Alban Denoyel - Sketchfab

5 min read
Blog Author

Alban Denoyel - Sketchfab

Blog Author
5 min read
For this 10x10 Session, the Co-Founder and CEO of Zappar Ltd (Caspar Thykier) is joined by the Founder and CEO of Sketchfab (Alban Denoyel).

For this 10x10 Session, the Co-Founder and CEO of Zappar Ltd (Caspar Thykier) is joined by the Co-Founder and CEO of Sketchfab (Alban Denoyel).


Alban is a French entrepreneur and the Co-Founder and CEO of Sketchfab - the largest platform to publish and find 3D content online. Their mission is to make 3D accessible. With a community of millions of creators who have published more than 3,000,000 3D files, they are the largest platform for immersive and interactive 3D. 


The conversation:



Caspar Thykier: I am delighted to be joined by Alban, the CEO and Founder at Sketchfab, the leading platform for 3D and AR on the web. Perhaps you could give us a bit of background of how you started Sketchfab and what your aspirations are?


Alban Denoyel: Hi guys. Thanks for having me. Sure. So we started Sketchfab in 2012. It is a solution to publish, share embeds, and showcase files in the web browser. If you wanted to show a file you needed to share, and it sends a file to someone with the free software to open it. Otherwise, most people were using videos and screenshots. And we thought, there must be a better solution there. And we figured, yeah. So the web was the right vehicle to bring pretty content to the masses. And WebGL came to markets in 2011, which allowed us to build what we wanted. 


Caspar Thykier: Yeah, absolutely. And in terms of the AR elements and how that's developed over the last 10 years, has that surprised you at all? Has it rolled out as you imagined? Since 2011 when we both started, it's quite a different landscape, and it's interesting to see where it is now, but was that a journey that you foresaw coming? 


Alban Denoyel: When we started it wasn't really. I mean twists somewhere in our radar, but we were really focused on just video on the web. I kind of knew that eventually, we'd be able to support AR on our platform, but I had really no idea on the timeline. And we're relying on the web. So we're dependent on the implementation of other key components, and then VR comes to market and with VR and see what should it be for use in VR much earlier in AR. And then it's suddenly in 2017, AR became core and came to market, which allowed us to plug our web-based vendor to and their AR concept, if you will, and made it pretty straightforward for us to add AR support to the platform. 


Caspar Thykier: Yeah. It definitely seems that the introduction of world tracking all came together. And then where they are after that has just massively opened up the space. And what do you think is the opportunity almost with I guess your community of 3D artists in AI? Do you see them using it a lot?


Alban Denoyel: We have a large community of free creators, and we also have more and more brands using our solutions. And so we see a lot of interest from brands we want to. Venture into AR and bringing art to their websites and so on. And then in terms of content creators, I think they are always very mind blown to seize their own work in a year and be able to showcase their work in AR. It is 3D spatial work and it's meant to be consumed in a spatial way with which can be VR or AR. And mobile is 10 times better than this stuff, because like you have the touch component and then AR is 10 times better, isn't it. Then mobile, because you are, as you are as a mouse in your seat.


Caspar Thykier: I love the idea of you being the mouse. That's great. And have there been any sort of specific challenges then, in terms of the way that you've had to build the platform or advice for 3D artists in terms of that sort of asset creation and working within AR.


Alban Denoyel: It's definitely part of our mission to solve a lot of those pain points. So there are still a lot of pain points around file size and content optimization,  and the geometry sides of things. And on the texture side of things, a good thing is that a lot of optimization work that is required for AR is also required for web-based publishing. And so, we started nine years ago. And so we spent the past nine years educating our community around optimization for time and all that. So that's been very valuable. And then there are still many challenges to be clear. We now have kind of two standards already or file formats and they don't support everything the same way. And so it's, it's on us. It's on us to fix those challenges, not on the user. Like we think so users shouldn't have to worry about all those things. Like we want to make it that simple for them. 


Caspar Thykier: Yeah. That whole notion of just building one. You know, I guess the exporting to medic. And do you find that we will see companies work on these file formats and optimize them? 


Alban Denoyel: For sure. Especially with the pandemic, a lot of brands are working. It's really accelerated their education in space and realizing the power of 3d and starting to get rid of physical samples and 3d lets them save a lot of money and a lot of time. And so instead of building and shipping it from China to the US and then doing that 10 times to just change the color from green to blue, it is really bad for customers and time. You can do all that much faster and more. Cost-effectively. And so we've seen a lot of brands overnight shifting to 3D. Older brands are shifting to end-to-end 3d digital workflows. And, they're all looking for solutions to have to manage. 


Caspar Thykier: Absolutely. Makes sense. And I guess sitting where we are now in 2021 and it kind of looking at you know, rather than looking back, looking forward?


Alban Denoyel: Yeah, I think what is for me there, I see exciting things. The first one is where banks are actually lending in Safari, which means we'll be able to do pure WebXR and where they are on both iOS and Android in a much more straightforward way. And this is news as of last week, I think it's very new. Another one is everything around budget tracking, and all that. I think it brings interesting opportunities. And as a way in is it's a concept of variants and configurators supported in AR we a big part of our business around configurators. And right now we haven't really bridged those capabilities into our AR mode and it's gonna become easier to do so.


Caspar Thykier: Thank you very much. Really appreciate your time. You know, just such a fan of the incredible stuff you're doing and the massive community that you built.


Alban Denoyel: Thank you.