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Roberts Space Industries

Spectrum Dispatch

Lore

ID:

17941

Comments:

13

Date:

January 6th 2021

Portfolio: microTech
This portfolio originally appeared in Jump Point 7.11.

Inspirational. Visionary. Ruthless. Much has been said and written about microTech founder Magnus Tobin, who was the driving force behind the empire’s most essential piece of wearable tech, mobiGlas. Broadly perceived as a reclusive tech genius, Magnus’ fascinating life defies such easy categorization.

Magnus Tobin was born on Earth in 2756. His parents devoted their time to running a prosperous textile manufacturing business and left the rearing of their three sons (Fikri, Magnus, and Camryn) to au pairs. Magnus’ eldest brother, Fikri, was a formative influence who taught him how to hack high-end electronics. Magnus’ technological obsession led to his elite private high school expelling him for poor grades and attendance. Instead of enrolling in a new school, Magnus convinced his parents to let him work full time for the family business while studying for the Equivalency.

Free from school, Magnus passed his Equivalency at an extraordinary pace after bypassing the daily lesson limits and creating his own algorithm to analyze trends in past exams. Meanwhile, Magnus spent his days working in the information technology department of his family’s company. He learned all he could about its operation before presenting his parents with a comprehensive plan to overhaul and update its technical infrastructure. Impressed with his vision, his parents signed off on the plan and assigned Aleena Tressler, a trusted senior advisor, to officially oversee it. The project improved efficiency and generated massive profits for the company.

MAKING MICRO MACRO

Magnus became the heir apparent to the family business but shocked his parents by rejecting the role. Instead, he convinced them to fund a small technology start-up that sold a modified version of his business software. microTech officially incorporated in 2782 but struggled to turn a profit. Eventually, he asked former mentor Aleena Tressler to join the company and offered her a percentage of the profits. Her extensive list of contacts and cutthroat business acumen brought the growing microTech more orders for custom software than they could handle – an enviable position to be in as the overthrow of the Messer regime in 2792 sent shockwaves through the empire’s economy.

Magnus felt fortunate that microTech survived the economic upheaval, but Aleena argued that the company could only succeed long term if it diversified. Magnus went on a hiring spree, courting numerous notable engineers and developers by guaranteeing them autonomy over their projects. He also believed that the next great idea could come from anyone within the company. He organized hack-a-thons to identify new talent and kept one week clear in his schedule every quarter so anyone in the company could pitch him their idea. Even today, microTech remains renowned for nurturing and developing good ideas from any of its employees.

Meanwhile, Aleena led an initiative to buy struggling businesses with intriguing intellectual property. Industry observers deemed their combined spending as ‘reckless’, but the talent and technology microTech acquired eventually led to many of their signature products. The only company Magnus insisted on purchasing was Empiric Education. An intense bidding war soured Aleena on the company, but it became their most important purchase. microTech now owned a major producer of education software, and Magnus had big plans for it.

After the purchase of Empiric Education, Magnus revealed an upgrade that significantly streamlined the code and enhanced its security. He had been developing it since hacking his own Equivalency prep in his youth, but knew he needed to own the underlying code to monetize it. Beyond the surface-level improvements, he had also included additional background software meant to securely manage every detail of a student’s life to increase their productivity. Aleena noticed that early adopters used these software features well beyond studying and saw the promise in it. She encouraged Magnus to develop it as standalone software.

The initial Glas software was a hit and quickly became one of the top productivity software on the market. However, to fully and comfortably utilize all the features, users needed to bounce between their datapads and wearable comps, often necessitating carrying both with them. Year after year Magnus and his team tried to improve the existing available interface, but the most popular devices of the time were limited by their screen size, and anything larger might as well have been a datapad. The breakthrough came when Magnus climbed into a simpod only for it to malfunction and project a small screen in front of his face. Now he knew what he had to do – call his siblings.

SAFE AND SECURE

Magnus contacted Camryn, his younger brother and current CEO of the family business, and worked with him on designing and sourcing the right materials for a wrist-wearable device. If Glas was really going to succeed, Magnus knew that microTech was going to have to begin building their own hardware with Glas transitioning into a full-blown operating system. Meanwhile, he hired his older brother, Fikri, to try and hack his software, trusting no one but him to test its security. Aleena believed it to be out of family loyalty, but later claimed that Magnus confided in her Fikri’s extensive credentials, including playing an instrumental role in the hack that broadcast shocking images of the Massacre of Garron to their system and helped topple the Messers.

Simply, Magnus understood the importance of security on a device meant to manage someone’s entire life. The wearables market was saturated with products plagued by security concerns. Following the fall of the Messers, it was revealed that wearable manufacturers were forced to build a backdoor into their devices so the government could access their network. Even years later, this drove some consumers to not use wearables due to ethical concerns, while others questioned whether these backdoors were ever closed. Magnus hammered home this point in the mobiGlas’ first ad campaign, which featured a pixelated figure hacking every wearable on the market only to be stifled by the mobiGlas. The effective ad combined with the device’s intuitive interface and competitive price point made the mobiGlas an instant success upon release in 2818. Its popularity only increased over the years until it became the ubiquitous wearable worn across the empire today.

Aleena retired after the successful mobiGlas release, but Magnus continued to employ her aggressive business strategy, sometimes in ways that observers deemed dangerous or unethical. He poured profits into developing a wide range of new devices, including a revolutionary new simpod design and a line of ship computers. He even bought massive swaths of cheap real estate in extremely cold biomes across the empire to park the ever-growing army of microTech servers. When microTech quietly began selling this land, industry observers believed it signaled a corporate shift away from server management. Instead, Magnus used the capital for his biggest and boldest deal to date, the purchase of Stanton IV.

Magnus officially retired following microTech’s purchase of Stanton IV, but to the dismay of some, remained deeply involved in the company’s operations. He oversaw the design and construction of New Babbage, microTech’s primary landing zone, and was even given veto power over any new device or corporate initiative that he believed didn’t align with the company’s core values. After decades of being hailed as visionary, his increased stranglehold on the company was beginning to tarnish his image. A series of high-level leaks revealed just how unhappy employees were with his continued involvement and that several key decisions he had recently made had cost the company millions. In response, Magnus went on a media blitz to whitewash his image, even hiring a ghostwriter to pen a fawning autobiography. The campaign painted Magnus as a tech-focused force within the company that existed above the questionable business practices. This led to the sterile image of him as a reclusive tech genius that persists to this day.

When Magnus Tobin died in 2912 people hailed him as one of the most important figures of the 29th century. Despite his undeniable influence on technology, his greatest achievement may be creating a company that has thrived without him. microTech’s ownership of a planet, ever-expanding product line, and constant quality of life updates to the mobiGlas has the company well-positioned to be just as influential in the next century as it was in the last.

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