Welcoming Aira’s CEO Mike Randall
June 13th, 2019
Suman Kanuganti (left) shaking hands with Mike Randall (right). Suman’s arm is draped across Mike’s shoulders and both are wearing Aira t-shirts and huge smile in front of a bright blue wall.
Today is a great day for Aira. I am thrilled to announce Mike Randall as our new CEO.
Randall has a long track record of innovation and business success, previously serving in leadership positions at Yahoo, Facebook, and Snap. I wanted to write this blog post to share not just how, but more importantly, why, I am expanding the leadership team at Aira.
We started the company in January 2015 with a simple mission: to provide blind and low vision people with instant access to information. Using a pair of smart glasses, a smartphone app, and a human AI-powered platform, we create audio AR experiences by interpreting the world in real time to our users, whom we call Explorers, and empower them to make their own decisions with the same information that sighted peers have at hand.
The product is built in partnership with blind and low-vision people, thanks to the many trials and experiments we’ve conducted with hundreds of people who are blind or have low vision around the country. The brand is built in partnership with consumer organizations who are deeply-rooted in a philosophy that strives for the enhanced independence of those who are blind or have low-vision. The team is built in recognition of diversity, inclusion, empathy, passion for customers, and an attitude to make it happen.
I am fortunate to have this excellent collection of dedicated and passionate people on Team Aira – and it’s been vital to our success to date. My late co-founder, Larry Bock, always talked about the importance of assembling the right team and stressed how timing was critical to bringing in the right talent at the right time/stage of the startup.
Today, Aira operates 24/7 and is proud to have deep community roots with national blind consumer organizations like the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, and agencies like American Foundation for the Blind, to make the world more accessible for the estimated 300 million blind and low vision people around the globe. We’re starting the year with over 25,000 locations where Aira is free to use, thanks to the ever-growing Aira Access Network, the partnerships we’ve created with respected brands like AT&T, Walgreens, and Bank of America.
Earlier this year, I walked into my board meeting to present Aira’s goals and plan for 2019. As part of that plan, I shared my intention of bringing in a new executive to lead the company. I was looking for two key elements in a new executive: to be someone with previous commercial experience and success in building companies, and to be authentic and empathetic, with a passion for our product, our customers, and our mission.
Now is the time to double-down on rapidly scaling our company to get Aira in the hands of millions. It’s for this reason that I’m incredibly excited to bring in a new CEO. Randall comes to us with a perfect combination of commercialization expertise, leadership, credibility, and passion for the product, our Explorers, and our agents. He brings a wealth of experience scaling early-stage companies, such as at Yahoo before internet business was a thing, followed by working at Facebook before ads on social media became a thing.
Aira is on a fantastic run since we started our journey. We have created beautiful and memorable experiences for our Explorers. We have built a group of extraordinary superhumans in the form of Aira agents. We have a team that is making possible what most of the world views as impossible.
I am very excited for the next chapter of Aira as I assume my new role of President.
Suman, Founder and President of Aira