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VoodooPC President Rahul Sood
We chat with Rahul Sood about life after being acquired by HP

Boutique PC builders such as Falcon-Northwest, Alienware and VoodooPC are known for making some of the most hardcore, flashy, and expensive systems on the market. Once known to only a small segment of the market, boutique PC builders now have the attention of consumers and corporations worldwide.

Earlier this year, Dell bought Alienware, which could have triggered the attentions (and perhaps imaginations) of other Tier 1 companies. Just 6 months following Alienware’s abduction, it was announced that Hewlett-Packard acquired VoodooPC.

We recently had the chance to sit down with Rahul Sood -- President of VoodooPC and occasional DailyTech blogger to discuss life after being acquired by HP.

DailyTech: Just to clarify, VoodooPC approached HP, and not the other way around, correct?

Rahul Sood: Correct. We started discussions with HP in January of 2005. I had face to face meetings with some HP people in July of 2005 as well. After Mark Hurd came into the picture things moved very quickly.

DT: You guys decided to back in touch with HP after Dell acquired Alienware. Did Dell's acquisition of Alienware play any role in the decision processes between HP and VoodooPC?

RS: No, as a matter of fact Michael Dell contacted me directly at some point in November of 2005. We didn't really align in our way of thinking - it seemed that Dell was more interested in "moving their needle" for topline sales. HP, on the other hand, didn't buy Voodoo because they needed sales. HP acquired Voodoo because we derived a strategy that made sense - and rather than working seperate from one another and competing we decided it made much more sense to work together to help build HP's newly formed gaming business unit.

DT: Do you view the marriage with HP as vital in order for VoodooPC to stay competitive?

RS: We believe the marriage with HP is vital to keep the PC industry innovative. HP has killer innovative abilities in HP Labs, and Voodoo can help commercialize many of these innovations in a matter of time. ..and let's face it, the Windows PC industry has been somewhat dull up until now. We plan to change that.

DT: HP is not known for gaming. Are you worried that the HP brand may dilute the Voodoo brand? Will gamers look at VoodooPC and see the big HP brand in the background?

RS: Most people don't realize this, but HP is leading the gaming market in two key areas. First, on the server side HP servers are used by the largest online gaming companies for their back ends. Secondly, HP workstations are widely used to develop games, they are some of the best workstations on the planet. HP did not acquire Voodoo to dilute the brand - in fact right from Mark Hurd to Todd Bradley, this brand will remain high end. We have no intentions of ruining what we have established - and we believe we can keep the Voodoo brand elite and still apply our DNA to the entire HP gaming business unit successfully.

The cool part of this deal is we are answering to the CTO at HP Personal Systems Group, Phil McKinney. HP's entire management team buys into the concept of innovation. With guys like Todd Bradley and Phil McKinney leading the group it's clear that this is a true testament to innovation.

DT: How do you plan to separate HP's high-end PCs from Voodoo's PCs?

RS: We cannot really discuss our product strategy at this time. Let's just say we won't be competing against each other - HP and Voodoo will work together - not separately - to be successful.

DT: After reading through some of the comments from your "Project Vampire" blog post, it appears that several outspoken individuals view that "being acquired by a big fat corporation is a failure on many levels." How do you respond to that?

RS: I say give us time to prove ourselves. At the end of the day everyone has an opinion, and we recognize that. I would also say that HP is a very successful company and they know how to execute a strategy and stick with it. As a growing business ourselves we sometimes experience growing pains - this acquisition will help us streamline our business model which will help us focus on improving the overall customer experience.

DT: There's been mention of several HP innovations that were on display at the New York launch party. Could you share with us what some of those innovations were?

RS: Absolutely. One product that recently came out of Labs is something called Panoply. Panoply allows us to project a seamless image from multiple projectors to a wide screen with a super high resolution. The cool thing about it is it's completely scalable and it really gives a truly immersive experience. Not only that, but you don't see any lines or transitions. This is a seriously cool concept - we were demonstrating a car racing game with a Voodoo OMEN and Panoply. People were going nuts over it. There are also many other innovations in labs which we feel will improve the gaming experience.

DT: You've made it clear that the deal was made to improve VoodooPC product with help from HP's $3.5B R&D lab, but will you also take advantage of HP's supply chain?

RS: Sure, but that's just an added benefit to the transaction. To be clear, we chose to work with HP because they could help us with innovative products, we didn't choose them to innovate our supply chain.

DT: With you and Ravi taking up formal positions at HP, will your attentions be split between HP's Gaming Division and VoodooPC?

RS: Actually all Voodoo employees will now be HP employees. The Voodoo brand and our corporate DNA will become the nucleus of the entire gaming division for HP. Our attention will be focused on developing our strategy to kick start some serious innovations into the industry. As well we will strive to create the ultimate end user experience.

I will be taking the position of Chief Technologist for HP Gaming Worldwide, while Ravi will be Director of Strategy for HP Gaming Worldwide. As stated above both of us answer directly to Phil McKinney (I recommend everyone check out Phil's blog and listen to his Podcast, it's pretty awesome).

I will be one of four Chief Technologists sitting on the R&D Council for HP PSG (a $30B+ business) - so you may see our fingerprints on HP's entire portfolio as time goes on. No this doesn't mean you'll find overclocked printers with custom paint and windows - but hey, you never know.

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Cool stuff
By BaronMatrix on 10/13/2006 11:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
I think the first thing you should do is come up with an HTX memory board that will up system memory for those psychotic power users out there.

I figure an 8 socket add-in would be cool-running allow wksta and servers to get above the mobo imposed memory limit.

4 banks of 4 would be even better and woul dbe smaller than a modern GPU.

RE: Cool stuff
By kamel5547 on 10/13/2006 12:06:29 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't so much a MoBo imposed limit as an OS imposed limit. Considering the number of users running 32 bit OS's vs 64 bit OS's you can't really blame Mobo makers for not caring to go above 4 memory slots (which is 8 Gigs max if you use 2 gig dimms and the right MoBo).

The reality is once you start looking at servers you see much higher memory capacities (64 GB, 128 GB) however the number of users who would use over 8 GB is tiny, you might as well have them execute their programs on a cluster or server if they need that amount of power. Truth is is your going to spend that amount of money on memory your going to want the rest of the parts to be as powerful so cost is no longer a big deal IMO.

RE: Cool stuff
By JeffDM on 10/17/2006 10:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Buyers of systems with large memory could just cluster systems, but I don't think that is necessarily good practice, it depends on the use. Some uses would benefit, but it would hurt other uses.

RE: Cool stuff
By JeffDM on 10/17/2006 10:54:52 PM , Rating: 2
4 banks of four slots? That sounds like a lot of workstation or server boards have on-board without resorting to goofy add-on chips. If a person really is a "pshychotic power user", why not just buy a workstation board and be done with it? There are plenty of good workstation boards around. They do cost a little more, but relative to the cost of stuffing 16 DIMMs, it's not so bad. A simple workstation board would probably cost less than the total cost of a high end desktop board and said goofy memory add-ons.

By Rocket321 on 10/13/2006 3:23:54 PM , Rating: 2
Just 6 months following Alienware’s abduction

Lol on this comment.

By One43637 on 10/16/2006 1:47:56 PM , Rating: 2

by Rocket321 on October 13, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Just 6 months following Alienware’s abduction

Lol on this comment.

yeah that statement got me too. lol

RE: What inovations By j@cko
By Mr Fizzlepop on 10/14/2006 12:29:53 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I think you haven't really looked into VoodooPC if you think all they do is Paint and pattern.

Water cooling and, well let's be Honest, Style.

Voodoo is basically the BMW, the Caddie, the Porsche, of the computing world.

Once you go that high into the market, it's not strictly Value you are buying, it's Brand, its Clout.

Read some reviews on these machines; they are the quietest, fastest, most stylish, with Anal wire-wrapping on the Inside of the Case, computers you will ever NOT be able to afford if you are just the Average Joe.

If Paris Hilton ever starts Gaming...She'll own a VoodooPC, Nuff Said.

RE: What inovations By j@cko
By Randalllind on 10/15/2006 9:19:46 AM , Rating: 2
The only hardcoard pc's will be home built systems. all the BMW pc makers are being brought by Yougo makers!

Dell buy's Alienware and not Hp-Concrap buy's voodooPC and I am not buying that they went after HP.

Congrats and questions
By Goolic on 10/13/2006 5:38:47 AM , Rating: 2
I know your products aren't meant to be cheap ... But if you guys can use the inovations on HP's suply chain to be a litle cheaper won't hurt anyone, AND i might turn in a custumer insteade of only a fan of your work.

Will HP's R&D mean software inovation or only hardware, and what software voodoo has to ease the experience of the custumer?

Congrats and kick ass in the game industry

Obs: I think it's my first first post... Yey

By icthus13 on 10/13/2006 9:13:14 AM , Rating: 2
As long as they don't start putting HP's bloatware on Voodoo systems, this is going to be a good thing.

By oopyseohs on 10/14/2006 7:48:58 PM , Rating: 2
There was an interview/story thing posted about VoodooPC on gotfrag hardware too, check it out. It is with ravi though, not rahul.

great to see voodoo partner with HP imo, the companies complement each other very well. hopefully this will give rahul more time to write in his blog, because his blog freakin owns.

By S3anister on 10/15/2006 6:06:16 PM , Rating: 2
"No this doesn't mean you'll find overclocked printers with custom paint and windows"

lOL! omfg i want one, can you imagine that? a voodoo printer that's like an overclocked computer. lol

By Pythias on 10/17/2006 12:28:39 PM , Rating: 2

If this is the kind of runaround they give their customers, I dont want one.

what innovations?
By j@cko on 10/13/06, Rating: -1
RE: what innovations?
By Furen on 10/13/2006 8:21:51 AM , Rating: 3
But you haven't, that's the crux of the matter. A lot of people "can do" a whole lot of different things but don't, which is why we pay the few that actually do big bucks for their work.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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