The Maestro of eBay's Interactive Main Street, Chris White, Is CTI's AV Honoree
ST. LOUIS, March 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Ask anyone in the AV industry to name their proudest career accomplishment, and you'll usually encounter some hesitation, some thinking. Not with Chris White. The Global Technology Manager for Digital Workplace Technology at eBay immediately says "Main Street."
Main Street is the 20,000-square-foot welcome center at eBay's world headquarters in San Jose, Calif. It features an assembly area for 850 people, a cavernous main hall with a 55-foot-wide display, three executive conference rooms, an outside deck and patio, a coffee bar, and a shop where you can buy eBay-branded products. But what makes the space so amazing is that it's one big interactive hub with enough state-of-the-art AV experiences to awe even the most jaded among us.
Overall, Main Street is an impressive and immersive AV temple where bits of data become stories of a global community. The lead deployment engineer for the project, which cost $30 million overall (including $5 million in tech), was White.
Conference Technologies, Inc.® (CTI), a leading custom audio-visual systems integration solutions specialist, announced today that it is recognizing White as part of a "Heroes" campaign that honors outstanding people in the AV industry.
As you stroll along Main Street, you pass 10-foot-tall LED columns that supplement a 15-foot touchscreen wall. You can tap icons on this wall (or on your phone) representing the various merchandise categories sold on eBay and get real-time sales data. The latest eBay Earth technology enables an interactive demonstration of how the company connects its 147 million buyers with 17 million sellers in more than 190 marketsworldwide. (Watch it here: https://vimeo.com/689423726.)
White is arguably one of the most inspirational characters in the AV industry. He never graduated from college, worked as a landscaper for six years, and spent nine more years as a deployment engineer for Arizona Alarm before being hired by eBay in 2014. His work at the alarm company involved installing complex tech systems, ranging from video surveillance to central vacuum, for high-end clients at their homes and businesses.
He says he enjoyed this work because he'd always loved AV. In fact, he was that guy among his friends and neighbors. Whenever they couldn't get something technical to work, they'd call Chris, and he'd fix it.
When the owner of the alarm company decided to sell his business, White put his resume on LinkedIn and hoped for the best. A headhunter reached out and interviewed him virtually but was vague about the company he represented. Eventually, White got invited to an in-person interview and was given an address that he recognized as eBay/PayPal. (The two companies split in 2015.)
"I was excited but also nervous," he admits, "because I was going into this massive company. I thought, These people are all smarter than me. Why would they want me? I'm probably not going to get this job."
But he did, getting hired as an AV Project Deployment Engineer at the company's Scottsdale campus. One of the things that got him the job, he believes, was his unconventional background. "I didn't have a degree or lots of certifications," he explains. "My experience was in the field actually throwing the wires and hanging the TVs. Someone who sat in a classroom the last five years may not understand the full ins and outs."
It didn't take long before White began questioning the status quo and offering alternatives. For example, he noticed vendors taking advantage of the company, designing and installing expensive systems that they wanted rather than what eBay needed. He eventually brought this work in-house and rewrote the AV standards for the entire company, both nationally and globally.
"What that means is we buy the same product for every region and install it the exact same way, like one big production line," he explains. "I also renegotiated all the pricing with our manufacturers. When I first joined eBay, the average cost of a room was about $70,000. Now, after almost nine years here, a room costs about $12,000."
And just to impress upon you the scope of what White deals with, he and his seven-member team typically oversee 800 to 1,000 rooms at any one time.
White joined the Main Street Project when it was already well underway, and he didn't like what he saw. He eventually ended up convincing his boss to change consultants, and Main Street opened to much fanfare in 2017. He upped the wow factor even more recently by refreshing much of the technology (the interactive wall is now 8K resolution) and making it possible to control most of the interaction from your phone.
What excites White the most right now, though, is digital canvas technology. "A lot of people say, 'Oh yeah, we already have that,' but they really don't," he says. "With digital canvas you should be able to walk into a room, start your video conference, and have a digital whiteboard that is fully interactive for the people at home and in the office. Having that type of hybrid experience will be unbelievable."
About Conference Technologies Inc.
Conference Technologies, Inc.® (CTI) (www.conferencetech.com) is a leading custom audio-visual systems integration solutions specialist. The St. Louis-based company, founded in 1988, has more than 20 offices across the country and offers a wide variety of services to customers in various industries around the world.
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SOURCE Conference Technologies, Inc.
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