Mister Beacon Episode #10

HP Enterprise - Aruba Beacon Lead Interview

July 27, 2016

Kiyo was the CEO of Meridian and now leads HPE Aruba's beacon business. We hear the story of how Aruba acquired his start-up and how Aruba used Wi-Fi and beacons to solve the challenges of proximity apps at Levi Stadium.


  • Kiyo Kubo 00:04

    They have seen literally millions of dollars in improvements from having us. So it's kind of like, yeah, we have like, not doing it is foolish. I think we're now at a point where things are mature enough and stable enough to where these marketing projects can now start to become real things you thank you for, you know, for the for the check. We are excited to be here. But none of this stuff works because of the apple changes. And their response to me was, that's fine. Just Just figure it out. Like, let's let's do food, do whatever works. Let's make this customer. Let's make this customer work. You know, like, Do this, do what it takes. And I said, Well, I know how to do that. But it's Bluetooth, it's not Wi Fi. And you know, you guys, we don't do Bluetooth right now at Aruba. They're like, well make it happen, right? Not only did it work, but like worked really, really well. And it took us like minutes to set up like it was so easy to set up and it worked incredibly well. And we were like okay, this is like clearly the future like.

    Narration 01:13

    You're listening to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem with Steve Statler. Welcome to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Becaosystem. My name is Steve Statler of Statler Consulting. We are bringing this to you in partnership with our friends at Proxbook. And this week, I'm going to be interviewing Kiyo, who is the guy that bought beacons to one of the biggest computer companies in the world, HP Enterprise. Kiyo is the director of the mid Meridian group within a ruber, which is an HP Enterprise company. And of course, HP are one of the founders of Silicon Valley, a $34 billion market cap behemoth. So really excited to talk to Kiyo and we're going to be talking about the founding story, how they how he got into beacons, how that ended up as part of HP the products that customers Kiyo is actually the guy that got hp into the beacon businesses that foot. So welcome to the show. And is that a fair description of what you did?

    Kiyo Kubo 02:28

    You know, yeah, I guess so. Yeah, we were. We were startup Meridian. We, we started the company, because we believed in the late 90s, that mobile phones were going to be our mobile devices, we're going to be a way that people interacted with the world. And so we started a company to make that easy for for, for people to do within their own venues. And we were about 10 years, I would say early. And so we started this company that was doing well, in order to keep the lights on we basically did consulting. So if somebody wanted a mobile, something mobile application, they would come to us, because we were one of a rare group of people who are working on mobile applications before the iPhone, and then when the iPhone came out, it was like, it was it was like, I think in LA and everyone has a screenplay. Everyone's working on a screenplay. It's like, you know, everyone's working on an app, right? And everyone, everyone who would find out that I made applications, mobile applications would would tell me about their app that they wanted me to make. And so we started doing iPhone stuff. And when we started working on a particular project at the American Museum of Natural History, and that space is enormous. It's, it's enormous. And it's very confusing. It's, it's, I think it's 26, buildings built over like 150 years all sort of crammed together. And so it's very easy to get lost inside of it. And they wanted to have a basically a navigation app for the for the building. And we started on the project in I think it was 2006 was before the iPhone, actually. And we were working on it on on, on Windows mobile devices. And then we switched over to iOS devices. And the interesting thing about iOS devices was was that you couldn't do location, the way that we had always done it historically. And that was to basically scan for Wi Fi access points, and then triangulate your location. And iOS, you could do signal scans. So we we kind of flipped it on its head and we had the device probe a lot. And then the network would hear all those probes and in the network to be able to calculate the location of the device. And that worked out. That worked out really well. For a couple of years, and then.

    Narration 05:02

    So you're using this basically cell tower triangulation?

    Kiyo Kubo 05:07

    No, it was it was network isn't like Wi Fi. All right. So okay, device would would do a probe request for Wi Fi access points around it. And the beauty of a probe request is that it's like all channels, which means that you have all the access points that are near you are typically on different channels. And so then it will figure out where the device is based on all the access points, hearing the probe at different RSSI values, and then the network calculating the locations of all those devices. So it's kind of a complicated, long sort of path, right? You, you had your device, sending out a probe all the access points were here, and they would take all that data, set it up to a cloud server, and it would just basically sit there. And then the device would say, okay, my MAC address is a B, one, two, CD three, four, and it would say, hey, network, where is a B, one, two, CD three, four, and then it will say, Oh, I know where that is right here, and then send it back to the device. And we could put your.on a map.

    Narration 06:00

    So you had software talking to each of the access points. So do you have actually software that was on the access points that was looking for your phone?

    Kiyo Kubo 06:10

    No, the phone, the phone portion of it was literally just the standard probe request, just a regular old probe probe request, right, so my phone does a probe request like it does, whenever I go anywhere regularly, we were just able to get it to probe more often. So that's what our software would do would cause it to probe a lot. And then the network would hear that and then calculate the location on its own. And at the time, we're using a product from Cisco called the mobility services engine or the MSC. So that's a completely that's a network appliance that is like, I don't know anything about it, I don't care anything about it, just I just wanted to calculate location. And they basically what we what we observed was that with normal probing behavior, location was calculated very, very sparsely. So we sort of excited that it causes pressure more often. And and what we noticed was that that that appliance would calculate more locations. So that's what we did on the handset side. And then we worked with detainment, Cisco, to enable us to have access basically to that, and request our location based on our Mac address. So that's what we did. This was basically 2007, actually 2008 through 2000. And I would say 2013. That was sort of the state of the art. I mean, that was we were that how we were doing it. And there weren't honestly, a lot of people doing this, it was kind of a kind of a roundabout thing. And it just wasn't, it was difficult, I will say, and honestly, it was hard to set up. It was, you know, there were some security real, legitimate security concerns, right? Because now you're talking to this server that's in your infrastructure that has the locations of every device and to make that available to the public is a little bit scary. So it was kind of a it was a lot of work. That In result, as a user, you walk in, and you open up your map, and you see your blue dot and you walk around and bluedot follow you and it was it was great, right? But it was, it was it was a lot of I would say a lot of work. And as time went on, it became more and more work. For example, the security things we there are certain customers whose that kind of security is pretty legitimate and important. So having a system where you're talking about the back end, that becomes becomes really problematic. So we ended up building a proxy server that would have dedicated access only to one basically API, and so not on not my device, or proxy, which would then talk to the server. And then you started seeing more things happening where, you know, the device basically didn't respond to our probing activity, or we couldn't get the MAC address from the device anymore. Did it like it was very cascading, the more it became more and more and more difficult to do.

    Steve Statler 09:08

    Just the changes that Apple made to obfuscate the MAC address. That's one of the.

    Kiyo Kubo 09:14

    Yeah, I mean, they, they, they they removed our access to the MAC address altogether. And it wasn't, you know, we weren't big or important. It was it was really that people were using the MAC address as a as a as a basically as a proxy for unique identifier of the device. So you'd be able to track people across applications and do advertising and so on and so forth, and the user wouldn't be able to control that. So they limited access to the MAC address. They basically stopped responding to our requests to probe more often. They themselves just stopped probing very often, and all of their decisions are are good decisions honestly, you know, probate takes a lot of battery life, right? Being able to track and device is a security issue. So there were there's a lot of changes that they made, you know, the MAC address thing, it's a security issue, it's something they want the users to control whether or not they're part of the of the process, right, they don't want users to just be sort of blindly tracked by whoever wants to track it.

    Steve Statler 10:27

    And just to kind of recap where we are in the story. So you'd start off started off with a consulting business, and then you kind of pivoted to, to a Meridian, which it was you were the CEO of Meridian, and Meridian was a company that provided a tool rather than you writing every application, you provided a framework development environment, where people could very simply create apps. And it just so happened, the indoor location was kind of one of your unique selling points is that.

    Kiyo Kubo 10:59

    Yeah, we sort of had this belief. When we look, our very, very first thing that we did was that we were in the Human Computer Interaction Lab, designing basically, user experience on laptops. I mean, Cornell had had what I believe is the largest wireless network had had at the time, this is in the late 90s, the largest wireless network ever built, the entire entire campus, wireless. And one of the benefits of working on this project was that they gave you a laptop, right? And so I was like, Oh, this is great. I'm in. So I had this, this Dell laptop and this giant aironet card that you slotted into the side, and, and the device was now a wireless laptop. And it was sort of like, okay, well, what does that mean to have a computer that is always on the internet? As a user, what does that what does that mean? And we kind of were interested in it a little bit more like, well, listen, let's just assume that these are going to get more and more mobile. What does that what does that mean for users. And so we, we really, at the very beginning of the foundation of the company, we were thinking about users in places with, with competing devices, basically, the first thing that we actually built was a laptop based application where we realized that you connected to the Wi Fi, and you could, you know, have internet, but what we figured out was that you could also figure out where you were. So if you open up your laptop, and you were at Willard straight the the dining hall, we would know that you were in that dining hall when you opened up your laptop, so we could give you all the information about that dining hall. And we also thought it was important that people should be able to, to sort of that check in basically at those places. So we created this whole concept of people checking in at places and reviewing and commenting on those places. I would say that the place where we most where we failed the most like with that concept, because that not concept is obviously everywhere now is that we we required you to be a part of the system in order to intuit in order to feed into it, right? So you can actually go to that place and open up your laptop and type in whatever your comment was for that place. You look at something like like yell like anyone just opens up a rate, whatever they want to. And obviously, it's a much larger community.

    Steve Statler 13:31

    Ahead of its time. And just because I want to there's a lot of really good stuff that I didn't know about what you're talking about. But so you were at this, your journey started at Cornell, figured a way of getting a free laptop, you were doing a computer science degree and an economics degree at the same time I come from England where you have to Well generally do one, but you got two degrees.

    Kiyo Kubo 13:54

    When I did two undergraduate degrees.

    Steve Statler 13:59

    So you left you created a software company, a consulting company, and then you created a software company that you sold to Aruba. That's right. Yeah. And so and then Aruba got bought by HP. And so you're now in HP. But tell us a little bit about so what was it that Aruba saw that they liked and why did they buy you and how did you get them to buy you?

    Kiyo Kubo 14:29

    Just pure charisma, I think.

    Steve Statler 14:32

    It goes without saying.

    Kiyo Kubo 14:34

    Well, so what had happened. So we were very closely working very closely with Cisco, because they had this mobility services engine product that worked pretty well until Apple started sort of putting the the clamps on it. And they actually reached out to us what happened was, we sort of started talking to them about becoming more closely integrated with Have, and one of the people from Aruba reached out to us because they had started running into customers who were asking them if they integrated with Meridian. And they were like, What is? What is Meridian? And so they reset to us and said, What did you know, they looked at what we were doing. And they had a really strong vision for not using, you know, they had historically been, what what DOM always is they've always they were always the plumbing, right. And they wanted to not just be the plumbing, but also be the, you know, the kitchen designer, right, they wanted to create the countertops and everything. So when they came and talked to us, it was it was it was like, we do this right now. We and we know that there's lots of interesting and interesting things happening within the network. How can we, how can we, how can we do more basically with the network. And so their vision was quite compelling. And it was, it was our same vision, basically. So, you know, in order to, to be able to execute our vision at scale, I guess. And with a really tight bond with the, because, you know, the location is the network information and stuff that's on the network and controlling the network is, is a lot of the, the meat, like that's where things can get really interesting. Like, we make applications right now where you can, you know, we can get turn by turn navigation anywhere you want to, you want to go, but if you just have like, give me directions to room 102 C, or whatever, that's not that compelling compared to, you know, take me to endocrinology. And just just like we need, the more data you put with it. And the more power you give to the application, the more the more interesting the whole thing becomes. So with the network, you know, to be to be able to, to, you know, auto log you onto the network, for example, just by having the application or to be able to tell the network to give me differentiated access, or to be able to tell the network, or ask them network for something, you know, based on, you know, number of people in a particular area, all that stuff, the joint that the two coming together allowed us to do a lot more of the stuff that we wanted to do. And, you know, it was almost like they were they they were thinking about it more from the network side and the user side. But they were thinking about the same things that we were thinking about. So it was pretty exciting to be able to sort of, I guess, work with people who, who saw, I guess, the same vision that we saw.

    Steve Statler 17:45

    Yeah. And that makes sense. I mean, they wanted to get in the solution space. They didn't want to just be vanilla infrastructure company. Yeah. So they saw what you were doing. And you were providing a more of the complete solution. And so you could take this kind of vanilla set of signals and coordinates and turn it into something that was was compelling. And my understanding is when they decided to buy you the no Bluetooth beacons evolved.

    Kiyo Kubo 18:16

    Yeah, yeah. And that's one of the sort of, I think it speaks to, you know, Dom and clarity. The clarity is the co founder and Dom obviously the CEO of, of Aruba. You know, they they acquired us in the deal closed in May of 2013. And at the time, the model was, look, we're going to Aruba is working on this product called ale. It's basically a robust version of the MSC resin network appliance that calculates location. And Meridian will come in and we'll sort of plug into ale and then we'll be able to provide this solution. We'll keep working with Cisco, everything will continue to be supported. And that's that's sort of the Aruba way, right? Just make it work, whatever is whatever need the customer needs. But we would sawed into to Ale, and so do closes in May. And then in June, Apple had the developer conference and a lot of stuff changed, right? Access to the MAC address, I think went away at that particular Developer Conference. The probe requests dropped dramatically. So a lot of things changed, like, two weeks, right, three weeks after we came on board on board. Brand. We had a myself and my co founder Nick Farina had a number of conversations about this. And we, you know, we knew we could make it work on the Wi Fi we knew that would work. It was it was complicated. And it was you know, it was Kouji but we could definitely make your work. But it felt like there was a better way. And so we started looking at we started looking at Bluetooth specifically And I believe at that conference was also the Conference of the day announced iBeacon. Which was in 2013.

    Steve Statler 20:06

    Yeah, well Developer Conference? That's when the Craig, their head of software developed. Operating System Development had iBeacon on the slide in the keynote.

    Kiyo Kubo 20:17

    Yeah. Yeah. So that that was. So we looked at that, that okay, this is interesting, because it basically is what we were doing before iPhone. With you With Wi Fi, we could do a signal scan on the device, we could hear everything, and we could calculate location. And we could scan like, as much as we wanted to, I mean, every second, and so we could actually calculate location more, more regularly. And so we started doing a deployment at the Levi's Stadium. And we started the deployment with with Wi Fi base location. And, you know, right in front of the customer.

    Steve Statler 20:52

    For the Superbowl was it?

    Kiyo Kubo 20:55

    Well, it wasn't for this was not the Superbowl this was there. They were opening Levi's Stadium in the in the 20. I think it was 24. Teen, I think was the first and they were they were opening Levi's Stadium. Right? It was didn't exist, right. So it was under construction. And they, they asked they they basically bought our services to provide location in their app. You know, and so we started working on that. And it was like, evident that it basically wasn't going to work with WiFi.

    Steve Statler 21:26

    So a little bit of context for people that the North American cuz this is kind of a global industry. So Levi's Stadium, that's like Santa Clara, right. And it's, it's a big stadium. I don't know how many people, but it's, yeah. 49. So this is tier one huge stadium? Probably was this in your deck? As you were kind of selling the company?

    Kiyo Kubo 21:48

    It's no, this wasn't, this wasn't our code. This was not our customer.

    Steve Statler 21:51

    Oh, okay. So you just you just come on board, they've paid you they've just written the check for how many million dollars was it for the company,

    Kiyo Kubo 21:57

    Many millions, I don't know, I don't know, it's expensive, right?

    Steve Statler 22:01

    10s of millions of dollars have been spent on your company, and they have this price customer, you've got to deliver on the you're kind of realizing that actually, this is going to be a bit of a nightmare.

    Kiyo Kubo 22:12

    You well, it didn't fundamentally didn't really work, right. So we we that the customer was a robust customer, they Aruba had come in to do the Wi Fi and Aruba had come up with a really unique underseat design, to provide really high quality Wi Fi to every basically every person in the stadium. And their vision was stadium experience. Like they wanted to make it a stadium. That was I mean, it was basically all the things that I had in my mind, in the late 90s, where it was like this mobile device is how you're going to interact with the world. And they had that they had that same vision and they wanted to, they wanted to make it such that a person would come into the stadium and the app would know where they were and give them directions anywhere, and they could click a button and food would show up in their seat. And you know, like it was just sort of this experience that was complete in the end. And, and very, very, you know, technology driven, right. And so they, they, they bought a bunch of Meridian stuff, access points, and, you know, all of our all of our, you know, whole kit, from from Aruba, access points, controllers, the whole nine yards. And then they bought it was brilliant stuff in order to power their app, right. And they built this really fantastic app, but it required location to do a lot of things that they want us to do. So they bought the Meridian stuff to to enable that. And, and yeah, it basically just didn't work. Because of the configuration of the bowl and a bunch of stuff. I mean, honestly, the unique Wi Fi design is fantastic for data. But it's not great for location, because the concept is have these micro cells. So this is access point coverage, the small number of seats, when you want to do location, you want to see as many access points as possible, or you want as many access points as possible. See you. And that's kind of, you know, the opposite of what the concept is for the data. So, yeah, so I went to DOM and Keirsey. And I said, you know, you thank you for, you know, for the for the check. We are excited to be here. But none of this stuff works. Because of the apple changes. And their response to me was, that's fine. Just Just figure it out. Like let's let's do, do whatever works. Let's make this customer. This make this customer work, you know, let's do it. Let's do what it takes. And I said, Well, I know how to do that. But it's Bluetooth, it's not Wi Fi. And you know, you guys, we don't do Bluetooth right now at Aruba. They're like, well make it happen. Right? And it was kind of an amazing process because I went on the internet and just bought these little, you know, little cheap boards, you know, cheap beacons, you can get cheap beacons from anyone. And I started tinkering with them. And and I was like, I and played with it. And it was mostly actually Nick, my co founder, Nick Farina. He, he is like an engineering wizard, he can basically build anything in, in a couple hours. And so he like, put together a bunch of stuff real quickly. And we talked about a lot. And we were quick algorithm he wrote, he wrote a quick algorithm. And, and then we deployed it. And, and we were like, holy crap, this works. Like, not only did it work, but like, worked really, really well. And it took us like minutes to set up, like it was so easy to set up. And it worked incredibly well. And we were like, Okay, this is like, clearly the future like this. This first of all, this actually works. Like, just out the box, it just works. And it works really well. So. So anyway, then we had I set up a demo, and I showed the customer on a security initiative, Dom and they're like, Yeah, this is good, do whatever you got to do. And at that one was kind of amazing. Because, you know, as Meridian, we didn't have any resources, we couldn't really do anything.

    Steve Statler 25:58

    Especially how big were you when you vote?

    Kiyo Kubo 26:02

    1520 people, something like that. But like building hardware was like, No way. Like I No way, right? Or software people. I don't know anything about hardware. I mean, I can solder stuff and whatever. But it's like, not my thing. And ultimately, it feels like I'm gonna have to go to China or something. I don't know. So we, that was one of the points when it was like, wow, this is amazing being within a Roomba because I showed it to you. And he's like, Yeah, to talk to this guy. He's the product mid Project Project Manager guy. And we had beacons basically, within like, a very short window. Like couple months, we had like a physical product that was like real thing. And it was, it was it was kind of unbelievable. And within a couple of months, we were actually walking around Levi's Stadium employing them. And that sort of blew my mind that we could get some physical hardware so quickly.

    Steve Statler 26:55

    And what did you start off with battery beacons? Because I know you've got USB beacons now plugged into all those TV sets that they have everywhere.

    Kiyo Kubo 27:03

    Yeah, so the, we needed it to it part of the beauty, I guess, of the of the of the designer of the technology, was that we would with with the AP is, like I said, you have the APS, wherever the APs are, and they tend to be designed for, you know, good data. And if you use that design for location, it, it doesn't necessarily work. So one of the beautiful things about Bluetooth was that it you could, you could, it's so low power that you could literally like put the beacons anywhere. And so you could use the design, you can almost like do a custom design for every place that you went. And you said customer and it makes it sound like it takes a lot of time it like takes like seconds. But you you can kind of do this custom design, because you just take this battery thing, you pull the tab to hold it next to the phone and figures everything out about it and you stick it to the wall and off you go. And, and so we started with the battery ones because that was sort of the that was part of the design of the of the overall solution. You get battery powered beacons and the battery powered beacons are able to, to last for many years. They're still over there Turpan away. And it's now been two years. So two and a half years now. And and so the fact that it was better if I was actually, I think a big part of the design of the solution. Where we ended up after that was I deployed 20 of them in the stadium, and put them all up. And it was worked. And I was like us. It's It's fabulous. I just didn't, I didn't have to talk to it. I didn't have to do anything. I just stuck onto the wall and walked around and at work. And then I talked to my team in Portland and I said, Okay, this all works great. But I need to be able to do this one thing, I want to try a couple different power levels. And it's okay, meaning you need to push this new version, we got some new firmware here, push this one to it. So I took my phone and I walked up to the first weekend and I connected, you know, click on it, and clicked on Upload firmware, and save. And then you just sit there, and you literally just sit there and watch this little progress bar working its way across the screen. And it takes like a long time. I mean, it's great that I can upgrade them wirelessly, right. But it takes a long time. And I was at the time estimating there would be like 5000 beacons in this place. And I did the first one and I was like, the minute I hit save, I was like, Yeah, this isn't gonna work at all.

    Steve Statler 29:30

    How many did you actually end up with?

    Kiyo Kubo 29:31

    About 1200 I would say something like that. It varies but yeah, that 1200 And yeah, so I was like, This is crazy. Crazy Crazy. So then I went back to our AP team and said hey, is there anything we can do about about this? And they said, Well, we have a USB port. And I was like great USB port. And so I bought a whim again when on the camera at the time, but some USB basically Bluetooth beacons and started testing them. And then I started working with our AP team. And then, you know, obviously, we ended up having these beacons manufacturer. But it was like, suddenly it was like, Oh my gosh, the network is so critical here. Because when you have this many beacons deployed, not just like a one space, but like if you've ever deployed, like, we have a customer will have a customer. That was some issue in wherever Dubai, and I'll be able to go and look at all their beacons. Well, yet, we haven't heard that one for from that one. And in three days, I think probably it's the battery's dead, or, or somebody stole it, or whatever. And lo and behold, you go there, and it's just, it's gone. Right? So the remote network management of them is so like, I can't tell you, I believe me, like having walked the stadium, it's like, it's, you don't want to do it more than once.

    Steve Statler 30:51

    That's the stadium. And then you know, the similar problem if you're in like, 20,000, fast food restaurants, and they'd be much shorter walk around that facility, but there's a lot of them, even if there's 100 of them, or 50 of them, then you someone's gonna manage this, who's gonna manage to put their hand up and say, I'll manage it? Well, maybe we should get people that are already managing stuff. They're managing Wi Fi, and.

    Kiyo Kubo 31:15

    Yeah, yeah. And it's the same reason why you don't see every McDonald's going to this time sticking up a Linksys router, right? It's like you need something that's managed, right? You need something that's, that's robust. And if I need to I can I, you know, I can I can tweak it remotely or whatever. So it's, it's, these beacons are are designed to be dumb, I guess. Because you need the batteries to last for a long time. And when you're doing location, especially, you're not chirping, you know, you're not chirping every couple seconds, you're chirping, like many times a second. So it's, it's a, you don't want to waste any battery. And so you want them to be pretty dumb, generally speaking, but so the more intelligence you can push into the network burned to the x A apps, the better off, you're going to be. So, so yeah, having having a the Manage, like, it became so obvious to me, like on day one, how important that was, and I was, on some level, I was like, Oh, thank God, we're, you know, think about where Aruba because we have that network, right? We can, we can actually do this. And it was also I was also sort of a thank God moment, because it was like, Okay, now it makes sense. Like, we're, you know, Meridian exists inside of a network company, makes a lot of it makes sense, initially, and then there was sort of this fuzzy period where it's like, well, we're not using the network at all. And then obviously, now we use the network very, very extensively.

    Steve Statler 32:50

    Yeah, I think the WiFi infrastructure vendors or solution providers, they have a really important role in this ecosystem. I mean, if if beacons to achieve that potential than mainstream retailers are probably not going to buy from companies they've never heard of, but they probably have heard of HP. So maybe we should just do the last bit of the story, which was, so you've created a product in Aruba, you've got some beacons, you've figured out that relationship with the access point. And HP then comes and buys a Aruba. So are you the Where does because you've got essentially two businesses that seems to be you've got this Meridian app creation tool set, and you've got beacons and they work seamlessly together. But people might buy beacons and not use Meridian. Can they do that? Or if I'm buying your beacons? Do I have to use Meridian?

    Kiyo Kubo 33:54

    Yes, our beacons are are like enterprise secure, I guess. So you can't use our beacons. So it's a funny thing where you can buy the beacons and you can program them and you can like stick them out. And now they just chirp, right? And you can use them, whatever. But you won't. You can't really do anything with that. Right? You won't be able to reprogram them. Like it's all. It's all managed through this system. So if you buy the beacons without the system, they are kind of like, kind of expensive paperweights, I guess. You want once you once you configure them, obviously, they just keep tripping, whatever, they cheer up, and that's fine. And you could technically use that, but it's not really a solution. Similarly, we don't support third party beacons in our system. And the reason why we did that was because I can't tell you how many conversations I have about Blue Dot performance, like everyone is constantly like, oh, well, you know that it's putting me over there. And I'm actually over here and it's like, okay, well, where are your beacons? It's like, well, we only put in like three beacons. It's like we need more more beacons. So we needed a beacon that had a relay that we could control basically, very consistent, very, very consistent power, like the RSSI was very consistent. And also, we needed it to the use case that we have of location required began to chirp like a ton. And in order to do that, you needed a pretty big battery. So we kind of had some kind of, I guess, unique needs from our beacons. So that's where why we ended up where we are, but it's kind of one that the beacons are not our, like we're not in we're not in the we don't exist in a world without beacons like the beacons are kind of a means to an end, we really want to sell a solution to solve whatever problem you have.

    Steve Statler 35:47

    Just to be clear. So in in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem, the book this podcast is, is related to we kind of break up the stack. And so you've got the hardware, and you've got the fleet management piece. So part of Meridian is fleet management, then you've got a great dashboard, you can have a map of the stadium or whatever the restaurants and you can keep track of where the beacons are. And then you have this ability to create applications, either through API's or actually through kind of a not exactly wiziwig. But pretty WYSIWYG environment. Can I just buy the management piece? Or do is it sort of one price and you get the app creation and the management? Or is it bundled together? Or is it separate?

    Kiyo Kubo 36:38

    So there's sort of the there's the sort of the cloud, and then there's the beacons and the cloud manages the beacons. So you buy the subscription to manage the, for the cloud and the beacons. And then if you want to have an app, there's sort of two ways you can do that. One is with the, like you said, wiziwig trip app, the other thing, and that's literally just a drag and drop, now you have an app. And you can create an app in a couple of minutes, and you can start using it. And then we'll and you can, if you want to use that, then there's a service basically to use that can have this app builder, tool. And you that's sort of a different one time fee, basically for that. And then the other way is with the SDK, and there's no fee for that. So you're only paying for the you're only paying for the the subscription to the Management Cloud. And everything in demand management cloud actually includes, obviously, the management of beacons, there's a ton of really powerful analytics that are now in there, we can actually tell you, you know, how many people are standing at the coffee machine? Two weeks ago at 9am, right? But there's we're adding features where we can actually tell you how many people walk past your facility and how many people walked in? And then how many people how many of those people clicked on a thing in your app? And then and then after that ended up at the cash register? Like we I can tell you exactly those numbers. It's all based on having the app obviously. So I'm not gonna be able to tell you, yeah, 10 people walked in today, right? Because it's bluetooth is a is a client technology. But yeah, all that stuff is in this Management Cloud. So it's like everything on the editor is like, there's just there's a ton of stuff in there. And everything from management to beacons to actually building an app to to analytics and foreign language support, all that kind of stuff. But yeah, so you get you buy that, obviously, you buy the hardware beacons, because someone else paid for those. And then if you want to, you can also buy the App Maker thing where you just have an app, or you can just use it all and use the SDK, and it doesn't cost anything.

    Steve Statler 38:45

    Okay. And so the SDK enables management features. And it sounds like you can use it within an application as well. But these beacons use support iBeacon as a standard, do you know? Yes, we do. Yeah. And do you support any of the Google Eddystone frame types?

    Kiyo Kubo 39:04

    We don't today, primarily because there wasn't a reason to with what we do, basically. But moving forward, we see the nearby API as being a meaningful, important API. So we'll support it going forward. And again, this is one of the beautiful things is that like, will support it and like you probably won't have to do anything. It'll just like start working, because it's all managed right. So it your beacons are talking to the APs are talking to the cloud. And our cloud basically manages all the versions of everything. So yeah, when any stuff when when we get that finished, you probably be a thing where you say yeah, I upgrade my things to support that version, and it will just kind of happen. And new features within Eddystone everything else we just it just kind of all just gets pulled down for you.

    Steve Statler 39:57

    And so if I want to kind of control who can see the beat can stand that would probably be a future thing, future roadmap thing through Eddystone e ID or can I do that today with your SDK?

    Kiyo Kubo 40:09

    We would be meeting.

    Steve Statler 40:12

    If this is generic iBeacon, then anyone can see the iBeacon. You don't do any kind of obfuscation rotation of the UID, or anything to control? Who can see the beacon. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm just wondering, in the future, where there's any stones, kind of several things, isn't it? There's the UID, which is their iBeacon. There's ei D, which is where they implement some conditional access, and then there's physical web, are you going to be supporting all of those or just one of those?

    Kiyo Kubo 40:49

    We will support. So we have specific use cases that we have in mind and the technology and most of them are around, you know, user user using an application. So we'll support the ones that we find useful, I guess, like, for example, they have the whole management frame. Yes. You know, we don't really need that, right? Because we have, we have the access point sitting there managing it. So yeah, so that when we, there's not a reason for us to support it. So we basically will do we have a specific use case, we're not, you know, like, we don't really fancy ourselves as as, like, we're not like, we're not trying to, like, if you have a handful of things, and you wanna like play with stuff, and you want to experiment and take care, then we're probably not the right choice for you. Right? What we're focused on are those sort of, you know, entire, you know, giant corporations or stadiums or hospitals, whatever they like, they need something, or they played with something. And now they're ready to actually deploy something. I mean, we just talked to a customer last week, who has been playing with beacons for like, a year now. And they're like, Yeah, this works. But our marketing team who was playing with them, deployed, like 500 of them, and then they, then they came to us and said, We can't, this isn't we don't know how to what do we do with this? Like, Well, you do take this over for us. And then it basically reached out to us and we're like, marketing wants to do this thing, they started doing something. And it's like, an, like, we can't this doesn't, it doesn't make sense, right? So those are the people where we're focused on. And so we have specific stuff that we need to support and stuff that we don't.

    Steve Statler 42:34

    Company and I want to go with a trusted brand, who can do the management provide the ability to create the applications either through the wiziwig or the SDK, then I would come to you if I'm just a hobbyist that wants to play with some beacons. Maybe I should I should do something else.

    Kiyo Kubo 42:54

    Yeah, I mean, like, Yeah, I mean, Rs Rs. Rs, you buy a pack of five beacons. And but unless you have the service, you can't really do anything with it. It's it's actually surprisingly inexpensive. Our salutes overall service. I kind of wonder about that, honestly. But, but it's, but yeah, if you're, if you're just you know, you and you want to set up your house with five beacons or whatever they were not.

    Steve Statler 43:21

    So what? So can you talk a little bit about the customers are actually before we'll talk about the customers in a minute, just one thing I had to ask you. So your your company was founded in Portland, Oregon, and I was looking at your offices were like some 25. Flanders. That's the dress. I used to live but some, some 25 floors in, in Poland. So was that like an apartment?

    Kiyo Kubo 43:46

    You know, it's interesting. I don't know. When did you when did you live there?

    Steve Statler 43:50

    Oh, like a long time ago, this was like 1515 years ago, something like that.

    Kiyo Kubo 43:56

    Well, we moved into there actually, in 2006, 2005, something like that. But it was not my it was not my apartment. It was our office. And the building is actually kind of surprisingly mixed. Like there were a number of web development firms in the building. It is condos. I mean, they're all condos. But yeah, when you're, you know, five people. It's kind of the perfect space.

    Steve Statler 44:22

    It's one of the most best places I lived. It's like Pearl district by the park. You could go up on the roof and get this amazing view of Portland and it was just this huge open space. It was like the best and then we then we had pets and kids and so we moved into suburbia anyway. Okay.

    Kiyo Kubo 44:41

    Yeah, it was it was our office. I lived. I think at the time I lived on the east side, Belmont area. But yeah, is it good, good office, there were some days that I slept there.

    Steve Statler 44:55

    Terrible soundproofing. That was one of the things I do remember, it's like joining a community. Everything's going Yeah, yeah, it was good luck to your customers. So what? Who's using HPs solution?

    Kiyo Kubo 45:07

    So, let's see here. Levi's Stadium, the interpreted Museum in New York, Orlando International Airport. Who else have a list somewhere? Yeah, American museum natural history.

    Steve Statler 45:22

    Retailer, was at the Warren Buffett's furniture.

    Kiyo Kubo 45:25

    Nebraska Furniture March. Lincoln Center, the CN Tower in Canada. Rio airport, actually for the Olympics, that was pretty cool. What else? She used in airports? Yeah, I mean, it's kind of a there's, there's places all over the world. There. It's it's a lots of verticals. We're focused primarily on on sort of big places. Right. So not, not you either big places, or places with lots of branches. Right?

    Steve Statler 46:00

    So you're gonna be focused on that kind of stuff?

    Kiyo Kubo 46:03

    Yeah, what it is we I mean, is it is a little odd being seeing HP right? Because we are. I think that I honestly think the weird thing about being HP is how much how, how much so I'm very involved in, in this sort of day to day with, you know, helping, helping sales and helping supporting the field. But the field is, like, huge. So, you know, they're out doing stuff all day long. And like, there's deals coming in and left and right. And I don't even know that their deals, you know what I mean? Like, I just found them the other day in Asia is like, what, what is this, I don't even I didn't even know this one was going on. It's like a big deal.

    Steve Statler 46:41

    So I think it's great for our ecosystem, because you know, I was, I want to get your sense of where we are in terms of the development of it and what is required, because we don't have much time, we just got five minutes left. So but I do think that the fact that all of the Wi Fi infrastructure players have an offering now to not not necessarily all at the same level, but they've all got something in the beacon space. That is what the conservative early majority, they want to see it unless, unless they're buying from a company that your mother knows the name of, then this ecosystem isn't gonna take off. It's because people are risk averse. So the fact that HP is in the game is fantastic for all those guys that work in small consulting businesses, and that developers are developing software because it validates the market. So thanks for doing that. Appreciate it. And where do you think this market is in terms of its maturity? And what you know, what are your predictions in terms of what it's going to take for this to move forward?

    Kiyo Kubo 47:43

    So I've had a lot of conversations in recent months, I guess, with customers like the one I just described, who had a marketing team that was going and doing something. And it was always going to be, it was never going to be a thing until it got officially managed together. Officially, somebody officially stepped in and said, Okay, this is the thing we're going to, we're going to do. And so yeah, like I said, their IT team reached out to us and said, How do we like we need to, like we can't, we can't, I can't fly somebody to all these different places to deal with this stuff. So what were I think that, you know, we are where we are? Not because it was, you know, we didn't make a, we didn't like put our finger in the air. But like, you know, what, Bluetooth, let's do that. Right? It was like, this was the thing that worked, right? This was the thing that worked, it was cost effective. And, and it was pretty straightforward, compared to what we had been doing historically. So if you want to do this, like, this is kind of the, the way to do it. Like this is kind of what we've learned over, at this point, 20 years of fighting us, you know, to try and make this happen. We've learned that this is what works. And it's really exciting for me, because, you know, when we when I was setting up these network based location things, it was like, I mean, I remember I spent like two weeks in Atlanta at a corporate office, trying to wire everything together so that the apps in New York could get back to the network and get the data and it was like a ton of work. And I was thinking to myself, like no one's gonna do this, like I'll do this but no one's like it's just too and the benefits are not big enough, right. And now it's and then when I say the benefits, the benefits are definitely there from a business case but like the benefits in terms of like the accuracy was not great enough. So the the use cases that you could solve were very limited like I could do you know, you're on the first floor, you're on a second floor, you're in this department of the store. And there's definitely benefit there, but it's a limited use case. With this you we finally have this sort of level Uh, I guess accuracy for cost, like the cost benefit ratio is now such that it makes sense. And, and it's only really happened very recently, like I said, you know, even if you if you just stick up a bunch of beacons everywhere, you you kind of run into that cost, cost value issue again, right? Because now you got to manage these things, and it's pretty convenient, a nightmare. So, so I think that I, you know, everyone's driving this way. I know, all the analysts, you know, the gardener's and those guys are all, they're all, they all sort of, have seen that this is where things are going from a location perspective, obviously, you know, all the big all the big players are, have seen the same thing. And they're all doing it. Obviously, the handsets are really where it all starts. And, you know, Apple and Google are basically all in on that. So it's, you know, it's, it's, it's funny, because it's feels like we've been here forever. But it's, I think we're now at a point where things are mature enough and stable enough to where these marketing projects can now start to become real things that are, you know, it, there's a lot of companies that have been doing marketing projects for a couple of years now. And they're all starting to convert over to like, real things. And the people who've done it now, like the Levi's Stadium, people, you know, they they have seen literally millions of dollars in improvements from having this. So it's kind of like, yeah, we have like, not doing it is foolish.

    Steve Statler 51:43

    Experience business that you got to do this. It's Yeah,

    Kiyo Kubo 51:47

    Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, in, like I said, it's not just a, it's B, it's moved beyond like, cool to now like, yeah, like I said, like, they're literally making millions of dollars. Like, it's, it's not, it's cool, obviously. But it's, it's like it's impacted their bottom line.

    Steve Statler 52:03

    What's a great note to end on is funny, I was actually asked the question I was being interviewed before I interviewed you. And I was asked, Where are we in the market? And I said, Well, I think we're at the end of the beginning. I think that's kind of where we are.

    Kiyo Kubo 52:15

    Yeah, I would agree with that. Yeah.

    Steve Statler 52:17

    So wonderful to get a chance to talk with you, kayo. And I really appreciate your time. And congratulations on what you've done and bringing beacons to HP and bringing beacons to a great stadium. I've used the app. But when we have the Bluetooth, I was moderating a panel at the Bluetooth event was that Levi's Stadium. And so I actually got a chance to use the app. And it's a great app. So when you've got great companies that are delivering a quality service with a user experience, and people are making money from it, then I think that can only be good for the ecosystem. Yeah. Thanks a lot. All right.

    Kiyo Kubo 52:56

    Yeah. My pleasure. I really don't have an answer for the Mars music.

    Narration 53:22

    Oh, no. Oh. Yeah, I'd say it's a tough one. So are you familiar with Desert Island Discs on the BBC? It's a BBC show called Desert Island Discs. It's a radio. It's been going for, like 70 years. Okay, you have to choose these seven discs that you would take to a desert island. And it's just a great shot.

    Kiyo Kubo 53:48

    Yeah. Yeah, I don't. I don't know. I honestly don't know. I was, I was reading the questions, actually. And I was thinking to myself, I was thinking, you know, if, if, if the technology is that is getting me to Mars is only capable of holding three songs. I had to go on that trip.

    Steve Statler 54:10

    It's a little bit of a stretch, but the scenario is you didn't have any songs and there's like bandwidth to Mars. It's just like, very, very valuable and constrained. And so that's why it's, but really, it's just we don't have time to go through and it has to be limited. Otherwise you can have a show. So the premise is, is a limited number of songs and what are the but so are you just not a musical person?

    Kiyo Kubo 54:33

    No, I? I just kind of, I mean, like the song that I have been listening to by far the most recently is the Alphabet song. Like my, it's funny because so I have a two year old and he is constantly like, I want to hear the apple that's on. And so I'm like, okay, so you know, I push the button and say you play the alphabet song and then the opposites on plays. And it's funny because my wife and I were talking about this the other day, and it was like, she she was like, he just wants to hear the song so much. And, and, you know, for him, it's just a song, you know, like, it's just another song. And it's just a song that he knows all the words too, you know. So it's like, this is a good song for him. And so that is the song that far and away I've listened to more often in the last year than any other song. But yeah, I don't I don't know. It's more like, I like it is sort of ambient noise. I guess. I'm not, I don't know, I'm not a person who goes to concerts. I don't. I don't know. It's just not a thing for me.

    Steve Statler 55:41

    I you know, my kids are grown up a little bit. They're 13 and 16. But I still have that genre of music on iTunes. I mean, you don't kind of throw it away. And so I plug in my iPhone to the car, I still get the equivalent, the ABC song. So yeah, yes. Literally that for the rest of your life. Unfortunately.

    Kiyo Kubo 56:02

    The place where that comes in, right now for me is like, you know, in my iTunes library is Christmas songs because like I have all these Christmas songs for Christmas time. And then like, I don't know, it's too much trouble that take them all out. So whenever I just say played my music or whatever, every like third song as a Christmas song, and I have to like skip it, skip it, skip it. That would be my equivalent right now.

    Steve Statler 56:24

    So what's the last concert that you've been to?

    Kiyo Kubo 56:28

    The last concert I went to was Flight of the Conchords? Actually.

    Steve Statler 56:31


    Kiyo Kubo 56:32

    So just the best. Yeah. So that was that was quite good. Then before that. I think it's probably been it's probably been 15 years since I went to a concert. It's like, I think I went to see when I see. I saw Ben Folds back in like 2001. The last time I went to a concert.

    Steve Statler 57:00

    Well, this is this is good. This is good. So I think we've had a warm up conversation about music and I'm assuming so you've got a two year old so going to Mars is going to be pretty tough for you.

    Kiyo Kubo 57:12

    So yeah,no, it's not a thing that I'm interested in doing it. All right. Yeah.

    Steve Statler 57:16

    Okay, well, we won't send you and the question is mute.