Press Release | Tuesday 7th June 2022, New York
For the founder of Media Vision—the multi award-winning leader in conferencing systems and language interpretation—it feels like only yesterday that the San Francisco-based start-up completed its first major installation. Twenty years and thousands of diverse projects later, Fardad Zabetian’s dream of empowering the world’s policymakers, business leaders, and educators to communicate more effectively has surpassed reality as the company rounds off its second decade in business.
A top-to-toe rebrand, global market expansions, multiple product launches; on the surface, Media Vision has undergone more than one evolution throughout this journey. And yet, where its core values, collaborative culture, and even many team members are concerned, little has changed since 2002—to its founder’s credit.
With only weeks to go before Media Vision officially turns twenty, the pangs of pre-birthday nostalgia are creeping in. Today, we’re sitting down with Fardad, founder, and Annabelle Zabetian, company president, to discuss the legacy they’ve built.
Talk us through the origins of Media Vision; what inspired you to create the company?
“For me, creating Media Vision was synonymous with facilitating better communication—a concept which, in hindsight, is rooted in my childhood.”
“Having grown up in Iran, I witnessed the fundamental importance of dialogue first-hand in the decade-long conflict between my Farsi-speaking homeland and Arabic Iraq. Fast forward to my early twenties and I was convinced that my future lay in bridging the all-important barriers of language and enabling clear communication through technology.
“There was certainly an appetite for conferencing and collaboration systems in the early 2000s. What I hadn’t quite predicted, however, was the speed with which both Media Vision’s product and client portfolios would grow; within eighteen months, our ‘small-but-mighty’ team was providing electronic voting, wireless conferencing, and language interpretation systems to some of the world’s biggest organizations. And from these early projects through to our most recent installations, our core objective of empowering heads of state, business executives, and all those with whom they are communicating has stayed the same.”
What has been the personal highlight of your Media Vision journey so far?
Fardad Zabetian: “A highlight would really constitute a moment where our conferencing and interpretation solutions have made a visible contribution to the cause of human development—and there have been many throughout the years.
“I will always remember placing a language receiver on the lunch table of twenty heads of state during the G-20 summits back in 2012, then when our project in Geneva won an award for their Room 19. Another example would be watching the 2013 General Assembly use fully renovated technology in the Assembly Hall and Security Council for the first time, or going further back, when we oversaw the conference infrastructure renovation of the World Bank Executive Conference Room in 2009, after which the executives unanimously reached an agreement during their very first group meeting.
“If I had to give a purely personal highlight, however, my proudest moment was probably when I gave a personal tour of the United Nations Security Council to my mom and dad right after our project was completed.”
What have you been most proud of over the years?
“Our dynamic and diverse company culture, along with the success we’ve had as a small organization in growing teams in Europe and America with a symbiotic ‘family feel’ dynamic, while allowing both sides to evolve in their own ways.”
Fardad Zabetian: “Building on Annabelle’s answer, I would extend that sentiment to all those who have been part of the Media Vision adventure over the last two decades. Much of our success has been due to our committed rep network and our 400+ authorized integrators across North America and Europe, who have always considered us as experts when it comes to the conferencing and language interpretation industries.
“And of course, we wouldn’t be celebrating this twenty-year milestone today without the support of our lifelong customers who believed in us and continue to trust us with their needs for clearer communication without language barriers.”
Media Vision’s slogan is #AudioMatters; can you briefly explain why?
Annabelle Zabetian: “In today’s landscape of home office and hybrid meetings, there has never been a greater spotlight on the role of audio. Media Vision has been emphasizing the importance of high-quality, intelligible audio in any conferencing set-up from day one; while most companies shifted focus to video solutions, Media Vision instead pushed the dialogue further into audio, and #AudioMatters even became our Twitter handle.
“Over the years, we have found non-traditional ways to promote the message of audio intelligibility. Our #AudioMatters campaigns, for example, were fueled by a series of art projects: first a “self-expression wall” at our InfoComm booth in 2015, second a “slam poetry contest” in which we challenged a group of New York slam artists to demonstrate through poetry why audio matters to them. Not only were these art projects impactful for our industry, but they were also a source of great inspiration for our internal team, reflecting our dynamic and diverse company culture.”
20 years since you created Media Vision, what would you say makes the company unique?
Fardad Zabetian: “Without a doubt, it’s the team, our culture, and our motivation. A key benefit of having a small team and a mission-driven company is the sense of entrepreneurship that comes with it. We’ve always brought in talented people then given them the tools and freedom to dream big and be independent in making decisions. And I think the success of this recipe is reflected in the fact that every member of the Media Vision team has done great things where innovation is concerned.”
Can you share with us some of the lessons you’ve learned over the years and what you would have done differently?
Fardad Zabetian: “As a founder and business owner, you have one major decision to make: grow your business or go home.
“I’ve chosen to grow Media Vision organically over the last twenty years, by which I mean no initial investment and no external capital. Looking back, I can see there have been times when we might have grown quicker by bringing in either external capital or by pursuing inorganic growth. What I learned through this experience was the impact of going global, diversifying the customer base, and the dependency on a specific market or vertical during expansion. But there’s no easy, right or wrong answer with growth.
“Most important for me is surrounding yourself with the A team. However you want to develop your company, going global requires the right resources and the right expertise. Simply taking the time to hire the right people for the job is how the magic happens.”
From left to right: Sébastien Kergoat, Sonia Joumad, Olivier Blain, Chloë Walford, Antoine Haller, Christophe Clauzier, Fardad Zabetian
From left to right: Annabelle Zabetian, Patrick Herlihy, Marcus Sobczak, Alissa Massey
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