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Mike Fischer, CEO at Shadow – Interview Series

Mike Fischer, CEO at Shadow - Interview Series

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Mike Fischer, CEO at Shadow - Interview Series

Mike Fischer is the CEO at Shadow, an app that enables users to transform an old PC, Mac, or TV in a gaming PC.

What initially attracted you to gaming?

I’ve loved video games all my life – starting from Pong and never stopping.  I decided to pursue  a career in games while still in college – at 19 years old.  I was an engineering student at a university program focused on the defense industry.  I decided I didn’t want to make weapons, and would do the exact opposite – make projects that brought people joy.  I changed my focus to business and wrote my senior thesis on “Modeling revenue for the toy and game business.”

You’re currently an advisor and consultant to a number of VR products and games. What are your current views on VR systems?

Right now Oculus has a lot of momentum.  As a consumer, it’s an amazing experience.  As a developer, I miss having the full power of a PC behind it.  On the other hand, it sure is nice not to trip over cables any more!

How long do you expect until VR to gain mainstream adoption?

I thought we’d have mainstream adoption by now!  It will be interesting to see if the rumors of an Apple AR or VR device are true.  That might add some competition and speed up the process.

Since July you’ve been the CEO of Shadow, an app that enables users to run any game or software on an old PC or even a TV. Could you share the genesis story behind this app?

Shadow was founded with a vision to liberate people from the limitations of a physical device, and to make high-end gaming more affordable.  Critical to the vision has been the embrace of an open platform – allowing our customers to control their experience, including what content they want and where to get it.

Why did you choose to personally become involved in Shadow?

I received a Shadow Ghost device at an game industry event in 2017, so I was a customer first.  Then last year, out of the blue, I was contacted about an opportunity to join the board of directors (I was in Kazakhstan when that happened – that’s a story for another day).  So first I was a user, then a board member, and more recently I have have this opportunity to join the team. So it’s been a long-term romance between me and Shadow.

Could you explain how the Shadow app works by connecting to the cloud?

The short answer is simple – we have data centers with CPU, GPU and storage that function as a virtual PC.  It’s a licensed Windows experience, so it’s not like a PC – it is a PC.  When a user clicks on the Shadow app (whether through a laptop, tablet, smartphone, Mac etc.) they open their own PC desktop environment.  Our virtual devices are optimized for games, but you can run any sort of PC applications you like.  We don’t get involved in your content.

Can you discuss potential issues with latency due to slower internet connections, as well is there a minimum speed recommendation?

Shadow has done some amazing engineering work to eliminate the impact of latency on games through a number of patented innovations as well as some trade secrets.  Everyone’s internet environment is different, but with a good connection, the experience shouldn’t feel any different than a desktop PC.  Here is what we recommend:

  • Have a download speed of at least 15Mb/s or more.
  • Your upload speed should be 5Mb/s or higher.Use a connection that has only 30ms of latency or less. with your device, the better.
  • Check for any signs of packet loss.
  • Connect your device to the internet via an Ethernet cable or a 5GHz Wi-Fi channel.
  • See hardware requirements for using Shadow.

What type of usage trends did Shadow observe due to the COVID-19 lockdown? 

Usage went up for sure!  And all that internet congestion at the last mile was initially a challenge we had to overcome.  But on the other hand, we now find people are playing throughout the day and not all at the same few hours in the evening. So that helps relieve our data center peak usage.

What jurisdictions is Shadow currently available in?

Shadow is available in most of the US, as well as France, Germany, UK, Netherlands and Switzerland.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Shadow?

First I’ll say that we are a company of gamers, for gamers – but Shadow can do much more than just games.  It’s a fully-functional, super-powerful PC.  Also, I know that many people may be skeptical about our performance because cloud gaming has been over-promised in the past.  But if you try it, I think you’ll be amazed that the future of cloud gaming is really here.

Thank you for the interview, this sounds like a must have app, readers who wish to learn more should visit Shadow.

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Antoine Tardif is the CEO of Gaming.net, and has always had a love affair for games, and has a special fondness for anything Nintendo related.

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