Thank the forces that be that in this hectic TV season, where we're forced to choose between Party of Five and Buffy, there's someone like Anthony Wood, 34, to make couch life less stressful. OK, so his product's $699 price tag is steep. But if this Mountain View, California, entrepreneur gets his way, ReplayTV will soon be had by the masses.
Wood's product enables your TV set to record your favorite shows on a hard drive, thus allowing you to pause, rewind and fast-forward while viewing. "Five years from now, everyone will be watching television off a hard drive," says the former treehouse salesman. (That was in elementary school.)
But it was about 10 years ago--when hard drives lacked capacity and video compression technology hadn't matured--that Wood envisioned the concept. He used his time wisely, though, launching other business ideas: a company during college that built third-party software for the Commodore Amiga (and nearly got him kicked out of school); a post-grad start-up that produced audio-editing systems for desktop video production; and a Web-authoring software business he sold to Macromedia for $36 million (the product's now called Dreamweaver).
Two-and-a-half-year-old Replay Networks Inc., now valued at $320 million and 100 employees strong, was pieced together with $300,000 of Wood's own money. Having landed a second round of venture funding last fall--a total of $57 million from Disney and other investors--Wood expects to launch a new version of ReplayTV this month and take the company public this year. A whirlwind, yes. But Wood wants more: "It's not happening fast enough."