ESI Interviews

Ep 31: Unlocking Immersive Realities Through AI with Matterport CIO Pranab Sinha

Guest Michael Keithley
Pranab Sinha
November 29, 2023
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Ep 31: Unlocking Immersive Realities Through AI with Matterport CIO Pranab Sinha
ESI Interviews
November 29, 2023

Ep 31: Unlocking Immersive Realities Through AI with Matterport CIO Pranab Sinha

On the 31st episode of Enterprise Software Innovators Pranab Sinha, CIO of Matterport, joins the show to discuss how Matterport uses the latest AI capabilities to enhance their products, the importance of a cohesive AI data strategy, and upcoming AI use cases he’s most excited about.

On the 31st episode of Enterprise Software Innovators, hosts Evan Reiser (Abnormal Security) and Saam Motamedi (Greylock Partners) talk with Pranab Sinha, CIO of Matterport. Matterport is a next-generation virtual modeling tool that uses 3D-scanning technology and machine learning to create immersive digital replicas of physical spaces. In this conversation, Pranab shares how Matterport uses the latest AI capabilities to enhance their products, the importance of a cohesive AI data strategy, and upcoming AI use cases he’s most excited about.   

Quick hits from Pranab:

On AI powering Matterport’s newest products: “Our digital twin technology and platform is powered by the Cortex AIm an advanced machine learning engine, which essentially takes the physical spaces and combines the digital image into a photorealistic, digitally accurate digital twin.” 

On areas where Pranab sees AI’s immediate impact: “One is around customer service, customer support, IT service. It's a lot of repetitive tasks that we have and we see real use cases, real potential on using AI to augment our intelligence that we have with our people on the front line. The second use case is around security. There is good news and bad news. You have all this great technology being developed, but at the same time, that technology will be available to the guys who are trying to disrupt your business.”

On data structures needed to make AI viable for Matterport: “One of the big things we pride ourselves on is the data that we get and how we train our models. Trust is a big thing. Data security is the biggest thing. And so when you put your physical space on our digital twin platform, we want to make sure that you have absolute confidence.”

Recent Book Recommendation: Good to Great by Jim Collins

Episode Transcript

Evan Reiser: Hi there, and welcome to Enterprise Software Innovators, a show where top tech executives share how they innovate at scale. In each episode, enterprise CIOs share how they've applied exciting new technologies, and what they've learned along the way. I'm Evan Reiser, the CEO and founder of Abnormal Security.

Saam: I'm Saam Motamedi, a general partner at Greylock Partners.

 Evan: Today on the show, we’re bringing you a conversation with Pranab Sinha, CIO of Matterport. Matterport is a next-generation virtual modeling tool, using 3D-scanning technology and machine learning to create immersive digital replicas of physical spaces. 

In this conversation, Pranab shares how Matterport uses the latest AI capabilities to enhance their products, the importance of a cohesive AI data strategy, and upcoming use cases of AI that he’s most excited about.  

Evan: Well, uh, first of all, I just want to say thank you again for joining us. I've been super looking forward to this for a while. Maybe to start, can you give our audience a brief overview of your career, maybe what your role is at Matterport? 

Pranab: I am the chief information officer at Matterport and responsible for all aspects of information technology, you know, IT and business services, cybersecurity, and some of the business functions, corporate function, like procurement. Prior to Matterport, I was at Genesis, the CX company. And then prior to that I was in hardware, so I was in Seagate for 17 years and then got into a semiconductor with MACOM in aerospace and defense. So pretty broad experience across all parts, you know, software, hardware, services. That's my career. 

Saam: I personally have consumed Matterport's product. I'm sure many of us have, and it's actually hard to think about looking for a home without using Matterport. And it's such a incredible example of digitizing the real world. And I have to imagine as you go down this journey, there are many examples of how AI can be woven into this digitization. What are some of the ways that Matterport is leveraging the latest capabilities in AI to further bridge the physical and digital worlds? 

Pranab: So, we are leading the digital transformation for the big word. And essentially what we are doing is digitizing physical space and creating what we call photorealistic dimensionally accurate. That's the key thing. Across any physical property, any physical space. And if you look at our library, I mean, we have 10 million plus spaces under our management. We have digitized about 30 billion plus square foot of physical space today. We started in residential real estate, all the virtual tours that you do today.

It's all powered by Matterport technology. And since then we have now expanded into obviously the commercial real estate, which is quite an adjacent, but beyond that, we are getting into construction, insurance. The big thing now is manufacturing. So I come from manufacturing background and I can see the value of getting created in the manufacturing industry for the factory floors and industrial automation for a technology like Matterport.

So a lot of expansion. So that's kind of the background of where we are heading amazing, you know. Uh, technology that's going really fast, but if you look at the, you know, the whole AI space, I mean, Matterport has been doing AI for last X number of years, much earlier than AI was the big thing. If you look at our digital twin technology or the platform, it's really powered by the Cortex AI engine. And it's an advanced machine learning engine, which essentially does is it takes the physical spaces and combines the digital image into a really photorealistic, digitally accurate digital twin. So all that magic happens through our AI Cortex engine. And then we are using that to drive a lot of insights into the property and the physical space.

So, We are using AI all in, you know, for a long time. Our next generation of product is going to be phenomenal. We recently announced our beta product, and what you guys will see is the use of generative AI technology to do even more things, reimagining spaces. The uses of Matterport technology is amazingly broad and wide.

From our perspective as consumer, we look at it from the whole residential real estate lens. But you start getting into manufacturing and industrial manufacturing, the factory floors, and you have a digital twin that over time you connect with your IoT and devices and, and your control systems are connected.

It changes the whole dynamics of how you run a manufacturing factory floor. So the use is just unbelievable across different verticals, different segments. 

Evan: There's a lot of innovation around how to build the right machine learning AI technologies right from scratch where you can just go to OpenAI and get the 2D or 3D translator API, right? I'm pretty sure. So do you mind sharing kind of like how Matterport kind of got into that and presence or lessons that kind of came from that innovation invention that has kind of affected some of our thinking around, you know, data or AI strategy today? 

Pranab: So we are about 10 year old company. We started with a hardware device, you know, and we have an amazing 3D camera. Obviously the version that we have now is much, much more advanced, really industrial, you know, industry leading technology for capture devices, 3D cameras, and that's where we started. And then over the years, as the Data started to get captured through our 3D camera, the focus was, okay, how do you democratize that data? How do you make sure that it becomes the de facto digital twin of the physical space that you captured? So a lot of innovation, a lot of technology, a lot of patents are there across that work that was, that has happened over the last 10 years.

That whole pace has accelerated over the last three to four years. We had our new CEO, RJ Pitman coming on board and, and our new CTO. And, and really the big focus was let's make our technology even hardware agnostic. So although we have a pretty strong presence in the hardware device, the digital camera, but besides that now we are device agnostic. You can use your smartphone to capture a physical space and create the same quality of digital twin that you can consume to do a bunch of things.

It's just amazing. So a lot of innovation every day, the focus is how do you innovate a product? How do you make it better? And how do you make it really, really Opening up new user experience with different use cases. So the think tank in the company is busy trying to build things. And that's what's our next Jena AI beta that we released.

It's just amazing product. We have several customers who are trying it out. And you'll see that coming very soon in GA. 

Evan: So there's all this data coming in right into your system, and then it gets then translated into something that can be presented on mobile phones and websites and, you know, all these other things.

Can you share a little bit about how the evolution there has affected your thoughts on like the data architecture, because there's just a lot of stuff, a lot of data, right? And I imagine that as you scale the organization, right, getting people to kind of contribute to that and consume that platform gets more challenging as it gets more complex across multiple dimensions.

Pranab: Absolutely. So, one of the big things we pride ourself is the data that we get and how we train our models. Trust is a big thing. Data security is the best big thing. And so when you put your physical space on our digital twin platform, we want to make sure that you have absolute confidence. On your data security, data privacy, and then also that we are not taking your personal data and trying to train our models.

So we have a data fabric infrastructure that makes sure that all those things that are very relevant in what we are doing today, is front and center and it gets even more relevant as we get into the JNI product. So the data fabric, what we have and how we render the physical space into a digital space is really lots of innovation, lots of great work that has gone into it with all the right controls in place.

Saam: So we've been talking a little bit about AI and data, and obviously the big trend over the last year has been around generative AI, and some of the generative AI technologies that we've seen emerge. This really feels like a new form of computing and will unlock a whole new interesting set of rich applications for end users to interact with technology.

And so. What are some of the ways maybe Matterport's using generative AI specifically today to reshape kind of the real estate industry? And then also like help us dream about what the future can look like, like three years from now, five years from now, what are some ways that might feel like science fiction today that we'd be interacting with generative AI? 

Pranab: Yeah. So let's talk about the product itself. So, like I said, we recently announced our Gen AI product in beta. It takes our product to the next level. It lets you reimagine space. It gives you dimensions, it gives you the floor plan from the physical space, in one shot. You're a warehouse operator and you have a bunch of customers that put their product. You want to showcase certain piece of the warehouse to a new prospect that coming in.

And instead of trying to physically move all that, could you reimagine that space? Hey, these guys are going to be selling electronic component and this is how it should be. This is the lighting requirement. This is the temperature requirement. All that reimagining happening based on that physical space that you are captured once is going to be the future and taking it even further, the whole factory space. I mean, that is an amazing, uh, kind of a model that you start thinking about is could you run factory with fewer number of people being more efficient and you have a physical space, the factory floor with bunch of equipments, and could you get a digital twin of that where your actual devices, your components in the factory, your manufacturing floor and industrial automation machines are connected through some kind of an IoT device that talks to your digital twin. Now you have a complete control of the factory that you can run, you can do preventative maintenance, you can do, you know, a bunch of things that is currently very hard to do.

It's time consuming, it's expensive. So you can let your imaginations run wild and then the use cases are just Amazing. And the question for us is where do we put our dollars first? And where is the, where do we get the maximum bang for the buck and then over time expand into different verticals.

Evan: One of the challenges I think a lot of our guests feel right now is like there's a lot of hype around AI and there's hype because there's real stuff in there, right?

And I mean, you guys are example of like applied AI really kind of transforming, you know, products, customer experiences. There's also a lot of noise.

When you're kind of looking at it, either kind of new technologies, you know, toward on the product side, or you're looking at kind of, you know, AI powered vendors, how do you separate out where the hype is warranted and where it's kind of not? 

Pranab: I think it's a matter of time where AI becomes almost embedded in the enterprise technologies that we consume. So. I was at Dreamforce this year, and literally everything was all about AI. And it's a matter of time where those things will almost be embedded in the technology. Same thing, the big ERP vendors, you know, it's very clear that it's not going to be a bespoke thing that you have to go and buy and connect.

They're going to be part of those applications. So it's going to be a progressive journey. The important thing is you have to be cautious at the same time, be optimistic, you know, that this is going to solve a lot of problems. And then at a societal level, I think the impact is going to be phenomenal. I mean, I look at the whole pharma industry, the medical industry. My son is actually finally an MD candidate, and so we chat a lot about, you know, how the AI will, and especially Gen AI, will have deep implication on the whole medical field. Right now there's a lot of hype, but you take out all the noise and there's some real signals. And we need to start experimenting with those things.

What are the key value creators today? Let's try some of those out. What are the use cases that we can employ in our enterprise to get a real efficiency?

That's what we're going to hit on.

Evan: Are there any, like, specific use cases, right, that you see as being, like, really high potential, you think applied AI can, you know, impact your business that you kind of want to see from, you know, different types of, you know, vendors?

Pranab: So two things I would say, you know, immediate effect. One is around the customer service, customer support, IT service. It's a lot of repetitive tasks that we have and we see real use case, real potential on using AI to augment our intelligence that we have with our people on the front line.

The second use case, which is very close to you and your company is around security. There is a good news and a bad news. You know, you have all these great technology being developed, but at the same time, that technology will be available to the guys who are trying to disrupt your business.

And so really, it comes down to these tools, these technologies that we procure on security, how are they going to be much more smarter? How are they going to use some of the things that the bad guys have to get ahead of the curve? And so, that's the other big use case around security and data privacy and data protection becomes very, very important for us.

Saam: I was talking to a fortune 500 CEO recently, and I was asking him how he thought about AI in his business. And he said it similarly to you, and he kind of framed it in a way that resonated with me, which is, I have to think about how AI changes the products I offer my customers. And I have to think about how AI changes how I run my business.

What are some of like the areas you would suggest? Or like, are there a couple use cases that you think people may not think about, but are easy ways to go get wins with AI and how you're running your business. 

Pranab: Totally. So a couple of things there, what I would advise the CIOs to first of all, be cautious, but at the same time, try experimenting some of these. Focus on one or two use cases where you see the value.

We're going to definitely try it on the customer service, you know, IT service space. We're going to try some of that in, in our collaboration space. The other area that we are really, really excited about is augmenting our development teams, our product development teams, to see if they can get a little bit more efficiency. Uh, and, and I, I no way say that, you know, it's going to replace a programming talent or whatever, it's never going to happen, but could we augment, uh, what they do today with some of the AI tools, that's how, you know, I see it, you know, fast forward five years, I think world is going to be in a better place because we will have a lot more tools to make decisions, to do things faster, be more efficient. And if companies are not doing that, then they're going to be left behind.

It's all about efficiency. And that's how I see it. 

Evan: You said earlier that one of the keys to Matterport success is this culture of innovation. A culture of kind of learning. You've been the CIO of like many notable companies, right? I have to imagine that you've helped foster that culture, right? And more places than just Matterport. 

Love to hear your perspective a little bit about how you think about, you know, building that culture of innovation within, within your team. Maybe, are there any like specific rituals or practices or habits or frameworks or traditions that you help amplified in order to really cultivate that, that culture of innovation within the team?

Pranab: Culture is an interesting thing. It doesn't come top down. It doesn't happen bottom up. It starts with what kind of people you bring to the workforce. How do you incorporate that workforce into a fabric that you have built? So the first thing is having that fabric in the company. I mean, our CEO, RJ, he's amazing from that perspective.

He talks about that. He incorporates that on a day to day basis. And so as you build that fabric, then the question is, as you are bringing workforce in, do they fit that fabric? And then making sure that it's a repeated thing, you know. We celebrate wins. We celebrate success. We allow people to fail and fast fail.

You know, those are the things that you have to inherently do to build that culture of innovation, because you're not going to be successful on every bet that you're gonna make. But does the company have the appetite to accept that and even further foster that and say, Okay, yeah, that's fine. You fail this, let's try something else. 

So those are the things that gets ingrained when you have a fabric that allows innovation and allows experimentation. And I think, you know, magic will happen.

Evan: So the end of every episode, we like to do kind of a quick lightning round to get some of the like one tweet answers. So maybe we'll kick that off now, and Saam, you want to fire one away first? 

Saam: Absolutely. So, to kick off, how should companies measure the success of a CIO? 

Pranab: I think value creation. Not cost, not, you know, anything else. It's the value that you're creating. 

Evan: Pranav, what's one piece of advice you wish someone told you when you first became a CIO? 

Pranab: I would say, you know, for the people who are getting their first stint as a CIO, bring the gravitas. Because CIO's role, it's a lot about influencing and directionally driving things for the company. So bring that influence, bring the gravitas to that role, because it's a big role. It has got deep implication across the enterprise. 

Saam: Pranab, how should CIOs position themselves to best collaborate with the rest of the C suite? 

Pranab: I think it goes back to the value creation. I think they need to be positioning IT in terms of the value creation that can happen from any part of the organization.

CIOs have a unique perspective because they are kind of the fabric that connects all the business processes within the company. And so the perspective that we have at the CIO is amazing. And let's harvest that. Let's make sure that we are building or we are driving things that creates that value. 

Evan: So switching gears a little bit to more of the personal side, is there a recent book you've read that's had an impact on you or your leadership? I'd love to hear what that is and why. 

Pranab: Yeah. You know, one book, it's not recent. I keep going to that all the time. It's Jim Collins, Good to Great. And it's, it's almost like a refresher to me, you know, every time change companies or, or have something, you know, I'll go back and look at something. I have notes written in that book and stuff and, and really, they talk about, you know, why some companies do better than others and, and you can take that and drill down into you, even your, your organization and say, okay, what am I doing good. How can I change compared to what I did last time at my last CIO gig? And then prior to that, so that's the company kind of go to book for me.

Saam: What's an exciting, like an upcoming technology and it's okay if it's not AI related, uh, that you're personally most excited about? 

Pranab: We are seeing a sea change, a disruption with AI. I think it's, it's going to be as big, if not bigger than the internet revolution. That's what I see. Besides, you know, enterprise work and the technology that we as a CIO use, it's going to impact our personal lives.

It'll have societal impacts, good and bad. And so this is the time for, you know, especially from a professional perspective, the CIO, they should have a FOMO, you know, they need to learn this, they need to understand, they need to experiment because you can't be left behind.

Evan: What do you think will be true about technology's future impact on the world that most people consider science fiction or maybe they don't think would actually come true? 

Pranab: I think we'll be in a place where how we look at the whole health and the physical being, whether it's the wellness, whether it's drug discovery, whether it's the clinical trials that are happening, I think we would be taking a giant step.

You know, think about a doctor. Who has got immense amount of information sitting out there and being able to augment their intelligence, their expertise, their experience with that information sitting out there in a much meaningful, in a much prescriptive manner, it's going to be a game changer. Think about, you know, radiologists who are using their intelligence to drive data out of the scans that they have done. And if there was a way to take that scan and compare with, you know, last 10 years of scans that have happened that have similar characteristics. I think the world is going to be in a better place. 

You know, same thing on drug discovery. If we are able to turn the dial a little bit to have more individualized, more personalized drugs that come out faster, um, that we can do some faster clinical trials, I think it's going to be a big change. So, uh, that's, that's exciting. That's really exciting. 

Evan: So Pranab, really appreciate you taking the time to, uh, chat with us and looking forward to catching up again soon.

Saam: Thanks for joining us, Pranav. 

Pranab: Thanks, uh, for the chat. You know, it was wonderful.

Evan: That was Pranab Sinha, CIO of Matterport.

Saam: Thanks for listening to the Enterprise Software Innovators podcast. I’m Saam Motamedi, a general partner at Greylock Partners.

Evan: And I’m Evan Reiser, the CEO and founder of Abnormal Security. Please be sure to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. You can find more great lessons from technology leaders and other enterprise software experts at

Saam: This show is produced by Luke Reiser and Josh Meer. See you next time!