Exclusive: Chris Bond on Thinkbox being acquired by Amazon

On March 6 Chris Bond posted just this on Thinkbox’s blog:

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been acquired by Amazon! We’ll be joining the Amazon Web Services family, and we’re looking forward to working together to deliver exciting customer offerings.At this point, it’s still business as usual for us. We’ll continue to provide you, our customers, with remarkable support whether you work on-prem, in the cloud or both.

Chris and the Thinkbox Team

We exclusively spoke to Chris Bond, Thinkbox Founder & Director of Product Management, EC2 Spot to find out more:

Is the aim for you to continue with the company as a separate identity or will it become a more integrated part of Amazon?  

Chris: We’re excited to join the AWS family. Thinkbox will keep providing their innovative services to thousands of developers worldwide. AWS and Thinkbox will work together to create new solutions operated on-prem, in the cloud, or both, which customers will find valuable in accelerating their business.”

Will all the products continue?

Chris: Yes. There is no plan to discontinue any of our existing products. We are always proud to see the incredible images that our customers create with all of our tools – from Deadline, to Krakatoa, to Stoke, Frost and Draft – and we look forward to seeing more of their creations.

While customers might guess at Deadline and Draft’s use inside Amazon, the particle rendering tools seem very specialized and focused on vfx / animation. Is there growth in specialist Particle programs?

Chris: The artists who use Krakatoa and our other plug-ins certainly tell us that there is no end to their imagination, and we believe there are many opportunities to expand the scale and experience of these tools for our users.

How have you seen the market change in the last 3- 5 years? Are there challenges to be solved, or is the key issue render speed (realtime, GPU etc) and ease of use?

Chris: We believe that there are a lot of challenges remaining to be solved, not just in performance and ease of use – but also creative and technical aspects of rendering. There are areas of image rendering such as non-photorealistic that are still in its infancy. For instance, we still render pixels, when there are other datatypes we could be supporting to give more flexibility and choice to the artist. There are also many rendering jobs that are more than just images – simulation and creation being targets for more parallelization. In terms of market change, we are seeing increased demand for flexibility by the artist to scale not just the images that they are rendering, but the number of tools they may utilize. Consider that an application is like a single type of paint in your paint box. Does one suffice? How many colors do you need?

Do you see the company wanting to expand more middleware solutions that aid production or more tools that are part of the actual image sequence pipeline?

Chris: We’re always looking to serve our customers and their needs. We’d never rule out any area of innovation and will explore middleware solutions if enough of our customers request it.

How many staff do you have and is this changing with the deal? Are Ian Fraser and Mark etc all staying?

Chris: All of Thinkbox’s employees are part of the AWS family now, and we are actively investing in hiring software development engineers for Thinkbox in both our Winnipeg and Vancouver offices to support the growth of the business.

Are you keen to expand (the research topics) or focus your team more, moving forward?

Chris: We are focused on both the expansion of features in Deadline, as well as the creation of new tools and technologies. The singular tenant that drives decisions across both is focus on the needs of our customers. AWS and Thinkbox are both customer obsessed, and working with AWS gives us the ability to scale.

Will you be at Siggraph 2017?

Chris: Yes, we’ll be at SIGGRAPH, in booth #323. However, if you’re interested in talking to us, there’s no need to wait that long. Our team is happy to chat on the phone, meet in person at our Executive Briefing Center at AWS’s Seattle HQ, or any one of our worldwide AWS Summits (https://aws.amazon.com/summits/). Berlin, Tokyo, Israel, London – you name it, and we’ll be there. Thinkbox and/or AWS customers can arrange a meeting through their account managers or support reps.

Alaa Al Nahlawi work, as part of a tutorial using Thinkbox Tools

Are you shifting offices then?

Chris, No. Our Vancouver and Winnipeg offices will remain operating as usual.

The store model you have built is fascinating, how is the market for usage based licensing, has there been wide scale acceptance?

Chris: We have clients who are using UBL as well as perpetual licenses in a hybrid model for scale, but we also have clients who are exclusively using UBL to drive their business forward. While it’s still early, we’re encouraged by the customer response and how they believe UBL fits their business and workloads.

Do you see these partners in the store benefiting from the Amazon deal?

Chris: Absolutely. A number of these partners are also AWS customers, or offer their products in the AWS marketplace. We see numerous opportunities for partners to extend their reach to more customers and verticals – with less effort – by taking advantage of AWS’s scale.

Is shrink wrap dead, is all software going to be time or usage license moving forward?

Chris: I hesitate to predict the future, but the trend we are seeing is that the healthiest markets have the most client-friendly models enabling flexibility for any type of workloads. Consumption based licensing for rendering, as an example, seems to align well for that type of work. The UBL licensing model benefits the creator of the product (e.g. the artists, the producers, etc.) and makes it that much simpler to focus on getting the work done.

Thanks so much

1 thought on “Exclusive: Chris Bond on Thinkbox being acquired by Amazon”

Comments are closed.