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Socialfix Media Named Best Workplace for 2020 on INC. Magazine’s Annual List of Top Companies

With our economy and the entire country in a tough spot, good news comes in smaller waves. But when good news is earned through the sacrifice and dedication needed to create a great place to work comes about, it’s OK to celebrate. Socialfix Media earned recognition as one of the top organizations prizing employee wellbeing and shaping workplace values. We figured, it’s always a good time to boost morale and solidarity among companies and businesses going through difficult times. We can, and we will, get through this and get back on our feet – together. Please see the full announcement below:

Socialfix Media has been named to Inc. magazine’s annual list of the Best Workplaces for 2020. Hitting newsstands May 12 in the May/June 2020 issue, and as part of a prominent Inc.com feature, the list is the result of a wide-ranging and comprehensive measurement of American companies that have created exceptional workplaces through vibrant cultures, deep employee engagement, and stellar benefits.

Socialfix Named Inc Best Work Places 2020 Honoree

“We prioritize our people and our teams first – always,” says Terry Tateossian, Founding Partner of Socialfix Media and host of the Amplified Podcast. “Our philosophy is that if our people are taken care of, they will take good care of our clients. Each of us leads with creativity, thinks strategically, builds systems and processes, and pours their soul into each pixel we touch. We are digital architects with the hearts of entrepreneurs. Our high standards are high but so is our empathy. We believe in standing shoulder to shoulder. Arm to arm. Helping each other but always ready for battle, together – especially during difficult times. That’s when our team spirit truly shines.”

“It has truly been an honor to be a part of the Socialfix team during the recent pandemic crisis and feel the solidarity, spirit and true grit each person brings to our team. I have been so proud of the resilience and fortitude in helping, guiding and advising our clients through recent challenges,” Tateossian says.

Socialfix was founded by Tateossian 15 years ago and has developed into a full-service multi-award-winning digital marketing agency based out of New Jersey focusing on emerging technology platforms, media and overall startup strategy for over 300 unique clients.

“It feels a bit counterintuitive to receive Inc.’s Best Places Workplaces this year. We are extremely honored and excited to demonstrate that workplace culture is not just about ping pong tables and other more traditional perks,” says Tateossian. “Workplace culture is also this intangible team energy that seems to shine even brighter during challenging times. Do you buckle up and bravery forge forward together as a team or do you freeze under pressure?”

Collecting data from more than 3,000 submissions, Inc. singled out 389 finalists for this year’s list. Each nominated company took part in an employee survey, conducted by Quantum Workplace, on topics including trust, management effectiveness, perks, and confidence in the future. Inc. gathered, analyzed, and audited the data. Then ranked all the employers using a composite score of survey results. This year, 73.5 percent of surveyed employees were engaged by their work.

The strongest engagement scores came from companies that prioritize the most human elements of work. These companies are leading the way in employee recognition, performance management, and diversity. It is a different playbook from a decade ago, when too many firms used the same template: free food, open work environments, and artifacts of “fun.”

 “Building a great corporate culture comes only from strong leadership,” says Inc. magazine editor-in-chief Scott Omelianuk. “The companies on Inc.’s Best Workplaces list are setting an example that the whole country can learn from, especially now, when company culture is more important to the workforce than ever.”

 While researching the finalists, Inc. and Quantum saw distinct themes:

  • 100 percent provide health insurance.
  • 50 percent allow employees to bring pets to work.
  • 62 percent take employees to offsite retreats to relax and recharge. 
  • 20 percent offer paid sabbaticals to reward length of service.

 About Socialfix Media

Socialfix is a multi-award-winning transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, media and overall startup strategy. Socialfix has helped over 300 clients launch innovative products and gain market share. As an independent full-service boutique agency established in 2005, we live and breathe your bottom line and ROI. We live at the intersection of strategy, technology, media and marketing.  Powered by innovation and creativity and fueled by kickass technology, we are ready for your next business challenge. For more information, contact us here.

 About Inc. Media

The world’s most trusted business-media brand, Inc. offers entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools, connections, and community to build great companies. Its award-winning multiplatform content reaches more than 50 million people each month across a variety of channels including websites, newsletters, social media, podcasts, and print. Its prestigious Inc. 5000 list, produced every year since 1982, analyzes company data to recognize the fastest-growing privately held businesses in the United States. The global recognition that comes with inclusion in the 5000 gives the founders of the best businesses an opportunity to engage with an exclusive community of their peers, and the credibility that helps them drive sales and recruit talent. The associated Inc. 5000 Conference is part of a highly acclaimed portfolio of bespoke events produced by Inc. For more information, visit www.inc.com.

About Quantum Workplace

Quantum Workplace, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is an HR technology company that serves organizations through employee-engagement surveys, action-planning tools, exit surveys, peer-to-peer recognition, performance evaluations, goal tracking, and leadership assessment. For more information, visit QuantumWorkplace.com.

Socialfix Releases New Podcasts on Amplified3

Socialfix recently launched a new set of podcasts on Amplified3, featuring some of industry’s most pioneering leaders today. Main themes breakdown soft skills development, build professional crowdfunding strategy, and bootstrap entrepreneurs with boutique branding. Check-out the digest below, then listen to the full episodes for the latest tips and trends you need in entrepreneurship, startups, emerging technologies, and data science.  

Susan Ascher

In episode 11, master networker, author, and leadership speaker Susan Ascher talks about her journey to EQ leadership coaching with host Terry Tateossian. They start with the problem of how people are losing their social skills while, at the same time, becoming replaced by machines to some automated degree. The answer, they find, lies in building the soft skills that have been intrinsic practice in business for millenia, and Susan teaches a classical approach to manners and empathic development. Her council expertly combines business culture and soft skills, helping her clients cultivate respect for each other in a world where machines, not people, are becoming our first lines of communication. For the iconically successful, she says, it’s people who always come first.  

Chuck Pettid

The next episode features serial investor and crowdfunding expert Chuck Pettid. Chuck and Terry discuss the most challenging aspects of equity crowdfunding, startup fundraising, crypto, and general start-ups strategy. Who should tune in? Startups, investors, and established companies. Investors learn how to vet companies for their investor base. Startup founders find out how to route a rewards-based campaign. Established companies learn the different levels funding portals provide. Chuck also talks about cultivating the personality needed to successfully brand, and how founders can set themselves up to raise capital in pre-, during-, and post-campaigning.  

Henry Kaminski Jr.

Author and brand strategist guru Henry Kaminski Jr. is welcomed next in a double episode feature. The ‘Brand Doctor’ begins his story from conception to family life. His parents were very determined people, which was passed onto him, leading to great success in his entrepreneurial career. In his young adult life, while hanging out in the music scene, he got bit by the creative bug in graphic design, meeting stars and doing Jon Bon Jovi’s design work along the way. Henry eventually got the clarity to start Unique Designz, a full service graphic design and strategic marketing firm fit to design brands, attract clients, and scale expertise. Henry is also author of Refuse To Give Up and host of the popular Brand Doctor’s Podcast, where he talks strategies that help entrepreneurs design reputable and profitable personal brands

Check out the episodes on Amplified3, on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Packed with industry tips, comic anecdotes, and thoughtful commentary, Amplified3 delivers essential audio storytelling for the martech media space.

That’s not all! Stay tuned for more news and content from Socialfix Media and Amplified3.

Why You Should be Using a Data-Driven Social Management Platform

Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox have all made efforts to put the kibosh on third party cookies that collect user data, spoiling what looked to many as an orgy of free-flowing data sometimes used to track and analyze consumers wherever they are in whatever they do.

Privacy is crucial for free states, and many data management platforms (DMPs) use third-party data to understand consumer behavior for their users. The cookie checks, however, has its drawbacks. They negatively affect the function of some DMPs that have the innocuous intention to make consumer life easier, more bespoke, less disconnected.

At any rate, all DMPs aren’t the same. Some have the express primary function of organizing assets to deploy on social channels, for example. These data-driven social management platforms offer users one platform to create, deploy, and analyze the impact of social assets. Some also train users how to leverage data and follow best practice. The data-driven part means they offer assistance in tracking engagement and formulating statistics to back up that knowledge.

The new generation of data-driven social management platforms is here, and their advantages are indispensable in the marketing world.

These platforms reduce redundant communications, streamline data, and seamlessly deploy content. They keep teams on one page, offer advanced digital communication capabilities and automatic deployment of assets. They supply marketing stacks with the AI they need to compete in tough consumer environments where business is becoming faster, more bespoke, and data-driven. No, data isn’t just the new oil. It’s also the new electric battery that is charging us ahead to make better commercial decisions in this rapidly evolving consumer nation.

At Amplified3, a sister company to Socialfix, we’ve created a complete marketing agency management suite for smart digital asset management, asset distribution, and team training. It’s data-driven social management at its most advanced level. Follow the link or call us to hear how your marketing life can gain the AI superpowers it needs to launch ahead.

Podcast with Arjun Rai: Emoji Data, Data Science, The Entrepreneurial Journey, Start-Up Life, AI, Investing

For the episode audio, please check out our podcast page. 

Terry Tateossian (00:03):

Arjun is the founder and CEO of HelloWoofy, woofy.ai and emojidata.AI — Welcome.  Thank you for sharing your experiences and your knowledge with us today. So I wanted to start off with some information about your and if you could tell us a bit about your background and how did you get started in this whole entrepreneurial journey that you’re on?

Arjun Rai (01:11):

Sure. Great question. So I, my, my mom would tell you that or my dad as well and that you know, I’ve been selling something or the other since I was seven, eight years of age. You know, from, from selling a, you know, flowers at a wedding that were used as, you know, Indian weddings have a lot of flowers. So I just picked them up and turned them into garlands and, you know, tried reselling them at my grandmother’s gate and, and my mom was like, why are you selling them for a quarter? And of course we’re in India right now cause we were just visiting India and they was like, no one knows what a quarter is in India. And, and first of all, why are you selling so low? And second of all, why are you selling it at all? And so I, so I got in trouble there and then you know, I remember a couple of years earlier or later, it’s a little fuzzy right now, but I was, we were moving out of an apartment in Colorado and, you know, there, there was whole bunch of furniture we were getting ready to throw out.

Arjun Rai (02:02):

And you know, we were also up against a very busy road. And so I had this like, you know, like a two foot by three feet paper that said 25 cents. All furniture must go. And people started coming up as the movers are trying to get down and you know, take the stuff out. And my mom sees this on our way back cause she went to grab food and she’s like, what the heck are you doing again? Like 25 cents. So something was something where the quarter, it was where it was very fascinating to me. So again, got in trouble there. But fast forward when I was a teenager in high school, I decided to team up with a couple of people, build an ad network which did pretty well. And then, you know, we learned quickly that, you know, we were probably too, too naive.

Arjun Rai (02:44):

And there was so much more to learn about raising capital, about business development, things like that. But it was a good early MBA. How do we bring people to the board, how to get advisors and mentors on board, how to put an investor deck together. So all of those things I definitely think I learned pretty quickly and at a very young age. And then falling that ended up convincing the Dean the university I ended up applying to that, you know, I was worth backing it from an education standpoint. And so he ended up giving me a couple of scholarships, which pretty much, you know, gave me a full ride for the first year he came to New York and launched this ad agency focus on social media marketing just so I could pay the bills and make sure that I, you know, I could, I could feed myself and you know, and get, do all the other things I wanted to do in New York.

Arjun Rai (03:29):

And by way of that, figured out that project management sucked for creative individuals. And so I ended up raising about a hundred K, little under a hundred K from some very notable investors like Brian Cohen, first investor in Pinterest, Jeff pover one of the first guys in Twitter and Facebook. So these people that were like, no, we want to support you and we want to back you. And so they wrote small checks and you know, that was, that was gratifying. And that was my first, you know, first way into the angel and the venture community itself. Then by the end of college, I ended up getting a few more years of scholarships that helped pay for college. And at the same time it was running another business that was for project management. And we ended up raising another about 800 5,900 K so in aggregate about a million dollars.

Arjun Rai (04:15):

And by way of running that company, we quickly figured out that, you know, sometimes a deal, maybe too sweet and too good too, you know, too good to be real and, and, and so I learned quickly to, you know, always do due diligence. You know, when you’re looking at a deal, whether you’re raising capital or you’re doing business development or getting a new client. And so I did ha didn’t have that knowledge or that know-how back then, but learn very quickly that, that’s important. So a couple of years later, we ended up having to shut down a company. We ran a cash, we were way too early for, for our own good. We were betting that, you know, project management would be more easier on bigger touchscreen devices and they would get cheaper, which they did. The surface pro, the iPad pro came out.

Arjun Rai (04:56):

But just the timing didn’t match up. So that was my first venture failure and I learned, you know, we’re, timing is very important. Getting the right people on board is very important, whether it’s the engineers or even the investors. And then following that, I, you know, that’s what you were referring to as, as my current position is building a social media platform that allows anyone and everyone around the, around the world to essentially take back their time, the grunt work that goes into social media marketing and do it based on data. Not just because they feel like winging it, but they feel like that they can actually make informed decisions and compete with companies that have pretty much unlimited marketing budgets. And so we’re looking to level the playing field on multiple levels when it comes to marketing.

Terry Tateossian (05:38):

So before, HelloWoofy. So you were, were you born in New Jersey?

Arjun Rai (05:43):

No, I was a, I was born in new Delhi and I moved to Chicago when I was four or five years of age. And then because my dad was in it, he would get new positions in, in, in, at work every six to 12 months. So so we moved around a lot. We were in Chicago and Colorado. We were in California back in Chicago. And then finally most of my education I ended up doing a New Jersey between Westminster and Plains road, New Jersey.

Terry Tateossian (06:08):

Then you mentioned in college or actually all the way back into high school, you had already started developing a product.

Arjun Rai (06:16):

Yeah, it was, it was an ad network and it was, it was playing around with different languages, programming languages. I had actually started programming at in seventh grade that, that was, that was a good language. We were, I mean, there was basic ones like HTML, CSS, just getting, you know, getting into visual basic and, and JavaScript. But I think my, my passion really came out in the front end development, which was all about design aesthetics and, and how the UX is very critical to, you know, making sure the customer feels like they can actually get something out of the product. So I guess that was my first foray into the product development side of things and use those skills to make MVPs and wire frames and raise cap, you know, funding off of that.

Terry Tateossian (07:00):

And then into college, you started your first agency per se. What, what made you think that that was

Arjun Rai (07:13):

A good direction to kind of look into? So one thing led to the other in high school I was very fascinated by the radio class and the radio club overall. And so I ended up joining that early on and copywriting and headline writing. And, you know, just interviewing people kind of came almost as a natural thing to me. So I ended up using that experience and saying, okay, let me do social media marketing and take this conversational aspect and, you know, help companies and startups mostly in that, at that time. Talk better on, on social media. So I started freelancing actually before I went to college, but then I was, you know, basically thinking about how do I formalize this and sort of turn that into an agency. And so I’ve always been in communications one way or the other and running my own agency, figuring out what are the pain points of running an agency, which in that case was project management. There was no visual way to manage people and projects and yeah. And and ended up, you know, building that into a, into a venture backed idea.

Terry Tateossian (08:17):

And then after that, your first venture backed idea after the agency was, you mentioned work there?

Arjun Rai (08:24):

Yeah, it was formerly known as canvas and we had a trademark issue with a company out in England, so we ended up renaming it to a workbench. So. So tell me about that,

Terry Tateossian (08:34):

A bit about that. How did you kind of venture out of agency life and start creating products? Correct.

Arjun Rai (08:41):

It almost came as a need. I needed a better project manager and solution cause we were working with people off shore onshore people around the world. And if you tried using existing tools like a sauna or Microsoft project, it almost felt like if you were a chef at a marquee restaurant and you were given the series of blunt knives and expected to run the restaurant really efficiently and wouldn’t happen, right. If you’d be not only inefficient but you’d be very disgruntled and injured and yeah. And, and you’d always be pushed to the max to, to make sure that you are hitting the bottom line. So it, same thing in agencies and even in my own agency it, it always felt like we were trying to do better with and you know, ways that didn’t keep up with the changing of the time.

Arjun Rai (09:27):

And so we were looking for tools that could allow us to re, you know, basically render our desk right. If you had projects on your desk, you had people you want to work with, you had, you know, documents you want to work with, you would just shuffle them around and put people together and say that you do a project, a, you know, drag a project or drag a document to a person and say, this is, I’m sending it to you with my, be a brief, take a look at it, sign off on it, and then send it back to a client. So it’s a very visual way of thinking and approaching things on tabletop. We were, we were saying, why can’t you do that as a project manager? And there was a company earlier on called bump top that was a huge inspiration. The, the founder was very much ahead of his time. He ended up selling that company to Google. But the technology back then definitely was not, you know, where we were, we needed the technology to be, and we said, you know, why don’t we actually build, try building it now and make it more visual. But unfortunately, as I said before, we, we still weren’t there from a hardware standpoint. Touchscreens weren’t as cheap as possible and a touch projectors were still not available as widely.

Terry Tateossian (10:29):

So then after work bench you started HelloWoofy. So tell me a bit about that. How, how did you make that jump from workbench into HelloWoofy.

Arjun Rai (10:42):

You know, very painfully shutting down the company because, you know, we were running out of cash and the, you know, we, we basically said this is too early. It’s too early for its own good. We basically said that, you know, we need to find an idea that is still a pain point in the creative space. Especially from a communication standpoint. And very naturally social media marketing came back to me and I can remember running workbench as a engineer, but doing all the non-engineer stuff, which is obviously accounting and marketing and sales and customer development, the customer marketing and sales side really resonated with me because there was no way to scale it. And when it came to talking to customers online or talking to customers in person, it was all about the communication aspect. And so when, even when I was running the agency, we use tools like Hootsuite and buffer to schedule content for our clients.

Arjun Rai (11:31):

It wasn’t very scalable and even if it was scalable, it wasn’t very creative in nature. So we basically decided to build something. It was a mobile app. Operationally we had about 10,000 downloads when we launched you know, years about two, three years ago. And almost everyone that, you know, looked at the product, it was definitely more visual. It was definitely more powerful than any of our competitors, but they a bigger screen size. So in terms of learning, you know, you have to talk to your customers all the time, even if it’s very, very early on. So we ended up raising a little bit more capital based on the prototype. It was in mobile app. We then got into an accelerator program here in New York and we basically pivoted quite capital and we essentially decided to pivot to a desktop oriented you know, ecosystem for the product itself.

Arjun Rai (12:17):

And if we hadn’t listened to our customers, we would have continued building the mobile app, you know, to to no end and, and saying that this is what we need and this is what we think the customer needs, which is not true if you don’t, if you, if you actually talk to the customer, you’ll get very different opinions. So we ended up, long story short, we built a data science driven marketing platform for the web and and, and that’s where we are today is entirely data science driven. And every, every part of the platform is based on data. It’s not about winging it or you know, what a copywriter may feel like, you know, typing in everything is all about data.

Terry Tateossian (12:52):

So let’s talk about that pivot from one product to the current. HelloWoofy product. You basically had to restructure everything from the ground up. You had to get refunded, you had to repeat, you had to get into an accelerator program. Let’s talk about that. How did you go about number one, building a new team and then number two, getting funded?

Arjun Rai (13:18):

So originally the first check, first series of checks that came in actually came in from a fund called 1517 fund and they’re most notably known for having the, the founders come from the field fellowships. So they, one of the partners was actually falling me since I was 19. And he reached out to me when I was 19 and we finally spoke when we were, I was 20, which was three weeks later. It was my birthday and I was disqualified because back then the deal fellowships said if you’re over 20, you were disqualified. They’re looking for candidates under 20. But, and then subsequently since then they, I think up to two 25. And so we stayed in touch and one thing led to the other. We were at next gen summit and I met the same guy and his partner, Danielle. And a couple of months later they ended up writing a check.

Arjun Rai (14:04):

And they said, this is interesting. We had 10,000 downloads at that point and let’s see what you can do. And of course, to your other point, we ended up getting into an accelerator. They upped their investment by another a hundred K and O. And overall we had raised just a little bit over 2,250 K at this was a bad note and this was November of 2017 and and so learned a lot from, from that experience overall. But one of the things that I think we had to do as a, as a difficult choice was let go of our cofounder. It’s a couple of months later we had a falling out. There were certain things that were not above water. And then, you know, I came to Noah and we essentially decided to let go of him. A couple of other people as well who were part of that disarray.

Arjun Rai (14:51):

And we had about $12,000 left in the bank. And I told my investors that this is where we are. We hired the wrong engineer. We obviously had the wrong co founder, you know, what do we do? And all of our investors said, don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll invest in the next thing you do. And if you’re going to shut it down, that’s totally fine. So it’s one of those moments where you learn about people and how important it is to have the right people around you. And and, and not people who are too greedy or always looking for the bottom line. And I told him, I turned around and told him that I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the company survives, that we ship product, we build product and make revenue and, and you know, make sure that this is broke.

Arjun Rai (15:28):

We’ll get you your money back. Fast forward a couple of months, I ended up picking up a job as a chief of staff at a startup, basically applying all of my salary into the company itself to the tune of about 170 K to two date. That’s obviously the salary, the credit cards, credit line savings, all of it into the company. And, you know, fast forward a couple of months, we ended up shipping product generating revenue. You know, we were just on a TV show as well, which I can talk about too much. And you know, pitching some incredible investors and, and there’s some other news coming out in the next couple of weeks as well, which I’m very excited about. And I think that’s almost like the stamp of approval from the universe that you did it and you stuck with it and you didn’t let it die.

Arjun Rai (16:11):

Mainly because we still feel the need is, you know, there’s a need for it for every business owner around the world to compete in marketing. And so now we can allow them to do that. So when you approached investors, how did you pitch the idea? What was your kind of like your, your star statement? Originally I would always say it’s this for that. Like, you know, it was originally we were say it’s Hootsuite on steroids or it’s you know, Hootsuite but on mobile or buffer on mobile but more intelligent designed for people on the go with, you know, when they’re in the, in the Uber and Lyft, they’re looking to run their camp marketing campaigns and then check on them and then, you know, be, be off on their way. And, and that kind of resonated with influencers who said, obviously, you know, we’re always on the go, we don’t have a big team and we need a tool that can take away a lot of the grunt work, but more, more so than that, it became clear that people wanted a bigger real estate in terms of web platform.

Arjun Rai (17:17):

And so we pivoted because of that. And, and investors liked the fact that we were talking to customers and we weren’t just making product internally and wishing that this would work. We were definitely bringing customers, in fact we were videotaping and you know, with their approval and permission to show investors that this is what our customers are saying, this is what they want and this is the pain point that we are looking to solve. And they then they understood that, you know, this isn’t a company or group of people are just building product just for the sake of building product. Cause that’s the thing is something that’s very common in startup world is you get into this ever, you know, everlasting loop of just building product and wasting money. And, and I think that that was something that the investors early on saw and they’ve been through the accelerator program.

Arjun Rai (17:59):

We were trying to build product. We obviously had the wrong engineer on board. But even with that mistake, we learned how not to build a product. And, and when we eventually did build the right kind of product, all of the learning that went into it wasn’t just about what the customer said, but what didn’t work out in the last couple of months before that. And so we had a really polished product at that point. So that’s a, it’s a good point. So let’s talk about how not to build a product. Yeah. fact check everything that a person might say in terms of their resume. We quickly figured out that, you know, resume is one thing and interview is another thing. And if you get a referral from someone who you trust, that’s another thing in terms of you need to check all of all of those avenues of due diligence and make sure that you did your own due diligence and not, you’re not banking on someone else doing their, their part.

Arjun Rai (18:52):

So very quickly we, we, we actually were recommended the engineer, the CTO from our investor and a junior partner at the fund. And you know, obviously when we went in blindly and said, of course, you know, great friend, great, you know, referral, we should go ahead and go ahead and hire the person we did. And we’ve quickly figured out that, you know, we were, they were taking either the person was taking code from you know, all over the internet, you know, open source, open source code files and you know, slicing and dicing it together and you know, slapping on an MIT license on it, which I don’t know if you know or your viewers know, but MIT licensed basically says at the core of it that it’s not that the company doesn’t own the IP. It means that anyone who has access to the source code also can say they own the IP.

Arjun Rai (19:36):

So I mean April of of it, April of 2018 I basically said that, you know, this is not good at all. We had wasted so much money into building product at that point in salaries and everything that we need to fully stop this, we need to let go of the CTO. And a couple of weeks later at ended up having to let go of my cofounder as well. And that was, that was an interesting point in history in terms of learning how, how to let go of your close friend. But then also how to say no more to, to, you know, what is perpetually basically really diseased in, in the culture itself. And at that point we had 12,000 left in the bank and we basically decided to do a turnaround. We scrapped everything. We found a new team off shore, we built product in under a year.

Arjun Rai (20:20):

We shifted, we had beta clients and, and today we have a really good number of clients on board and just a matter of eight weeks of launching. Congratulations. I mean that is quite a bit of an achievement. Yup. Yup. But there’s a lot of, you know, blood, sweat and tears that goes into it. I remember, you know, after my day job as chief of staff, you know, coming back home from seven to 12 o’clock working on the company and then the morning five to like seven 30 in the morning working on the company and then going to work and then coming back and doing the same thing over and over again. Cause cause our team was based in Europe and our data science team was based in Asia. And so we were working or you know, pretty much me, I was working around the clock. And and I think that’s, you just have to have a certain mentality to just keep going no matter what. And of course your health might take a toll. But I think we were definitely looking for the longterm.

Terry Tateossian (21:10):

I think that’s a pretty typical kind of entrepreneur story where, you know, right now it’s glamorized and everybody, you know, thinks that it’s so cool to me. You’re an entrepreneur when in essence one of the most stressful things that you could possibly imagine and you know, you give everything up for it.

Arjun Rai (21:27):

I had this quote in my office at the university which, you know, NYIT was very generous to give me an incubator space within the university itself and help, you know, allow me to help run it as well. And one, I remember one quote on the wall that said, for every two minutes of fame there are eight hours of hard work. And so even being on your show, I mean, you know, the fact that we were at the MWF and we met there and you know the, I mean we didn’t, haven’t talked about the amount of time that went into negotiating that deal to be at the MWF and then, you know, just everything has a story but it’s to your point is glamorized on the, on the face of it.

Terry Tateossian (22:03):

Let’s take a quick break and thank our sponsors. The production of the amplified podcast has been brought to you by social fixed medium. Social fixed is a transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, video and podcast production, content marketing and overall startup strategy. Social fixed has helped over 300 clients generate millions of dollars in revenue, fund raising and profit. If you’d like help launching or growing your business, visit [inaudible] dot com let’s talk about some of the common, I think, mistakes that happen when launching a product. Like for example, mispricing how did you determine how to price your platforms? So for example, is it perceived as a per license? Is it per team, per channel?

Arjun Rai (22:59):

Yep. So originally it was a, it was basically a user base, so it was one user who could manage X number of social media accounts. And we started with that as an iOS app. And we quickly figured out that our price plan was extremely low. We were charging anywhere from five bucks to $15 a month in different tiers. And we really wanted to make sure that a lot more people bought into it and could give us feedback and you know, basically, you know, have a better chance of getting a wider spread of opinions so they could build on the product. And that turned out to be a bad decision. We made the product so cheap that the audience that was coming after it was wasn’t the ideal audience. Our customers we were looking for originally and almost every customer that we wanted to go after said we’d be paying, willing to pay anywhere from, you know, five times or maybe, you know, or more than, than the price when you have already.

Arjun Rai (23:51):

And so I think pricing is very key from the get go. And so when we launch about a couple of weeks ago, we were running a short PR promotion essentially for pre-orders where we were giving the product away for, you know, very low pricing. But eventually when we went to market, we wanted to stick to $49 a month and we didn’t have any issues with that because we were at, you know, on par with our closest competitor at $49 a month and we were $20 more premium than our biggest competitor. And in both situations they couldn’t come close to any of the data signs or the technologies that we had built. And so we felt, you know, we should stick stick by our guns on that. And and I think sometimes entrepreneurs make the mistake of making things too cheap and expecting customers to be okay with it. But if you actually have a premium pricing and then you have room to give discounts depending on the contract, depending on the customer, then you have a lot more wiggle room because at $5 you have, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room to give discounts. I mean your 50% discount, which probably the most you want to give is $2 and 50 cents, which is about a subway. Right. and, and so that, you know, you have to be very careful about what Tony said in the market with your pricing from the get go.

Terry Tateossian (25:02):

Another mistake. Another common mistake that happens when launching a product is not having your customers trust. So how did you overcome that? Just based on what the pro, you know, what other competitors are out there

Arjun Rai (25:17):

Is a great question. We were, we were very much getting customers organically through Facebook groups, through, you know, personal introductions, things of that nature. And, and so we were building trust when I was scheduling the con the call itself and you know, they could see me face to face and you know, see that there’s a founder beyond the company who’s working really hard to solve a problem that they may or may not have. Because obviously at that point we had just started talking. And by the end of the call they understand that of course you’re a founder, you’re building a product for them. And, and that they will, you know, give you a credit card and give you their credit card information. They’ll give you, you know, the ability to win their trust at that point. And so we have obviously said, you know, give us two months, three months, the preorders are running right now.

Arjun Rai (26:01):

You know, stick with us and we’ll give you a massive discount. But most of all thank you for your time and thank you for your feedback because that’s all going into the product. But you were about to use in 30, 60, 90 days. And at that point, you know, they were like this is a no brainer cause it’s, the pricing is affordable. You know, I’m locked in for the next one or two years depending on which tier they had bought into and they’re getting to see the person behind it. It’s not like, you know, there’s a chat bot or as a support ticket being opened on email or you know, this is an email based conversation. You have a human to human element in that, in that conversation. So many times I was talking to an agency founders who had a dozen clients, some who had just started in social media marketing or some people who had, you know, sold agency before and they were looking for their next you know, next solution to help you know, further their, their own business in the, in the marketing space. But you have to get on a phone call with them and video calls are the best so they can can see each other.

Terry Tateossian (26:55):

[Inaudible] I agree. How about looking at the competitor space? That’s one of the third common mistakes that happen is that a lot of times product companies will kind of prematurely dismiss their competitors. How did you guys go about looking at that space and deciding whether this product belonged in, at this time, on the market?

Arjun Rai (27:19):

I think, I think one of the mistakes that especially new entrepreneurs make is that they almost disrespect the competition. You know, if you’re a Hunter or if you talk to anyone who’s a Hunter and, or you know, even a soldier, you have to learn to respect the enemy because, or, or the, you know, or what can kill you because if you don’t, then you’ll disregard it and it made you to the point where you might let it take advantage of you. So in our case, we all this say, you know, we’re, you know, highly respectful of the companies that are around that have come, you know, years, two decades before us and there’s a lot to learn from them. Even the founders, we happen to know some of the founders of our competitors and you know, over the years we’ve gotten to know them better or through our, you know, advisory group and investor group, you know, we’ve been able to get to know them as well.

Arjun Rai (28:04):

And at the core of it, if you, if you respect them, then you know what your baseline is. Also because you then understand from a product offering standpoint, you know, this is the bottom, you know, this is point a where they can offer and you have to obviously be not an incremental improvement, but a massive improvement. So if you completely ignore your competition, then you’re, you don’t even know what you’re competing against and how to improve upon it. And then secondly, if you, once you do know what you’re competing against, you have to be, you have to make sure that you can blow them away. In terms of a comparison chart. It’s not, I mean, when you talk, I always like to say, you know, like Tesla, if you talk to Elan, he won’t say he’s a car company is an energy company.

Arjun Rai (28:42):

Everything he does, solar city, Tesla, or any of the other projects he has. It’s all about making sure that everyone has access to energy. In our case, we feel that small agencies, media agencies, urban entrepreneurs that are getting started, they don’t have access to data science. They don’t have access to data overall to make better decisions versus companies like fortune 500 companies. They have unlimited budgets, unlimited personnel to help them with every part of marketing. And so at the core of what we do is we say we’re not a social media company, we’re a data science company. So with regards to what we thought AI or emojidata.ai, those are projects to make sure that people, everyone can understand how data science can actually make an improvement in all of the marketing that they do. And so I think that’s, that’s where we come from.

Terry Tateossian (29:28):

So let’s talk about emoji data, AI and wifi data. AI. Talk to me a bit about that because you know, from, from my knowledge base, I know emojis are a very highly converting type of character for all social posts, whether it’s newsletters social posts themselves or so forth. Yeah, let’s talk about it.

Arjun Rai (29:50):

No, you’re absolutely right. Adobe, and I didn’t even know this until a couple of months ago. Adobe released an official report called the Adobe emoji trend report in July of 2019 and they said there were multiple points in there, but I think my, one of my favorite points is 44% of the time when people see an emoji being advertised to them or as a part of a copywriter copy that has emojis included there 44% of the time, more likely to buy it. And, and HubSpot has another article on their blog as well that says a tweet versus another tweet. Without an emoji, you were able to get 25% uplift in engagement or 57% on Facebook. And so we were like, wow, this is amazing. This is incredible data. Why isn’t the one doing any of this? So we then obviously went on Google and we said, emoji recommend recommendation or emojis suggestion and things like that nature.

Arjun Rai (30:43):

And all we could find was basically a dropdown of all close to 3000 emojis. And it’s upon you to figure out which ones are relevant and whether you’re typing an email or you’re typing a newsletter. I mean, you’re going to have to sit through there and you know, you have to go through a smiley face section, the tech section, the flag section. And I was like, why can’t this be more programmatic? So long story short, we asked our data scientists to say basically build a product, an API that’s known as emoji data, that AI that essentially allows you to take any string or any texts, any marketing speak. And in turn it’s turns out contextually relevant emojis now it goes through 35 million data points to figure out what are the best emojis that will do well with the words you’ve typed in. It could even take emojis as an input and give you other recommendations or emojis.

Arjun Rai (31:29):

I’ll do well but that and and so we basically built an API that programmatically allows you to do that. And then we basically said, what about other companies? How wouldn’t they like to, you know, like email providers and newsletter creation platforms? Wouldn’t they like to use a platform like this? So, and one of the other parts of the emoji data that AI is that also helps you complete wards. So as you’re typing in real time, if I say I love and it just type an L O, it’ll complete V E space E Y O, U automatically. And then it’ll start giving you recommendations of hearts. And you know, the smiley face with the kiss is coming out, it’ll give you all those recommendations and milliseconds. And so we basically say, why don’t we actually offer this API to say an AOL, you know, or a Microsoft Hotmail provider and allow them to compete with Gmail smart compose. Because as you know, in Gmail as you’re typing and completes the sentences, we could do something similar but then also offer emojis as a, as a, as a, you know, a feature that contextually gives you those recommendations. So long story short, that’s where emoji data, that AI is going, it’s an API based business. But then wifi HelloWoofy.com is a marketing platform itself, which obviously leverages emojis and auto complete and whole bunch of other levels of data science to help marketers.

Terry Tateossian (32:46):

I needed emoji that data, that AI,

Arjun Rai (32:49):

Oh good. We can talk about that. We can talk about it. Potential deal or licensing.

Terry Tateossian (32:54):

So we were in, and I’m gonna, I’m not going to give out too many details, but we were putting together a newsletter for our client or, and I wanted to use emojis because I know it’s gonna help the open rates. And I went with all of these different hand gesture emojis. So I had a bunch of them lined up and you know, we’re talking about which one would be a good one. You stomps up whatever this sign is. I don’t know the okay sign, you know, the high five, whatever it was. And then it turned, it turned out that these hand gestures meant completely different things and

Arjun Rai (33:33):

The world. So we’ve built a dictionary. Yeah, we built a dictionary internally that kind of prevents that from happening and it gives you like, you know an understanding of what each sign means. And the other thing you have to keep in mind is that a lot of the iPhone based emojis are actually not cross compatible with other platforms like windows and Android and whatnot. So they will actually come up really weird. So we actually only work on universal emojis, that Unicode, which is the organization behind the official organization behind text-based communication. And and so that kind of prevents that from happening. One of the things I wanted to tell you about in the newsletter side of things is Adobe says that 64% is the engagement rate or in terms of uplift, we actually found 150% to 180% when we went back in our own newsletters. And I basically said, let me see if this actually works, because I’ve been using emojis and newsletters for a while. But before that, my co founder was running the newsletter himself and he never used emojis. And then I started using emojis in our upper up, you know, our open rate doubled more than doubled. And I was like our own, our own data speaks volumes to what Adobe ism and finding a hundred percent, I mean we see it all the time,

Terry Tateossian (34:43):

Time and we’ll do a B split tests for the same newsletter running against the same list.

Arjun Rai (34:49):

Yeah. And we’ll have an emoji in the subject line one. Well not completely, completely different open rates. And actually that’s the, that’s the goal of emoji data is to allow you to programmatically also run campaigns using the API and see which ones are doing better, which ones are not doing better and give you a whole slew of data points. We even built, we’re about to launch a, you know, an emoji cloud that allows you to see which emojis you tend to use the most and which ones are actually hitting the bottom line. And then on top of that, we’re building an emoji ticker in the dashboard itself that shows you across the world, which emojis are being used in real time and by popularity. And so there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of emoji signs, if that’s even a word or phrase that’s going into it.

Arjun Rai (35:31):

And and you literally cannot find anything on the internet that even comes close except for a dropdown selector and a, and then so we’re double Downing on that, you know, in the next couple of weeks. Very cool. What type of advice would you give people that are currently building a platform? Talk to your customer with wire frames. That is the, the, the furthest you should go. But before running code, take a couple of wire frames. If you don’t know how to use illustrator, find someone who knows how to use illustrator. Even if it’s a sketch, go to your, go to your customer that you think may be your customer and show them what you’re building and then iterate over the course of a couple of weeks on that wire frame itself or the graphic design. My, in my case, I loved using illustrator to wire frame all of the all of the screens and buttons and things like that.

Arjun Rai (36:18):

You could use something as simple as envision and have a clickable demo as well. But until you hone in and refine on that idea, don’t write a single line of code. And then once you feel more confident and you have maybe a dozen or so people who are giving the okay. And that’s a great position to be in for letters of intent to then show investors to who might be potentially willing to put in money, but that gives you the ability to then go off shore and hire a team for maybe, you know, $10,000 or $5,000 and build an MVP and then come back to the customers and say, okay, here it is. Would you use it a couple of months later? You have, you’re in a position to raise capital. Very smart. I think that’s brilliant. So yeah. So RJ and you’ve done a lot of stuff in your life and you are a product building machine.

Arjun Rai (37:06):

How did you, where did this passion come from? I suppose Legos. I was always fascinated with Legos and I think that there’s another company called mega blocks back then, but like it was, became the popular popular building block company. And I was always fascinated with just building things. I would also never follow instructions when, you know, you pick out, you pick a Lego set and you have the instructions, they would always build my own thing. And and I suppose that kind of translated into product or into software design and eventually software products overall and platforms. And again, I, I, I, I, my earliest memories are building things, you know, whether it’s with, you know, sand and having my own construction toys or Legos, things like that. I’ve always been a product owner and a product manager, if you will. But obviously over time I’ve pivoted and you know, refined my methodology and made it, made sure that, you know, there’s a buyer on the other end, but it was, I’m just doing it for fun.

Arjun Rai (38:03):

And I think that’s the, one of the things that I became better as, you know, with Woofy is how do I build product more honed in on the needs and requirements of my customers. And that’s when we were able to get a lot more customers in the pipeline. We have 6,000 customers in our pipeline now potential and and there’s a couple of other updates that are coming up in a couple of weeks that I can talk about right now, but it goes to the, it goes to that same idea is you have to talk to your customers and, and get to them as soon as possible. So tell me

Terry Tateossian (38:36):

How can our listeners get in touch with you find you or maybe even get a demo.

Arjun Rai (38:43):

Yeah, absolutely. So hellowoofy.com which is H E L L O w O O F y.com. And and right on there with the first thing you’ll see is schedule a demo and you’ll get my personal time essentially. And you can schedule a 1530 minute demo with me, in which case I run you through the product. Then I try to understand what your business needs are. You might be a blog, you might be a, you know, a sports company. We’ve talked to so many different kinds of companies that need social media marketing driven by data science. And after following that, we obviously give you a discount code as a thank you for scheduling call and sitting through that and and it can be up and running or you can have to go to our website directly and create a free account and then upgrade as you, as you see fit. Awesome.

Terry Tateossian (39:26):

Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. Thanks for listening to the amplified podcast. Follow us on our social channels and subscribe on Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, pod bean, or wherever you get your podcasts on the next episode. Stay tuned for more trailblazing insights, energy and culture to help fuel your pursuit in the modern digital era.

 

Podcast with Dan Garraway: Video & Computer Vision Technology, Machine Learning, AI, Video, TV

For the episode audio, please check out our podcast page. 

Today we have Dan Garraway from Wirewax who’s going to talk to us about how computer vision and artificial intelligence is going to change the landscape of video creation and video content in general and how we consume it. Welcome. Thank you. So tell me, how did you get started in this field?

Dan Garraway (01:03):

Well, we came from a combination of backgrounds, Steve and myself, the cofounders, so, production, TV production generally. We were actually making a lot of TV content at the time of, quite a lot of, I’d say transients of movement towards digital, but not really getting there. And so fairly early on in the time that I met Steve, where we were doing a lot of TV production. We started specializing in online content, which was a lot shorter form, and honestly you could turn it around much quicker. It wouldn’t be six to six months to two years to make a TV show. It’d be, you know, knock something out in two weeks and get paid on the third week. So that kind of mentality led to a much more effective business. And that’s where we start seeing the opportunities for taking what was a fairly dumb asset, video, and what is a very connected field, the internet. And I’m saying, why are these two not more connected? Why is a video the most digital and perhaps arguably the most powerful asset of our time sitting in a very digitally connected environment. And yet the computer’s got no idea what’s displaying. It’s just displaying pixels. So you know, that ultimately was the challenge we were trying to tackle with the technology.

Terry Tateossian (02:22):

So tell me how, how did you guys come up with, um, the interactivity of, uh, the content and content itself? What were some of the obstacles that you envisioned going forward into the future?

Dan Garraway (02:40):

Well, you know, I say this is, you know, coming from the creative background, but creatives are interested in creating, they’re not actually interested in the technology. The technologies are just an implementation of a way of getting to the creative. And I think that’s the same for everybody in that industry. So when we started creating this technology, we’re aware that it couldn’t just be making it, you know. The outcome wasn’t just what it was about. It’s about the method of how you make interactive experiences in the first place. So to make that interesting and exciting and just as creative as the production, you needed to use computer vision, machine learning, to understand the video. That was where we principally started. So the first hires we ever made in the company were actually computer vision. And we set about even before it’s really popularized as a concept computer vision still nascent perhaps, but it’s much more well known now than it was when we started it. It was obvious that we needed to use the technologies of the web and, broadly speaking, the technologies of computer vision and machine learning to accelerate the creation process for interactivity. And to be honest with you, we look back at the history of interactive video. That’s always been a problem because it tried to, video is always proven successful every single time it’s ever been used since the red button in the UK. They had that. In the US there’s been various implementations of very basic interactive technologies. But the problem is they’re so labor intensive to create and that stifles the creative process. So that has to change. And that’s where we started. And viewers and the content creators and now both at the same place. And this is a very exciting time for interactive, if I’m honest. Netflix really legitimize the market at the start of the year as well by investing in interactivity. So it’s a really exciting moment where people are at the same place at the same time.

Terry Tateossian (04:38):

So talk to me a bit about how do content agencies, how do they create content currently?

Dan Garraway (04:46):

In terms of TV content or YouTube like branded content?

Terry Tateossian (04:51):

Generally.

Dan Garraway (04:51):

Well, I mean the creation process, and I think this is part of the problem, hasn’t really changed. You’ve seen even very, on the face of it, very advanced companies in the movie and media industry using very antiquated processes to create content. So, you know, that’s meant when you’re making a TV or a movie, you’re still logging with manual labor, what’s happening inside the video content. You’re still using very basic implementations of technology like Excel spreadsheets to see, to work out what that content is and when it’s happening. And even just down to sending content around, you’re sending it around on hard drives, which is only a really a marginal improvement above tape, which is how people used to send it around. The industry is really getting to realize that these antiquated methods and not just slowing down the production, which is a hassle. But they’re limiting the creativity again. And there’s a really interesting white paper. Anyone look it up, MovieLabs white paper, which is all about how the movie industry is needing to look forward to the year 2030 as a vision. And it’s all around this topic, and this is exactly where we’ve been living for, for years now, is that the video production industry, the TV production movie industry, has been antiquated for a very long time. And that’s been workable. But now in an era where everyone is needing to pump out content all day long, every day, and if you’re not a brand in your TV or movie maker, you’ve got to get these TV shows out in the market much more quickly because you got to get them on an OTT, which is launching. So often we’ve see an OTT launching every week at the moment, whether it be a plus or a max or any other sort of label that’s added onto the end of the brand name these days, there is an OTT for everything. And so when you’ve got that thirst of content, those antiquated manual methods to create content just don’t work.

Terry Tateossian (06:58):

Exactly. I feel you’re pain, because I’m familiar with those antiquated methods. So talk to me a bit a bit about computer vision and machine learning. How does that get applied to content creation and content production?

Dan Garraway (07:19):

It really starts, I’d say, so mostly like pre-processing to the post production. So once, well, I use post-production slightly differently when I’m talking about it because when I’m talking about it, I’m thinking about the process of video creation that probably starts after the edits are, or at least a first edit. So you upload video content or you transfer it into our system and that’s where a bunch of about 10 to 12 processes will be applied to it to understand where scenes are first of all, you know, kind of an edit decision list to then understand what the people and objects are in that video and where they are right down to like, mine your face and where it is in the frame. Right down to scene analysis and even context of what’s happening in that scene. So all of that creates a kind of a bucket of metadata which has been automatically created, not by humans, which has been the way of doing it in the past. And once those processes are complete, it can be used to make a very fast interactive experience. So you could potentially, for example, I’ve been working with some news organizations recently and every time a politician appears, for example, you can automatically make by our profiles come up their voting record, for example, just coming up in the frame at the same time. That doesn’t need a person. You know, all those sorts of things can be applied to the day and add to the creative outcomes.

Terry Tateossian (08:54):

So, in essence, you can create a very personal experience based on the audience information that you have.

Dan Garraway (09:04):

Audio and content information, yeah. I mean it goes both sides because the minute you are using interactivity, you are slowly being able to touch and click what’s happening in the video. You can then use that data in itself to educate a better process. So whether that be in sort of retargeting afterwards for a shoppable use case, things they were interested in the video, for example. And if anybody doesn’t know why Wirewax, you know, you can see some examples on the website, Wirewax.com and you can see how you can literally touch items or interests inside the video and it then comes up with further information. In vision. You don’t have to go to other websites. This is all about inside the creative experience. You can see additional layers. I kind of think about our technology offering as a creative tool set, as Photoshop for interactive video if you’re familiar with any sort of Adobe products like that. And the viewer. I kind of consider it as them having kind of like, do you remember Minority Report like back in the day, that sort of movie where you’re interacting with information and visual sense. That’s exactly how we, how we see the viewer experiences when they want to. They can explore context and content when where it’s interesting to them that data point can then be addition to use by them. I would like to explore this further please and send some information to my email address or anything like that. Very basically or more sort of on the creator owner side, you can then use that information to make a better experience afterwards. And then on the content creator side you could, and we see a lot more of this now, people are making TV shows interactive. You can see what people actually interact with in the TV show to make a better TV show in the first place. And this has been a really interesting trend. Netflix has been doing interactive as well in the last a year, as I say. And they’ve been learning about what people do inside those interactive experiences to then generate a better experience for the next episode.

Terry Tateossian (11:03):

Yeah, and especially for advertisers, I feel like, you know, for right now the way things work is that video is just this black box and you have no idea what’s going on with the the audience, what they’re actually paying more attention to, less attention to, what to add more of, where to place advertising messages and so forth. So you’re kind of opening up the black box and you’re providing a lot more data on the behavioral analytics of how advertisers could potentially use this type of technology.

Dan Garraway (11:37):

Yeah, absolutely. And I think this is why smaller, more nimble agencies and content and production is going in house as well, is because people want that data and they want to own it. The days of making a hit TV commercial that, you know, wins the praises and it gets the accolades of the industry, but and somehow translate spirals into outcomes for the business. I think those are still going to happen because of the, the advertising advertising industry exists, but it will happen less. And I think the stuff that’s going to be moving the business outcomes forward, and I think this is the thing, I always stress, the things that these are moving the business outcomes forward are going to be data points that you can learn from. And that’s really the ongoing continuous success of a business. I say, and I keep stressing this business outcomes because I’m quite frankly tired of the industry and the brands industry as well. You know, referring to success as the KPI of like how many eyeballs they got to the content. I’m not alone in that by the way. Many people have, have got tired of that. Eyeballs does not mean a thing. On average Americans see 5,000 to 10,000 advertising messages a day. You’re completely pointless in that message unless you have some tie back to your business outcome. So business outcomes means interactivity. It means data points to understand the audience that they’ve imparted by the way zero party data. And it means, you know, using that decision, that data and that experience to delight the customer, to delight the viewer and to make it better, more useful journey for them in the relationship with you as a brand. That means, you know, more standardized metrics like engagement. You could ask everyone in this room, everybody has a different understanding of what engagement means. That’s a problem. And you know, these sorts of elements have never been tackled because the entire media industry and advertising media industry, I mean now, and it has been driven by the costs for impressions. You know, that’s the currency CPM and it doesn’t bear any relationship to the outcome for the business.

Terry Tateossian (13:57):

So in, in essence, I think the, uh, computer vision and AI technology apply to the actual experience of viewership. The way that I’m seeing it is that it’s taking what used to be, for lack of a better word, a billboard on the highway and creating a personalized approach with targeted, segmented, different audience segmentation piece of content that then you can kind of cater, and I’m sure eventually, you know, you’ll be able to not just offer, interactive experiences, but you could also offer very personalized experiences based on what is the psychographic profile of that particular viewer at a time of what type of data points and information you have about them and what you think that they’ll prefer: a red over a yellow shirt in the actor’s scene.

Dan Garraway (14:56):

Yeah, all of those are true and I think that, a large, again, problem with the industry is all we’ve done with video is take it from the corner of the room where it used to be a CRT display with a very big back to it, which used to have to stand out from the side of the wall through to a smaller screen that’s thinner and it’s in your hand generally speaking. That aside from color has been all that’s happened with video. Zero other than that. Okay, I’ve heard some people say, yeah, we’ve had HD great HD, better, better quality. But again, we’re not fundamentally using technology to improve the most powerful medium of our time. It’s completely ridiculous. And so that has been the case for a long time. It is changing now and there’s a real need for it to change because of the things we’re talking about. OTT launching so much more of these content distribution outlets, the marketing industry needing to use video as a much more always on concept, but it’s a struggle but it needs to happen because the outcomes will be better, more effective content for everyone and that’s more interesting. You know, I don’t want to watch four or five commercials before I want to watch the TV show that I want to watch and that needs to happen at the moment because people were lazy, didn’t actually innovate in advertising and video. They are now. So we don’t, we need to encourage these, these continued growth points, but it’s innovation in video has been surprisingly lacking.

Narrator (16:26):

Hold that thought. Let’s take a quick break and thank our sponsors. The production of the amplified podcast has been brought to you by Socialfix Media. Socialfix is a transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, video and podcast production, content marketing and overall startup strategy. Socialfix has helped over 300 clients generate millions of dollars in revenue, fundraising and profit. If you’d like help launching or growing your business, visit social Socialfix.com.

Terry Tateossian (17:02):

Walk me through. I wake up tomorrow and it’s 10 years later. What is my experience with video viewership?

Dan Garraway (17:16):

I think, one of the answers to this is not what you want to hear, but it shouldn’t be necessarily coming from me alone. One of the downsides of a lacking innovation is that, and I refer to this a bit a few times, is I wear a kind of marriage counselor. That’s the way we see why wax between creatives and technologists and really, although I’ve been a creative in the past, that’s my sort of history. I’m leaning more on the technologist side now and I don’t, the answer to that question can come from technologists alone. I think the exciting thing about Charlie Brooker and Black Mirror on Netflix is that a type of thing that that TV show is the be all and end all of interactivity by the way. It’s got, you know, just the start, but it’s not being explored and it is starting to, with things like those movements. So the answer to that is probably just as diverse as virtually any answer that we can, you know, talk about with any of the subjects you’re covering. It should be as creative as the creative industry and the answer to that, I should be able to use every piece of technology, coming back to my Photoshop interactive video concept with wire racks, I should be able to use any interactive technology, any piece of technology to make a better story be told. And so with that, be me using voice to interact with the video over touching or clicking. Yes, probably. Would that be an emotion analysis analysis with my consent to be part of the experience? Would it be using computer vision to perhaps incorporate me into the show in some ways quite possibly. All of these elements could contribute. We talked about 5G as well. I mean that’s another area where low latency and edge computing will allow us to iterate with widen wide ranges of metrics on the fly about what’s happening in these tracks of experience. So for example, you could even change the, uh, the, the way the TV show is going based on the interactions happening in different places in the country or the or even the world. Like these are all very varied, um, uh, parts to how we tackle ’em or how we will wake up in 10 years time. But only now really are we starting to explore them because creative and technologists have come to the same place at the same time.

Terry Tateossian (19:44):

So give me some examples on that, like real life examples where maybe some of the challenges that we’re facing today or the way that we’re used to things being, how’s that going to be impacted?

Dan Garraway (20:00):

Well, I would start with something very simple. TV news. A lot of very antiquated technologies that cost a lot of money burn in infographics, into TV content. Those infographics like we’re probably using here today, you know, we will have a, you know, a link to our app. We’ll have a burn in title of our names and perhaps our companies, I can’t explore that without going onto Google and like typing that in, which is a very manual, boring process and nobody will probably do it. If that infographics is interactive, I can touch and explore and find out information and it connects to another piece of the web. Then I’ve got video being the equivalent of what a document was with the link. I’ve started to explore and connect the asset and what’s more to the point where it’s in the asset to the rest of the web, which is useful for both parties that the viewer and useful for for the content creator because it gets more valuable outcome for everyone.

Terry Tateossian (21:03):

So you’d be able to watch the presidential debates and guess when a candidate mentions a particular fact, you can have a pop up that will display the fact you can look more into that or?

Dan Garraway (21:20):

Yeah. And, and as I say, it could be very diverse. How that plays out. The storytelling and narrative elements of this are probably the most interesting explorations because you can start to see that when creators are not thinking in that two dimensional, perhaps broadcast side of the business, which is, I’ve got this, you know, story and I’m going to broadcast it to you. What if the, it turns into a two way conversation? Well, if that viewer is part of the creative process, I mean, you’ve seen this happen already. It’s not completely new. I mean, everyone’s tried these sorts of things, but the difference is now making it scalable, which is what we’re about as a technology company. So for example, you know, there’s been, you know, very successful sort of Stargate or something like that. An MGM property, which have been very successful outside of their commissioned seasons on TV and movies to connect with audiences and they’ve actually reacted to their loyal audiences. That’s because Stargate is a viable show outside of, and it has a very loyal fan base, but there’s no reason to say that, you know, you can iterate with your audience and make TV shows that are narratively changing accordance to the audience’s involvement and interaction when you start to have the technologies which speed the process up versus slow it down.

Terry Tateossian (22:53):

We covered a bit about the utopian view of how fantastic things could be. What would be some of the negative effects of this type of technology?

Dan Garraway (23:04):

Well I think it’s the same probably concerns with many new technologies. We’re always slightly afraid of them I think because generally it wields power in fewer and fewer places. And so, I’m an advocate for the general movements of the industry for the last few years to be more open and transparent about privacy. For example. One of the elements of that is, of course, computer vision can understand what’s going on. Then if facial recognition, other things come into that as well. You know, I think being as open and transparent as possible, um, is, is critical to doing this in a way which encourages people to participate and feel safe with these new ideas and creative approaches. But, you know, I, I get very bored in these sort of discussions with like, how to, you know, everything’s going to collapse on us and the world’s going to be occupied by machines. It’s not that because we are the people making this sort of stuff and this is the excitement of it is that we can participate in this and we have more ownership over that future than we would without it. So I think the principle for me is you offer viewers something they value and they’ll give you something back. So if that is the principle behind every sort of data point exchange, I think that’s a good thing. And that’s where creative pays. It plays a really important part. If you’re giving me a video, great. You know, 28,000 other businesses, they’re going to give me 10 videos a day on Instagram and every other social network. It doesn’t mean anything to me. If your message is slightly more impactful because that director was slightly more awake on that day, great. But if you’re starting to think as a business, how does this video strategically play into my business outcomes? And the interactivity extends into that. Then how. That’s where you start to translate creative into business outcomes and that’s where it gets exciting for all parties because they can see interactions they’re doing actually generate a better experience, whether that be the personalized itinerary on a travel video, for example. So now could go and take that and explore where and when I’m going to where I’m going to go on my holiday or anything like that. So, you know, it’s offering something to the viewer can then can then make the data exchange more equitable, equitable, I think.

Terry Tateossian (25:35):

Ultimately, the emerging media technology, so Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, there I suppose you can say kind of leaning in that direction because they’re, you know, they have a meteoric rise to the story functionality. So, you know, people obviously want that feature in the content that they’re consuming. By seeing real time what the creators doing, what they’re tagging, what they’re linking to, and they’re getting a better experience. They can react to things they can communicate with the other audience members and so forth. So this is obviously something that cannot be ignored by the Hollywood industry as well as any of the streaming services right now. So how long do you think it will be before we start seeing that type of technology rolling out?

Dan Garraway (26:27):

Well, I mean, it’s already happening. I mean, this could be launching next year, for example, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman launching that. And I think there’s some exciting aspects of that. I’ve seen some of the early versions of how that’s coming together. And I think it’s about time, honestly, that Hollywood was starting to tackle these sorts of different storytelling pieces. I don’t think it’s exclusive, by the way. I don’t think that though, just because we’ve got stories on Instagram and and other elements that are a bit more short form vertical formats. It doesn’t mean that that’s the only format. Now it’s again, diversity is like, they’re still going to be a place for a movie, a sit down watch feature film where you perhaps don’t even want to interact. There’s always going to be a place for TV episodes that have a more linear look and feel to them. I think there’s a thirst for viewers to be as creatively engaged. And I think that’s why, to be honest with you, when any product is launching, like take talks for example, which is obviously a little bit more notoriety recently when any of those things are launching in video and challenging the industry about people get behind them and are very excited about them. Honestly, we don’t yet know how tech talk is going to translate into business outcomes, but early adopters are probably doing it more for the marketing prowess of, of being involved than anything else. But, I think as an industry and as viewers, we get excited about it because innovation in the medium, something that we have just completely lacked. And so video from the Hollywood side of it with Quimby and others are not going to discount that there’s a, there’s some very exciting stuff happening underneath and beneath the scenes at the moment with some other very large media companies. It’s, it’s a good, is a good next five to 10 years of content, interesting times, I think, with technology we’ve done amongst it. And I think we will be the better for it.

Terry Tateossian (28:29):

Good point.

Dan Garraway (28:31):

Hopefully

Terry Tateossian (28:34):

I always say marketers ruin everything, so I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to take advantage.

Dan Garraway (28:41):

It’s possible. Yeah. I mean, yeah, it’s because I think though I come back to that point I was making earlier that I don’t think marketers can be to blame for the fact that their promotions, their livelihood are all related to fairly abstracted KPIs from real business outcomes. You know, I think, that’s also the downfall in my opinion of a large part of the very large media and advertising companies in the world is like, well what the industry is being preoccupied with for way too long is eyeballs and how to get as many eyeballs to content as possible. It then moved on a little bit to social shares. How many people can you get to share your content? Everyone got a little bit obsessed with that. But none of these things really indicate like where your relationship is with your viewer, where relationship is with your customer and leads I think quite a lot of self-indulgence. In my view, there is no place for self-indulgence in marketing videos and communications. Like if we used to face this a lot early on in our business. We used to walk into meetings with very well known companies and it’d be like, oh, these interactive elements. Yeah, they’re in the vision. They’re in the visual and it’s like, well, we can switch them off. But yes, they are like by default. And that’s because you’re educating your audience, you know, that they can interact with something and that’s part of that. And they’re like, yeah, we just don’t want anything in the, in the video. We just want to sort of made really nice, beautiful video. And it’s like, well, you can make these interactive elements beautiful as well. That’s part of the creative process. But that was all coming from this mentality of like, I want a really nice piece. I can put my show room. Whereas that’s what that motivation was. I’m interested in how can I make something that I’ll put on Vimeo or probably not on YouTube, but make to the market. And everyone will say, “Oh, you’ve made us such beautiful film.” Well, a beautiful film has its place, but that place for me is more often than not in the narrative area. And the consumer area of like storytelling and, you know, not as a brand necessarily. If it starts in that place, certainly not, it’s gotta be like not how do we make a really beautiful video. It’s gotta be what are we trying to do with video step one. Like that one video is now going to create a more tangible relationship with our viewer and our customer. Okay, well then we’ve got nothing in the conversation past this point about a beautiful video that given, right? We’re not going to go and make a shit video. We want to make somethings that looks nice. But step two then is if that’s our intended outcome, a better, more tangible relationship with our customer, then what are we doing in that video, which relates back to those, that mission. Are we going to just get what we need from views, our views counter? No. are we going to get like a percentage of, you know, completion. I mean possibly, but interaction is the only way, honestly, that you can do that because then you can start to say, well, the viewers sent lent forward on this, they interacted with this product. They then went on to investigate further. And by the way, these are not just stats I’m reading off now. There’s a fairly well known industry studies now from IPG media amongst others who say that interactivity makes 47% more time spent with video. It increases purchase intent, which has to be one of the most important metrics by nine times. And it’s 32% more memorable because people physically interact. There’s a tangible cognitive movement. So you know, these elements make for a more outcome driven use of video. And that’s a good conversation to have for the marketing industry, I think.

Terry Tateossian (32:42):

Absolutely. I mean anytime you align your business goals, which whatever they may be, brand awareness, demand generation, whatever that is to the content that you’re creating, it gives you a lot more reasons to produce what the customer audience is looking for. But the way that I’m seeing this also is, um, it’s the type of technology I feel like that will just obliterate the ad. I feel like it’s just not going to be necessary, right? Because ultimately you can place those type of cues into the actual content. So if you’re looking to just put out a straight-up advertisement or commercial, you no longer have to do that. You can actually insert your message and your product right into content that the viewer wants to see rather than interrupting them while they’re watching.

Dan Garraway (33:37):

Yeah, and I would argue by the way that already exists. I think when people hear that often their reaction is, “Oh, that just sounds like, you know, forced advertising.” I don’t actually think that’s the case. If you watch anything, um, people have a natural interest in what’s in the video or in the TV episode, you know, people have always wondered and otherwise we wouldn’t have like people going and buying like sneakers that celebrities wear. People are already naturally interested in those things. So connecting those things to the useful part of technology here and allowing them to interact and find out what it is or how they can explore it further and buy it potentially are all just useful elements. And by the way, I just think as well that this is part of like a better way of working for the industry because it’s a race to the bottom just to keep making more content. We’ve got to take a pause and say, “why are we making this content?” Because, you know, even OTTs and everyone else we’re talking about is really struggling on these production methods to get this content out. You know, your, your guy here had to walk up stairs and, and move around with all this camera kit and all this gear. It’s expensive, it’s annoying and it’s hassle to make content. So, you know, doing more of it doesn’t necessarily produce a better outcome. You’ve got to, you’ve got to like think about what you’re doing and what inside that experience relates back to the value to have to do probably just the right amount. You don’t need to make a hundred videos a day if you’re making one video a day that’s really successful and engaging.

Terry Tateossian (35:14):

I just literally had that conversation I think today. Yes. No, absolutely. So tell me the one thing that you would like our audience to take away from this episode.

Dan Garraway (35:31):

I think, I think now’s the time with technology just to experiment and, if you, if you were willing to put some work in, and I say that with purpose you can get some amazing business outcomes through force. I think the industry is starting to look at interactivity through Netflix and other validators in the market. But why, why be forced, you know, get ahead of everyone by taking a real purposeful take an approach to what technology can do for your video content. And, you know, there’s a promise land of a lot of rewards for people who are willing to invest right now. Because, you know, that the race to the bottom of making more video content is where everyone is going, most of the normal brands are going at the moment.

Terry Tateossian (36:27):

No, I agree. So how can people find you, Dan?

Dan Garraway (36:31):

Well, on our website is Wirewax.com. We do all the socials and stuff. I’m sure as well. I’m not big on the socials myself personally, but I used them for observing. But yeah, I would say it’s the best place. And of course I’m contactable myself on LinkedIn, which is probably the only social network I do use. So yeah, and just sign up and have a play. And I think, feel free to ask questions. It’s a new landscape and I don’t think we should be shy of admitting that. I personally have, you know, my cofounder as well, Steve. I have 10 years of experience in this particular area and we’re very willing to give it a, we’re working at sea level right across the media and publishing spaces, particularly right now, challenging their approaches to the way they use the medium. And we’re very happy to do that because we believe in the education of our experience about what has worked, but more importantly, sometimes what has not worked to make a better more successful outcome for everyone.

Terry Tateossian (37:32):

Wise words. And thank you very much for joining us today.

Dan Garraway (37:35):

Thank you. My pleasure.

Narrator (37:37):

Thanks for listening to the Amplified podcast. Follow us on our social channels and subscribe on Apple and Google podcast, Spotify, Podbean, or wherever you get your podcasts. On the next episode. Stay tuned for more trailblazing insights, energy and culture to help fuel your pursuit in the modern digital era.

__________________________

 

Podcast with Dr. Sean Stein Smith: Blockchain, Facebook’s Libra, Crypto, Challenger Banks, Fintech

For the full episode audio, please check out our podcast page. 

Terry Tateossian (00:03):

Today I have Dr. Sean Stein Smith, who is an assistant professor at Lehman college for business and economics as our new guest. Welcome Sean!

Sean Stein Smith (00:51):

Afternoon. Happy to be here.

Terry Tateossian (00:52):

Thank you for being here. Sean has actually published five books around the topics of AI and financial services. Some of the books are the effect of integrated financial reporting on financial performance, strategic management, accounting, common sense finance, uh, finance for individuals and entrepreneurs. I think a lot of us could use that integrated reporting management and the, his latest book is on blockchain and artificial intelligence and financial services. What the implications and applications for financial professionals.

Sean Stein Smith (01:31):

Yeah, the mouse for right there. I don’t sleep a lot. Um, love my coffee and do you know, I mean honestly this whole area is, is so fast moving and so interesting and, and I’ve been working in it for 10 years now. So to me it’s all easy and fun and just natural to write about it, talk about it just in podcasts about it. So all the rest

Terry Tateossian (01:59):

to be one of the very few people that says talking about integrated reporting management,

Sean Stein Smith (02:06):

somebody has to do it right now.

Terry Tateossian (02:09):

Believe me, I’m fully on board. So tell me a bit about your background and how did you get into this?

Sean Stein Smith (02:16):

Sure. So probably the best way to sort of summarize it in a, in a quick manner is basically be for moving over into higher, right. About two and a half years ago, I spent about eight to nine years in industry working in corporate Canada and corporate finance working almost as a half it half the accounting role. And so as a result of that, I was always pretty hands on and interested in sort of how technology impacts processes and controls and then how that ultimately impacts the work of folks working in accounting. And finance and then sort of now sort of in the banking and sort of the markets area too. And then so this whole tidal wave of toys almost, right, you know, blockchain, AI, Bitcoin, all of that stuff is just cool stuff to analyze and to then sort of build on. Right. My own background from industry to analyze really how all these big changes are impacting every aspect of accounting, finance, markets, trading, all the rest.

Terry Tateossian (03:18):

When was the first moment when you realized, Holy cow, this is going to really impact everything?

Sean Stein Smith (03:27):

I mean I’d say probably that Holy cow moment for me was for blockchain and cryptocurrency. I’d say that was really back in 2016 or so. Right. And, and for anybody who is not seeing it, there’s a great movie on Netflix banking on Bitcoin. It’s a great movie, easy to watch and has interviews with all of the real people who were there back in like 2012 to 2013 2014 back before Bitcoin was a mainstream headline news story. And I sort of came across it almost by accident. I was doing some research, doing some work, doing my doctorate on how different technology systems can help companies better report their information. And so I heard it’s a blockchain thing and Bitcoin now at the time I was like, Bitcoin is not a big deal, whatever. I was totally wrong in there by the way. But the underlying technology, right, that blockchain, that the ability to store and to share data on a continuous basis and to do so in a manner that on the Bitcoin blockchain has been unhackable up until now. I mean that blew my mind because that changes everything. But from an accounting point of view, from an audit point of view, from a banking point of view, from a traceability point of view, I mean there’s all types of applications for it out there.

Terry Tateossian (04:47):

Tell me a bit about the work that you’re doing at Lehman college.

Sean Stein Smith (04:50):

Sure. So sure. So I’d say that Lehman, I teach courses focusing on advanced accounting, finance, accounting topics, and then honestly trying to bridge that gap between MIS, computer science and accounting. Right. Because really, I mean, ask anybody in accounting or in finance. And honestly it and the capability to work with it is more and more sort of our jobs. Right. And so that’s what I’m trying to do on top of teaching the debits and the credits, you know, cash flows, all the rest. I’m always trying to weave in those sort of hot topics. I’d be it AI, be it blockchain, crypto, be it RPA, any of those buzz words. And actually we also working on a blockchain certificate program right now as we speak. And a quick plug for, for Lehman Lehman was the first school in the CUNY system to actually issue transcripts on a blockchain based platform in may. So we have cool stuff going on there. Yeah. So very forward thinking place.

Terry Tateossian (05:52):

Yeah, I mean that’s an actual great application for blockchain in general. Yeah, there’s

Sean Stein Smith (05:58):

a lot of fraud that goes on, I believe with higher education transcripts and grades yet. And I mean, so the whole blockchain conversation, it’s primarily focused like on Bloomberg, Fox business, MSNBC, whatever your flavor is. That conversation tends to be focused on the market side of it, right on the cryptocurrency, on the trading side of it. But blockchain has implications for any industry that has information. So it’s every industry, healthcare, property records, tax records, not for profit, you know, tracking those inflows and outflows. Any industry that has information from customers or from suppliers or partners that can be augmented or improved using blockchain. So let’s talk a bit about the financial industry. What are the traditional challenges for those, I guess that haven’t necessarily lived through or have were around when the recession? I mean, so I’d say that there are a few headwinds out there right now in the financial services area at large.

Sean Stein Smith (07:02):

Probably the two that come to mind the most often are automation, right? The next tasks are automated. These institutions don’t need as many people. And so then from a bottom line point of view, short term it’s a positive. But in the future, if you and your employee base are a smaller percentage of the overall workforce, you aren’t going to be as important. And then to this as a result of that automation, the margin compression is tremendous. Right? From Vanguard, the Blackstone, black rock, all of the big behemoths, right in the private equity space. In the retail space. All of them consistently point to those two things. Automation and that automation sort of driving down margins in their industries are two of the biggest headwinds out there right now. Hence all of these sort of nontraditional companies trying to get into the space, right? Leveraging one, these automation tools and two, also trying to take advantage of the fact that as a non-bank or as a non incumbent institution, they aren’t bound by all of this regulation that a legacy institution has to comply with.

Sean Stein Smith (08:11):

Now, of course, as these entrance started getting into the payments and the money transmission business, there are some Congress people, regulators who are advocating for, well, hold on now, if you’re moving into the banking space and you’re acting like a bank walking like a bank and a, you know, talking like a bank, then you should be treated as a bank. Now, how could that be? I don’t know. This is tiny. You know, you’re tech startup, Facebook, you know, tiny company, you know, sort of a minnow out there right now. But yeah, Facebook is probably the, the prime example right now, right? For good or bad, right? Cause Facebook has been in the spotlight, well for a number of other reasons anyway, but most because they’re basically the face of this whole Libra project. Now it’s important to note and to point out that even though it’s called Facebook’s Libra and it’s Facebook that is, that’s most often linked to it from an operational point of view on paper, at least Facebook is one of 28 companies who are part of the governing body that ultimately will sort of derive and manage Libra.

Sean Stein Smith (09:20):

So even though it’s a link to most powerfully to them right here, at least, um, they’re only on paper one of a group of firms that, that, that is managing it. But yeah, during the hearings that happened earlier in July, there were some heads of banks basically saying, all right, well if Facebook wants to get into our business, then they should be treated as such. So let’s unpack that a little bit. What the heck is Libra and why do we need it? How much time do you have? So, so I had a really, so at a really sort of basic level, right? Libra is designed or it’s being marketed as a payment tool that will enable users of Facebook, right? To basically send funds back and forth and to pay for goods and services with Libra via messenger, without having to use dollars or euros or some other Fiat currency and Fiat currency.

Sean Stein Smith (10:19):

All that means is a currency issued by a government, right? But so it’s a very basic purpose. But unpacking that purpose, then there are some questions that are asked, right? So how is this Libra coin actually going to be back? Right? How is it going to have value, right? Because a us dollar has value because it’s backed by the U S government. So then how does Libra have value? And that’s where it really gets a little interesting or terrifying depending on, on who you ask. So in the hearing is that happened on July 16th and 17th. It came out during, uh, the testimony of their head of this LIBOR project, David Marcus, he stated that the coin itself is going to be supported or backed overall by half us dollar assets and then half other assets. So all of that raises some interesting questions too and well probably the one that’s most important is if I trade a hundred dollars and for a hundred Libra and then I want to trade it back out into dollars.

Sean Stein Smith (11:26):

How does that process work and my able to get back out of LIBOR after I converted in B because it’s not like some other coins out there where it’s backed one to one us dollar per coin. Then it’s a pretty basic process to follow. I converted back and forth, but if I convert it into Libra and so that LIBOR is backed only half by the us dollar and half by some other assets, how does that conversion process work for me? But more on the points of, of how it connects to the sorta financial services space is okay, fine. How was Facebook and a guarantee that Libra and sort of that underlying blockchain isn’t compliance with OFAC AML, KYC money laundering, who’s going to be in charge of making sure that if I’m trying to sign up for Facebook to purchase Libra, that I’m not doing it for some criminal reason, right?

Sean Stein Smith (12:17):

Who’s going to be in charge of that? What safeguards are in place? And all of those questions were asked and are being asked. As of right now, there are not too many satisfactory answers as far as the people in Congress are concerned, but really sort of Libra, it’s, it’s a type of cryptocurrency called the stable coin and all that. That means a stable coin and all of that means is that on paper it’s more stable, right? Then a Bitcoin which goes up and down quite a bit. And so the purpose of it is to give users here and internationally, more importantly, a unit of account or a way to do transactions to pay for goods and services that aren’t always going to be linked to the, you know, mood swings of people in power either here in the U S or overseas in terms of heads of state bankers, politicians at large.

Sean Stein Smith (13:11):

Why does Facebook or these 20 bodies need this coin? So that’s a very good question and there really hasn’t been a good answer given by Facebook’s head. Basically they’re sort of answer right now is that they’re doing this to try to give their 2.7 billion users a easy way to conduct e-commerce on their platform and so on. Facebook wasn’t e-commerce, well I didn’t know either. Right? But apparently they’re trying to sort of augment that and I think they’re doing it because they’re feeling some pressure from other big social media companies, Alibaba, 10 cent that have sort of managed to merge social search, payment processing all under one house. So I do think that’s a part of it too. Interesting. How long do you think it is before Amazon and Google come out with their own coins? Oh, I mean, well it’s very interesting because on August 1st and August 2nd, um, a press release came out that Walmart had actually filed a patent and had put information out into the marketplace for their version of a product that looks a lot like Facebook’s Libra. So, so yeah, I mean Walmart, you know, I mean the old school here, but you keeping up with the times as I’d say that that’s sort of given that information, it isn’t going to be too long before Amazon, Microsoft, even Google issue their own white papers for their own blockchain products that help with payments or other types of sort of payment processes have built under their platforms. If it’s the end of 2019 and Facebook is the only tech company that has one, I’ll be surprised.

Terry Tateossian (14:55):

Yeah, I mean in my, from my point of view, I feel like, you know, creating your own either token or currency or some type of mechanism to transact in an eco system like Facebook, like all these other social channels, social media platforms is almost like a no brainer because all of these ICO coasts that hit a couple of years ago that are now pooh-poohed everywhere and it’s a bad word. That’s ultimately what they were doing. Um, and now it’s becoming a bit more of a legitimate process I guess for Facebook is taking on it sort of, is it, can I call it an ICO?

Sean Stein Smith (15:35):

I wouldn’t call it a a ICO per se, but what I would say is that to your point, the overall, right, since 2016 right, since since Bitcoin burst out into the mainstream marketplace, there has been a shift going on all through 2017 2018 2019 and I guarantee you in 2020 basically from sort of a decentralized open source model, sort of wild West like Bitcoin back in 2015 2016 towards more of the incumbent players being involved, being a part of the blockchain crypto asset space and trying to make this ecosystem fit under current guidelines. I would definitely say that’s a trend, right? Cause IKOS have have gone quite quickly from this new cool, awesome way to raise capital on a blockchain. But you one of the highest profile ones in 2017 the KYC raised $100 million in 2017 and just earlier in June the sec filed a complaint versus that company. So, so yeah, it’s, it’s turned quite quickly on that. But ICO is have evolved into STOs security token offering, which if you actually analyze it, is awfully close to a traditional IPO. And so this whole shift from sort of decentralized, you know, open source to more centralized but not totally centralized yet, but more of the incumbents, more frameworks, more oversight is a definite trend out there.

Terry Tateossian (16:59):

Absolutely. Interesting. And I guess that the beauty of why blockchain has raised so much interest is because of that ability to decentralize and take some of the power away from companies like Facebook and Google at this point, and the banks and the financial institutions. But then you have the opposite powers trying to centralize and we’re trying to decentralize of

Sean Stein Smith (17:24):

course. Yeah. No, and it’s important to know how we got here, right? Because Bitcoin and blockchain, they, that first white paper was published on Halloween 2008 right in the teeth of the market meltdown, you know, caused or involving, depending who you ask, right? There’s, there’s blame to go around. But the big banks were a part of that meltdown, but the mortgage lenders, the banks, the credit bureaus, all of them were implicated in a way in that meltdown. And so Bitcoin and blockchain that was developed as a way to, as you put sort of decentralized that power, that authority, that custody, that sort of grip on that financial data on the financial arteries of the world and to then give it back to the individuals. But of course over time with the development of the ecosystem and the interest in blockchain by all of those incumbent players from Toyota to Walmart to JP Morgan to Microsoft to Facebook.

Sean Stein Smith (18:22):

I mean as these players, you know, one understand the value of blockchain and to see how it could touch you, threaten their business models. All of them are pouring billions of dollars and thousands of people at this tool to try to get it to work in their system for them. Absolutely. How far away do you think we are from a future predicated on Bitcoin and blockchain in banking specifically? I would say that probably the future is on Bitcoin. I don’t think that’s a viable path forward. Um, just based on the price volatility and the feedback from the regulators just on basically their current use on it. I don’t think that a banking system based on Bitcoin is a viable option. Now a banking system other based on or augmented by blockchain? I would say absolutely. That’s a real possibility. Right? Just earlier this year in February, JP Morgan launched their quorum blockchain and they’ve signed up over 200 banks to be part of their interbank information network basically to use their version of blockchain to help do commercial payments.

Sean Stein Smith (19:33):

I mean, so I mean there was a tremendous value add from a banking side to use blockchain to help with the settlement of transactions, processing of payments and confirmations on on both ends. So that I would say is a real possible future. And I’d say it’s probably much closer than we think because we have these big established incumbent players adopting it, right? Using it and there are a whole host of pilot projects basically set to launch either at the end of 2020 or early 2021 sweatshirt. That’s going to be interesting to see sort of how these products actually work. Right. If on the day when you turn it on, is it actually going to work as advertised by? Probably not perfectly, but I would say that that’s a possible future, I’d say within five to eight years. Yeah. What do you think some of the problems they’ll encounter initially?

Sean Stein Smith (20:23):

I think probably one of the basic problems that they’re going to encounter is how these blockchains talk to each other, right? How they, how they interoperate with each other. So, so we, good example that I was given is how much trouble is it at a big firm to upgrade your email system or your answering machine system? It’s always a huge mess, right? Upgrading your email system in house, right? Just inside your company. Now, uh, imagine trying to build a network to connect over 200 banks, over 500 banks, how ever big it is on top of your current systems, which aren’t perfect either. Right? And imagine all of those problems and the bugs and the coding errors and the gaps and the missing information that could possibly happen. I’d say that that’s probably the biggest issue. How they interoperate and then sort of a one B is how this ultimately gets treated from a regulatory point of view, right? So are there policies in place to make sure that as we’re transitioning or that as banks or as consumers transition from the current system to a blockchain system, how do we make sure that all of the rules and the protections, the guidelines, the frameworks, all the rest are kept in place as the whole process changes, right? So how do we keep the rules still in force and working as the whole process that they’re trying to enforce changes overnight? Right. So how does that process work?

Terry Tateossian (21:48):

Yeah. Now the 200 banks that you’re talking about, are they building their own private blockchain where it’s closed off into those particular banks and how do you envision that work?

Sean Stein Smith (22:01):

Sure. So, so from all of the, you know, data published by JP Morgan, basically they had built that, right? So basically what they did at a very high level was take the public blockchain, Ethereum, and then sort of take that source code, edit it, tweak it to make it work for them internally. And then called quorum. Basically try to create their own version of Ethereum built for their commercial payment network. And then JP Morgan serves the role as the organizing firm, but that had from basically of this IIN and so then they’d been asking banks to sign up to be a part of it. And so as a result of that, those other banks, those 200 banks, 300 banks, how ever many are signed up right at the go live date will then be linked in to that JP Morgan blockchain. That’s what a private blockchain. Hold that thought.

Terry Tateossian (22:52):

Let’s take a quick break and thank our sponsors. The production of the amplified podcast has been brought to you by social fixed medium social fixed, a transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, video and podcast production, content marketing and overall startup strategy. Social fixed has helped over 300 clients generate millions of dollars in revenue fund raising and a profit. If you’d like help launching or growing your business, visit [inaudible] dot com

Terry Tateossian (23:29):

and what would be some of the areas that would be transformed through the use of this technology for them? Like what’s going to change for these banks?

Sean Stein Smith (23:38):

Sure. So I’d say probably the most obvious thing that is unchanged, first one, how long it takes transactions, who told you settle. Right? And so from a consumer point of view, I go use Apple pay to go buy some pizza. I’m done in two seconds. That transaction, it can take up to four business days to actually settle out on the back ends. That’s forever these days. I mean, I mean that’s an eternity and it’s that way because of all of the different correspondent bank relationships of correspondent balances, people have to be involved. And the fact that there are so many different systems that have to talk to each other. So if you’re able to get an industry standard or an industry platform set up where all of us basically agree to do things in a certain way, then that could really cut down on it.

Sean Stein Smith (24:27):

And JP Morgan has come out and saying that they’re upfront and goal is to cut the settlement time from days to hours and then ultimately from hours down to minutes. So that’s the huge benefit right there. And just add an extra little wrinkle in here. The vector by which that time is going to be saved is the fact that as a part of this launch, JP Morgan actually is also going to launch their own coin, the stable coin JPM and coin, but it’s only going to be used inside of that network basically to help convert the dollars, euros, Yens, whatever into JPM coin, have those transfer on that quorum blockchain and then at the end convert back into the currencies in question. So the answer or to sort of point out sort of how that time-saving actually is going to get done at JP Morgan, they are going to roll out their own coin to sort of help with that process.

Terry Tateossian (25:18):

So would, would that be considered kind of like a utility token?

Sean Stein Smith (25:23):

They didn’t go that far, but I would argue that because right now there is no case, there is no plan for these coins to be traded outside of the network. I would say so, yeah, I may be right because it’s only going to be used as a part of that blockchain. So it’s only utility is as a part of the network.

Terry Tateossian (25:42):

I guess I’m, if I’m not mistaken, I think ripple performs that same type of function into was is it international transport? Yeah, yeah,

Sean Stein Smith (25:49):

yeah. So the ripple blockchain, they were basically doing this, they were the first company to actually try to work with the banking regulators and banks to basically set up this international platform. Right. And it was very interesting to observe their reaction to the quorum launch. And even from a bigger picture point of view, international transactions or transactions between banks are, are settled via Swift and Swift has been around for decades. And so both of these projects either rippled or quorum are basically if you actually analyze them, trying to disrupt Swift and to basically be come the new standard for how payments are processing. And our transactions are settled both in truck country and inter country too, which also caused Swift to launch their own blockchain project. So it’s, it’s very interesting to see it. Yeah, it’s sort of sort of like the dominoes, you know, running around out there.

Terry Tateossian (26:48):

Yeah. I mean initially they were all against it. And now everybody’s in it. A challenger banks that are popping up right now all over the place. They, to me are a no brainer because I, I feel like going to the bank is an inconvenience. And I think a lot of people obviously, you know, may feel that way. What do you think about that?

Sean Stein Smith (27:11):

I’d say that, I mean, the idea of a fully online bank is a good idea, frankly, because then you’re able to offer the services of a bank without the costs of the branches and the people and the infrastructure on site, which as you pointed out, most people really don’t enjoy going to the bank branch anyway. So it’s not as if having those branches adds any value. Right? So the consumer experience of your bank, right? Most people just want it to be fast, convenient, and to give them the best deal possible. Right. And so I’d say that analyze through that lens if you are able to operate, obviously in compliance with all of the banking rules, but to do so without all of those costs of a legacy institution makes sense.

Terry Tateossian (27:57):

Who’s going to be the Uber

Sean Stein Smith (27:58):

challenger banks, who’s gonna be the Uber of challenge bank said that’s awfully tough. Um, there are a number of them out there who are doing good work, but I also want to point out that the incumbent players aren’t just hanging out. Right. Goldman Sachs launched a AI powered online banking platform for individuals. Marcus blush powered by AI online only. So I mean there is some pushback or some competition now from the income employers because they see it coming too, right, that the idea of a bank branch in the town is not as appealing to people and it’s not adding any value to the consumer, the experience of banking. So yeah, to me, very interesting to see. And I would not be surprised if the incumbent banks begin to buy up some of these online only banks.

Terry Tateossian (28:45):

Very good point. What do you think about crypto exchanges? I mean, they’re kind of playing in that same bank space. They’re floating in and out of regulation. And

Sean Stein Smith (28:58):

so that’s an interesting question because they aren’t perfect. Right? In may, one of the top platforms, finance had their hot wallet hacked. And without diving into too many details, a hot wallet is basically a online portal for consumers or investors to access their crypto holdings. And so they’re hot wallets or hacks and

Terry Tateossian (29:22):

wallet lives on the platform itself. It’s not like the heart versus the hard wallet, which is the USB port that you know, you lose it, you’re done. This is the temporary coins. So you transfer from your hard wallet to the portal.

Sean Stein Smith (29:38):

Yeah. And so in that hot wallet, what most folks don’t know is that on a platform like Coinbase or finance, which are the two biggest ones, most of the high profile ones here in the U S your public key and your private key are both held in that hot wall. So meaning that if that hot wallet is hacked, those hackers have direct access to your private key and therefore have direct access to your Bitcoin holdings. So in the case of finance, they has hot wall tact and it was only the Bitcoin hot waltz got hacked. And in the span of, I believe it was only a few hours over 7,000 Bitcoin were stolen worth at the time, 40 point $7 million and B because Bitcoin, yeah, that’s a lot of money and it gets better. B, because Bitcoin is not treated as an equity security. There is no FDI, C insurance, there’s no investor insurance.

Sean Stein Smith (30:36):

So then those folks are out of luck basically. Right. And so I do think that’s an important thing to keep in mind as you’re talking about crypto trading platforms and all the rest. That’s, most of these have only popped up within the last four or five, six years. So the infrastructure and the people running them, we don’t always have the, the depth of market expertise that a more long live player might. But I mean it’s a very interesting space. But the one thing that I would caution is that if you’re holding your information on a platform, I mean there is a element of risk in there.

Terry Tateossian (31:09):

Are there any exchanges that secure their users in any way?

Sean Stein Smith (31:14):

I mean, I would say that that is not something that I’ve seen advertised, right. As a function of a platform and that most individuals who are trying to sort of be more proactive in sort of safeguarding their data, probably use a, a combination, right, of the hot wallets for their certain like you know, operational costs a day to day use and then they’re cold wallets for the items that they want to hold more sort of medium to longterm. Right. And it’s basically have ultimately two separate addresses, one address linked to the hot wallet for those, you know, day to day buying pizza, buying coffee with your Bitcoin, and then the other address links offline to that cold wallet to hold onto those assets for the medium to longer term.

Terry Tateossian (32:01):

What about, I don’t know if you know of any or any examples of where the exchanges themselves have been manipulated as far as price surges. And

Sean Stein Smith (32:12):

so I would say sort of there’s a part a to that and a part B. So I would start with the price question and I know that there was some speculation back at the end of 2017 early 2018 that that huge run up in Bitcoin was caused by a few sort of large holders or a few institutions that were trying to we know increase the price, basically do a little pump and dub type of action there and was no hard evidence ever found, no charges brought. But there was a lot of conversation based on just analyzing the actual trading volumes of Bitcoin that it seems as if there could have been a few big players making big moves to help increase and then lower the price. So and in a market where there is not as much well established regulation and the individual investors aren’t as aware of how it works from a technical point of view, um, there is going to be an increased risk that if there are some well-informed players, well funded players or well established players that have large holdings that yet they could definitely have some impact on the price going up or coming down on the asset side or on the Bitcoin light coin, whatever side.

Sean Stein Smith (33:28):

But on the exchange side, um, I have not heard too much on of those being, you know, overtly or covertly sort of managed under the radar yet. But that could change with the advent of an I E O initial exchange offering that as these new platforms that as these new platforms get launched, then if they’re launched and they’re only controlled by a handful of people, then there’s a higher risk of some unethical or some bad actors sort of taking advantage of that information. They symmetry right to defraud investors, basically steal assets that are put on the platform or some other items like that. So that’s going to be interesting to watch. How many of these new platforms being launched. The IEO process actually turn out to be still here in two, three four years. That’s going to be very interesting to watch. I think

Terry Tateossian (34:20):

the last time I checked regulation for crypto exchanges in the us, I believe you were not regulated or permitted to take investor money from the U S is that still the case?

Sean Stein Smith (34:32):

I believe so. I have not heard anything to the contrary on that and I know that as far as Coinbase gov is for example, they have been trying to get more into the good graces of the regulators following their court case with the IRS back in 2017 and in 2018 they’re licensed now as a money transmitter in most States they were granted a custodial banking license, so they are trying to become more and more part of that sort of mainstream framework. More of an incumbent player mirroring our earlier conversation. Right. So sort of coming in from the wild West, but now sort of being licensed, working with regulators, trying to become more established to hopefully be able to then take investor money to help grow and, and all the rest, or to even launch their own additional tokens going forward.

Terry Tateossian (35:22):

Can you even be based in the U S if you’re a crypto exchange platform? Yes. Would you have to be based out of the U S based here? The recent Bitcoin search? It was, I think at the last time I checked up to 13,000 about a month

Sean Stein Smith (35:38):

ago up from what? What was it, eight? Yeah. And so I know earlier in the year it was down around 3,800 4,500 then it ran up and I believe that briefly touched almost $14,000 earlier in the spring, maybe April may. Now it’s been trading at around nine, $10,000. But there is a sort of, well on the crypto Twitter at the very least there’s a bullish sort of sentiment out there or feeling because that level of 10,000 is often viewed as sort of a technical breakthrough level, right? In that if it can hold that level or trade above it, then it could be set for a run-up. But what I also think is driving this is that as there’s more institutional interest and public hearings and conversations on all kinds of blockchain, be it JP Morgan, Libra, IBM, Walmart, as it becomes more sort of part of the mainstream conversation, then it’s viewed less as a criminal tool or as a high risk, uh, choice and more just as a alternative asset class.

Sean Stein Smith (36:42):

Right? And there are college endowments that have put money into crypto. There are pension funds, hedge funds, PE funds that are putting real institutional money now into this space. And so as that continues, I do think that that will help, won’t guarantee, but it will help sort of provide a floor under those prices going forward. And it’s also important to keep in mind that as of August 1st there was a press release put out that now 18 and a half million of the total 21 million Bitcoins have actually been mined. So it’s gonna be interesting to see that as we get closer to that hard cap of Bitcoins. So to what impact that has on the price of the coins out there, right? Will it behave more like gold than right, sort of a fixed level of it. And so then that drives the price or is that mining being complete?

Sean Stein Smith (37:36):

Gonna then turn it into an actual currency tool, right? Or an actual real currency option. So that’s going to be interesting to see. And depending on who you ask, um, there are folks out there saying that now Bitcoin is going to go up to $200,000 per coin. Yeah. Million dollars per coin and there are other folks out there saying that as it gets more mainstream and more accepted and more talked about and more regulated that then it could actually be used as a currency which is not going to have as big an impact on the price level that’s being treated just as a asset class. So it’s very interesting right now and it’s really hard to tell where it’s ultimately going to end up. But yeah, it has re recovered quite a bit. I believe it’s up something, um, from the beginning of the year thing is stuff something between a hundred and 200%. So I mean it’s so, so it has been a good year if you held it sort of longterm. But outside of that it’s also hard to forecast what the price is ultimately going to end up. How do you think that what you just as in

Terry Tateossian (38:36):

um, you know, there’s a finite number of Bitcoins available out on the market. They’ve almost been mine to completion. How does the Bitcoin performance or behavior impact all the other coins?

Sean Stein Smith (38:48):

So it has a big impact even right now because there were 2100 coins and tokens out there, but even even that said Bitcoin and it varies per day, but it’s being consistent between 50 and that it’s peak. Something like 62% of the overall market cap or the market value of the whole sort of crypto asset space is linked to Bitcoin. So it still has a huge impact on the overall sort of marketplace, be it ether, be it light, coin beat, XRP I mean they all pretty much track what Bitcoin does in terms of price, movements, up, down, sideways, whatever.

Terry Tateossian (39:27):

If you were looking to analyze a particular currency, what would you look at? What would be the types of elements or aspects of a coin would you look at?

Sean Stein Smith (39:38):

So if I had to analyze a specific crypto asset, be it a stable coin or more traditional cryptocurrency, I would look at a few things. One, what is its actual use case? Right? Is there a use case for it? And then part two, based on that, is there a white paper that I can read? Right. Is the coding language outlined, is that use case outlined anywhere that’s, I can actually see read and sort of analyze myself. Three is there a management team involved at Bitcoin there is no management team, but at coins, like the packs of standard Gemini dollar Libra, there are management teams, there’s a structure, there’s a hierarchy in place of who are those people and also what is their background in this space? And then 0.4, what are they doing to work with regulators, right? Are they being antagonistic, are they being cooperative?

Sean Stein Smith (40:30):

You know, and sort of what does that trend and then 0.5, what are those people saying their ultimate goal is right? Because having a goal in the white paper is one thing. But then having the goal as actually stated by management, it can be something entirely different. So then what is that goal or the purpose of this coin? Is it built to be used as a currency or is it built to be used as part of a blockchain? Right? Like the XRP JPM coin, right? Is it built to be used as almost a sort of Groupon to get goods? And services are we going to use it as part of a tokenization process? Then we’re going to tokenize a building issue, tokens for cash, you know, and then have those token holders granted access rights to the building or share of the profits, right? So how is the token going to work and how is it going to fit into the business model of some bigger picture entity, if any.

Sean Stein Smith (41:24):

Or like Bitcoin is a totally sort of decentralized untethered to any business or asset. And so the honestly put out there as a alternative, right? Um, so to the Fiat system, but sort of those are the factors that I would analyze. Who’s in charge? Is there a purpose outline? How is it linked to a business? And then how are they coordinating with regulators? Right? And the whole accounting conversation is a whole separate ball of wax, right? Because we have all of these firms launching coins, tokens, building blockchains. There is no guidance out there as to how to actually classify these things on the bound sheet, on the income statement, how to show them are they property, are they intangible assets, are they investments, are they currency equivalents, and then how do we show the gains and losses on these, you know, Bitcoins or other crypto assets.

Sean Stein Smith (42:17):

All of those are still unanswered questions at the FASBI level, at the ISP level, PCOB, all of those agencies are hopefully working on it right now. But as far as sort of public statements, public guidance, counting standards, there aren’t too many out there yet. The only agency that has come out with guidance is the IRS from 2014 and basically that guidance says anything that’s a virtual currency is treated as as property. So anytime that it moves or changes hands, it’s taxed, which has also proved to be a big headwind keeping consumers and merchants from actually using it as currency. Because if I want to use Bitcoin to buy pizza, I have to pay for the pizza, paying a sales tax on it, and then also track the price of that coin when I got it, the price of the coin when I used it and then Oh, income tax on that difference, how’s that even going to happen?

Sean Stein Smith (43:14):

I mean that’s a huge issue and and actually at the end of July, the IRS basically issued a press release saying they are going to be mailing out 10,000 letters by the end of August to people who they believe owe taxes linked to their crypto holdings and they have, if you versions of this letter, nice medium and then mean basically. So it’s going to be interesting to see sort of how that works and how that plays out. But they’ve come out pretty strongly saying that this sort of, this crypto tax enforcement is going to be a hot topic and a priority for them going forward. Because they issued a statement, I believe, and I forget if it was after the 2018 filing season or after the 2017 filing season, but they had analyzed their, their records and based on their internal workup, they estimated that only between seven and 8% of all people who owed taxes on crypto holdings actually paid them.

Sean Stein Smith (44:12):

So obviously they weren’t happy about that. I mean, I think there’s a lot of confusion for people on what it is that they even have to do. I mean it’s, it’s a huge challenge and it’s also compounded by the fact that there are platforms to trade these assets on like Coinbase. But as of right, platforms like that are under no obligation to issue you 10 and the nines. Now that’s in the process of being changed. But in 2017 when, when basically any holder of Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency had these huge gains, there was a lot of confusion as to how to show it, what the show and then also had to get that information. So, yeah, I mean that sort of information gap and again, that that sort of lack of integration into the framework structures of the current financial system is a issue that has to be worked on.

Sean Stein Smith (45:03):

So what do you predict as far as what we have to watch out for in the next two, three years maybe? I mean, I’d say really in, in the next two, three years. I’d say that it’s almost like a two track conversation on the blockchain side. I mean, the trend has left the station, right? It’s, it’s coming. There are these big companies that have put so much money, time and people into it. It’s coming right now from a consumer point of view, we probably won’t notice it right away upfront, but, but it’s coming for pretty much every asset, whether it’s title, insurance, intellectual property, copyright payments, banking, healthcare infrastructure, power grids, all of these things are being worked on, transportation, shipping, all of these are being worked on. There are platforms being built out in all of these areas. So I do think that’s coming as far as the crypto asset side goes, that’s a little more murky, right?

Sean Stein Smith (45:56):

Right. Because there is some crack down on Bitcoin. Right. And as of right now, there aren’t any products out there for individual investors to use to buy a basket of underlying crypto assets. Right there, there have been, I think 12 or 13 ETFs filed at the sec and all of them were turned down because Bitcoin, that underlying asset is too volatile. So I do think that that’s going to be the more contentious side. Right. But I do think, and from the trends that I’ve seen here and pretty much everywhere that I go, the trend and the sort of theme is that we’re moving less towards a decentralized open source and more towards a more centralized, more sort of stable coin, more regulated type of asset space. And I’d say that’s where we will ultimately end up if coins like that once they get used as currencies.

Sean Stein Smith (46:55):

Now if they’re happy just being viewed as an asset class by themselves, I’d say that that could be a little more less regulated or less tethered. But I do think even in that crypto asset space, we’re going to see sort of a bifurcation right coins that are issued to be used for stuff, whether as a Groupon or is it token linked to a project where to be used as currency and then other coins and tokens issued to raise capital and then trade. So I do think that’s ultimately where we’re going to go, but I do think that’s going to take a few years shake out to see how that all plays out. And it’s all ultimately comes down to how the regulators see this, right? Cause if they see it as a threat to the financial system or as a threat to consumer protection, then sort of that could throw a whole wrench into the works too.

Sean Stein Smith (47:46):

So it’s going to be very interesting. I think two, three, four years going forward. What’s the one thing that you would like our audience to take away from this episode? I’d say that’s the one thing to keep in mind is if your right investor where you’re a company or you’re an entrepreneur, thinking about blockchain crypto assets, either as a fundraising tool to using your business to do an airdrop as a PR move, it’s really important to understand that every blockchain is different and that every crypto asset is different and that it’s really important to understand what you are getting into, how they work, how it’s going to help you, and then also what your potential exposure is as you’re getting into this space. Once you have a fifth book coming out, fifth book that should be coming out either at the end of 2019 or early 2020 you gotta let me know. Absolutely. So thank you so much. I think brilliant. Now, very informative and I appreciate your time being. Absolutely. Happy to do it. Yeah.

Terry Tateossian (48:45):

Thanks for listening to the amplified podcast. Follow us on our social channels and subscribe on Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify pod bean, or wherever you get your podcasts on the next episode. Stay tuned for more trailblazing insights, energy and culture to help fuel your pursuit. In the modern digital era.

Socialfix announced as 10 Best Design Top Agency

Socialfix announced as 10 Best Design Top Agency 2016.

 About Socialfix Media

Socialfix is a multi-award-winning transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, media and overall startup strategy. Socialfix has helped over 300 clients launch innovative products and gain market share. As an independent full-service boutique agency established in 2005, we live and breathe your bottom line and ROI. We live at the intersection of strategy, technology, media and marketing.  Powered by innovation and creativity and fueled by kickass technology, we are ready for your next business challenge. For more information, contact us here.

Socialfix Wins Smart CEO Corporate Culture Award

Socialfix Wins Smart CEO Corporate Culture Award.

 About Socialfix Media

Socialfix is a multi-award-winning transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, media and overall startup strategy. Socialfix has helped over 300 clients launch innovative products and gain market share. As an independent full-service boutique agency established in 2005, we live and breathe your bottom line and ROI. We live at the intersection of strategy, technology, media and marketing.  Powered by innovation and creativity and fueled by kickass technology, we are ready for your next business challenge. For more information, contact us here.

NJBIZ’s Top Forty Under 40 Recognizes Terry Tateossian as New Jersey Top Business Leader

New Jersey digital marketing agency Socialfix Media’s own Terry Tateossian was honored to be recognized by NJBIZ in this year’s Top Forty Under 40 Recognition event. Each year NJBIZ selects Top Forty Under 40 business leaders who positively contribute to New Jersey’s dynamic business environment.

The evening was “an opportunity to recognize some of the young talented people we have in New Jersey,” said Tom Bergeron in the video, managing editor of NJBIZ. “The Forty Under 40 event is a way for us to reach a new generation of business leaders to bring in the next generation to understand how to do it, because, as we know, they’re the future,” he said.

The young professionals who received this year’s award were not only honored at the event, but received praise throughout the business community.

“If you look at these people, they’re not only successful business people, but they contribute to the community,” Timothy P. Duggan, chair of Stark & Stark’s bankruptcy and creditors’ rights group, said in the video.

Enjoy the video below highlighting the milestones of this year’s Forty Under 40 honorees produced by Socialfix.

About Socialfix Media

Socialfix is a multi-award-winning transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, media and overall startup strategy. Socialfix has helped over 300 clients launch innovative products and gain market share. As an independent full-service boutique agency established in 2005, we live and breathe your bottom line and ROI. We live at the intersection of strategy, technology, media and marketing.  Powered by innovation and creativity and fueled by kickass technology, we are ready for your next business challenge. For more information, contact us here.

Socialfix Wins 2016 50 Most Admired Companies Of The Year

Socialfix Wins2017 50 Most Admired Companies Of The Year.

 About Socialfix Media

Socialfix is a multi-award-winning transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, media and overall startup strategy. Socialfix has helped over 300 clients launch innovative products and gain market share. As an independent full-service boutique agency established in 2005, we live and breathe your bottom line and ROI. We live at the intersection of strategy, technology, media and marketing.  Powered by innovation and creativity and fueled by kickass technology, we are ready for your next business challenge. For more information, contact us here.