Today word came via LinkedIn that Hagai Gefen had passed. I’m going to call it untimely–his vitality and charisma seemed inextinguishable over his many years in Pro AV. Although he left AV in 2013 to pursue his considerable worldwide appetite for life, he remained one of the most vivid personalities that many of us had met. Certainly for me.
I wish I had a better picture to go with this post–but I think it would be hard to capture the mix of erudite authority, enthusiasm, and cheekiness he seemed to bring to all the various events and to my frequent visits to Gefen HQ. I had memorable meals with him at fancy places and plastic tablecloth places. There were always so many stories. An endless supply. He was an EE, like my dad, my husband, my sister, and two of my brothers-in-law. Like them he was the kind of EE that had a bottomless curiosity for almost everything. There was always so much to talk about. In my experience Hagai also had that rare quality– he could listen with the same passion as he could talk.
Hagai founded Gefen in 1998, the year I stopped being a theme park designer and began covering the film, television, and AV industries full time. I remember the dawn of HDMI, DVI, 3G-SDI and his enthusiasm for all of it. (We argued over 3D). I remember when Nortek bought Gefen in 2006, and when Hagai stepped away in 2012 to let things take their next course, both for the company he had built into a worldwide force, and for his own life which had so many dimensions beyond engineering.
Here is a tribute shared by Gefen’s longtime PR collaborator Linda Morgan who is among the many, many industry people whose careers and lives were enhanced by Hagai Gefen.
The Passing of Hagai Gefen Marks the End of an Exciting Era of Firsts
Mentor, friend, leader, inspiration, pioneer – all of these words describe the founder and long-time CEO of Gefen, originally Gefen Systems, Hagai Gefen. Rising from the music industry in Los Angeles, Hagai was a man of vision and a man with a plan. With an engineering background, a remarkably prescient instinct for business, and an eye fixed firmly on the pulse of an emerging digital industry, Hagai pioneered many firsts. Gefen’s scalable AV connectivity solutions redefined the possibilities of what was doable with AV systems. Countless award-winning solutions enabled AV equipment to be integrated, extended, distributed and optimized for unsurpassed performance.
Hagai first pioneered in the field of post-production studio automation when he created some of the original audio synchronizing equipment designs while working for editing equipment manufacturer, Adams Smith. He further honed his experience by engineering the designs and overseeing construction of several post-production facilities throughout Hollywood. Soon afterwards, his expertise transitioned into the marketing of a networked sound effects search system for the entertainment industry. That system, SFX Search, quickly became a success with industry leaders such as NBC, CBS, CNN, Warner Brothers and Universal studios. Hagai was also the first to introduce an advanced automated background music management system to hotels, restaurants, cable system providers and radio stations.
Never content to sit on his laurels, Hagai then emerged as a player in the computer connectivity arena in 1995 when he designed a line of computer peripheral extenders known as the ex-tend-it Professional Series. The products, which extended KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) peripherals away from the computer, were originally designed for application in post-production studios where computer noise interfered with production. Switchers, which access multiple sources from a single KVM workstation, were also developed together with distribution amplifiers, splitters, converters and cables as the product line naturally evolved.
In the late early 2000s, Gefen became the early adopter of the digital interfaces that would soon develop into HDTV (high definition television), providing solutions for both professional and consumer industries. To accommodate the time in-between analog and digital worlds, Hagai’s success in the conversion and adaptation of traditionally incompatible video signals added to his reputation as an innovative technology solutions provider.
Gefen was one of the first to support the new 3DTV standards, and to support broadcasters using the new 3G SDI standard, allowing for an easy integration with consumer electronics devices to curb equipment investments. In digital connectivity, Gefen set the benchmark for innovation with its technological achievements including FST (Fast Switching Technology) and POL (Power Over Line). Gefen was the first to become officially certified by HDBaseT, further demonstrating its ability to remain at the forefront of the digital connectivity industry. Gefen was also one of the first to support 4K Ultra HD resolutions and the wireless 5 GHz standard. Gefen was the first adopter of HDMI, which became a predominant consumer content delivery format. Proving his incredible ability for timing, a Gefen DisplayPort adapter was available directly through the Apple Store to coincide with the release of the 2009 iMac. In 2013, Gefen lead the way of AV manufacturers introducing home automation systems.
Throughout his impressive career, Hagai continued to remain on the leading edge of new technologies and their applications. His love of the game consistently placed him first to market with innovative products that are still highly valued in most major industries spanning the globe.
On a personal level, those who worked with Hagai often did so for many, many years. His natural charm, wonderful sense of humor, scintillating intelligence and all-around, great guy demeanor often drew workers for life. Those who had the honor and pleasure of working with him know that the Gefen Family was real. He was a legend and a brilliant human being who will be deeply missed.