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Josh Hong, Top Executive Chairman, Successful Serial Entrepreneur and Innovator

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Josh Hong.

Josh HongJoshua is an Internet-media entrepreneur. He worked at Arthur Andersen Worldwide as a technology and corporate strategy consultant and Deutsche Bank in its global investment banking and M&A group prior to starting North America's first free-to-play MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) publisher, K2 Network, which became one of the largest free-to-play MMORPG publishers in the Western Hemisphere with offices in U.S, India, Brazil and Turkey. He also started a virtual game asset trading platform in China, Item*Star, while helping to build Playspan, the largest virtual currency payment platform for gamers in North America, as its early backer, shareholder and a board member, and it was acquired by Visa International.

He won the Orange County Business Journal's Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award in 2010 and was chosen as one of the OC Metro's 40 under 40 in 2011. He is an active member of YPO in the California Coast Chapter since 2009 and completed the Singularity University Executive Program in 2012 and FutureMed in 2013. He is currently Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Qurely, a telehealth mobile marketplace, and Chairman and Founder of Crystal Cove Network, a core-gamer focused mobile game publisher based in Orange County.

He has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with concentrations in Finance, Accounting and International Business. He is also a runner and meditator.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:32: Let's start with your most recent nomination as ACM Gaming TechPack Chair. What was your interest in contributing to the ACM?
"....I have been in the online gaming technology/publishing business for the past ten or eleven years or so and I've built three companies in that space, mostly on free-to-play PC-based internet games. What I came to realize was that basic research was indeed one of the key drivers of the growth of our business....I wanted to focus on those basic research questions, deal with the professors and engage with students or other researchers who have technological aspirations to make some breakthroughs in the online gaming space or the gaming space in general. I also wanted to provide a platform to find relevant information, forums and other connections and to take kind of a leadership role and mingle with other like-minded people out there...."

:02:18: You've talked about virtual reality as a trend in gaming. Are there any other big trends that you want to talk about?
"....The gaming industry has seen three major paradigm shifts in the past ten year's time. One is the more console-driven, graphically phenomenal type of a gaming experience that have filled up the space for the past decade or so....After that social gaming came about....And now it's all about mobile....Mobile is clearly one of the key areas that has been behind the growth in the gaming space. I think the other technology is streaming...."

:06:06: You talked about some of them already, but are there any other top technologies in gaming today and into the future that you would like to add?
"....I would like to add mind control games where you wear a simple headset on your head and just by thinking it you could actually control aspects of the game....I think it's going to take the gaming experience into something very new. It's going to require a lot more investment and some fundamental basic research from the academic sector, but I've seen a few startups being formed just to focus on those...."

:08:36: What are your objectives with the Gaming TechPack? What kind of committee members are you bringing into the TechPack committee? What would be the value to the audience in studying this ACM Gaming TechPack?
"....What are my objectives in leading the Gaming TechPack? If you look at the role of gaming in the overall technology development in our human existence, gaming has pretty profound implications. It's the gamers who are early adopters in terms of technology, the gamers who are willing to spend money on new devices, the game developers who are pushing the limits of the hardware and it's the game software guys, developers who are pushing the extra polygons into the 3D graphics. Gamers by their very core and DNA are technology advancers and with TechPack I would love to bring that thinking and the 'next big thing' ideas forward.....What type of committee members would I bring in? Honestly I don't know yet. I'm torn between the ratio between the researchers who are actually working for game companies versus researchers or the engineers who are part of large educational institutions. There's got to be a balance between the two....What is the value that the audience will get from studying the ACM [Gaming TechPacks]? The next big trend, people could get that by reading Wired Magazine, etc. (a more commercially motivated type of channel). I think ACM should stand for something more ground-breaking before we think about some kind of commercialization and that requires a genuine curiosity, a genuine kind of revolutionary idea or passion for these types of ideas — anyone who is really interested in interacting with other like-minded individuals sharing similar types of visions. I think it's more of a community and also the library of information that are more the focus on the future forward looking as opposed to looking at what's happening today....."

:15:25: Let's now discuss telemedicine, an area of recent interest worldwide. What do you see as the current problems with healthcare?
"....There are many issues which I think are systemic and are also curable. I think of three things as issues. One is cost. Given the quality, are we paying the right price?....I think the second thing is the incredible shortage of doctors; more specifically it's the general physicians that are the most needed....The third issue is more demographical; I think the aging population is a global phenomenon because we as a human race are becoming better and better at taking care of ourselves and people are living longer. It's a good thing for mankind, but I think from a healthcare perspective we are going to have more people in the system and not enough people to actually financially back it...."

:20:47: What are the controversies with healthcare?
"....One is not exactly a controversy, but I think it is more of a movement that could have a positive impact and that is consumers today demand more control. Consumers want more information and more choice....These are the things that modern technology can help with very easily, especially mobile technology. I think that's where the amazing opportunities are happening for a mobile technology entrepreneur perspective...."

:26:27: What was the state of telemedicine one or two years ago, and where is it today? Where do you see telemedicine in 3 years? What do you see as the disruptive innovations in healthcare in the next 5 years and 10 years?
"....Telemedicine a couple of years ago was no more than a simple medical doctor to patient relationship over the phone. There was no out-of-pocket system, meaning in order to use telemedicine services your insurance company had to support it. If your insurance company did not allow you to use it you couldn't even open up and account on the website. That has been the trend....Today with broadband and mobile technology this has changed radically. I see growing signs of startups out there focusing on telemedicine as their alternate destination. But before you get into telemedicine what I do see today are companies using mobile apps as a simple Q & A between consumers and apps. There is no diagnosis, no treatment, no prescription being prescribed through these mobile apps, and yet it still addresses a lot of consumer issues in regards to their health.....Things have pivoted once more. Companies like Doctors on Demand are allowing patients to talk to doctors without relying on medical insurance. You could literally pay a consultation fee and talk to the doctor over the phone. I think the issue with this model from a mobile apps operator's perspective is you still need to put these doctors on your payroll and pay them. We are now starting to get into a new phase of telehealth evolution in this country to create a mobile marketplace where consumers and doctors can freely come to this marketplace, meet and have online consultations....The future that I see maybe ten or fifteen years down the road is biosensors and wearable devices that will collect much of the vital health data. We could literally collect this data every second of our existence and it would be automatically uploaded, and we would have an incredible AI system that would predictably analyze this data on a Cloud using Big Data techniques. Doctors would have incredible access to information about the patients' conditions before the patient actually asks any questions, could predictably analyze what the health symptoms might be and then come up with proactive answers to their questions...."

:35:53: Can you briefly describe what are your other interests and their broader implications?
"....I am extremely interested in neural science. I think the next big thing will be our brain. It's the three pound universe that we carry within our skulls and we hardly know what it is capable of. We are entering a new era where there are so many incredible possibilities of what our brains could do...I think the second area that is enormously interesting to me is cryptocurrency....I think the current fiat currency based economy has worked for our human race to evolve into different phase, but we are going to have to come up with a new paradigm. I think the new paradigm is cryptocurrencies where there is no governing body, there is no single human controlling it or even come up with some kind of rules...."

:41:10: Can you share a story from your extensive speaking, travels and work (amusing, surprising, unexpected, amazing)?
"....As you know Turkey is a Muslim country but at the same time it is a very young and very progressive nation with 80 million people, with more than 50 percent of the population under the age of 25 and very internet enabled. A very exciting economy. Our game was number one, we were making a lot of money in that market....Our game had some Judeo-Christian themes in it but more importantly we had a lot of young gamers enjoying our game and apparently they didn't go to school and all they would do is play our games in the cafes. A lot of parents brought a petition to the government and out of the government, desperate (kind of) measure to address their concerns and they banned our game. So practically overnight we were losing a large percentage of our revenue so I had to fly out to Turkey and meet with the government official to deal with the situation. That was a pretty incredible experience. What I realized during the time was it really pays to be humble and to be respectful of the local culture and customs...."

:45:36: Josh, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your substantial wisdom with our audience.