Omid Rahmat (1999 - 2003 as EIC; 2003 - 2008 as CEO)
Tom's Hardware: What are some of the highlights that you recall from your time at the helm of Tom’s Hardware from an industry happening standpoint?
Omid Rahmat: The single point when Tom's went from a blog to a phenomenon was the Pentium III recall that happened in the summer of 2000. Up until that point Intel was untouchable. The mainstream technology press was pretty much in Intel's pocket, and the enthusiast sites were still kind of a mass of amateurs nerding out among each other. It's kind of a testament to Thomas Pabst's brilliance that he managed to do something that no one, inside or outside of the industry, could do or would have dared to do. That put Tom's Hardware on the map globally.
TH: What about from an internal Tom’s point of view — here I’m talking about milestones or significant achievements on a brand level?
OR: I remember that somewhere around late 2001, first week of 2002, we changed Tom's pages from a black background to a white background. You would have thought we had killed somebody, because the diehard Tom's community had been so used to our black background, kind of grungy, garage-band look. But, within months, our traffic had doubled. It still amazes me to this day that something that simple meant so much.
TH: What are some of the technologies that excite you most today? What do you think holds the most promise?
OR: Health, and wearables. The desktop, even the laptop, are utilitarian devices. They really are for work only. With mobile devices I think our unhealthy attachment is going to create a backlash to being always-on. However, the opportunities for wearable tech and health-related devices and applications is just beginning. It seems like a natural extension of mobile, which is a very self-centered experience. Technology has to become about our personal wellness and longevity.
I am not sure that it is a good thing, either. Maybe we won't need to fear robot overlords but hybrid bio-electronic organisms. The good news is that we know it will puny humans behind the next wave in technology, so they will probably never, ever become self-aware.
TH: Are there areas where you feel as if the hardware technology providers are failing?
OR: I think hardware is making a comeback. We have been in internet mode for the last 20 years. It has consumed the tech industry. Now, hardware is becoming cool again. I hate the term Internet of Things, but networking our world is inevitable. Unfortunately, I think talking fridges and smart thermostats are not that much to get excited about. The tech world really isn't ready, quite yet, to lose itself in the world. It still wants to cry out, "Look at me." The best hardware will be the hardware that we never see or think about.
TH: What are you up to now?
OR: Breaking Muscle. The legacy of Tom's Hardware is still there, I think. I still love digital media but my passion is in health and fitness. Nevertheless, like Tom's we are built for the best and the rest will follow. It is driven by a desire to be more questioning than the mainstream, and it is leading the way. I truly believe that human well-being, fitness, and health are going to be the biggest drivers in technology innovation over the next 20 years.
And like Tom's, we have built an audience organically, driven by the quality of content and our sense of values. One thing that we never compromised in the old days of Tom's was our principles. We felt like we were better than the mainstream tech press, and I think we were right to feel that way. Doing things for the right reasons is still a good way to succeed.