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Interview: Robert Krakoff, Founder of Razer


This phone interview was a first for Overclockers Club and hopefully the beginning of many, not only with Razer, but also other major gaming and hardware suppliers. I must say that when I was given the opportunity to interview Robert Krakoff, the founder of Razer, it not only shocked me but I also saw this as being a great opportunity for everyone interested in learning a little about what drives corporations to produce superior gaming hardware. My conversation with Robert lasted about forty minutes, but due to the extent of many of his answers, I have paraphrased them. Please understand most of these answers are not direct quotes and may be in third person.

Q. Thank you, for giving OCC the opportunity to speak with you.
A. No it’s a pleasure to speak to you. It’s always nice to speak to friends and those who are part of the community.

Q. Why did you create Razer?
A. I started out doing consultant work for technical corporations like IBM etc. Introducing new products. So basically when the job was done I would move to another client. One day a technology client chose not to pursue a new technology so I asked if I might have the rights. With that idea in mind I decided to make it work.
    Robert did also say that it was tough and by the time all was said and done there was little or no profit but that is what got Razer off the ground.

Q. Have you been gaming for a long time?
A. Yes, since the 70’s and 80’s when the first console games began hitting the market. I also worked for Activision prior to doing consultant work.

Q. Your Products are innovative and always geared towards everyone. Why not follow your competitors and just cater to the majority?
A. Well, Paul. I’m left handed also, (Knowing that I’m a lefty) but my main concern is the gaming community. Not everyone has the same size hands, nor do they play a game the same as everyone else so I try to focus on everyone, whether they are female with smaller hands or left handed players.

    For all you right handers out there, Robert did tell me that Razer will be releasing a right handed gaming mouse. (Further information will be released at CES)  Hopefully Razer will take a mold of my left hand and create a mouse for us lefties. (LOL) Robert's quest is to meet everyone’s needs due to there being so much diversity in gaming.

Q. So what does Razer have in store for gamers in 2007.
A. Well I cannot get too much into that but much will be revealed at CES. Robert did say that there would be two new gaming mice introduced. Also a new gaming audio card that has new revolutionary technology built in. Razer will be focusing more towards future trends where you will not only get great gaming hardware but also a true audiovisual experience.

Q. You partnered with Microsoft to create the new Habu gaming mouse, Why?
A. Well, many people have called me and stated that they used to like the style of the old Microsoft mouse, but of course it wasn’t made for gaming. Then one day someone from Microsoft’s hardware gaming division contacted me to possibly venture into creating a gaming mouse that would be the same style as the older intellimouse design. Microsoft has lost the edge in gaming hardware and needed Razer. I have not sold out to Microsoft. This mouse is co-branded and this is only the second time Microsoft has done so.

    Robert did reminded me that we all need to remember that there are many different divisions of Microsoft and their hardware division does have the needs of the community in mind and are willing to work with the community. Also this partnership could also lead to a true gaming OS. We all need to remember that there is not an OS out there that is made specifically for gaming. (humm a Razer gaming OS?)

Q. As computers get faster and technology progresses, (i.e., video games becoming more 3D realistic) where do you see Video Hardware Trends going?
A. We have many projects right now in our skunk works. I see the future of gaming becoming a wireless world, which will also be driven by the optical and audio cortex as opposed to the use of hands. I estimate that this will totally take place in the next 10 to 15 years. The problems that are arising with this new technology is that the accuracy of the technology has not come of age. (Latency, too much lag time). Razer’s concept of the future is also portability, so gamers have the flexibility to use products with all gaming genres. Satisfying the needs of all gamers as they become more sophisticated.

Q. Your 3 latest products are the Barracuda Headphones, Gaming sound card and the Tarantula Customizable Gaming Keyboard. What makes these products different from the others out there?
A. Well I was getting tired of playing games and not truly being able to hear in what direction my attackers were coming from. Most of the higher end sound cards have too much other things built into their technology (as in midi etc). Razer created the headphones and soundcard so that all the non-essential noise is gone; you can hear a full 360 degrees. You will notice sounds and noises that will key you into the proper direction with Razer's 2 new audio products. I myself play a lot of Quake and never realized that the monsters made a clicking noise before they attacked. Our goal is to allow the gamers to start using their audio cues along with their eyes. Most sound cards are using memory off your system, which is also robbing you of frames per second. We have defeated that. Plus, with the Barracuda’s EMI shielding, the noise-to-sound reduction is much less than others.

    I believe he stated < 1db.

Here is a Scoop!
Q. And the Tarantula?

A. Razer created the Tarantula to become completely portable. It is totally customizable and can store up to 99 profiles. The biggest part about this keyboard is that Razer is now creating an online community just for the keyboard. We have approximately 50 gamers (professional) who will upload their macros and profiles for different games so that the community can download them directly to their keyboard and use them. Also, anyone in the community can upload profiles and macros, hopefully not only for gaming but also for other applications including, Illustrator, Photoshop and other editing software. This is the first step towards the future: now the average user can download settings and have the same advantage as the pros. Programmability. The Razer Tarantula is completely programmable with each key having its own membrane so any key on the keyboard can be bound. With Razer's Anti-Ghosting technology, we have reduced the latency to less than 1 ms.  So when using it, the gamer will get immediate response and since each key does have an individual membrane, it reduces resistance in the keys and there will be no need to have your fingers hover over them anymore.

    Robert did also send me an email on a tutorial he wrote on how to create a macro. Look for this in OCC’s upcoming Razer Tarantula review.

Q. What is Razer's All in one Suite of Gear for the Hardcore Gamer?
A. Razer's mission is to enhance gaming performance. Our All in one Suite starts with the mousing surface, then of course the mouse, audio products and finally the keyboard.

Q. Razer is considered the David to the Goliath corporations who produce gaming hardware. Why and how do you compete?
A. Well Razer only produces gaming hardware, so we only have one focus, where the other corporations have many divisions. Razer is competitive because of that, but the major factor is that we are listening to the gaming community and we are using their ideas to create our product. Why produce a product that the community doesn’t ask for? This is where Razer gets its edge again; make a product for all genres and gaming styles.

Q. Thank you,for your time. Is there anything you would like to add in conclusion?
A. Paul, I appreciate the work that you do, this is what helps Razer. Sites like yours review our products and it helps us learn about not only the good qualities but also if there is something that might be wrong with a product. Thank you for providing us this service.

    In conclusion, I’m happy that I had the opportunity to interview “The Razer Guy”. He was open to all of my questions. One thing I did appreciate the most was his desire to help and listen to the gaming community. Razer sponsors many gamers and also does many promotions to give back to the gaming community. This is something that is rare amongst hardware manufacturers.

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