CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Mr. Textor is a globally recognized, pioneer and developer of disruptive technologies, creative content, and digital distribution business models for media, entertainment and the internet. Featured as “Hollywood’s Virtual Reality Guru”, by Forbes in 2016, Mr. Textor stands among the earliest advocates of the convergence of entertainment media and technology. Once a programmer-turned-venture capitalist, the late 1990’s Mr. Textor presided over great successes and great failures in the startup, turnaround, acquisition and growth of more than a dozen pure technology ventures, a number of which achieved global notoriety, unicorn valuations and successful exits. Known for his leadership of the legendary visual effects company, Digital Domain, Mr. Textor’s once diverse film and technology career has become focused on a singular mission of far reaching importance, the development of hyper-realistic, artificially intelligent, computer generated humans…digital humans that assist, that entertain, that educate…digital humans that represent us…digital humans that think. In our accelerating evolution from organic to digital, where AI is so often introduced to replace human contribution, Mr. Textor is devoted to the creation of thinking digital humans that help to improve mankind. The ‘rise of the machines’, once just a fantasy feature film, is now upon us…and the choices we make during the next decade of digital human development and AI-intent will be as critical to the future of mankind as any decisions made in technology.
In 1999, at a time when major record labels and film studios were rejecting all forms of digital distribution, and Napster was treated as a ‘defendant’ more than a pioneer, Textor’s startup, Jester Digital Corporation, created an internet-based 3-D multi-user virtual world for music, film and social networking, becoming the first digital distribution platform to be endorsed by Metallica, one of the most outspoken opponents of Napster and online content sharing. With the support of landmark joint ventures with IBM and Metallica, and break-through online environments for feature films such as Disney’s Pearl Harbor, Textor’s virtual 3-D worlds were among the very first internet-based multi-user virtual reality and game environments in the entertainment industry, collectively paving the way for hundreds of massive multi-player games and downloadable music applications to follow.
Mr. Textor’s belief in the importance of high-quality computer generated visual content ultimately led him to become the largest shareholder and Co-Chairman of the predecessor to Digital Domain (HKSE: 547). He led its acquisition and restructuring from May 2006, through a NYSE valuation of $450 million in Spring 2012. Under Mr. Textor’s leadership, Digital Domain experienced a doubling of its revenues in three years and was re-established as a market leader in visual effects and human animation. The company was responsible for the visual effects of more than 80 large scale feature films, including such blockbusters as Transformers, Flags of our Fathers, Tron:Legacy, Real Steel and Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End. The company won multiple Academy Awards, CLIO advertising awards and was recognized as the first visual effects company to deliver a believable digital human actor in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This achievement, known as the ‘Holy Grail of Animation’, earned the company a 2009 Academy Award for Achievement in Visual Effects. In September 2012, Mr. Textor resigned from Digital Domain, publicly criticizing his board for its support of a hedge fund proposal to liquidate the company’s Florida growth business and sell its legacy VFX business to the company’s China-based shareholders. Mr. Textor’s competing recapitalization offer was rejected by the board and he lost management control of the company in September 2012. In spite of the adverse impacts of the change of control on employees and stakeholders, even a dramatic drop in top line revenues after his departure, the value of Digital Domain and its human animation business, originally purchased by Mr. Textor and his partners for $30 million in 2005, was still rewarded with a US$3.5 billion IPO valuation in Hong Kong in 2015.
In 2013, with a strong core of his Digital Domain human character team, he founded Pulse Evolution Corporation (PLFX), an innovator and leading developer of hyper-realistic digital humans for holographic live performances, virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Mr. Textor became widely credited as the pioneer of the new Holographic Entertainment industry, responsible for the 2012 appearance of Virtual Tupac Shakur at the Coachella Valley Music Festival and the performance of Virtual Michael Jackson at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, generating more than 100 million YouTube views and 98 billion Internet impressions worldwide. In 2015, Mr. Textor’s and his holographic celebrities achieved ‘pop culture status’ as he and his Pulse partner, Frank Patterson, were parodied in the ‘Happy Holograms’ episode of the globally successful animated sitcom, South Park.
With a desire to pursue deeper and more globally impactful uses of digital humans, Mr. Textor created Evolution|AI Corporation. The company is focused on the adaptation and development of human animation technology to enable diverse artificial intelligence platforms to interact with consumers in the relatable form of a human face. Evolution|AI intends to develop a robust library of fully functional human faces, and human characters, that will allow people to communicate with leading artificial intelligence platforms, such as Watson, Siri and Alexa, just as they would communicate with other human beings.
Tracing his roots as a programmer back to the early 1980’s Mr. Textor’s professional track record in technology began with his departure from an investment banking post at Shearson Lehman Hutton in the early 90’s. Mr. Textor became the principal founder of Wyndcrest Holdings, LLC, a private holding company focused on technology-related opportunities in entertainment, telecommunications and the Internet. Wyndcrest was best known for its support of the impressive, but then struggling Art Technology Group, a principal pioneer of internet personalization technology that would ultimately achieve a liquid $10.5 billion valuation as one of the most successful IPOs of 1999. Wyndcrest’s investment of only $2.4 million was distributed to its limited partners at a valuation of $550 million in early 2000.
In May of 2000, in the difficult aftermath of a technology-related stock market crash, Mr. Textor became a co-founder and the largest shareholder of Virtual Bank, a Florida-based Internet banking startup that ultimately became a multi-billion dollar diversified financial services company. VirtualBank was a clear pioneer in the development of technologies and market practices in the internet banking industry, rewarded with A-list strategic partnerships and co-branded joint ventures such as MicrosoftVirtualBank, EMCVirtualBank, WorldcomVirtualBank and TextronVirtualBank. The growth of its data services division, boasting blue chip clients such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston, was a significant driver of the company’s #23 ranking among the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies. In 2004, VirtualBank’s private wealth division (Lydian Wealth Management) was named ‘Advisory Fim of the Year’ by Institutional Investor Magazine, in large part due to its technology innovation.
Within Wyndcrest, Mr. Textor also served as the Chairman and CEO of BabyUniverse, Inc., a leading e-tailer of baby-related products, which Mr. Textor saved from insolvency with only a $300,000 investment in 2001, increasing annual revenues from $1 million to $40 million, and selling in October of 2007 for roughly $90 million. He also served as Chairman of the Board and principal owner of Sims Snowboards, the world’s 2nd leading snowboard brand, and also of Westbeach, a leading Canadian snowboard apparel brand. Contributing to his legacy within the winter sports industry, he partnered with Westbeach founder (and Lululemon Athletica founder) Chip Wilson, to create the first recognized and globally televised World Snowboarding Championship.
Mr. Textor is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.