Building a successful business can be a complex journey. The Wolf-Ryle Innovation Impact Group (WRiiG) was formed to help create a roadmap for success that is tailored to your specific vision and goals.
Founding partners Susan Wolf and Marcus Ryle have been in the musical instrument and pro audio industries for forty years and have first-hand experience in what it takes to build valuable organizations. Through WRiiG they now want to apply their knowledge to helping others to achieve the best possible outcomes for their organization.
Marcus and Susan began performing in bands from an early age, having played hundreds of Southern California gigs from clubs like the Troubadour to hotel lounges and corporate events while still teenagers. In addition to being a vocalist and a keyboard player, Susan has also been an active songwriter since these early days. Marcus’ keyboard and synthesizer playing also led to a career as a session musician in LA, recording with artists such as Chicago, Lee Ritenour, Christopher Cross, Barbara Streisand, and Chaka Kahn.
Marcus began his professional industry career as a design engineer at the synthesizer company Oberheim Electronics. From 1980 through 1985 he was a key architect and designer of such instruments as the OB-Xa, OB-8, Xpander and Matrix-12, as well as the DSX sequencer and DMX drum machine. During this time Susan was honing her professional skills as a credit manager at an LA hotel and as an executive assistant to producer and songwriter Jeff Barry.
In 1985 Susan and Marcus co-founded Fast Forward Designs with fellow Oberheim engineer, Michel Doidic. The mission of Fast Forward Designs was to provide innovative product ideation and development to other companies in the industry. Over the next 10 years Fast Forward Designs developed ground-breaking products in several categories, including audio recorders, effects processors, lighting controllers, keyboards, drum machines, sequencers, computer sound cards, and more. Clients included Alesis, Digidesign (Avid), Fostex, Dynacord, Studer, and Panasonic. The Fast Forward team grew to 11 engineers as their portfolio of products and expertise expanded, and over half a billion dollars of revenue was generated for their client companies by the products they designed.
In the ‘90s the founders saw that guitarists were being left behind in the technology revolution and began a development research project to see if it could be possible to create software models of the tones of legendary guitar amplifiers and effects. This led to the creation of the world’s first modeling guitar amp, and the formation of their new brand, Line 6.
Launched at the NAMM show in 1996, Line 6 evolved over the next 11 years to become the #1 manufacturer of guitar amps in the world. Along with creating a new category of guitar amps and selling millions of units, Line 6 revolutionized guitar recording with POD, introduced musicians to amp modeling plug-ins with Amp Farm, and created the first legal music subscription service with GuitarPort Online. Line 6 was originally self-funded through the royalty revenue generated by Fast Forward Designs’ product developments, and its growth was further accelerated by minority investments from venture capital partners Sutter Hill and Redpoint Ventures.
In 2008 Line 6 had grown to nearly 300 employees worldwide and achieved over $100M in annual revenue. In that same year Line 6 acquired X2, a guitar wireless startup based in California. This led to the development of the Relay guitar wireless product line, which soon after became the #1 brand of guitar wireless in the world.
The success and innovation of Line 6 attracted the interest of Yamaha Corporation of Japan, and in 2014 Line 6 was acquired by Yamaha. Over the next five years under the leadership of Marcus and Susan, Line 6 spearheaded the creation of Yamaha’s first Guitar Division, the re-formation of Line 6 corporate headquarters into Yamaha Guitar Group, and the acquisition of Ampeg in 2018. With the new division fully formed and with a very capable staff in place, Marcus and Susan were able to plan a smooth and successful transition through 2019 and hand over leadership to the Yamaha Guitar Group team.
Marcus and Susan’s successful journey provided them with first-hand experience in corporate strategy, business development, International expansion and entity creation, venture funding, intellectual property development and licensing, company acquisitions, and the sale of their company to the world’s largest musical instrument company. And throughout this journey there has been a critical focus on their commitment to company culture, organizational development, and creating a motivating and inspiring work environment.
None of this would have been possible without the help of many experienced mentors, and now WRiiG provides Marcus and Susan the opportunity to help other founders, executives, and investors through their own path to success.
Thank you to Cal Lutheran for having us as a part of their speaker series!
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