Our History

Every company has a website where they tell you how unique they are. Then they go on to bedazzle you with enough industry lingo to make you wonder how they could possibly be unique at all.

We at Xyvid feel we are unique, not because we've found a new way to dazzle you with lingo, but because the people who work here really aren't afraid to think differently. They know that software and technology are important, but only when they can be used to help augment the human experience - to make us better in some way.  

Xyvid’s Roots

Xyvid's roots weren't in the software business. They were in the live events industry. And we feel the perspective we gained there has helped set us apart.  

While we noted the obvious benefits of events migrating to the web in the early 2000's - greater reach, reduced travel costs, etc., we also took note of what had been lost - the excitement of a live audience, the electricity of the live room. And while there wasn't a direct replacement for the live audience in the virtual world, we felt the companies in the webcasting space at that time weren't really thinking about it. To them, simply broadcasting on the web with software seemed to be good enough.  

There is pressure in a live event to impress, to keep the audience's attention, to present well.  So, when we entered the virtual event space, it was with a mission that the quality bar on a presentation's aesthetic and dynamism be set higher. We felt that broadcasting on the web came with many considerations, but that they were all secondary to having people understand, love and remember what you say.  

Early History (1984 - 2001)

The approach to virtual events we ultimately developed wasn't the result of a brilliant venture capital-based plan. It actually grew organically out of an interesting history and mix people over time.  

The story begins in 1984, decades before Xyvid's founding. Dave Kovalcik and his 3 brothers were in NYC to see Steve Jobs give the world its first glimpse of the new Apple McIntosh computer. "Just the concept of it all was huge," Dave would later recall. "Five thousand in attendance, the lights, the background, the drama of Steve Jobs walking out on stage, the breakout rooms where you could play with the machines... It all made an impression on me".

In the years that followed, Dave and his brothers took a computer sales company public. Then Dave started a separate computer rental business, Rentacom, in 1997. But a market drop in computer prices a few years in began pressuring his margins.  How to maybe pivot to something new that might leverage his computer inventory was his mindset.  

One of the primary use cases for Rentacom's business was live events.  Audio visual and staging companies would rent computers and stage live events for companies looking to communicate new ideas. He recalled the 1984 McIntosh event. "Apple probably rented all that stuff" he thought. "Maybe we should try our hand at the live event space."  

He first tested the waters by selling some events and hiring another company to run them.    

"I really liked the excitement. There was an electricity. I would see a generic space transformed into something amazing looking. There was a creativity to it. It was a show. And everything was on the line. You got one shot to do it right in front of all those people. And when we hit a show out of the park and the client was happy and we were proud, the satisfaction that came from that was overwhelming. We wanted more of that."

Dyventive and Webcasting (2001 - 2011)

In 2001 Dave and company fully embraced the live event staging concept and made the pivot. Rentacom became "Dyventive".    

Then in 2006, a new wrinkle - a pharmaceutical client asked for a series of 13 live webcast events. Dave and company thought "sure, why not." Once again, they hired a company to run the events while they observed. The events were a success, but something was missing.    

"It seemed distant," Dave recalled. "That immediate audience feedback loop wasn't there. I mean, when you're in the room with a live audience, a lifeless presentation just isn't an option. You've got to keep things interesting. When it's done virtually, that feedback loop is broken. You don't know how you're going over out there".  

After mulling this over for a bit Dave thought, "we've got to be able to do this better. I'm not sure how, but there has to be a better way. I'll hire someone and we'll create something."  

Tim Patsch was a successful software architect who loved the humanities and the social sciences. He was more the free thinking, creative type than a tech enthusiast. He'd much rather discuss nuances in cultural evolution, psychology, sociology, history, the arts, etc. One of his main areas of interest was human learning.  

Adding Tim's perspective to Dyventive's in 2009 produced an interesting blend of thinking as planning got under way for the creation of a new web broadcasting platform. Initial conversations were more likely to be about the psychology of retention or the anatomy of human short-term memory than development technologies. The allure of the new effort for all was less about webcasting efficiency and more about creating a better presentation framework - one that would give audiences a reason to stay tuned and one that would feel like a better experience relative to the other boxy products on the market. It would also reflect more positively on the brands of those presenting. And no venture capital interests to please meant the time and freedom to think differently and follow ideas wherever they led without the constraints of having to generate an immediate return.  A product would be ready when it was ready.

"In retrospect, what a great time," Tim recalled. "Most companies don't get that chance - the chance to experiment and think freely - follow things where they go - maybe color outside the lines a bit. Everything in business is so structured and within guard rails all the time. But every great inventor or artist will tell you that free thinking plays a big role in what they do.  

"We spent probably close to a year researching, talking and thinking about how this was about communication and retention, and that boring was not an option. I recall us thinking things like it shouldn't look like computer software with lots of little widgets and windows. It should look like television. Television isn't static. Elements move fluidly and there's great variety in the content.  It's also where you go to relax and to be entertained. Computers are where you go to do work on things like spreadsheets and email. And nobody likes email."  

The Platform

After a year or two and the addition of some tremendously talented people, things really started to take shape.  

Why not direct presentations like a television show, adjusting screen layout and composition on the fly for some visual variety and excitement. Direct attention to slide data or an emotional appeal from a presenter by temporarily making them larger or full screen. If a new presenter is joining your panel, elegantly ease in an attractive speaker bio from the left or right of the screen, and then subtly withdraw it after a bit to return focus to your primary content. Introduce audience polls, games, word clouds, scrolling information tickers and even custom made or third party html web content in dynamic content panels - screen areas each with configurable positions and dimensions which can be revealed or hidden at the press of a button. Animate and ease all layout transitions for an air of grace. All content should responsively size on the fly with changes, like television.  

And don't limit your content palette to only what you have time to produce yourself. The web contains endless oceans of beautiful and imaginative content created by millions of people all over the world. If there's something out there on the web that helps you make your case and you know its URL, reveal it within your event at just the right time in a content panel. There’s real economy and power there in harnessing and leveraging the world's creative talent.  

Imagine, for example, you're giving a medical presentation on the heart. What if someone out there in the world has created a spectacular, interactive, 3D model of the heart and made it publicly available on the web. Temporarily reveal it in a full screen content panel over top your entire presentation while you speak to it to give your audience a visual change of pace and something much more compelling and memorable to relate to than a flat, 2D image in a PowerPoint deck.  

The convergence of all of these flexible content and display options would have a compounding effect on the visual variety and intrigue in presentations with combinations and possibilities limited only by one's imagination. It would yield a presentation greater than the sum its parts as it were. Those with an artful eye and a flare for the dramatic could design presentations that stood out.  

And why not tuck away standard utilities like chat, program handouts, technical support, etc., in one place, an "Action Center," where an attendee could access as needed, but not have them open always by default consuming limited screen real estate. These utilities are necessary, but they're not your primary content. Primary program content should always be king and as large as the screen permits.

To round things out, why not provide the ultimate in player and registration page theming options so that brands can really express themselves in their events.