Entrepreneurs who want to upgrade video conferencing: “It’s better to zoom in”

As early as the second quarter of 2019, when the Corona was already a distant nightmare, both serial entrepreneurs Amir Bas-Ashkenazi and Ran Oz began working on the start-up CommonGround. The start-up raised $19 million from Dov Moran’s Grove Ventures fund, the Israeli Stage One fund and the seasoned American Matrix Partners fund, which made early investments in Apple, Shiomi and the augmented reality eyewear firm Oculus, from the beginning of 2020 until today.

Only now, though, is the Comen Ground start-up emerging from a covert position – Stealth mode – after it already hires 25 staff, 23 of them in Israel and two in the United States. Far hotter – video simulated meeting technology. San Ashkenazi and Oz initially intended to save business travel and fares for workshops and meetings by developing technologies that would digitally enhance communications on a web network, a problem that during the Corona period, of course, became a necessity.

The aim of getting out of the hidden status of Coman Ground is to increase recruiting, with the organization aiming to double its staff by 2020. The two founders in San Ashkenazi and Oz remain very elusive and secretive about what exactly their business is doing, considering the escape from secrecy. “We want to create a high-quality realistic video experience that will be even better than a face-to-face meeting, an experience that will make you feel like you are in front of the other person,” Bas-Ashkenazi says. “What we do is very unique, we have patented it, and we want to maintain a gap with the market, so we remain confidential.”

Bas-Ashkenazi and Oz are veteran entrepreneurs in the field of video technology with several years of experience. The two began working on Optibase, which offered technologies for encoding and video delivery, of which Oz was one of the founders and worked as vice president of operations for San-Ashkenazi. Before the firm was listed on NASDAQ in 1999, the two resigned. Later on, Optibase took over and became a real estate agency.

Oz subsequently founded Vcon, which was listed on the Paris Stock Exchange in 1999 and ultimately purchased by Embliz in a stock transaction, dealing in video conferencing technologies for businesses. The two later co-founded BigBand, which created cable carriers’ networking routers for multimedia services.

you see that existing systems have limitations, they cause fatigue”
San-Ashkenazi and Oz know they are entering an advanced market with giants like Zoom, Microsoft and Google involved. Despite this, they are confident that they can innovate when they launch their product during 2021. “You see that existing systems have limitations, they cause fatigue and are not enough to attract and interest users. We believe we can build value over time,” says Bas-Ashkenazi. “We are descending to the most basic technological level and offering a different experience in terms of 3D and directionality, things that are not possible today,” Oz adds. “Zoom gives a great experience but you can do better. The fact that people still want to meet each other.”

Omri Green, a partner in the Grove Ventures fund that led the investment round on its behalf, said: “We are proud to reveal our partnership with an experienced and sharp pair of entrepreneurs, who through groundbreaking technological developments revolutionize the way we communicate, work, learn and consume entertainment. We believe “The innovative technology they have developed will be particularly relevant in a world where virtual meetings have become an integral part of our professional and personal lives.”

Yuval Cohen, a founding partner in the venture capital fund Stage One, said: “The need for online sharing software that will improve face-to-face meetings is clearer and more important today than ever. I am proud to back an experienced team we have known for years.”