Author Archives: John Koetsier

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Hustling And Grinding The Startup Life? The ‘Fun Formula’ Might Just Restore Some Sanity To Your World

To be successful in startup, tech, and modern business life, the prevailing wisdom is that you have to hustle, grind, and burn the candle at both ends in order to succeed. It’s what I did building a venture-backed startup in San Francisco for three years, only to almost burn out completely.

For Joel Comm, the hustle-and-grind philosophy is just not true:

“There’s one thing I’ve found throughout my business life that has always held true,” Comm says in his upcoming new book, The Fun Formula. “When I’ve had the most fun, I’ve had the most success.”

Get the full story in my post at Inc. …

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The age of the smart machine

We live in the age of the smart machine.
Not the 18th century machine that clanks and roars, but the intelligent one that lives in the cloud and extends out to our fingers, our eyes, our homes, our cities, and our places of work.
This is indeed the century of AI, Shel and Irena, and there’s three interesting ramifications for me.
  1. The extension of intelligence to every thing: toilets, walls, windows, lights, speakers, clothes, chairs, tools, vehicles, infrastructure, and our very bodies (with implants) … to sum up: what I call “smart matter.”
  2. The interplay of this smart machine in all its configurations and avatars with culture and news and jobs and politics and society at large … whether via fake news or targeted political messaging or personalized advertising or robot bricklayers and lawyers and doctors.
  3. The impact on what it means to be human, to be social, and to become who you are in an age of ambient, dispersed intelligence and omni-connectedness.
These are areas that I’m interested in exploring deeper.

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Google Duplex Uses AI And Natural Language To Make Phone Calls For You, Saving You Hours

Booking a restaurant is a pain in the you-know-what. Almost as much as calling the phone company or a utility.

But today Google unveiled startling new technology that will phone a restaurant for you, book a reservation using real human-sounding language and speech patterns, and report back its success. Soon, the same technology could accomplish a wide range of boring and time-consuming tasks for us.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Taps, Clicks, Bricks: Part 3 – The New Retail: Silicon Valley and Main Street Are Converging

Mobile traffic is up. M-commerce is growing fast. Desktop conversions to sales are still strong. And yet, the lion’s share of all commerce happens on the street.

That means change is happening, sure.

But more critically, convergence is happening. And that’s a much bigger story about retail than any individual data point on mobile, desktop, or store.

Get the full story in my post on TUNE’s blog …

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Taps, Clicks, Bricks: Part 2 – Shopping Is Changing: The New Customer Journey

Twenty years into the desktop explosion and a decade after the mobile revolution, bricks and mortar is still 88% of all retail commerce in the United States. But that doesn’t mean that shopping is the same.

In fact, it’s never been more different.

As we saw last week, the best brands are walking alongside their customers at home, in the workplace, online, and in-store. With permission and while respecting privacy, they’re engaging with customers deeply on-demand — when their customers want it.

That’s happening via signed-in experiences across three major clusters of channels:

  1. Mobile (Taps)
  2. Desktop (Clicks)
  3. Physical Location (Bricks)

Mobile is the key and primary mode of connection, and it’s still growing fast in terms of economic activity. But the physical store location is still critical.

Get the full story in my post on TUNE’s blog …

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Alexa’s Huge Advantage: Amazon Is Much Better At Marketing Than Google

Alexa, what is marketing?

“Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships,” Alexa says. It’s something that Amazon knows very, very well, and is using to its advantage to continue leading in the smart speaker wars, which are of course just a prelude to our future of ambient, invisible computing.

Every week I get a new email from Amazon Echo.

The title: “What’s new with Alexa?”

Get the full story in my latest post at Forbes …

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Taps, Clicks, Bricks: How Retail Giants Are Reinventing Commerce Via Mobile, Desktop, Stores

Global mobile commerce will hit $1.8 trillion in 2018 after 40% growthlast year, and almost 60% of traffic to retailer’s sites is mobile. Does that mean actual physical stores are toast, and desktop is dead?

Absolutely not.

In fact, brands like Citi, Home Depot, Walmart, Unilever, and eBay are finding new and powerful ways of melding mobile commerce, ecommerce, and innovative in-store experiences to create retail experiences that surpass both digital-only stores and bricks-and-mortar only retailers.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Facebook Adds Mobile Commerce As Fandango Starts Selling Tickets On Instagram

Facebook just unveiled a big piece of its future earnings potential. Instagram is bringing on new ecommerce and mobile commerce capabilities, and the movie tickets leader Fandango just announced that movie fans can now buy tickets via Instagram.

That’s a big step away from ad revenue — which has been controversial — for the social giant.

It’s also a big step towards being a digital retailer.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Top Russian Cybernetics Experts On AI, Robot Morals, Human Extinction … And Self-Driving Cars

Elon Musk has stated his opinion that AI could lead to the extinction of humanity, and it’s one of the reasons he’s working hard to make us a multi-planetary species. Stephen Hawking was incredibly clear as well: true AI could be the “worst thing” for humanity.

And yet, every country and major company is racing to build AI systems.

Small wonder: Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that the nation that leads in AI will be the ruler of the world. And China is investing heavily in winning the race.

I was in Moscow recently to speak at Skolkovo Robotics Forum. One of the highlights: a visit to Russia’s top cybernetics institute, the National University of Science and Technology, or MISiS.

I asked two of its leaders about AI, its dangers, and — of course — one of the tasks we might use AI for: self-driving cars.

Get the full story in my post on Forbes …

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Adobe Combines AI and VR To Make Marketing Data Accessible, Visible, And Social

Marketers spend almost 10% of their budgets on analytics, more than any other single area. But they only use 1-3% of the data they collect.

That’s a massive problem, and it’s precisely why Adobe created “Project New View,” an innovative social VR data experience. Still an experimental project, Adobe unveiled the software today in London to showcase how brands could access and action their massive global data streams in the near-term future.

“This is going to have a profound impact on every industry,” Adobe senior computer scientist Dylan DePass told me yesterday. “It will change the way we act and interact with the digital world.”

Project New View is essentially a fusion of the massive amounts of data that Adobe Experience Cloud customers collect from their websites, apps, campaigns, and stores with Adobe’s marketing artificial intelligence Sensei, wrapped up in a virtual reality interface.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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2M+ at Forbes!

It’s been a couple years at Forbes now, and though I only write part-time, I’m extremely pleased to have hit the two million views mark.

The numbers when I wrote for VentureBeat were a bit higher … about three million … but I was full-time at VentureBeat, so it’s an unfair comparison.

Here’s to five million!

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Facebook Unveils New Hate Speech Check For Some Users

Hate speech, bullying, and harrassment are major problems online. In one response, Facebook has launched a new feature for some users: asking if every post is hate speech.

My wife saw it today on something I shared about Fortnite:

Interestingly, it does not seem to be just on posts that textual analysis might indicate could be problematic … it’s on all posts, including ads about car insurance and cute cats.

Check my post at Forbes for the full story …

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Cloud Revenue 2020: Amazon’s AWS $44B, Microsoft’s Azure $19B, Google Cloud Platform $17B

By 2020, cloud leader Amazon will still win twice the combined cloud revenue of its two biggest rivals, according to a recent Citi Research report.

And for today, all of the major cloud vendors are seeing accelerating revenue.

Amazon’s AWS grew 49% in the first quarter of 2018, while Google and Microsoft grew their cloud business at close to 100%, although at smaller volumes. A near-50% quarterly growth rate for Amazon means that the Seattle retail giant added just about as much revenue as Microsoft made: $1.8B.

Get all the details in my post on Forbes …

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VR Needs More Social: 77% of Virtual Reality Users Want More Social Engagement

77% of people who use virtual reality want more social engagement in VR, according to a new survey of 4,217 consumers. And while many of their headsets don’t get regular use, most intend to use their VR headsets more in the future.

“Led by Generation Z and Millennials, 77% of respondents who own a VR headset say they are interested in interacting socially with other people in VR,” says Greenlight Insights, which ran the survey. “Playing games, watching videos and video communications ranked highest as social VR activities of interest.”

That’s interesting, because VR can clearly be an isolating technology.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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If data is the new oil, prices just went up

As part of my consulting for TUNE, I helped out CMS Wire on a story about GDPR and artificial intelligence.

The full quote:

If data is the new oil, prices just went up, John Koetsier, a mobile economist at TUNE, a mobile marketing measurement company in Seattle, said. GDPR makes collecting data harder and more expensive, and that will have an impact on artificial intelligence. The most pain, however, will be felt by small organizations who are trying to build AI systems but who do not have huge streams of incoming first-party data. The big tech companies tend to have access to never-ending data from their own customers, making it much easier to get consent.

Always happy to help out a reporter or blogger!

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AI Assistants Ranked: Google’s Smartest, Alexa’s Catching Up, Cortana Surprises, Siri Falls Behind

Google Assistant is the smartest AI assistant. Microsoft’s Cortana is surprisingly good, coming in second. Alexa is learning faster than any other assistant.

But Apple’s Siri?

It’s still struggling.

Digital marketing firm Stone Temple tested Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Siri via an exhaustive list of 4,942 queries. For each, the company checked if the assistant answered, if the assistant understood the question, if the answer was wrong, and if the answers were sourced from a database or a third-party source, like Wikipedia.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Trump’s Jacked-Up USPS Rates Could Cost Amazon $1.3B More on $13.3B In U.S. Shipping Costs

If President Trump gets his way, Amazon will soon be paying more to ship parcels. $1.3 billion more, to be exact. That amount that would reduce the company’s profits by 1.4%.

“Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” Trump tweeted in December last year. “Should be charging MUCH MORE!”

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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USA Ranks 9th In Global Robotics & Automation Job Loss Report, After Korea, Germany, Japan, Canada

South Korea, Germany, and Japan are most prepared for the coming wave of automation, according to a new report by The Economist. The U.S., on the other hand, ranks ninth out of 25 countries.

And the most-at-risk countries?

Mexico, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Looming advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, and automation threaten to make many jobs obsolete over the next few decades. In worst-case scenarios, 800 million jobs could be lost globally; in best-case scenarios, robots squeeze humans out of just a few at-risk occupations.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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22 Questions About GDPR We’ll Answer In Our Webinar Next Week

GDPR is coming, and it’s coming fast.

Companies and marketers who aren’t ready yet have just one month to prepare for its May 25th implementation. And given that penalties for noncompliance are severe — a fine up to €20 million or up to 4% of the annual worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year — getting it right is critical.

Which means it’s a good time for TUNE’s latest webinar: TLDR on GDPR.

Get the full story in my post on TUNE’s blog …

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8 Of The Top 10 Most Profitable Smartphones On The Planet Are Made By Apple

In a new report released by Counterpoint Research, global smartphone profits declined by 1% last quarter, thanks to a maturing mobile market. But an astonishing eight of the top ten phones by profit share were made by Apple.

One of the most expensive phones on the planet, the iPhone X, leads the way with 35% of global smartphone profits, followed by Apple’s other new models: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

Two year-old models, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, are fourth and fifth.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Multiple Million-Plus-Follower Instagram Influencers Report Hacking; Emir of Qatar Possibly Affected

Multiple large Instagram accounts are reporting sophisticated hacking attempts by attackers who seem to know their passwords, leading some to believe that Instagram servers have been compromised.

“Six of my Instagram influencer friends just had their accounts breached. These are five-million-follower pages or more,” developer and instagrammer Albert Renshaw told me tonight. “And tons of other influencers are reporting this too … it seems someone cracked Instagram’s system or somehow got everyone’s passwords.”

Renshaw runs @Beautifulplannett, which has almost 300,000 followers, plus multiple other large accounts. He also runs secure email services for Instagram influencers.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Insights from the Future: Billion-dollar eSports Team Suspended For Illegal Use of Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Insights from the Future, chapter 3:  PEDs in eSports …

Once again, looking for your input, insights, and predictions for timeline, reactions. I will feature the best ones in the book, with attribution.


Here’s the “news” story:

*****Billion-dollar eSports Team Suspended For Illegal Use of Performance-Enhancing Drugs*****

The entire L.A. Lightning eSports team has been suspended for the balance of the Kraken IV season following positive drug tests for Kwik, a banned intelligence and mental speed boosting drug.

“We run clean games at Kraken IV,” league commissioner Ivy Lang said in a press conference this morning. “No teams are above the law, even the top teams in the league.”

L.A. Lightning, the highest-paid team on the planet, has long been controversial.

eSports kingpin Drake Owen put the team together five years ago, luring the best gamers from seven different eSports leagues with the highest player salaries in history, and a total annual team salary of over $1 billion. Top team member D3r3k 37 would have made over $75 million this season alone, and the massive payouts have prompted calls from other team owners for a league-wide salary cap.

Now, however, D3r3k 37 and all other L.A. Lightning teammates will forfeit all salary for the year, and team owner Owen will be forced to pay the largest team fine in league history: $100 million.

“This was a systematic effort by the team,” Commissioner Lang said. “A doctor with the program revealed everything.”

The banned drug, Kwik, is a nootropic that has long been shown to increase intelligence, mainly by speeding up brain function and accelerating reaction time. Side effects, however, include headaches and an increased risk for brain cancer. Unsubstantiated reports indicate several heavy users have also experience heavy brain bleeding leading to multiple strokes and eventual death.

Owen’s methods were long questioned by other eSports teams, but to this point concerns have largely been attributed to envy.

L.A. Lightning has won the Kraken IV cup the last three seasons, a result Owen had said was simply the result of selecting the best, treating them the best, and training the hardest. Lightning team members live on five floors of Owen’s residential tower in Beverly Hills, and are famously pampered. According to one former team member, the plumbing water is Evian, the food is prepared and served by a team of Michelin-starred executive chefs, and the suites are largely decorated with objects constructed from precious metals.

Owen did not hold a press conference or respond to inquiries, but did release a short statement via eSports Times:

“There seem to be penalties for success in the Kraken IV league. I have no doubt my team will be vindicated shortly, and we will return to capture the cup again this season. While I respect Commissioner Owen, she has overstepped her authority here, and the L.A. Lightning legal team will be taking this matter to the courts.”

eSports will grow to eclipse traditional sports in economic impact and participation

15-20 years

Top gamers will get larger salaries than the best NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL players. The incentive to cheat — including with PEDs — will be high.

I’m writing this book as a collaborative exercise. Each chapter is posted to my Facebook and LinkedIn feeds before going live. If you’d like to participate in critiquing and improving these posts, connect with me there. Alternatively, join my Telegram group here.

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Postback 2018 Agenda Revealed: 15 World-Changing Topics You Can’t Miss

Postback 2018 is almost here, and the agenda is getting very close to complete.

So what can you expect, besides 1,500 smart mobile marketing attendees, execs from the biggest tech companies, midnight parties, truly world-class influencers, and top journalists in attendance?

Amazing food, cutting-edge bands, incredible conversations with smart people, and some celebrity visits (remember Richard Sherman?) are pretty much guaranteed. But we’re also going to get some cutting-edge insights from people on the very front lines of digital commerce, mobile marketing, and customer engagement.

Get the full story in my post on TUNE’s blog …

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Weatherbug’s New AI-driven Forecasts Include Air Pollution Forecasts Down To The City Block

125 million Americans live in areas of high ozone or particle pollution, and Weatherbug’s new and improved mobile app is now using AI to help them manage their exposure.

Some of the worst cities?

Bakersfield, Fresno, San Jose, San Francisco, and — of course — Los Angeles are on the top-ten list of of most-polluted U.S. cities for atmospheric particle pollution. But New York, Las Vegas, and Phoenix are all on the list for ground-level ozone pollution.

But the problem is that cities are big — hundreds of square miles in some cases — and air quality is not the same everywhere.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Amazon & Kohls: Frenemies And ‘Coopetitors’ Fighting The Retail Apocalypse Together

Late last year Kohl’s allowed ecommerce giant and retail rival Amazon to set up Amazon Return centers in select locations across Chicago and Los Angeles. At first blush, this seems insane.

After all, why would a competitor help an enemy?

Especially one accused of ushering in the retail apocalypse. Amazon’s ecommerce and mobile commerce success are unprecedented, and increasingly bleeding into bricks-and-mortar retail.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Massively Popular Fortnite Game Down Globally Thanks To Epic Games Database Issues

Millions of gamers around the planet are having a bad day, mostly because Epic Games is having a very bad day.

Massively popular multi-platform game Fortnite might just be a victim of its own success. Players have been complaining all day of slowness in joining games, and it’s been getting worse, with downtime approaching six hours.

“It’s an hour-long queue to join a game,” my own son — an avid Fortnite player — just complained to me. “One friend had a three-hour queue. He waited for the three hours, and then the timer just restarted.”

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Smart Speaker Penetration Just Exploded 50% In 3 Short Months

Apparently lot of people heard an Echo on Christmas morning, or said “OK, Google.” Smart speaker penetration exploded 50% between early December of 2017 and February of 2018, according to new data from comScore.

Amazon and Google won big.

Apple, on other hand, lost ground thanks to delayed HomePod availability.

“Recently-released comScore Connected Home data from February show the penetration of smart speakers is now at 20 percent of Wi-Fi homes,” says Susan Engleson, senior director of emerging products at comScore. “In just three months, that’s more than a 50 percent increase to an astounding 18.7 million U.S. homes using a smart speaker.”

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Comcast Challenges Amazon’s, Apple’s, and Google’s Leadership In Smart Home Tech

Alexa, Siri, and the Google Assistant just got some additional competition — from the TV. And your phone. And your smartwatch.

Today Comcast announced a package of updates for technology that connects with its voice-controllable home entertainment Xfinity platform. An updated mobile app, Stringify, configures it all, its Android smartwatch integration enables home automation from your wrist, and new integrations with electronics and lighting giant Lutron and home furnace and A/C manufacturer Carrier centralize control of your smart home.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Why Every Amazon Meeting Has At Least One Empty Chair

Amazon is a retail giant, a technology leader, and one of the world’s top brands. But there’s something missing at every single meeting in the company.

No, it’s not an agenda.

But it does have something to do the overall company’s agenda.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is famously obsessed with customers. He’s famous for saying “start with the customer and work backwards,” and that’s the reason that every project or product at Amazon starts with the press release with sample customer quotes. It’s something that has stood the 20-year-old “startup” in good stead.

“Obsessing over customer experience is the only long-term defensible competitive advantage,” Bezos has said.

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

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Apple Music Just Hit 40M Paid Subscribers, Gaining Ground On Spotify’s 71M

In a very quiet announcement on Twitter, Apple released some very significant news today. So quiet, in fact, that most people missed it.

Apple Music just hit 40 million paid subscribers.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …