Most days, Jeff Binder lives in a state of déjà vu: He participated in the morph of analog audio to digital audio, 15 years ago. Now, he’s doing it all over again, this time for video.
As president and founder of Broadbus Technologies Inc. — which differs from other video-on-demand storage providers in that video is stored on solid-state memory chips, not hard-disk drives — the 40-year-old Binder is continuing on a path that began in the mid-1980s. That is when his father came up with the idea of industrial storage and reproduction techniques for music.
At the time, it was a cassette world, but the mass production of cassette tapes was unwieldy. Why not store the music on D-RAM (dynamic random access memory) chips, instead of on big tape reels, the elder Binder reasoned.
At the time, Binder was just about to put college on hold to play in a rock band in Breckenridge, Colo. “By the time I came back, they had a prototype. It could take music in, store it on big optical drives, load it up into RAM, and produce cassettes at 60 times real time,” Binder says.
Binder is a third-generation entrepreneur. In the 1950s, his grandfather started Quartet Manufacturing, which went on to dominate the market for cork and industrial white boards. His father was an entrepreneur in the fastener business before spawning the idea that ultimately became Broadbus.
A perpetual motion type, Binder took a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade to test his mettle as a treasury bond trader. He worked bonds in the mornings, then helped Dad with the storage concept in the afternoons.
The idea took off. Within seven years, the Chicago-based Magic Music led the field, domestically and internationally, for the technologies used to mass-produce cassette tapes.
And then CDs killed the cassette business.
Binder then discovered golf — but playing it wasn’t enough. Ever the tinkerer, he assembled a team of software engineers to write a program, “Leading Golf Courses of America,” that gave subscribers early access to tee times at 500 top-shelf golf clubs across the U.S.
Soon after, Jack Nicklaus joined as a partner. “I was having a blast, playing golf three, four days a week,” Binder says. (And yes, he played with Nicklaus.)
All the while, though, he and the core Magic Music team wondered: Could D-RAM memory be put to use for storing video?
Enter Broadbus, in 1999. Binder maneuvered into viewable range of the industry’s top technologists, and helped to build a company that survived the market crash of that time period. Today, Broadbus counts 40 deployments.
“Jeff is honest,” says Wilt Hildenbrand, chief technical officer of Cablevision Systems Corp. “He doesn’t just sell, but also shares and understands the 'p’ word — partner.”
“Jeff continues to amaze me every time we meet,” says Marwan Fawaz, chief technical officer for Adelphia Communications Corp. “He always has a long list of ideas that are far-reaching, but at the same time, very pragmatic.”