Innovative Rebel: High-Tech Camera Maker Jim Jannard

After founding Oakley–and selling it for $2.1 billion–Jim Jannard is taking on the film industry with Red, his high-tech-camera company. But playing the innovative rebel can work against you, especially in Hollywood.

From my recent article in Inc. Magazine


One day in 2005, video-software engineer and entrepreneur Ted Schilowitz’s cell phone rang. “Ted? It’s me, Jim,” said the caller. “Let’s do it.”

“Uh … do what?” Schilowitz recognized the caller as Jim Jannard, the man who had founded sunglasses powerhouse Oakley and sold it for billions, and who had consulted with Schilowitz a few months before about a project that had led to a dead end.

“That thing we talked about. The camera. Remember?”

Yes, he remembered. Jannard, a camera nut, had persuaded him to look into what it would take to build a digital video camera whose output would look as good as film–and be much smaller and cheaper than a film camera to boot. Such a camera would represent an enormous leap beyond existing digital video cameras, whose relatively murky images limited their use by Hollywood pros.

Schilowitz, an expert in the workings of video technology, had investigated, and he had come back to Jannard with the bad news: Though every element of this hypothetical camera, from the body to the software, would be tough to develop, the sensor–the light-sensitive chip that replaces film in capturing an image–was a doozy. No existing image sensor on earth could match movie film…read more.

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