Feb. 26--Wearable computers might be a hot topic this year, but the chief executive of Foothill Ranch-based Oakley feels like the world forgot that his company was selling the technology a decade ago.
CEO Colin Baden spoke with the Register at a Hollywood event this week at Red Studios. An entourage of Teslas pulled up to the party filled with world-class athletes and international media. The night culminated with a look at Oakley's history of innovation, from motorcycle grips in 1975 to $600 cellphone-connected snow goggles in 2012.
Cue the wearables. Back in ancient times (you know, 2004), Google was a search engine, Apple had iPods and Oakley made Thump -- sunglasses that featured buds on the frames that slip into your ears to play music.
The world changed, and Oakley is a different company. Its owner, Jim Jannard, sold the company to Luxottica so he could jump-start Red. Baden took charge of Oakley as phones were getting smarter and becoming part of a more personal network.
Baden now faces a lot more competition. Every major tech company is rushing at the same time to figure out what people want from a wearable device.
While Oakley's event lacked a product announcement, it included hints of where the company is headed: smarter eyewear with lenses that adapt quickly to changing light or are customized for a one-of-a-kind fit.
"We are users of our work," Baden said. "I think many of the electronic companies in the world don't think about the user interface or the user experience the way we do. I think we bring a perspective that's very pragmatic."
-- Ian Hamilton
On the move
Masafumi Nakagawa will become president of Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A., the Irvine-based distributor of Kawasaki motorcycles and ATVs, when current President Takeshi Teranishi leaves in April to become president of Kawasaki Motors Corp. Japan. Nakagawa comes from parent company Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., where he is an executive officer.
Ben Wu is the new chief executive at Kush Bottles, a Santa Ana supplier of child-resistant marijuana containers. Wu was previously a vice president at Wedbush Capital Management.
Mark Adams joins Meritus Payment Solutions, a transaction processing company in Irvine, as senior vice president and chief technology officer. He previously worked at HireRight as chief information officer and vice president of engineering.
Michael McMahon was promoted from director of sales and marketing to vice president of Phoenix Energy Technologies, an energy management software company in Irvine.
Laura Stall has been appointed vice president of nutraceuticals sales in the Western division at Vestiage Inc., a Newport Beach-based seller of nutritional supplements and cosmetic products. Stall was previously a national account manager at Twinings.
The Wyndham Irvine Orange County Airport hotel hired Cindy Oglesby as associate director of sales. She was previously regional sales manager for La Quinta Hotels in California and Nevada.
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