Amazon Shares Drop 26 Percent As Centralization Alienates Suppliers

Amazon Shares Drop 2.6 Percent As Centralization Alienates Suppliers

Amazon suppliers received a lesson in centralization on March 7 after the e-commerce giant abruptly began canceling huge numbers of orders in a profits push. Amazon: We ‘Saw Opportunity’

As Bloomberg reported, quoting a statement from Amazon, the company wants to increase returns at the heart of its e-commerce operations. This has involved fundamentally altering the supply line, forcing even long-time sellers to sell products directly on its marketplace instead of using Amazon as a middleman. This, reports say, results in reduced costs, as suppliers themselves foot the bill for issues such as storage and shipping. Amazon also takes a commission from each transaction. “We regularly review our selling partner relationships and may make changes when we see an opportunity to provide customers with improved selection, value and convenience,” the statement reads.

The knock-on effect for suppliers, perhaps predictably, has already touched a nerve. As Bloomberg notes, given purchase orders agreed months in advance, seismic changes from Amazon can easily trigger chaos. “If you’re heavily reliant on Amazon, which a lot of these vendors are, you’re in a lot of trouble. If this goes on, it can put people out of business,” the publication quoted Dan Brownsher, CEO of a consultancy counting around 50 Amazon vendors among its clients, as saying.

At press time,
Amazon’s share price was down by close to three percent on the day.


Can Decentralization Tackle Monopolies?

As Amazon has grown to achieve a practically worldwide monopoly, the perils of relying on a giant centralized partner will ring true for those businesses which have adopted an alternative ethos. Nonetheless, decentralized marketplaces have yet to achieve widespread popularity. Efforts to take on the e-commerce giants have so far seen little progress, with highly-anticipated offerings such as OpenBazaar failing to dent consumer habits. “You should be able to buy and sell using cryptocurrency… if you get crypto, you should be able to spend it… you and buy whatever you need for your daily activity,” the platform’s founder, Washington Sanchez, told cryptocurrency advocate Tatiana Moroz’s podcast the Tatiana Show in January. Sanchez is overseeing a diversification of OpenBazaar’s core offering, branching out into related software as part of parent company

Article Produced By
Esther Kim

Esther Kim

Decred Founder Proposes Building DEX as Alternative to Binance Interview

Decred Founder Proposes Building DEX as Alternative to Binance [Interview]


Decred founder Jacob Yocom-Piatt recently proposed

a decentralized exchange (DEX) to the Politeia community. The initiative hopes to cut high-listing fees, front-running high-frequency traders, and third-party rent-seeking. A product that could overcome these barriers would be an ideal alternative to centralized exchanges, but Yocom-Piatt admits the community could still reject the proposal.

Politeia in Action

Decred was launched by Jacob Yocom-Piatt, Dave Collins, David Hill, John Vernaleo, Josh Rickmar, and Alex Yocom-Piatt in Feb. 2016. It uses a hybrid Proof-of-Stake and Proof-of-Work mining system to ensure that miners avoid becoming overly centralized. One of the founding principles of the project has also been its focus on community and open governance.

This founding principle has manifested itself in the project’s launch of Politeia in Oct. 2018. Politeia allows token holders of the Decred community to vote on the direction of the project by staking their tokens. By using native DCR tokens as a governance tool, holders effectively take decide how Decred funds are spent. At its launch last year, Decred’s coffers held roughly $23 million in DCR tokens.

It is an ambitious version of governance, one in which Yocom-Piatt pointed could end badly for the group. In the initial post announcing Politeia’s launch, Yocom-Piatt wrote, “Politeia allows Decred users and stakeholders to propose, discuss, collaborate on, and fund new projects, initiatives, and consensus changes. If stakeholders exercise bad judgment, it can have serious negative consequences.” Proposals can take two forms: ones that stir voter support for a change of policy or those that will fund projects from the Decred treasury. The upcoming DEX proposal will fall into the latter category and is estimated to cost between $100,000 to $1,000,000 to build.

Features of a Decentralized Alternative

In a phone interview with CryptoSlate, Yocom-Piatt outlined the reasons behind the proposal. One of the major issues for the Decred founder was the number of problems he has seen

regarding centralized exchanges.

“When [Decred developers] were meeting with exchanges, we were facing enormous listing fees,” he said. “Often times the costs of getting listed on one of the big exchanges was more than the cost of integrating the coin itself.”

In 2018, Binance, the number one cryptocurrency exchange by trade volume, had allegedly been asking projects upwards of $1 million to get their token listed on the exchange. The CEO of Celsius Network, a crypto-lending platform which raised $50 million in an ICO in 2017, placed this figure closer to $6 million.

Although Binance has been tight-lipped about the exact figures, Yocom-Piatt wants to avoid this business model altogether. “I want to get away from centralized exchanges. They have become gatekeepers for a project’s success,” he told CryptoSlate. “It’s not just for Decred either. It applies across the board.” Omitting costly listing fees is only one part of the multi-faceted proposal. The plan would also give retail investors a better chance of successfully trading against high-frequency traders and

bot accounts.

“You just can’t compete with firms who have already built out robust financial infrastructure, unless you build something equivalent. Then you have only a slightly better chance,” said Yocom-Piatt.

Typically, order books on exchanges are managed following FIFO accounting, or ‘first in, first out.’ This mechanism means that the first orders to arrive are the first ones to be fulfilled. To game this, whole businesses have been built which offer an automated service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To combat such front-running, the Decred DEX proposal would implement pseudorandomly matched orders in which interested market makers would be shuffled upon order arrival. This would give everyone, even bots, an equal shot at maximizing their profits.

Other features of the DEX include the use of atomic swaps, crypto-only trading (no fiat), and trading transparency in which all trade data is cryptographically signed and publicly demonstrable. For the uninitiated, atomic swaps allow trades to be made between two distinct blockchains without the use of an intermediary. Decred and Litecoin are reportedly the first projects to successfully implement such a trade in Sept. 2017.

Community Response

In the commentary following the proposal, as well as within Decred’s Telegram channel, members have reported mixed feelings. Some have commented that all funds from the treasury should only be used for Decred development, while others have explained that the DEX proposal is overkill. A Decred member, nottrunner,


“[It] seems to me we are taking a gun to a knife fight if the primary purpose of the DEX is [ultimately] to increase DCR liquidity.”

Similar responses regarding liquidity were iterated in the Telegram channel, as some were unconvinced that building out a costly exchange would get more DCR tokens into more users’ hands. In Diar’s Feb. 5, 2019 report, they also explained that “less than [one percent] of cryptocurrency trades are facilitated on decentralized exchanges,” despite the risk of theft on centralized versions.

But this is not a point of concern for Yocom-Piatt as he underlined how easy it is to fake trading volume, “especially in a crypto winter.” In a Dec. 2018 analysis from the Blockchain Transparency Institute (BTI), the institute stated that “80 [percent] of the [CoinMarketCap] top 25 BTC pairs volume is wash traded.” Wash trading is the activity of buying and selling an asset to provide misleading information about the asset’s trading volume. The practice was banned in the United States following the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936 but has reemerged since the advent of unregulated cryptocurrency markets.

Adding to that, the Decred founder said the primary focus for the exchange will be to protect traders from price slippage. If someone is interested in purchasing one million DCR tokens, for instance, the price of DCR will not be affected in the proposed DEX framework. Yocom-Piatt confirmed that a number of large DCR stakeholders have expressed interest in a product that prevents such slippage. Regardless of Yocom-Piatt’s motivations behind the proposal, it is ultimately the Decred community who will decide. He explained that the DEX proposal is one of the largest proposals

attempted thus far.

“We want to make a case for this decision-making system,” he said. “The governance decision will be written in stone with time stamps, no matter if it passes or fails.”

Article Produced By
Liam Kelly

Blockchain Writer at CryptoSlate

Liam is an enthusiastic writer whose primary focus is to deliver skillfully written analysis of emerging technologies, digital weirdness, and the decentralized web. He is also skilled at seeking out Internet-based subcultures, communicating between niche communities, and unearthing incoming trends in technology, culture, and politics. He is based in Berlin, Germany and enjoys playing soccer, making reading lists, and playing solitaire in his local Kneipe.

Reddit is raising a huge round near a 3 billion valuation

Reddit is raising a huge round near a $3 billion valuation


Reddit is raising $150 million to $300 million to keep the front page

of the internet running, multiple sources tell TechCrunch. The forthcoming Series D round is said to be led by Chinese tech giant Tencent at a $2.7 billion pre-money valuation. Depending on how much follow-on cash Reddit drums up from Silicon Valley investors and beyond, its post-money valuation could reach an epic $3 billion.

As more people seek esoteric community and off-kilter entertainment online, Reddit continues to grow its link-sharing forums. Indeed, 330 million monthly active users now frequent its 150,000 Subreddits. That warrants the boost to its valuation, which previously reached $1.8 billion when it raised $200 million in July 2017. As of then, Reddit’s majority stake was still held by publisher Conde Nast, which bought in back in 2006 just a year after the site launched. Reddit had raised $250 million previously, so the new round will push it to $400 million to $550 million in total funding.

It should have been clear that Reddit was on the prowl after a month of pitching its growth to the press and beating its own drum. In December Reddit announced it had reached 1.4 billion video views per month, up a staggering 40 percent from just two months earlier after first launching a native video player in August 2017. And it made a big deal out of starting to sell cost-per-click ads in addition to promoted posts, cost per impression and video ads. A 22 percent increase in engagement and 30 percent rise in total view in 2018 pushed it past $100 million in revenue for the year, CNBC reported.

The exact details of the Series D could fluctuate before it’s formally announced, and Reddit and Tencent declined to comment. But supporting and moderating all that content isn’t cheap. The company had 350 employees just under a year ago, and is headquartered in pricey San Francisco — though in one of its cheaper but troubled neighborhoods. Until Reddit’s newer ad products rev up, it’s still relying on venture capital.

Tencent’s money will give Reddit time to hit its stride. It’s said to be kicking in the first $150 million of the round. The Chinese conglomerate owns all-in-one messaging app WeChat and is the biggest gaming company in the world thanks to ownership of League of Legends and stakes in Clash of Clans-maker Supercell and Fortnite developer Epic. But China’s crackdown on gaming addiction has been rough for Tencent’s valuation and Chinese competitor ByteDance’s news reader app Toutiao has grown enormous. Both of those facts make investing in American newsboard Reddit a savvy diversification, even if Reddit isn’t accessible in China.

Reddit could seek to fill out its round with up to $150 million in additional cash from previous investors like Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator or YC’s president Sam Altman. They could see potential in one of the web’s most unique and internet-native content communities. Reddit is where the real world is hashed out and laughed about by a tech-savvy audience that often produces memes that cross over into mainstream culture. And with all those amateur curators toiling away for internet points, casual users are flocking in for an edgier look at what will be the center of attention tomorrow.

Reddit has recently avoided much of the backlash hitting fellow social site Facebook, despite having to remove 1,000 Russian trolls pushing political propaganda. But in the past, the anonymous site has had plenty of problems with racist, misogynistic and homophobic content. In 2015 it finally implemented quarantines and shut down some of the most offensive Subreddits. But harassment by users contributed to the departure of CEO Ellen Pao, who was replaced by Steve Huffman, Reddit’s co-founder. Huffman went on to abuse that power, secretly editing some user comments on Reddit to frame them for insulting the heads of their own Subreddits. He escaped the debacle with a slap on the wrist and an apology, claiming “I spent my formative years as a young troll on the Internet.”

Investors will have to hope Huffman has the composure to lead Reddit as it inevitably encounters more scrutiny as its valuation scales up. Its policy choice about what constitutes hate speech and harassment, its own company culture and its influence on public opinion will all come under the microscope. Reddit has the potential to give a voice to great ideas at a time when flashy visuals rule the web. And as local journalism wanes, the site’s breed of vigilante web sleuths could be more in demand, for better or worse. But that all hinges on Reddit defining clear, consistent, empathetic policy that will help it surf atop the sewage swirling around the internet.

Article Produced By
Josh Constine


Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements. Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes. Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

12 social media marketing trends to follow in 2019

12 social media marketing trends to follow in 2019

These are the key trends to follow for another successful year of social media marketing for your company.


As the social media landscape is changing at a fast pace,
it’s important to keep up with the latest trends every year to ensure that your strategy is still successful.

It’s the perfect time to review your existing social media marketing strategy to find what works and what can be improved. 2018 had been a busy year for all social media platforms. There were lots of positive and negative stories that had to do with their usage and it’s now time to review our social marketing strategies. Here’s a closer look at the key trends of the year and how they will affect 2019 to help you proceed to the necessary changes to your tactics.

Engagement is more important than ever

Facebook has announced early in 2018 the focus on meaningful interactions as part of their updated algorithm. This meant that their algorithm started favouring content that sparks a genuine conversation, which inspired many Page Managers to create more engaging content. As organic reach becomes harder, the only way to survive is to aim for content that is:

  • Interesting
  • Appealing
  • Engaging

Algorithms are becoming smarter so there’s no short route to genuine engagement. It’s not enough anymore to encourage people to like, comment, share on your post. Social platforms are trying to cut down on engagement bait techniques so you may risk losing your existing reach in the longer term with such techniques. Thus, it’s time to stop ‘cheating’ to win engagement and start thinking of an improved engagement strategy for every channel to continue reaching your followers.

Influencer marketing and the rise of micro-influencers

Influencer marketing is becoming an established element of your marketing mix. Influencers can make thousands of dollars through paid sponsorships while brands are constantly seeking for the best influencers for their campaigns. As influencer marketing grows, big influencers are becoming more expensive for small and medium-sized brands. That’s when micro-influencers came in to make up for the gap between being interested in influencer marketing and having the right budget to try it out. Micro-influencers may not have the outreach of celebrities, but they may have an even bigger influence on their own followers. Even 40k followers as an audience can be perfect for a brand, provided that they are working with the right influencer for their target audience.

For example, a food brand may see better results by working with a rising food blogger with 30k followers than a well-known chef who may ask for 20x of the budget. And just as micro-influencers keep winning ground, there is also the trend of nano-influencers, or else influencers who have up to 10k followers. They may not have a big audience to follow them, but they can still have a great influence over them, either by their job, their engaging social presence or their passion about a specific industry/topic.

Nano-influencers don’t require a big budget to work with them but you may need to spend more time on the research to find the perfect one for your brand. Since they may still be new to the influencer marketing world, they may be seeking a partnership that matches their values and could possibly last in the longer term. They can also be easier to reach since they don’t have to deal with thousands of messages every day.

Social media for sales enablement

Social media is already helping customers in the phase of product discovery. Brands are able to promote their products through social channels and customers are finding out about them before making a purchase. Social media is not anymore just about awareness and engagement, but it’s heading even more towards consideration and sales enablement in the business funnel. According to Mary Meeker’s report of Internet Trends in 2018, 55% of respondents who discovered a product through social media proceeded to purchase later on. Facebook seems to be the first channel that people discover new products, with Instagram and Pinterest following up.

What do these mean for 2019? Brands have a great opportunity to benefit from this trend to improve their social strategy. You don’t always need a sales pitch in all your messaging to convince people to trust you. Social media can help you tell your story and improve consideration. Right after someone discovers your product online, it’s up to you to provide a smooth experience that will make sales easier.

AI and customer service

Bots and automated messaging have already shown up in many brands’ customer service. Social media has made it easier for customers to reach a brand, which means that the expectations about the response time are increasing. Chatbots have started becoming popular through Facebook’s Messenger when brands realised that it’s an easy way to add additional customer support to the mix.

Not all customers were convinced that this is the best way to reach a brand, but the adoption rate is improving thanks to the enhanced intelligence and programming of the latest bot experiences. More brands are spending the time to program the bots in a way that they seem as authentic as possible. Whether it’s about giving them their own character or simply predicting as many customer questions as possible, there has certainly been great progress in how they work.

AI can also come in providing automating messaging to customers who want an answer to a common question. Brands can set up messaging that keeps their customers satisfied while they’re also saving time in repeatedly answering the same questions. 2019 will bring an improved adoption of AI as part of social customer service and it’s time for more brands to give it a try to ensure that their customers are finding the answers to their questions as fast as possible.

Stories, stories, stories

Stories are everywhere! Visual content in a vertical format that usually lasts for 24 hours became popular from Snapchat and it soon was copied by Instagram to turn into a global trend for people of all ages. Snapchat may have struggled since then to remain relevant, at least in the way that it was known for, but we’ve already seen Stories to Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and just recently, LinkedIn. There are currently more than 400 million people consuming Stories on Instagram on a daily basis, while Facebook is trying to integrate Stories to our daily routines. Advertisers have already realised that Instagram Stories ads can be very effective, with Snapchat and Facebook following up with their current hype and demand.

Article Produced By

Tereza Litsa

Social media manager passionate about content marketing, creativity and writing.

2019 Digital Marketing Platforms Guide

2019 Digital Marketing Platforms Guide  l

Each digital ad platform has its own set of typical users,

bidding processes, and data. A smart digital marketing strategy employs consistent multi-channel campaigns on the platforms customers are most likely to find them. This guide includes a list of the major platforms and why they may be useful for your business. It isn’t exhaustive, and many niche industries utilize niche platforms. Research your customers, and go where they go. Each of the platforms discussed here deserve their own strategy articles, but this guide reviews how and why each platform would be used in an overall marketing strategy.

No matter what platforms your team uses, you’ll likely use either keywords or demographic data (or a combination of both) in addition to location targeting to help you reach your audiences. The combinations are endless and allow both large and small businesses to get results from their ad spend. You should choose your platforms based on where you expect your customers to be, and how you want them to find you. Take a look at the 2019 Digital Marketing Strategy Guide for more on how do determine where and how to advertise. Ultimately you should follow the data, and work with more audience- or keyword-heavy strategies on platforms based on where your team finds the most success.


Attributing sales to your marketing platforms is one of the most important things you can do for your marketing. You can increase your sales or conversions without setting up tracking, but you’ll be missing out on vital data about your customers and funnels. Traffic is coming in to your website and on your channels every day, and the data about it can point you towards your most valuable platform, your most engaged customers, and your highest-performing funnel.

Most advertising platforms provide methods of capturing traffic, measuring results, and building audiences through a combination of tracking code and native features. To get the most out of each platform, you should install tracking codes and ensure they work properly as quickly as possible. Thankfully, most tracking code snippets set-and-forget and can be easily installed through integrations with common apps like WordPress and Shopify. Google’s Tag Assistant and Facebook’s Pixel Helper are handy tools to help you keep an eye on your tracking codes.

Google Ads

The whale of all digital advertising?—?Google Ads accounted for 38% of all digital ad spend in 2018. On top of search, advertisers are capitalizing on the Display Network, Gmail, and YouTube, and Google runs it all. But it’s not perfect for everyone?—?the Search Network gets an average CTR over 3%, while the Display Network gets less than 0.5%. Google Search ads work exceptionally well if you have a niche product or service offering with niche keywords.

Google Ads (and SEM in general) is incredibly useful for inbound leads?—?especially B2B or major service-based business. Instead of chasing customers down, these customers come to you, usually by searching a keyword that you’ve bid on. They’re already looking for a solution to their problem, and you can show up at the top of the search page. It’s a great spot to be in, but you’re still competing for attention and search engine results pages (SERPs) aren’t immune to ad blindness, so keep testing and tracking your results.

Google is obviously heavily keyword-based. If your main strategy is paid SEM, get ready to build and rebuild lists of keywords based on audience research, competitor research, and campaign data. Location-based keywords are highly valuable for local and regional businesses. Use tools like SEMrush or SpyFu to check in on yourself and your competitors. Google search your own industry keywords and make a note of what you find. Once your list is ready, you can fine-tune your content and audience building.

Google Search Network Ads are set up with a headline, text, and a link. There are a lot of other placements and ad types (Shopping, Display Network, etc.) that may require a creative as well. You set budgets for particular keywords or keyword phrases that you want potential customers to find you with and let Google do the rest. You’ll get data back on things like impressions and clicks within your audiences. There are also tracking tools for retargeting?—?a small code snippet for your website lets Google track and retarget your visitors based on their behavior. Use audiences and affinity audiences to build highly targeted campaigns for interested users. When you’re ready to start working with different settings and campaigns, use Google’s documentation for the most detail.

Facebook Ads

The second major player in the duopoly, the Facebook Ads platform is used by 72% of marketers, and 67% are planning on increasing their use within the next year. Even with all of the negative press the company has been getting over privacy and election concerns, it remains one of the largest digital ad platforms on Earth, and advertisers are spending billions. 75% of all the men and 83% of all the women on the internet use Facebook, including people of all ages (over 13, of course), so the likelihood that your customers are there too is very high.

The setup on Facebook Ads is relatively easy. You can even do almost everything straight from the Promote section on your Page, but there’s significantly more control through the Business Manager. There are plenty of campaign objectives to choose from and a lot of flexibility for your ads, which make for great creative and testing strategies. Most ads on Facebook consist of a creative, ad copy, a button, and a link, although some ad formats, like carousels, require a bit more. There are also tools like lead forms that can be filled out directly from the ad, minimizing the steps between interest grab and conversion. Targeting is location- and audience-based, and the Facebook Pixel can be used similarly to Google’s retargeting tools to track and build audiences. The best place to get information about features and tools is straight from the horse’s mouth.

Facebook’s Ads Manager is full of data from your campaigns and it differs based on your campaign objectives and tracking tools. The number of metrics available through Facebook Ads is daunting, but it gives you a deep view of your audience’s’ response to your ads. Use the breakdown tools to see how your ads are performing across various audiences.

Amazon Ads

Advertising professionals are expecting Amazon Ads to take the #3 spot in digital ad spend in 2019. Users are increasingly starting their product search directly on Amazon instead of Google, making Amazon’s search results the perfect new spot to boost retail products?—?US advertisers spent $4.61 billion on them in 2018. Amazon’s advertising platform lets advertisers build Amazon Stores and bid on keywords for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands placements. The Amazon DSP can also be used for display and video ads placed across Amazon-owned websites and apps. Most of the information about the platform can be found in their FAQ.

The best part of Amazon’s analytics is that it’s incredibly easy to attribute sales to particular ads because they’re being advertised and sold on the same platform. The flip side of this is that their current audience targeting is lackluster. There are audience building features available, but they aren’t as easily implemented as Facebook’s or Google’s.

Instagram Ads

Instagram Ads can be run from your Facebook Business Manager by selecting Instagram as a placement for your ads, or you can run them directly from Instagram. Since 52% of Instagram’s US users are between 18 and 29, this is a great platform to use if you’re trying to reach younger audiences that may have left Facebook. It’s image and video based platform means visual content is the main thing your audiences are interacting with, so your creatives are key. Familiarity on social media is also a huge driver of purchases?—?72% of users say they’ve purchased something they’d seen before on Instagram.

If you’re just getting started with Instagram Ads, you’ll need a page, a creative, good copy, and a link. You can get a bit more creative with things like carousels, but ad formats are relatively limited due to the style of the app. Ads on Instagram have the benefit of looking a lot like regular posts, and native-looking advertising can help prevent ad blindness. Overall Instagram is a great way to reach younger audiences based on audience and location targeting?—?more details about the platform and its features are on Facebook.

Email Marketing

Email is unique in that it can be equally useful for potential and existing customers in B2C and B2B businesses and everyone uses it. Its versatility and consistency are its major selling points. It’s also pretty easy to get someone to give you their email when you’re proposing value?—?it’s low-risk and non-committal. Newsletters, blog updates, and product displays sent to interested audience members build expertise and trust, and 80% of retailers use it for customer acquisition and retention. Follow-ups and relationship-building on leads are a necessity to close. Account and software updates keep users informed and comfortable with your products. All of these things can be accomplished with email.

The first step with email marketing is getting and building a list, then segmenting it into users based on their behavior. Buying emails can work but the list will always be lower quality than an organically built list. This means lower open rates and click rates and a higher chance of spam reports. A high quality list will pay off big time in B2B?—?59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective tool for revenue generation. Common apps like Mailchimp and HubSpot have tools that make collecting and sending emails a breeze. Unfortunately there’s only so much data that can come from emails, but there’s still plenty of room to test subject lines, email copy, and designs against open and click rates.


SEO isn’t much of a “platform” per se (although you could just call it Google), but it’s usually a major part of a successful ongoing marketing strategy. In industries like retail you’re likely better of using Google Shopping or Amazon Ads, but it’s still important for customers and potential customers to be able to find your company (and not someone else’s) when they search specifically for you or your specific niche. In B2B it’s even more important?—?61% of marketers say SEO is their top inbound marketing priority.

Keyword research is especially important here. Your keywords need to be short, sweet, and relevant. These are words that need to be in your header tags, titles, meta, and copy. Your company name, your product or service offering, and industry keywords are a good place to start. If you’re running a local business, location-based keywords are a necessity. Ensure your Google My Business is up to date. Google Analytics and Search Console are must-use tools, and keyword and competitor research are great if you want to step it up a bit.

Larger budgets call for better marketing, and you can spend a lot on SEO. Experts think there are around 200 ranking factors that Google uses, including your domain’s security, inbound links, site architecture, and authority. Keeping up with the latest ranking factors and maintaining an optimal website gets harder as your site and company grow. Your competitors are also trying to rank for the same keywords, so you’ll need to try to rank higher than them if you think enough customers are searching for your products or services to outweigh the costs.

Smaller Platforms

There are a few other platforms that deserve an honorable mention. Depending on your industry and audience, some smaller platforms can be highly valuable resources for driving traffic or sales, and CPCs can be lower. They’re less one-size-fits-all, so spend lightly until you see real results.


The B2B marketer’s bread and butter?—?94% of them use LinkedIn to distribute content, and 80% of B2B leads from social come from LinkedIn. LinkedIn gives you a unique look at users’ professional lives?—?where a potential customer works and what position they hold are valuable tidbits of information that can be used to build lead lists and run ads (Facebook has features for this as well, but job information isn’t as readily available). LinkedIn Ads are mostly audience-based with targeting based on work experience and position, and you can advertise through boosted content, InMail, text and display ads. The most up-to-date resource on the LinkedIn Ads platform is the Success Hub.

YouTube Ads

This could arguably be put under Google since it’s run under Google Ads, but video deserves its own discussion. Videos are more entertaining, more informational, and overall enjoyable than images. They’re likely to convert better, and more metrics can come from a 10 second video than an image or static post (e.g. seconds watched, percentage viewed).

As for YouTube itself, US advertisers spent nearly $4 billion in YouTube ads in 2018, and 62% of marketers plan on increasing their YouTube Ads spending in the next 12 months. It’s a great platform for the both young and niche audiences. You need a YouTube channel and a video to get started advertising, and you can target based on location and audience demographics and interests. There are a few different formats to choose from, and your ads will appear on YouTube, YouTube-owned videos on other sites, or apps and sites within the Display Network. More information about YouTube Ads can be found in their FAQ.

Twitter Ads

While growing in popularity, Twitter Ads are still only useful if that’s where your audience is. Twitter is the second largest social platform for business professionals, and advertisers are warming up to it, with 25% of marketers saying they’ve run video ads on Twitter. The good news is that the platform creates meaningful engagement?—?in Q3 2017 Twitter reported a 99% increase in year-over-year engagements. The platform’s native flexibility allows for a few different ad styles?—?you can promote your account, tweets, or even hashtags to create awareness and drive trends, and users can still interact with Promoted Tweets like normal tweets. Conversion tracking is available directly through the platform through an installed code snippet, and advanced targeting with Tailored Audiences is available for audience building based on website or app visits or built lists. Their Ads Overview has the most information about running Twitter Ads.

Pinterest Ads

Pinterest is a powerhouse of DIY and design inspiration, and 93% of active users use Pinterest to plan for purchases. Sponsored Pins fit right into users’ typical feeds, so native advertising is a bonus, but options are limited. Similarly to Twitter, your Promoted Pins can also be re-pinned and shared among friends, so it mixes the best of both organic and paid advertising. This is a great spot to advertise if you’re marketing to millennials, in a creative niche or B2C?—?Pinners spend 29% more on retail than non-Pinners.

Targeting is based on basic demographics, keywords, and interests, and custom and actalike audience features allow you to target based on your lists, engagement, and website visitors. Pinterest Analytics can provide extra data on performance and sales if you install the Pinterest Tag on your website. Go through Pinterest’s Ads documentation pages to learn more.

Quora Ads and Capterra Ads

Quora and Capterra are both platforms people use when they’re looking for deeper answers or solutions, making them an excellent start to an inbound funnel. Quora has 200 million unique monthly users searching for well-known and recommended solutions, and Capterra has over 5 million businesspeople looking for software solutions. Based on the nature of these sites, ads and boosted content on the platforms get the benefit of rubbing shoulders with other trusted, credible content, and look more credible themselves. Capterra is strictly for B2B marketing (and the costs reflect that), but Quora can be used in both B2B and B2C strategies.

Bing Ads

While there’s no question Google makes up most of the search traffic online, Bing can still be a valuable ad platform. 72% of Bing’s users are over 35 years old, which makes it a platform worth exploring if most of your customers are older than that. In addition, nearly 38% of Bing’s users have a yearly household income of over $100,000. Again, the smaller platforms perform better in smaller niches, and you should use the typical user demographics to your advantage. Ads are very similar to Google’s in that they consist of a headline, ad copy, and a link, and they appear on search engine results pages. There are a few other formats for products or ads within the Microsoft Audience Network, but many of Bing Ads’ features are limited in availability to users in the US and some European countries. Bing Ads Help is the most valuable resource for setting up and running ads.

Social Media

Social media drives a massive number of interactions between businesses and their current or future customers, and those interactions lead to valuable customer relationships. With most social platforms creating a platform for native or near-native advertising, many companies witt cash to spend use paid social on the platforms their customers use. Unlike organic social, paid social guarantees you’ll get eyes on your content.


Organic social is still a necessity in 2019, but likely won’t provide a large enough return to spend a lot of time or money on until your company is large enough to be managing lots of customer conversations via social. You ultimately get what you pay for, which is next to nothing if you have a small organic social team (or no organic social team at all). It’s sliding down in popularity compared to paid social, with some platforms deciding to update feed algorithms in favor of people, not companies?—?52% of marketers reported a decrease in organic Facebook traffic in 2018.

Every business needs a minimum of a website and one social page?—?they help potential customers find, interact with, and come to trust your business, and keep existing customers informed and comfortable. Engaged customers are happy customers, and social media is a unique direct connection between them and your business. However, an old, outdated social channel looks worse than no channel at all, so if you’re going to go for it, commit and be consistent. Even just one post per month or week is enough, and you can spend as little as 5 minutes on a quick post. If content is a heavy part of your strategy, more social channels = more traffic to your content. More developed brands with a solid presence or following can get into developing customer support through social channels, where it’s easy to start conversations.


The popularity of social media influencers is skyrocketing, with around 50% of marketers planning on increasing their budgets for them. You don’t necessarily have to cough up the big bucks for them though?—?smaller niche influencers can pay off, gathering more targeted attention for a lower price. See someone with a large following on social, or someone pushing a competitor’s product? Ask them if they’ll accept payment to promote your product or brand. On a larger scale, set up an affiliate program and let people sign up, sell, and get a cut of your sales. 71% of marketers think ongoing brand ambassadorship is the most effective use for influencer marketing. People love to buy recommended items, especially from larger, recognizable faces, so marketers are using them to drive overall awareness and sales.

Getting the right eyes on your content is at the heart of marketing. Dollars spent in the wrong place are easily burned, but every ad platform is useful for somebody. Get creative, think about where your customers are, and don’t be afraid to throw a little money at a new platform every once in a while. If you do your research and follow the data, you’re on the path of continuous improvement for your marketing strategy.

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5 Disruptive Technologies Shaping Our Future

5 Disruptive Technologies Shaping Our Future


Throughout the centuries, humans have made tremendous leaps forward

in the way we build, interact, and communicate with each other and the world. More recently, we’ve shifted self-execute industrialization to the age of information. We now have a seemingly unlimited amount of knowledge available at our fingertips. Technological advances are now accelerating faster than ever before. They’re blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological domains.

As technology continues to evolve, we can expect it to impact all aspects of our lives and society as a whole. It then begs us to ask the question “what does our future look like?” Below we take a look at the top five most disruptive technologies paving the way for the world of tomorrow.

1. Artificial Intelligence

We’ve all seen sci-fi movies about an AI that threatens to overturn the human race and take over after developing a mind of its own, but that’s not quite the reality of it. AI has been around for decades. Today, it’s being used in applications such as video games, fraud protection, and spam detection in your emails.

AI is now evolving faster than ever through numerous applications that improve the lives of individuals and streamline business operations. From your virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri or Google’s Home to Netflix’s movie suggestions for you, web support chatbots, or tracking the ETA of your Uber Eats, these systems help to answer your questions, field your requests, and make your life easier. Designed to learn more about you in order to make better, more accurate suggestions for you, these AI need to collect data from search histories, products purchased, or even overheard conversations, to discover your preferences. We won’t touch on the privacy issues here, but this article outlines them insightfully.

Considering bigger developments, autonomous vehicles (AVs) have been in development for a while. Operational AVs aren’t as far away as you might think. Google, for example, is already working on an algorithm that allows an AI to learn to drive through experience?—?just as humans do. Autonomous vehicles are expected to bring about a number of benefits including fewer road accidents, more efficient fuel consumption, and reduced traffic congestion. Healthcare is also seeing numerous possibilities of integrating AI into existing systems. One impactful application of AI in healthcare involves connecting an AI with an amputees brain so that they’re better able to communicate with and control the attached prosthesis.

While the future applications of AI are anticipated to help make our lives easier and more efficient, there is caution among some of not only the reliance on this technology but the number of jobs that will replace humans. Some of these are already integrated into everyday life, including self-serve checkouts, online support, and other roles that can adequately be handled at a much smaller cost using AI. However, not all see the growth of this industry as ‘humans vs. AI’, instead they see the integration of both to create a better us and a better world.

2. Blockchain

Blockchain is an application of distributed ledger technology that’s taken the world by storm over the last few years. It’s set to disrupt most industries worldwide. Blockchain was developed through its first application, Bitcoin, as a way to disrupt the banking industry, in which ledgers are by definition highly centralized in a given bank or consortium of banks.

Blockchain served the purpose of establishing a trustless economy through its cryptographic and decentralized components, rendering the need for third parties of traditional financial transactions useless. Blockchain’s three key features:

  • Decentralization
  • Transparency
  • Security

These three features aimed to make financial transactions more secure while reducing fees charged by greedy banks. The goal was to facilitate faster transactions that are free from control and the risks of a single point of authority.


However, Blockchain technology has become much more than just a solution for financial services.

The same features that are improving the deficits of the financial services industry have the potential to resolve the inefficiencies of many other industries. Not only has blockchain allowed us to digitize money, which isn’t a new concept; we can now also place both physical and intangible assets such as copyrights, commodities, or land ownership rights on to the blockchain for secure proof of ownership and easier transferability.

We’re also seeing the redesign of supply chain management of food, retail, logistics, and construction industries, through transparent and immutable record keeping. Soon, a purchaser may be able to validate the quality and origin of the product they are buying. The implications for the healthcare industry are immense. Blockchain applications could help create a universal information system with easier, more compatible, and more secure access to records, research, and available therapies along with patients’ data while minimizing administration time.

Smart contracts, an application of blockchain technology, are able to self-execute functions when certain conditions are met. This may remove the need for a lawyer or other intermediary who traditionally would facilitate ‘trust’ between parties. By eliminating the middleman, smart contracts could drive down costs in transactions. Blockchain is also enabling us to move from an ownership economy to a shared economy, in which we no longer need to own our own items but are able to share resources including cars, data storage, internet, solar energy and more. Although Blockchain is still in its infancy and requires further regulation, there’s little doubt that this technology will continue to evolve, playing a significant role in transforming inefficient and outdated business practices and redistributing wealth and rights back to the people.

3. 3D Printing

From printing novelty objects to hearing aids to prosthetic limbs and all the way to spacecraft engines, 3D printing technology is quickly securing its place in the future of manufacturing. 3D printing has been around since the 1980s. In recent years, however, it has become more readily accessible. It’s now changing the way we manufacture at scale. The many benefits of this technology include faster builds that are cheaper and less wasteful while also being highly customizable. What’s more, 3D printing enables conceptual designs to be printed to give an architect, client, or shareholder a complete picture of the end product, minimizing miscommunications about product requirements and designs.

Prosthetics represent one application of 3D printing that has already achieved notable success. The ability to print prosthetics not only substantially reduces the cost by thousands; in addition, its customizability allows the prosthesis to fit the individual user with extreme precision. Elon Musk’s space company Space X used 3D printing to create the engine chambers of their spacecraft Dragon. By using 3D printing, it took only 3 months to go from concept to completion, drastically reducing lead-time. The airline industry is also looking into the future benefits of manufacturing using 3D printers, most notably Singapore Airlines Engineering Company, which has partnered with Stratasys. Singapore Airlines is considering opening a facility to look into the benefits of manufacturing aircraft parts.

3D printing is now starting to turn heads within the construction industry because it is allowing basic housing and buildings to be built for as little as $2000 USD for a basic house. The construction industry is realizing the benefits of more efficient use of resources, less wastage, less pollution and impact on the environment, as well as better health and safety. While it’s not yet practical for detailed and complex building projects, we’re seeing the benefits of 3D printing houses in fields such as relief aid for victims of natural disasters.

4. Virtual/Augmented Reality


The combined VR/AR market is expected to grow to 215 billion by 2021.

These technologies are becoming increasingly popular within the entertainment industry. They’re helping to blur the lines between physical and digital worlds. For the video game industry, significantly more interactivity has become possible through AR/VR. The huge success of Pokemon Go, which is perhaps one of the most widely-known AR applications, allows users to catch Pokemon on their mobile anywhere. Pokemon Go has demonstrated that everyday people are willing and ready to use AR.

Gaming companies are renting warehouses for interactive gaming, allowing players to fight against, for example, a Zombie apocalypse?—?all encapsulated within a VR headset. Tech giants are also developing VR/AR technologies to integrate into their own product offerings. For examples, confiser Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore or VR Project Cardboard, Oculus’ Rift, and PlayStationVR, just to name a few.

While VR and AR are most noticed for their ability to elevate the entertainment industry to new heights, there are a number of potential applications in other verticals, including healthcare, travel, education, architectural design, sports, and more. A shift in the construction industry is also expected with the development of VR, AR, and MR (mixed reality), combining with existing software to help architects and 3D designers better understand and design their projects, showcasing them to their clients and shareholders in real time. Combining VR with software like BIM and big data practices will also enable construction to become more efficient through more accurate evaluations of the build by modeling behaviors.

5. Internet of Things

The internet of things (IoT) is an expansive network of “things” or devices that are connected to the internet, which facilitates their intercommunication. IoT is another technology that will help to bridge the gap between the physical and digital spheres. There were 17 billion connected devices in 2016 and the projection for 2020 spans anywhere from 28 to 100+ billion. The ability to connect devices to the internet is nothing new, but we’re now connecting more “things” to the internet than ever before. Imagine your alarm going off in the morning and prompting your coffee maker to start brewing your morning cup before your self-driving car drives you to a smart office environment in which your personal space is perfectly adapted to your needs.

IoT will see new relationships develop between things and other things, things and people, and people and other people?—?all to make our lives easier, more efficient, and more effective. We already see this happening. For example, we can control smart thermostats from our phones so that the temperature is ideally suited to you when you enter your home. Future developments could see our cars connect with our calendars to navigate automatically to our destination along the optimal route, or our fridge ordering groceries when it detects a given food item is close to depletion. On a more global scale, IoT will significantly transition us into “smart cities.” With the help of sensors, IoT will make our cities more efficient, cost-effective, and safer places in which to live.

  • Smart buildings will turn utilities off when closed down and turn everything back on as needed.
  • Smart street lights will turn off when no one is passing through.
  • Smart infrastructure will allow us to detect faults or deterioration in city infrastructure or contamination in water supplies.
  • Smart grids can use and distribute energy more efficiently throughout the city.
  • Driverless cars will be able to connect to smart traffic sensors to determine the most efficient route possible. They may also be able to connect with sensors built into sidewalks to determine where potential parks could be located.

Of course, much of this is a long way off. It would require some of our existing infrastructure to be replaced. With a projected global worth of 6.2 trillion USD by 2025, we can expect most industries to be impacted by IoT, most notably the healthcare sector, which will see improvements in diagnoses, treatments, and predictive health monitoring.

Our Digital Future

While we can only predict what our future will look like, we can start to see that the possibilities are seemingly endless. And we are only beginning to see a small fraction of what may be to come. One thing of which we can be sure, however, is that these five technologies are going to change society as we know it.

With so much of our lives expected to rely on emerging technologies, we must be aware of the vulnerabilities opened by so much of our data being stored in opaque, private enterprise databases on which non-transparent AI algorithms train. A digital, interconnected society poses a greater risk for a single hack to have drastic implications. There are many differing opinions on the future of technology and how it will impact our lives. Some say it’ll help drive us into the future, drive productivity, help us live longer, and increase efficiencies. Others see the emergence of these technologies as a destructive catalyst that’ll fracture society as we know it. Although it’s not a satisfying conclusion, reality rarely ends up on either side of a binary like good/bad. It’s more likely that the these five most disruptive technologies will engender both positive and negative effects. It’s up to us to shape the final outcome.

Article Produced By

Lauren Harrington

Speaker, writer, coffee addict, cat lover, CAO of Kora Technologies and empowerer of women in Tech and Business. Views are my own.

The Biggest Tech Trends of 2019 According to Top Experts

The Biggest Tech Trends of 2019, According to Top Experts

Next year’s AI, AR, and 5G tech may set the stage for some massive tectonic shifts in tech and culture

For the tech industry, 2019 may be more about laying groundwork

than historic breakthroughs. But it should be a busy and exciting year, as key new technologies begin finding their way into real, useful applications. The smartphone will still be our central tech device by the end of next year, but as augmented reality and wearables progress, we’ll sense more and more that a new paradigm in personal computing is around the corner. That will be helped along by enabling technologies such as 5G networks, which will be stretching far and wide by the end of 2020. And, artificial intelligence will become infused in all kinds of products, allowing gadgets and services to subtly begin to anticipate our wants.

These tectonic shifts are already creating opportunity and chances for innovation. Venture capital investments on startup companies are on pace to reach $100 billion in 2018, far exceeding 2017’s $82 billion in investments. The big question is which of these opportunity areas will mature in 2019. We asked venture capitalists, tech analysts, and a few entrepreneurs for their thoughts on the subject.

Patrick Moorhead, Principal, Moor Insights & Strategy

On the growth of AI: We will see further permutations of artificial intelligence making their way into every aspect of our lives and our devices. We will see more services and experiences. Obviously the upside is that these things will become better at knowing what you want beforehand, and then doing it for you, whether that is meeting management or calling a Waymo self-driving cab or a microwave knowing exactly what you’ve put inside it and then starting when you tell it to start. This is all brought about by massive improvements in computational power and savvy programming.

Peter Rojas, Partner, Betaworks Ventures

On AI in media: In the coming year, we’ll see a number of technologies that blur the boundaries between what is real and what is synthetic. There’s synthetic media, where powerful new tools for creating highly realistic computer-generated imagery are increasingly accessible to anyone with a decent laptop or smartphone. Another part of synthetic media is algorithmically generated content, in which tools like generative adversarial networks create, enhance, or edit media far more efficiently than humans. We’d also put news articles “writtenOK” by AI in this category. Related to all this is the new world of digital avatars and virtual celebrities/influencers that use these tools.

Matt Hartman, Partner, Betaworks Ventures

On opportunities in ethical technology: This past year we saw consumers and employees of the big tech companies begin to push back against the ways those companies are using our data, building AI, manipulating our behavior, and who they are choosing to do business with—like certain government agencies. Society is just beginning to demand ethical consideration along with technological advancement. I think we’ll see this movement toward humane technology gives rise to new business models that are not built on harvesting our attention. Some of those, like subscriptions or tipping platforms exist today, and I’m eager to see what new innovations emerge as startups look to align their business models with their users’ need to be in control of how their data is used and how their time is spent.

Avi Greengart, Research Director of Consumer Devices, Globaldata

On consumer adoption of AR glasses in 2019: I don’t think we get there next year. The idea that you’ll slip on a pair of glasses and all of a sudden you’re Iron Man is something you’re more likely to see in Marvel’s Infinity War: Endgame than in your local Best Buy. That said, I am hopeful that some of those scenarios are still coming but they may still be a few years out. We have companies like Vuzix and Microsoft that are working on those things for the enterprise, but also companies like Apple, which is already building AR experiences into pretty much every iOS device today.

On phones and 5G: We’ll see some new form factors including folding phones and phones where instead of a notch you’ll see a hole punched off in the corner. The big question now though is around 5G . . . Whether or not we’ll see some of the big promises of 5G in 2019 is still a big open question. Low latency mobile gaming is something I’m convinced we’ll see; it’s just whether it will be next year or the year after. Whether we’ll all be driving around staring at holograms inside 5G cars, I’m skeptical about that in the short term, but in the long term that’s something I’m sure we’ll see. I don’t expect a 5G iPhone next year.

Timoni West, Director of XR Research, Unity Technologies

On new user controls for AR/VR experiences: Controllers are still the name of the game in XR over the next two or three years. It still feels really awkward when people interact with digital objects [using old modalities] like we see with the current HoloLens, although this may change when we see the new HoloLens, possibly in 2019. A button press is still a button press. Computers can’t actually read our minds. What we need to see is more body level stuff. It’s very exciting to think about transmodality in input methods?—?combining things like eye tracking, voice recognition, hand gestures, finger bone tracking?—?then you’re getting somewhere close to magic. You’re getting closer to that feeling of Harry Potter casting a spell. But even then you’re going to have to do a lot of calibration to make it all work together.

Paul Carter, CEO of Global Wireless Solutions

On the 5G hype wave: All of the industry players are trying hard to make “first to market” claims for 5G networks. And, 5G devices are coming soon in 2019 although we likely won’t see the 5G iPhone until 2020. The reality is that it’s not an instantaneous transition. We will have a blended network of 5G, 4G, and even 3G, depending upon geography.

Dan Hays, Tech, Media, and Telecom Industry Lead, PwC

On the rise of fixed wireless: The biggest story in telecom in 2019 may well wind up being how the use of wireless technologies is renewing competition in broadband services. While the vast majority of consumer and enterprise broadband services are currently delivered over cable or fiber optic connections, 2019 should see more companies?—?including incumbent cable and telephone providers?—?look to wireless links to expand their networks and offer increased speeds to consumers and small businesses.

On the slow death of pure cable TV: As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” This is especially true for video services, where continued declines in traditional, bundled subscription services are set to reach a breaking point in 2019. We expect to see even more cable, satellite, and fiber-based service providers shifting their focus to a combination of providing broadband services and delivering competitive, over-the-top, cloud-based video streaming services as consumers increasingly reject legacy services and their higher costs.

M.G. Siegler, General Partner, Google Ventures

On startups built on voice platforms: I continue to be on the lookout for startups in the audible-computing space. The rise of Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home in 2018 has these devices in millions of homes already, and this holiday season should only accelerate that trend. I would include Apple’s AirPods in this general space as well. These are not niche products. But the jury is still out?—?people need to learn to use these devices beyond just listening to music or asking for the weather. I believe they will, especially as young people grow up with them integrated into their lives. It will take time, but I think the groundwork can be laid in 2019.

Dave Welsh, Growth Equity Leader, KKR

On consumer experiences: Moving beyond commerce, consumers are looking for more than material goods?—?experiences are the next opportunity for startups. Consumers have more disposable income today, leading to the desire to not just go somewhere, but to experience it like a local or to have a curated tour providing an extra level of depth and fun. This is the next frontier beyond Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft.

Miles Clements, Partner, Accel

On cities realizing the opportunity of micromobility: 2018 may well have been the year of the scooter, but their impact on cities and archaic urban infrastructure is just beginning to make a dent. Revenue share agreements with high-growth startups like Bird and Lime provide cities with income streams they’ve never before had exposure to. As municipalities invest those dollars into infrastructure improvement and new commuter options, an ecosystem of tools will emerge for urban planning, transit mapping, and ease of navigation around the modern urban environment.

Greg Sullivan, Director of Communications, Mixed Reality, Microsoft

On AR in the enterprise: This past year one of the things that’s become clear is that the commercial space has seen the value of HoloLens, and AR/VR/XR in general, in a range of deployments in some very interesting ways. There is a value in taking the digital world and the physical world and bringing them together in meaningful ways. We’re just starting to see people getting a handle on what they can do with the technology?—?things like remotely assisting someone or laying out physical objects in a digital space. In the next 12 months we expect to continue to realize the commercial value of the HoloLens. We fully expect to see more [enterprise] customers take advantage of HoloLens to achieve more.

Michael Wolf, Former MTV President and Current Activate CEO

On the proliferation of smart cameras: We see 2019 as the year of the smart camera. Over the next four years, the average American will have 12 smart camera devices in their lives. As part of that, we expect people to increasingly put cameras inside their homes, especially as existing smart speakers add cameras. Already, roughly 18% of adults have non-mobile smart cameras?—?this is today.

The cameras can create networks, and we see the Ring camera on someone’s front door connecting with someone’s car or phone so that everyone else in the neighborhood can see what’s going on. Smart cameras will also enable cashierless retail, seamless facial recognition security (say for going to the ATM), and at-home medical diagnoses. Smart cameras are just exploding, people see them as a way to not only interact but control their own security.

Scott Parazynski, CEO, Fluidity (and Former Astronaut)

On drones in 2019: Drones will continue to pop up in amazing new applications in 2019, with ever greater sensor capabilities and advances in pilot-guided automation. We believe that advances in human-machine interfaces in particular will dramatically reduce the training time and cognitive workload for drone pilots, allowing for much wider adoption for enterprise applications in dynamic, unscripted environments. While still a niche market, we see substantial growth in the public safety realm?—?fire, search and rescue, police and security?—?as well as DoD and security applications.

Carl Esposito, President of Electronic Solutions, Honeywell Aerospace

On laying the groundwork for flying cars: The work being done over the next 12 months will be crucial to making the vision for urban air mobility a reality. We’ve seen a lot of innovative and motivated companies come to the table with concept aircraft and business models that sketch out a future where you and I get to commute from point-to-point with ease and convenience in our “flying cars.” But before we cross that threshold, we need to map out the regulations, infrastructure, and relationships that make the skies above our urban environments as safe and efficient as the routes we travel today. A lot of that foundation will be set in 2019.

Steve Case, CEO, Revolution (and Cofounder of AOL)

On how cities with losing Amazon HQ2 bids may still profit: It would have been great if Amazon chose an unexpected location between the coasts, but I believe the bid for HQ2 has the potential to deliver significant benefits starting in 2019 for the cities that participated, but didn’t take home the prize. The search for Amazon’s second headquarters drove collaboration between universities, economic development groups, civic leaders, and startup ecosystem builders. Those efforts could likely prove catalytic for these cities, helping to build the next thriving startup community that might?—?just might?—?launch the next Amazon. Next year, look for cities to repurpose what they built to lure Amazon to help their own cities rise.

Vic Gundotra, CEO, Alivecor

On the role of artificial intelligence in health care: One of the major trends that we’ll see in 2019 is the explosion of devices that push consumers to do more measurement of biometrics like heart rate monitoring and glucose monitoring and remote blood pressure. And we’ll also see an explosion of frustration on the part of doctors around how to make sense of all this data. How do you deal with the data of a consumer constantly generating heart measurements? How do you deal with consumers generating hear data who may be anxious? At some point in 2019 there will be a realization that AI is going to be needed to make sense out of all this data, because physicians don’t have the time to look at this tidal wave of data.

Bob Kocher, Partner, Venrock

On AI in health care: AI will gain traction in health care but not where the hype is focused. While there is tremendous interest in applying AI to clinical decision making, we think that clinical use cases will prove to be harder than expected. The data needed to train AI models is messy, and the business models are challenging. Instead, we think AI will gain traction first helping payers and providers reduce administrative costs. This is likely because the datasets are larger and far better quality. For example we have years of high-quality claims, coding, and quality data. Lowering admin costs immediately boosts margins in a sector where nobody outside of pharma makes much money.

Article Produced By
Mark Sullivan