Why 50 Cent and Peter Thiel Invested in the Same Company
If you work with a computer, there’s a ninety percent (90%) chance that you’re suffering from computer eye strain which accounts for more than $8 billion in lost productivity according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Strange, since no one seems to be talking about this threat much less understand how to remedy it. And it also makes you wonder how much worse it will become because of the explosion of new mobile devices, and, more importantly, why companies tend to be nearsighted in preparing its workforce.
That might be why an unlikely pair of investors (amongst a few others) decided to invest in Gunnar, a Carlsbad, California company that believes it can help 70-75% of those eye strain sufferers by wearing its stylish, but protective computer eye glasses. “50 Cent is a brilliant businessman and he understands people,” said Jennifer Michelsen, Gunnar’s CEO “and Peter Thiel is Mr. Silicon Valley and having him part of Gunnar has been incredibly helpful for opening doors to tell our story.” Both seem to recognize the danger and both spot the opportunity.
It seems like every day I run across yet another group of people that are suffering as I am from computer eye strain. Les Kollegian, CEO of the respected web design firm JacobTyler, tells me, he is seeing the same thing wherever he goes. The experts tell me it’s the combination of staring at a fixed screen at a fixed distance for an extended period of time that causes the eyes to strain which causes vision degradation. As a result, in just a few short years, my 20/20 vision has deteriorated to something far worse.
So when I heard about Gunnar, I wanted to drop in on them to see if they are indeed our saving grace. But first I decided to try their glasses out for myself in a sort of test to see if they were effective for me. To do so required an experiment – which for me involved staring at an eye chart 20 feet away and across the room. I recorded the smallest line that I could see clearly, then started to wear the Gunnar glasses for 6 weeks straight whenever I was in front of a computer. After the six week experiment was over, I conducted the same eye chart test and recorded the results. I’ll share them at the end of this article.
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During the six week trial, I managed to visit Gunnar to meet with one of their experts. “The problem with eye strain is a result of reduced blink rates, near point stress syndrome, the quality of the light, and glare,” Gunnar’s CTO, Joe Croft told me when discussing how Gunnar solves the problem, “we create a lens that identifies and solves for each one of those issues one by one.”
So in simple terms, Gunnar is turning the environment and the light that’s coming from it into something that’s much more compatible with our eyes. And therein lies the genius of the technology. No need to spend an enormous amount of money replacing fluorescent lights and energy efficient monitors (it turns out are exceedingly bad for the eyes) just wear Gunnar’s glasses to provide an optimal experience for the eyes.
Best of all, according to Michelsen, “We’re covered by all major vision insurance companies for prescription glasses. We also work with a lot of companies where computer glasses are already built into their benefits package.” It’s probably worth looking into yours.
This is a company that’s focused on the future. Eye strain will only get worse, and if we don’t start preparing for it we’re going to have a generation of workers with severe eye problems.
P.S. Using a Snellen eye chart at a distance of 20 feet, after wearing Gunnar Glasses for 6 weeks my vision improved from 20/40 to 20/30.