that business would fade away.
Today, 23 years later, we still build
video scan converters though they
represent a very small part of our
We very quickly started to diversify.
But I was surprised by how
long it took to get the message out.
After 10 years, with scan converters
already only a modest part of our
business, I would meet people who
would say “Oh, RGB, the scan converter
Multiviewers became our next
important product category, then
video walls. Lately we’ve moved into
digital switchers and codecs. We’ve
grown and diversified into a full
spectrum AV company.
SCN: What’s the next step for RGB?
BM: We are working now to provide
not just products, but integrated
solutions that seamlessly stitch
together diverse pieces of AV gear,
such as switchers and video walls,
and beyond that, tie them into an IT
system. The fruit of that effort we
call Multipoint KvM. This initiative
will redefine us as a company.