The Pro AV industry is loaded with talented people, and at SCN, we're proud to celebrate the achievements of the newest members of our Hall of Fame.
A simple Google search shows you how important Rony Sebok is in the history of technology. As someone who worked as a software engineer on the original Apple Macintosh computer—along with some fellow named Steve Jobs—her success story could have ended there.
[SCN Hall of Fame 2023: Charlie Butten] (opens in new tab)
But Sebok went on to be a cofounder of 1 Beyond, where she brought AI cameras to the Pro AV market and invented Automate VX, the multi-camera, voice-tracking solution used in large and high-value spaces by leading corporations and universities. The company was acquired by Crestron in 2022.
It all started at Harvard University, where Sebok earned a degree in computer science with a focus in graphics and AI. After Apple, she continued her education with a degree from Harvard Business School. While her first degree brought her to Apple, it was the lessons from the business school that took her to the next phase of her career.
“I went into management consulting, which was the most amazing business training you can get,” explained Sebok. “It teaches you how to look at markets strategically and define unique characteristics.”
[Supply Chain Issues: Here's How Crestron Is Handling Them] (opens in new tab)
From there, she met Terry Cullen doing one of her favorite things: sailing. As the story goes, Cullen went on a sailing trip, recorded some video, and was looking for something simple to edit it.
“It was a long time ago,” Sebok recalled. “There was no such thing as Final Cut and no laptops with FireWire ports." Instead, Cullen integrated hardware and software from various vendors to develop the first native digital editing system.”
From that video editing solution, 1 Beyond was born, but it wasn’t exactly an instant money-making success story. “1 Beyond was started 25 years ago,” Sebok explained. “Everybody thinks that if you're a software person, you start Facebook or Google, and within five years, you're a billionaire, right? More often, you start a company and you've got to learn to pivot quickly, to go where the market opportunity is; you hope that, eventually, you find something that everybody wants. And thankfully, that's what happened to us.”
Sebok developed Automate VX at a time when no one else was a player in the game, so 1 Beyond was in the right place at the right time. When COVID-19 hit, demand for 1 Beyond products grew in universities as well as the corporate world. "1 Beyond tripled our business in a year," Sebok noted. "We decided the best thing would be to join forces with a leader in the industry. We picked Crestron (opens in new tab), and thankfully, Creston picked us, and that's how we got here."
[SCN Hall of Fame 2023: Michael Blackman] (opens in new tab)
What’s next for Sebok? “It’s exciting times and we haven’t finished yet," she said. "I think it's fair to say that we're going to continue to combine the different AI, the speaker, and the visual to do even better—and really think about tighter integration with Zoom and Teams.”
Taking the time to find one’s niche and never stop learning are the keys to success, according to Sebok. “It's interesting how a career evolves and kind of comes full circle,” she noted. "It feels really good to be providing technology that helps people communicate in this new hybrid world, while saving companies money and expanding the classroom beyond the university walls. It took about 25 years, but all along the way, let me just tell you, we were having fun the whole time."