Dealerscope 40 Under 40 Profiles: Kaplan, Kelley, Kissinger, Knock, Krissman, Lau, Longreen, Lucash
Dannie Lau, 37, General Manager of Phorus, a subsidiary of DTS, Calabasas, Calif.
Background: Grew up in San Jose, Calif., and now lives in Los Angeles.
Higher Education: B.S. and M.S. Electrical Engineering from University California, Los Angeles, Executive MBA from National University of Singapore, Executive MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management
Career: Fourteen years in the industry. Lau serves as General Manager of Phorus, DTS’ wireless audio division. His role involves the development and distribution of Play-Fi technology and the Phorus product line. DTS Play-Fi technology is being integrated across the globe and Phorus products are launching in new markets including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
Phorus was started in 2011 as a venture-backed startup developing a new technology that streams “Hi-Fi over Wi-Fi”. Later dubbed Play-Fi, it combines the freedom of mobile listening with quality audio. Play-Fi is lossless and enables multi-room, multi-user streaming over standard Wi-Fi. The company was acquired by DTS in July 2012.
Industry accomplishments: “My proudest achievement was my first startup, PhatNoise. There were a lot of naysayers along the way, [saying things like,] ‘You don’t know manufacturing;’ ‘Car companies don’t do business with small companies;’ ‘Hard-drives won’t work in cars;’ ‘The music industry will sue you out of business.’ PhatNoise introduced the first automotive-grade, hard-drive-based MP3 player for the car in 2000. Soon after Audi, Volkswagen, Mazda, and Volvo became customers, as did Kenwood, one of the leading Japanese consumer electronics companies. The PhatBox platform itself had many industry firsts. It was the first car audio product to support WMA playback and the playback of Audible books. It was also the first automotive MP3 playback system with a voice-driven browsing system to make using the system safe while driving.
In 2004, PhatNoise launched the industry’s first automotive grade iPod adapters. And in 2005, PhatNoise launched a new head unit platform that provided MP3, WMA and AAC playback from CDs and USB drives. Also in 2005, PhatNoise launched the GM Digital Media System, available on Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, and Saturn Minivans as a factory-installed option.
Phorus Play-Fi technology was featured (one week after it launched in 2011) on “The Today Show” as one of the top technologies coming out of CES. At Mobile World Congress 2013, Play-Fi was recognized as a finalist for GMA’s Best New Mobile-enabled CE Technology.
Awards: CES Innovation Awards, 3GSM Global Mobile Award, Popular Science’s Best of What’s New 2004, and PhatNoise was named the Larta Group’s Entrepreneurial Company of the Year.
What you like best about your job: “Working on the edge of a fast-paced and constantly changing CE industry.”
What you like least: “The hours! But that’s my own fault.”
Favorite pastime: “I’m an avid basketball player and die-hard Clippers fan.”
Last book read: “Freakonomics”
Favorite movie: “Blade Runner”
Best concert: The Dan Band
Favorite CE product of the year: “3-D Printers. It’s really early but they’re going to be a game changer for a lot of industries.”
If you could be anyplace else right now, it would be: “On a beach, doing nothing.”