BOTS, BOTS, BOTS
Posted on March 8, 2016 Leave a Comment
In case you can’t tell from the title of this post, 2016 seems to be the year of BOTS. There’s been a mass craze surrounding bots, and developers and platforms alike, are flocking to the phenomenon. I’ll tell you what I mean – Take Slack for example. Although it’s a team communication platform, it has “bots” integrated into their platform (some official, some that are third party) that allows for communication to be even more fluid. For example, if you Slack as religiously as I do, you can find all sorts of “bots” that can range from any number of categories from social (GIPHY) to productivity (CALCULATOR) that enables you to pull up a calculator with a simple “slash” / command.
Another great example of bots/ai (this company falls into both in my opinion) is X.ai. X.ai, or Amy, as some call her – is an ai bot that is a virtual assistant to help schedule your meetings. Not going to lie – I got access to X.ai and what an amazing product. Amy allows me to schedule and setup meetings, appointment reminders, the whole nine yard, from a simple email. What I mean by simple email is, all I have to do is cc (carbon copy for your nubs) Amy and she’ll set everything up for you. It’s that SIMPLE and that INTUITIVE. To learn more about X.ai, click on the link above and signup to request Beta access.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, bots seem to be not only for productivity (Slack, X.ai) but also for social/messaging. For starters, Facebook just recently announced their own version of Siri/Cortana, called M. M is supposed to be an ai assistant that will enable Facebook Messenger users to do everything from order flowers to hail a Lyft, all within the platform. Imagine, not having to leave your conversation and be able to order a Lyft all within one platform? That seems to be what Facebook wants to do. Similarly, no different from Facebook, another Messaging platform has really vamped up its bot game. That platform is Kik, a mobile messenger that is popular within the teenage demographic. Kik has been in a bot game for a little over a year, working with various brands and retailers to provide a one-on-one bot/chat experience for their users. Their CEO, Ted Livingston is a firm believer in the bot revolution, and recently wrote an article about why the future of chat is BOTS – not ai. You can read the article here.
We think the answer is actually quite simple: For the first time ever, bots will let you instantly interact with the world around you. – Ted Livingston
What does he mean by this in his vision for Kik? Well the article mentions a pretty neat example. He redirects readers to a recent Forbes article done by one of its staff reporters, Parmy Olson. She goes into detail of how she recently visited Kik’s hometown of Waterloo. Using Kik, she “scanned” a Kik code that was available on a wall at a Coffee shop she was at. Upon scanning the code, she was immediately directed to a dedicated bot that was setup for the coffee shop to take orders. She punched in her order, paid via the bot, and was told her coffee would be ready for pickup in 5 minutes. It was THAT simple. Now tell me, is that not a smart bot? If you don’t believe me, read the full article here.
So yeah, it seems BOTS are all around us and are here to stay. What we once that as “robots” and “just for show” is now the new, hip, tech. Developers are flocking to platforms like Slack, Facebook, and Kik to develop more and more bots. Advertisers are going to want a piece of the action (they seemed to already be vying for parking spaces) in consumers’s minds. Whatever the case, bots are hype right now and seem to be headed in a positive direction. With mobile penetration rates continuing to increase and more and more users are using smartphones, technology needs to adapt as well. That adaptation, along side strategic partnerships with brands and marketers, will provide new and seamless experiences for end users.
Emojis, Stickers, GIFs – They’re the REAL DEAL
Posted on March 7, 2016 Leave a Comment
This is sort of a follow-up post to a pulse blog I wrote over on my LinkedIN. I recently came across an interesting article via NYTimes. The article was about emojis, and how they are becoming a real hot commodity for marketers. For example, the article mentions how brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Verizon, and others – paid a hefty sum of $1M to run branded emoji hastag campaigns on Twitter for this year’s Super Bowl (NOTE: they didn’t pay $1M for ONLY emojis. There was a combination of emoji hashtags and other ads). If you want to read more about them you can read an amazing article via AdWeek here.
It’s these little characters with funny faces and expressions that are winning over the masses. I couldn’t help but think how correlated all this was to my previous posts from the past – how content wins the masses.
Now for those who are fairly new to my blog, I’ve been in the content business for quite some time. I’ve followed the trends of mobile messaging apps, since their fruition in Asia a few years ago. Although Asia is a little different in that they use less emojis and more stickers/emoticons, none the less, both fall in the same category – EXPRESSION. And because of this category of expression, brands & marketers alike, are all jumping in the bandwagon vying for parking space. Mobile Messaging has become a game changer, in that users are ever so connected through their devices. Multiple conversations happen simultaneously, and brands want in on those convos. Emojis, stickers, and GIFs – all have a way of taking simple conversations to the next level. I’ll give an example below:
Instead of typing “Good luck on your interview” with a reply of “thanks so much” – users can simply use stickers, emojis, and GIFs. This is why brands and marketers want a piece of the action. Users are sending billions upon billions of messages per day across multiple messaging apps. From your Facebook Messenger all the way to SnapChat – people are communicating through content. Still don’t believe me? Well how about the recent integration of GIFs into Twitter’s mobile platform. Through a partnership with GIPHY & Riffsy – Twitter has added an additional means of expression for its users. Searching through hundreds of millions of GIFs to use as a form of expression just made Twitter that much more fun for its users. IMAGINE, what would brands want with all that data?
So back to the NYTimes article. In it, Twitter’s own Senior Director of Global Brand Strategy, Ross Hoffman, states that “there’s a lot of brand demand for emojis.” Now, this is coming from a company like Twitter who’s Q4’15 earnings report states that they earned $710M in revenue for the quarter (HMM, maybe they’re onto something?). Regardless of the fact that Twitter’s user growth has been stagnant, the fact of the matter is brands want emojis. They want to be part of conversations. They want to be inserted into sentences. This is why emojis, stickers, and GIFs are so popular. What’s the saying – A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s what these forms of expression are. Users will continue to use them and conversations will be that much fluent and easier to do.
So yeah – these little guys AND gals, are here to stay.
Anchor.fm – True Public Radio
Posted on February 9, 2016 Leave a Comment
Haven’t done a product review in a long time, but felt this was the perfect app to start off my first 2016 review. A few days ago, I came across an interesting product called Anchor.fm, via Twitter. Before I dive deeper, here’s a little background on Anchor via their website:
Anchor is a free iPhone app that makes it easy to broadcast short audio clips to a global audience in seconds. Your listeners can talk back, sparking instant group conversations that were never before possible. When not recording, listen to authentic humor, knowledge, inspiration, and debate from Anchor’s global collective of personality. – Anchor.fm
OK – Back to the product review. Lately, I’ve been big into podcasts (I KNOW I’M A LITTLE LATE TO THE GAME) and I’m always on the lookout for something in the audio space. Podcasts are where I get my weekly tech updates, listen to the latest news, and hear interesting stories from casters. Basically, I just enjoy listening to audio. When I saw Anchor, I thought their concept of using audio in the form of short clips was intriguing. I decided to ask for a beta invite (For iOS only – SORRY Android users but I hear they may be working on a version for you soon!) from one of its founders, Mike Migano, who was kind enough to send me access so I could become an Anchor member.
Signing up was easy – link my Twitter (BIG TWITTER USER I AM), enter in my email, choose a password, and voila~ After all that was said and done, I got to explore the platform itself and listen to some of the “waves” as they’re called (like radio – GET IT).
Below is a screenshot of Anchor.fm from my account.
There were a lot of users whom I already knew (I follow them on Twitter) who had posted a lot of waves. When I clicked on play for one of them, Anchor offered the ability to either listen to the wave via your phone’s speaker (see screenshot below), or by putting it up to your ear to hear. This part was what really struck out to me. Anchor’s platform is smart and detects whether you move your phone to your ear or whether it’s just laying idle on a surface. I liked this feature as it let me decide whether I wanted everyone near me to hear my Anchor wave or if I wanted to be more discreet and listen in privacy (I could pretend that I’m just on the phone listening to a voice mail). Also, recording a wave was pretty straight forward as well. Best part of recording a wave – was that it has a time limit as to how long your wave can be.
I really liked that aspect of it. Reminded me sort of Twitter’s 140 character limit. I really had to prepare and practice my first wave before I actually recorded it. Trust me, it’s a good thing. I probably re-recorded my first wave several times, but I think that’s what makes Anchor beautiful. You don’t want to put up anything – because it becomes public to the entire community. Anchor makes you want to really think hard and carefully about how to put up meaningful content. Whether it’s a simple question about politics, or a topic that you want to reply to, you have to make sure you think it thoroughly through before you respond with a wave.
With all that said, Anchor also has some cool social features such as liking, sharing, and replying. You can also choose to follow other members so you get updates on their latest waves. It’s actually pretty addicting. Even now, as I’m writing this post, I’m also trying to think of my next Anchor Wave. Hopefully Anchor will continue to gain momentum and attract more users. Go ahead, give them a try and feel free to engage with me on Anchor.
OH BTW – they officially launched on iOS today.
Check them out here: https://www.anchor.fm/
Twitter is testing GIF Search???
Posted on February 4, 2016 Leave a Comment
Sorry it’s been awhile since my last blog post. It’s been a hectic few months and I know I should have been more thorough in keeping up with posts (HELL I EVEN MADE A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION). Again, my apologies.
I wanted to start off my first post of 2016 with some interesting news that recently came to fruition. According to a recent TechCrunch report, Twitter is reportedly “testing” a new GIF search feature (read the report here). With the recent press all about Twitter, from recent departures to its stock hitting an all time low, this new news may bode well for Twitter (MORE ON THAT LATER).
I first came across the “rumor” while doing my usual morning Twitter check-in. Someone I follow Tweeted out the rumor, a long with a screenshot (see below).
@tmcmill81 what?! link???
— Phillip Yang (@geekyyang) February 4, 2016
— Phillip Yang (@geekyyang) February 4, 2016
If this rumor is true, I feel it’s a major push by Twitter to amp up its advertising game. With the world revolving around GIFs and Emojis, brands and advertisers alike are all trying to get in on the action. Everyone from social networks to mobile messenger platforms, have some sort of GIF integration system in their platforms. There are a ton of GIF curation services, such as GIPHY, Riffsy, and more – that are becoming part of everyday conversations for users. Because of this, advertisers and brands are vying to find “parking spaces” into consumers’ dialogues.
One great example would be a recent report on how much brands will pay during the Superbowl to run an #emojihashtag campaign on Twitter (RUMOR HAS IT THAT IT’S $1M!) – See here for the report – while another recent update would be Kik Messenger, and how they unveiled a new product of Branded GIFs. Clearly, all signs point to that there is something here that advertisers and brands want.
As consumers continue to stay ever so connected and full sentences become less and less, I can only imagine what new innovative features will come about from GIFs and Emojis, and how they will tie into digital advertising.
You say Picasso, I say PIKAZO!
Posted on November 25, 2015 Leave a Comment
SO, it’s been quite awhile since my last post. I’ve been quite busy and apologize for not staying on top of my blogging. I guess a lot has happened over the past few weeks in tech, including WordPress as well, but I’ll get into all that in later posts. For now, I wanted to do my usual Product Review posts and share an amazing new fun app I recently came across.
A few days ago, I came across an interesting Tweet by none other than THE Ryan Hoover ;). For those who do not know who Ryan is, uh…..uh…..please go to Product Hunt! – Any who, back to the Tweet. Ryan is always great at sharing new products he personally likes or has come across (SHIT I MEAN THAT’S WHAT PH IS ABOUT). No different to his normal fun tweets, he shared an interesting Selfie photo of his that was rather intriguing (see Tweet below). It was a picture of his photo that was morphed into a Pizza. I thought it was interesting, but didn’t really pay much more attention to it.
Fast forward to yesterday, I had some free time to actually check out the product Ryan was talking about that turned his lovely face into a pizza.
The app is called Pikazo (Like Picasso, but with a K – funny pun). I decided to go back to Product Hunt’s website, and click on the link provided to download the app for iOS myself. Mind you, it’s $2.99, but I’m a fan of testing new products, so I decided to go ahead and purchase it to see the magic for myself.
According to Pikazo’s website: “Pikazo is at the very bleeding edge of neural network software. It really, truly, actually works by simulating the way your brain sees images.” – this is what made me more interested, as I wanted to really test out their product to see how it all actually worked.
Pikazo is at the very bleeding edge of neural network software. It really, truly, actually works by simulating the way your brain sees images – Pikazo
The entire process to “Pikasofie” (I made it up) your portrait was simple. All I had to do was allow access to my photo library, then choose a photo that I wanted to use, select the style I wanted (Picasso, Van Gogh, etc) and voila!~ Here’s the kicker: the app doesn’t morph your picture right away. NO – don’t be alarmed, it’s because Pikaso’s software needs time analyzing and processing your photo. What this means is, depending on the quality of your photo – basic to advanced – it takes time to fully process and provide you an amazing Pikasofied photo. Take a look at a photo of mine that was Pikasofied below. (wait time was about 4 minutes – not bad)
Overall, the app itself was pretty neat. It didn’t require any crazy knowledge on art, and wasn’t complex to use. I could see why so many people were checking them out and using it to make some unique photos.
If you want more information or want to download the app for iOS, you can do so by going here: Pikazo.
Side note: I LOVE HOW THEY USE THE OLD TECHNIQUES OF FAMOUS ARTISTS. I’M A FAN OF ART HISTORY.
Use Pencil – A Product Review
Posted on November 5, 2015 Leave a Comment
I haven’t done one of these in awhile, so I thought it was time to get back on it. This post is another one of my product reviews. I recently was contacted via Slack DM in a startup Slack group that I am part of (SSG – is the group). The acquaintance had reached out to me to see if I would be interested in signing up for a platform he had been working on, and giving him my thoughts and opinions on his product. His product, is called Pencil (Not the No. 2 pencil y’all are thinking about). Pencil is a web platform (for now?) that is focused on sharing ideas through quick blurbs, added with visuals.
Get your thoughts out. Spread your ideas through rich visuals in minutes. – Pencil
I decided to give it a try and explore the platform. I’ll admit, at first it was a bit confusing as I really didn’t understand what was going on. However, no different to my other product explorations, I decided to play around with the platform after signing up. (Signing up is easy, plug in an email, register a username, and your’e set to go) I explored the various ‘Stories’ that were trending on the platform. As I clicked on a few and reviewed them, it hit me – Pencil is a short story, content curation, through the use of added visuals. What I mean by this is: think Medium, Blogging, Facebook Posts, but condensed to relay a certain point or message, with visuals. Hell it’s like powerpoint slides but with interactive visuals, only difference is that you’re not looking at a slide with 239489027354723847572345 words, where you lose your focus and attention.
For example, I decided to create my first ‘Pencil Story’ – titled Definition of a startup (linked for you to view). I wanted to create my story on my “definitions” on what defines a startup (opinions are my OWN).
To make one was rather simple: create my first page, add a visual, then continue to add more points by “adding pages.” You keep your text short and simple, to relay your message. From there, you can add visuals in the form of images or GIFs (love that they use GIPHY’s api). I like this feature, as I felt it helped relay my points across more effectively (OH SHIT – MAYBE THAT’S THEIR PURPOSE?!). With their integration with GIPHY’s API (The largest GIF search engine), there wasn’t a GIF I couldn’t find to add to my story. The entire time I was creating my ‘story,’ I felt my creative juices flowing while thinking of the content I wanted to write.
Quite frankly, with old school blogging becoming “obsolete” – (IMO), there have been more and more new platforms that take writing to the next level. Medium is a great example of this. With the emphasis on “content” in today’s tech industry, Pencil seems to be on par with the overall sentiments of the mass audience.
Overall, I liked Pencil. I think I’ll use it more often to just play around with it and make some GIF Slides(?!). I suggest you try it out as well and see for yourself. You can sign up by going here and follow them on Twitter here.
Oh, I also took the liberty of taking screen shots of my first story. For you CAT LOVERS, there’s CAT GIFS ALL OVER.
Top 10 Pieces of Advice for YC – via Michael Seibel
Posted on November 2, 2015 Leave a Comment
Good morning, hope everyone had a wonderful weekend/Halloween. Can’t believe it’s November already. I wanted to start off a fresh post based off an amazing Tweet I saw a few days ago, from Michael Seibel, partner at YC. For those who don’t know or have never heard of YC, Y Combinator is an incubator/accelerator for startups, where YC invests in a seed amount to help kick start startups as well as help mentor and nurture them. If you’d like to know more about them, I wrote a previous piece on them, which you can read by clicking here.
OK – so back to the purpose of this post. Twitter is a great resource for entrepreneurs and startup founders to gain a wealth of knowledge on startups, tech, funding, and VCs. It’s also a great place to find solid advice from VCs, angels, and Partners of various incubators/accelerators. No different, Michael Seibel is an advocate in supporting founders and entrepreneurs. As a partner at YC, he posts great solid advice on his Twitter account (linked above). His latest Tweet that caught my attention was titled “My Top Ten Pieces of Advice for Prepping for an YC Interview.” I thought his Tweet was great as it gave some solid advice for those who were applying to YC to get into their next batch.
My top ten pieces of advice for preparing for a YC Interview, good luck! – Michael Seibel, Partner at YC
I decided to take the liberty of summarizing his advice below. For those who are motivated and are thinking of applying to YC, I suggest to heed his words.
- Interview is 10 minutes long and goes fast – practice and time yourself
- The focus will be on Team, Market, and Traction
- Most answers should be no longer than 20-30 seconds – follow up questions will come
- Don’t try to demo first thing – demos are usually in the second half of the interview
- Founders shouldn’t talk over each other or contradict each other
- The first question is “what do you do” – have a great 30 second answer that covers what you do with an example. This is the hardest and most impactful question – AVOID JARGON – your mom and dad should be able to understand what you do from this answer
- There are websites with sample interview questions – google them and practice
- Questions will be rapid fire – you won’t be able to control the direction of the interview – just roll with it 🙂
- When you intro yourselves in the beginning – be clear about which founders does business and which does tech
- If there are any red flags/weak points for your startup – be ready to answer a question about them with clear 15 second answers. Be prepared but don’t dwell on the bad
Below is his actual Tweet which you can view (suggest you follow him as well)
My top ten pieces of advice for preparing for a YC Interview, good luck! pic.twitter.com/V6wUDnl960
— Michael Seibel (@mwseibel) October 31, 2015
I felt compelled to blog about this as what better way to start off your Monday than with some entrepreneurial wisdom and advice ;). Also, if you’re interested in applying to YC, you can check out their website here.
Twitter’s Newest Television Ad
Posted on October 28, 2015 Leave a Comment
So yesterday, Twitter unveiled it’s new Television Ad, and people were all over it. By ‘all over it’ – I mean that many people were saying nothing but negative things about the newest TV Ad. It seems that the general consensus was that it was a ridiculous advertisement that wasn’t showing off what Twitter was, and that it just didn’t make any sense. There were all sorts of news articles written as soon as the ad was unveiled. I wanted to write a post about it because I feel that many people are just jumping the gun, without really trying to think about what Twitter is trying to do.
the campaign’s goal is to let targeted segments of potential users see the stuff that’s on Twitter every day. – Anthony Noto, CFO of Twitter via an Interview with The Verge
To give you a little summary about the advertisement, it’s a short 30 second clip that showcases the current Baseball Post-Season featuring the teams that are currently in the playoffs along with some of the players from various ball clubs. The advertisement itself incorporates Twitter and its newest feature, Moments, where you can get live quick updates on certain topics directly to your Twitter feed. It also features jamming background music along with color GIFs and summaries of people’s tweets as well as video loops of replays from plays during the Baseball Post-Season.
I guess this is where people found the advertisement to be bad? I mean, Twitter is promoting itself as a platform as well as Moments. Not really sure why there’s so much negative criticism about all of it. It seems that many think that Twitter isn’t focusing on its platform, but instead, just doing whatever to gain more users. WRONG – I think what this advertisement does is display Twitter as not what we all know (and love for some) of it as, 140 characters to blast away instantaneously to users on the platform. No – instead what this advertisement does in my opinion is it shows Twitter as much more. Not just a platform to “Tweet,” but an ecosystem that enables you to do much more. Moments is live curation of certain topics once you follow. This what’s appealing about Moments, because you can get live, up to the minute updates. With the connection between Moments and Baseball, it’s doing exactly what it needs to, catering towards a segmented audience in Baseball fans.
I came across a great article via Martin Bryant, of TheNextWeb, who sums up the advertisement perfectly. The advertisement isn’t for the people who are currently using the platform, it’s for those who AREN’T. That’s the big takeaway from the new ad, and that’s what I think people should realize. I highly suggest you read Martin’s summary here.
Take a look at the advertisement and decide for yourselves.