The tech legend who launched Windows 95 in NZ is now making digital humans

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand. This week he talks to Greg Cross from AI company Soul Machines.

Earlier this year, news came out that local company Soul Machines – makers of artificially intelligent, emotionally responsive avatars (aka digital humans) – had raised another US$40 million to continue taking its technology to the world. Locally, you might’ve seen it’s work with Air New Zealand and ANZ. Internationally, it’s worked with everyone from the makers of Mercedes Benz to big banks in the UK and, most recently, the World Health Organisation.

But this success isn’t the first rodeo for the company’s chief business officer. Greg Cross, who co-founded Soul Machines with CEO Mark Sagar, has had a storied career in tech over the years. He was a co-founder and partner at  PowerbyProxi – another commercialisation of research play that ended up with its wireless charging company sold to Apple for reportedly more than $100m – and was the head of Microsoft NZ when it launched Windows 95 in Aotearoa. In 2019, he took home the Flying Kiwi Award and, at the recent Hi-Tech Awards, was inducted into the NZ Hi-Tech Hall of Fame. Not bad for a kid that left school with no idea of what he wanted to do.

To talk about his journey in tech, what’s next for AI interfaces, and how New Zealand needs to think global, Greg Cross joined us for a good big chat you can check out below.

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