Michael Brown was driving on the west side of Manhattan after his son’s hockey practice one day when he looked up at Hudson Yards skyscrapers and thought, “I cannot believe humans still clean windows on skyscrapers.”
After more than 25 years of acquisition rollups in the business-to-business service industry, Brown was looking for a new company using robotics and automation. That chance sighting at Hudson Yards led Brown to Skyline Robotics, a robotic window cleaning service featuring a robot called “Ozmo.” Brown joined the company as CEO and chairman in 2020.
“I did a global search for the right technology and then set my sights on Skyline Robotics as the most viable solution to bring to market,” he says. “The company was in its infancy, and I could quickly apply my years of management and operations experience to take it to the next level in funding and go to market strategy.”
Skyline Robotics is the first company to leverage robots as a service to automate the $40 billion window washing industry. Its robot, Ozmo, “combines the capacities of custom-built AI systems and machine learning solutions, enabling it to work precisely, continuously adapt and command peak efficiency,” according to Skyline Robotics’ website.
Skyline Robotics: OZMO in Action
Ozmo is able to intricately scan building surfaces, memorizing every curve and edge of the area, while force sensors provide it with a sense of touch and sight. The data is analyzed by Ozmo’s brain, providing it with a thorough sense of its surroundings, according to Skyline Robotics.
“My journey with Skyline is just the beginning of making an impact in an industry that has lacked change,” says Brown.
Four generations at Syracuse
Choosing Syracuse University to get his bachelor of arts in information technology in the 90s was an easy decision for Brown. He was the third generation Syracuse students in his family. His son is now a fourth generation sophomore at Syracuse’s School of Information Studies.
“I loved the campus and sports and thought it would be a great place to continue my education,” says Brown. “The iSchool’s curriculum that I focused on was how to harness data so people can make decisions based on facts.”
He credits Syracuse alumna and long-time staff member Barbara “Barb” Settel, who passed away in 2021, for mentoring him in college.
“She was by far the most important person for me at the school,” says Brown. “Barbara was my advisor and helped me navigate the curriculum so I would take IT Business Management classes that I knew would be beneficial to see a whole organization’s picture rather than one focus.”
Brown encourages current Syracuse students to ask questions, be curious and seek knowledge.
“Your degree becomes an unlimited passport to opportunities,” he says. “Our school motto is ‘Knowledge crowns those who seek her,’ so the quest should continue upon graduation as we can make a huge impact with our knowledge.”
He also advises students to take courses that give an overview of where technology is going, get internships at businesses that interest them and reach out to him if they want to connect.
“You can connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s keep the Syracuse alumni network mighty,” says Brown.