One year anniversary reminder by LinkedIn

Looking backwards briefly, and then forward again

And so it began: first as a crowdsourcing experiment, then on May 1st 2015 joining an A-team working on a mission, and now a year later, prompted by a deluge of likes from my friends and benevolent acquaintances on LinkedIn, I get to look back on an amazing 12 months.

Time flies. Especially when you are not bored.

Yet one of the most important factor so far has been the feedback given by people who understand the whirlwind world of technology we live in. Those people understand that what we’re working on at Snips bears a significance that far exceeds your typical startup project, possibly one that will save us from our enslavement to gadgets as well as do right by our personal data, an ever growing concern. The feedback has been unequivocally upbeat: that I did the right thing in joining Rand, Maël and Mika and the rest of the team at Snips. I feel the same way. Everyday.

Yet, what we are trying to tackle is bold, farsighted, and perhaps a bit difficult to grasp fully at the moment. The (gut) feeling can be dizzying.

Can yet another technology help make technology disappear? We believe so. It’s a mission worth striving towards in any case.

And yet, one year is nothing. It’s the first set of building blocks in a massive architecture. Some start to see the potential, and so excitement and impatience is all around.

Also, competition is heating up, we are not in a blue ocean. MIT Tech Review says it best: “Snips has severe competition from the big guns such as Google and Apple. How does it stand out? Privacy.”

Indeed. Our stance on privacy is what makes us different, and quite frankly unique.

Now, I thought I’d share with you some of the KPIs and milestones from the past 12 months that matter to me as COO:

  • the team grew 5x from 8 people to nearly 40, exactly as initially budgeted;
  • we moved from an underground co-working space to what could possibly be the most atypical yet most soulful office in the heart of Paris near Bourse;
  • all Snipsters are well paid, are well fed in the office, get decent amount of sleep (except around crunch time!), and the overall office happiness is by some standards staggering high; most importantly, all Snipsters are passionate about what they do, and it shows;
  • Snips Inc. is ready to welcome our first US-based Snipsters;
  • the research and datascience team has been mastering geo-location predictive modeling and filing a number of important patents for us, and now tackling core subjects in NLP and homomorphic encryption;
  • the team worked on half-dozen products on multiple platforms and frameworks, iterating furiously with the help of several thousand beta-testers, culminating in the release of our first product in the US just today on May 17th;
  • we have been lining up super exciting high-level meetings with a number of A-players in our eco-system, but it’s too early to say anything there :-)
  • most importantly, the team is now configured to start massively iterating on the base product expecting to reach escape velocity in the near future.

Anecdotally, these things also happened:

  • Snips was awarded a special award, leading to a generous government subsidy, leading to France’s current President to shake my hand (!)
  • I got a chance to participate in a number of public debates and auditions in public policy at the CESE (Conseil Economique Social et Environnement, Place de l’iona) as well as participate in a round-table on the data economy and the anti-trust regulations (Autorité de la Concurrence, session plénière à l’ENA)
  • I also participated in an genuinely interesting joint France+UK Task-Force on data driven innovation with Henri Verdier (France’s Chief Digital Officer) and his UK counterpart, Sir Nigel Shadbolt (co-founder of the Open Data Institute with Tim Berners Lee).

One thing we didn’t manage to do is to recruit more women (current ratio is a pathetic 15%, with mostly non-technical roles). We will strive to do much better in this department in the coming year.

So that’s it really. Time flies. It took approximatively 50,000 hours of collective time to get where we are. In the next 12 months, we will allocate at least double that to achieve much more. Exponentially.

Onwards. And looking forward to it!

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