On Wednesday 8 March 2017 Osman Kent, Computer Science and Electronics alumnus and serial technology entrepreneur, delivered the fifth EPS Distinguished Lecture.
The event featured a roundtable discussion hosted by Dr Iain Styles, Lecturer in the School of Computer Science, where eight students from across the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences had the opportunity to ask questions to Mr Kent on topics relating to his career and time at Birmingham in a more personal setting. The lecture itself looked at Osman's improbable journey from Turkey to Birmingham to Silicon Valley, and sheds light on where he believes the future lies in building technology companies.
To read more about Osman's lecture, Liberal Arts and Sciences student Jennifer Zhang has provided a summary of the evening for our Student News pages.
The lecture was recorded in full for your enjoyment:
It was Bill Gates who said “Success makes a bad teacher” which I believe 100% – so in my talks I focus on things I did wrong, hoping that aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from them in their own journey to success.
I had an improbable and blessed journey which brought me from Turkey to Birmingham (which was a formative experience) and then to Silicon Valley and beyond. I helped build 4 companies some of which were very successful and in the process I raised probably around $400M in various equity transactions. I will share some of that journey with the audience with some inspiring stories and shed some light in where I believe the future lies in building technology companies.
An interview with SATNAV
The College's journalistic society SATNAV interviewed Osman to gain a deeper understanding of his career and motivations:
Osman Kent – His lifetime contributions to technology (by Rashad Borbély)
Osman’s journey with entrepreneurship started in 1983 when he co-founded BenchMark Technologies Ltd, debuting the first real-time DOS machine that featured high resolution graphics.
BenchMark was subsequently acquired by Du Pont corporation in 1983 and Osman continued to serve as Vice-President, overseeing the firm’s chip business. He continued to steer the company towards investing its resources and R&D into 3D technology.Taking things one step further, he and his original partner Yavuz Ahiska (with whom he Cofounded BenchMark Technologies) successfully secured a management buyout of the firm, known as DuPont Pixel Systems by then, paving the way for the advent of his most successful venture and 3Dlabs.
Osman became CEO of 3Dlabs which soon launched “GLINT”, the world’s first 3D capable graphics single chip for Personal Computers. The company grew so quickly that its headquarters were shifted to Silicon Valley, and soon 3Dlabs’ chips were being shipped in virtually every workstation built by every large PC manufacturer. The company went public in 1996 and its value on the stock market skyrocketed to reach the mark of $1 billion at its peak.
Despite 3Dlabs’ outstanding success, the rapidly shifting technology scene and the depressed tech market of the early 2000s meant the company’s fortunes wouldn’t last forever. Nevertheless, 3Dlabs survived many financial hardships and was eventually acquired by Creative Technology Ltd for $170 million in 2002, granting Osman a great exit and giving him the chance to finally retire – at least from technology – and divert his attention towards his original passion: music.
After launching his own music labels, as well as experiencing the ups and downs of the music industry, Osman decided to return to technology. He acquired several patents and Intellectual property from a company called Endeavors Technologies in 2008, which was then struggling with the global financial crisis. Thus Numecent Holdings was born and Osman was back in business, joining the company as a Co-Founder.
Numecent operated in stealth mode for many years, silently developing its technology until it was officially launched in 2012 with Osman as its CEO. Soon afterwards it secured more funding from venture capitals to develop its unique cloud technology that promised to revolutionise software as a cloud-based service. This technology allows applications to pull instructions directly from the cloud and execute them in an orderly fashion whenever necessary. Osman was promoted to Executive Chairman in 2015, reflecting his ongoing success with Numecent which continues to develop state of the art cloud technology to this day.
To find out more about the EPS Distinguished Lecture Series visit www.birmingham.ac.uk/eps/distinguished.