Hatful of holo: Small Society cofounder Raven Zachary starts his next venture, Object Theory, a Microsoft HoloLens shop

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: the Portland startup scene is grappling with adolescence a little later than a few other startup scenes. We’re a late bloomer, as it were. Mostly because we didn’t have many—if any—successful exits during the dotcom days. So we’re barely getting to the point of founders successfully exiting and then starting their next thing.

But it’s starting to happen. Slowly but surely.


Like today. When serial entrepreneur Raven Zachary announced his new startup, Object Theory. It’s a shop that will focus on building applications for a platform which shows amazing potential—but is, as of yet, unproven.

Sound familiar? It should. This is the exact same thing that happened with Raven’s last venture, Small Society. That began a small no-name development shop that focused on building elegant apps for the then nascent iPhone market.

I mean, I don’t even think they were even calling it iOS back then, were they?

But they helped build that market. Especially for big brands.

In fact, the team did such amazing work that Small Society was snapped up in its prime by Walmart Labs.

Introducing Object Theory, a Microsoft HoloLens development shop

But enough nostalgia. Raven’s new venture—cofounded with one of the few HoloLens veterans, Michael Hoffman, a former principal engineering lead from the Microsoft HoloLens Studios team, and a Portlander who had been commuting to Redmond to work—will be focused on the yet to be released augmented reality platform.

We are uniquely positioned to help organizations design, develop, and launch mixed reality applications for Microsoft HoloLens. Our leadership team has already delivered projects for Microsoft HoloLens and other mobile platforms. We work with clients, from inception through launch and beyond, including software development, user experience, design, quality assurance, training, deployment, maintenance, and support.

Our initial focus is partnering with organizations interested in creating launch day ready HoloLens applications.

We have prepared a basic informational site while we finalize our design. Please wear your HoloLens now to view our site in holographic mode. ☺

And people seem to be taking notice:

ZD Net: Microsoft’s HoloLens big for business? Object Theory thinks so

The company is self funded by its two founders. Raven Zachary founded iPhoneDevCamp in 2007, was director of the Obama ’08 iPhone app, and formed Small Society, a mobile app development company sold to Walmart in 2012. Michael Hoffman, Object Theory’s other founder, was the engineering lead for Microsoft’s HoloLens and worked on the NASA Mars demo as well as other partnerships.

Portland Business Journal: Microsoft, Walmart Labs alums look to tap $150B market with futuristic Portland startup

The duo believes the HoloLens platform and the app market that will accompany could rival the ways the iPhone release affected today’s mobile app market.

“We are going to be the first to focus on HoloLens,” Zachary said. “But we fully expect that by the time the product launches, there will be dozens of companies just like ours building enterprise and vertical market apps for the HoloLens. And we are excited about that.”

The Register: World’s (possibly) first HoloLens startup promises mixed realities

A mobile upstart has claimed dibs on title of first HoloLens company. Object Theory launched Tuesday under the leadership of ex-Microsoft HoloLens Studio member Michael Hoffman and apps entrepreneur Raven Zachary.

WinBeta: New startup Object Theory is the first full-service development agency for HoloLens

Now applications for HoloLens, other than what Microsoft and its partners have thought up, might be around the corner as Portland based startup Object Theory is looking to be a leading software development agency for HoloLens apps, and says they’re “the first Microsoft HoloLens software company”.

Daily Times Gazette: Object Theory and mixed reality

The Object Theory, started by Michael Hoffman aims to take advantage of what Hololens will be capable of once released by helping companies and organizations to build apps designed to be compatible with the Hololens. Users already had a glimpse of how Hololens can run different Windows apps in 3D and gamers jumped out of their seats in excitement with the recent demonstration of Minecraft in 3D. Object Theory aims to provide a range of impressive apps once Hololens is officially launched.

betanews: Object Theory to create mixed reality apps for Microsoft HoloLens ecosystem

Michael Hoffman’s Object Theory has been set up with the aim of helping other organizations to build apps that take advantage of what HoloLens can offer. We’ve already seen how HoloLens can run Windows apps in 3D, and a recent demonstration of Minecraft at E3 thrilled gamers. Object Theory wants to ensure that there is a range of impressive apps on launch day.

Slashgear: This HoloLens engineer ditched Microsoft to make AR apps

Microsoft has been gung-ho about HoloLens’ potential, and indeed the possibilities that “Holographic Computing” and Windows 10 offer in general. The goal is a mixed-reality environment for work, education, and play, overlaying computer graphics onto the real-world in a way that makes the joins between the two practically invisible.

That’s included some high-profile demonstrations over the past few months, including a mesmerizing Minecraft game in which blocks tumble out to apparently occupy space in the physical world, and robot companions that are both real and digital simultaneously.

They’re just the sort of showcases that Hoffman has been working on as a Principal Engineering Lead in Microsoft Studios, along with “other undisclosed initiatives” the engineer teases.

InformationWeek: HoloLens Startup Cofounded By Former Microsoft Engineer

Object Theory has a unique advantage in shaping the future of HoloLens applications. Cofounder Michael Hoffman, a former principal engineering lead from the Microsoft HoloLens Studios team, used to lead the creation of showcase experiences for the headset. Wanting to be closer to his family, Hoffman headed back to Portland, where he and Zachary went into business together.

VRFocus: Object Theory is the first HoloLens-exclusive developer

The Portland-based studio is actually headed up by Michael Hoffman, a former member of Microsoft’s official HoloLens team. As Principal Engineering Lead at Microsoft Studios, Hoffman helped create some of the experiences that have already been revealed for the device such as OnSight, one of two official collaborations with NASA. He is joined by technology entrepreneur, Raven Zachary, who himself has experience within the mobile app industry as the founder of iOS development conference IPhoneDevCamp (now IOSDevCamp).

OregonLive: Portland startup Object Theory hopes to capitalize on a Microsoft breakthrough

Object Theory will emulate Small Society, at least initially, Hoffman and Zachary say. They’re not out to build huge consumer apps right away. Instead, they envision working with architects, industrial designers – anyone who could benefit from seeing digital images in a real-world scale.

For more information, read the announcement blog post, visit Object Theory or follow @objecttheory on Twitter.