Thanks to the folks at Hey for fighting for your right to talk directly to your customers. More on that below!

I assume your company has a public spokesperson. It could be your CEO or your head of communications for announcements. For marketing, your company’s voice might be a celebrity, an influencer, or a professional voice actor. The point is that you think about who speaks for you and control how you talk to your customers.

So why would you let Google, Apple, Amazon speak on your behalf to your customer?

I think about this every day because I work at a company that builds independent voice assistants. We provide companies the tools to build their own voice interfaces so they…

Our early virtual assistants are kind of janky. That’s okay!

Three predictions on virtual assistants in a week full of predictions — from folks like us who actually build them.

As voice assistants dominated CES last week, people are asking “is every toaster, microwave and car really going to talk to me now?” Or are virtual assistants just a fad since many are being shutdown or proclaimed dead?

It’s hard to tell from the news this week. Having spent the last 1.5 years building virtual assistants (and 20+ years building consumer tech), here’s the bets I’d make:

Prediction #1: Google and Amazon will be in a lot of devices, but neither will “own” the voice entry point to customers.

That’s because the data and brand interactions created by conversations with…

So many people have written great posts or tweets about Tom Petty and their favorite Tom Petty moments. I’ve loved reading how Tom Petty moved them or was a part of their life. Thought it might feel good to share a few of my own.

I’ve never not appreciated Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ role as musical soundtrack provider and milestone marker through my adolescence to adulthood. Here are a few of my favorites moments:

One of the very first 45 records I bought with my own money.

MTV hit my house in 1982 and pretty much dominated my television viewing until I left for college. One of my favorite early videos was…

Chattanooga, TN, future home of Amazon HQ2?

Dear Jeff,

Super excited that you are going to open the second Amazon headquarters!

I know this is a new project for you guys, so I’ll keep it brief and follow Amazon new project protocol. Below is the press release for when you announce Chattanooga, TN as the location for Amazon HQ2 below:

Amazon Opens Second Headquarters in Chattanooga, TN– The City With The Country’s Fastest Internet and Rated Best Outdoor Town

New headquarters will bring 50,000 employees, attracting talent from across the East Coast, Southeast and Midwest.

Amazon unveils $5 billion new headquarter design plans for Amazon HQ2 in…

Regan Burns Cafiso, our Head of Content Strategy, doing a demo of Tasted

I wanted to give a bit of an update on a product I’ve been working on for the last year. Today, our company Pylon ai is launching a new conversational media brand called Tasted. Tasted wants to be your cooking companion that helps you discover great recipes and walk you step-by-step through preparation. You can try it today by asking your Alexa to “Enable Tasted”; or on Google Home say “Open Tasted”.

Tasted is a multimodal (that means you can use either your voice or hands to interact with it), cross-platform (that means it will know who you are whether…

Illustration by Renan Cakirerk

I chuckle every time I see an article on AI article saying “We may be on the verge of creating a new life form, one that could mark not only an evolutionary breakthrough, but a potential threat to our survival as a species!” Not because it’s not possible that we would create technology that might kill us all (we’re good at that). I laugh because I may know why an artificial intelligence might want to eliminate our species.

We’re jerks. Let me explain.

Over the last year, I’ve watched a lot of early user interactions with AI/Bots thanks to Ben…

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

How a Trip to the Moon Turned Me into a VR Believer

And why I think VR will create bigger dreams and dreamers

Based on recent conversations with investors and tech media veterans over the last few months, most people in the technology industry now believe that virtual reality (VR) will be a ubiquitous consumer technology in the next five to seven years. What seems to be up for debate is whether virtual reality will inspire us to dream bigger or prey on our addictions.

All of these debates about VR are increasing in frequency now because next year is the year VR goes mainstream. That’s because great VR products like Facebook’s Oculus, Valve’s Vive, and Sony VR headsets will be available to…

I watched Nick Cave’s biopic “20,000 Days on Earth” this weekend. The subplot that holds this film together is the creative process and what drives Cave to still create songs into his 50's. The final scene’s soliloquy struck me as the best advice you could give a an entrepreneur or artist who is wavering on whether they should or shouldn’t pursue their idea:

All of our days our numbered we cannot afford to be idle To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all because the worth of the idea never becomes apparent until you…

Record Store Day reminded me that buying music is more fun with people involved.

Broken Social Scene’s “You Forgot It In People”album whose title I lifted for this post.

It’s been a little over a week since the music geek holiday of Record Store Day has passed. For those who don’t know, this holiday consists of rubbing (or for certain records throwing) elbows for the right to spend $25-$45 for albums pressed on plastic that you probably already have access to through Spotify, YouTube or your MP3s. It’s a real throwback for music fans and artists because people actually go to stores, talk to other humans and buy music again. …

“Every flavor of weirdness the human psyche could cook up was being filmed and broadcast online. The vast wasteland of television programming had finally reached its zenith, and the average person was no longer limited to fifteen minutes of fame. Now everyone could be on TV, every second of every day, whether or not anyone was watching.” — Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival in Ready Player One by @erniecline

As I just watched someone on Periscope go from broadcasting what they were doing to what they were watching on TV, I immediately thought of Ready Player One and the “POV”…

Mike Tatum

Co-Founder and CEO of Spokestack.

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