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Avery Wang

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Avery Wang is an American entrepreneur, scientist and electrical engineer. From a young age he expressed incredible curiosity and gravitation to science. Once introduced to the world of programming, Wang was enamored with the concept of computers and what they could do. Around the age of twelve, his parents purchased him an Apple II personal computer. He taught himself Assembly, experimented often, and showed a great aptitude for programming.

He attended Stanford University, beginning in 1988, and soon completed a BS in Mathematics. He continued to complete Master’s programs in both Mathematics and Electrical Engineering. Wang studied Computational Neuroscience in Germany on Fulbright Scholarship between 1990 and 1992. Upon returning, he completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering, receiving it in 1994. While academically successful, Wang maintains his motivation was science, not simply the pursuit of perfect grades.

The cellular market was immensely different when Shazam was first conceived back in 2000. Co-founders Chris Barton and Philip Inghelbrecht’s chose London for their company’s home, mostly due to the United States’ lacking cellular infrastructure. For example, SMS messages were still exclusive to their carriers, something that would’ve suffocated Shazam’s potential revenue. Prior to Shazam, Wang was attempting to build a boutique audio hardware company, but wasn’t having much luck. He yearned for a challenge, and Barton and Inghelbrecht’s enthusiasm really won him over.

Anyone they turned to for advice told them the concept was impossible, and Wang himself struggled to find a solution for several months. After developing a method of “fingerprinting” audio recordings, Wang invented the now-patented recognition algorithm used by Shazam. To date, he holds eight patents. In 2015, Shazam raised $30M in funding, bringing its total valuation to over $1 billion. It currently has over 500 million users all over the world, and supports a variety of media.

Sources for this article include Medium’s 2015 piece, The Story of Shazam: The Startup Days, Shazam’s company website, and the entrepreneur’s personal LinkedIn.

Companies and Investments

Shazam Entertainment Limited (Co-founder, Chief Scientist), Integrated Media Measurement, Inc. (Chief Scientist), Hyperactive Audio Systems, Inc. (Founder and Vice President)


Lessons Learned

In the early phases of developing our concept for Shazam, I struggled to gain any momentum on a solution even after months of work. I spoke with colleague after colleague, each time hearing nothing like our pursuit had been done, and that with current technology it would be impossible. As an entrepreneur, there will be moments in which you may feel at a loss with your concept. Do not be deterred by running into walls—instead, change direction and try another method. It took countless hours of models and calculation, as well as looking at the problem from a different angle in our case. Leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of your idea, and take the opinion of naysayers with a grain of salt.

Inspiring Quotes

Avery Wang's Quotes

My passion is to solve hard problems, and there are plenty out in the real world.

Avery Wang

Influential Books

Mentors

Steve Jobs, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Nikola Tesla

References


Technical

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