Issue #174: For the week ended February 14, 2023
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Has everyone gone chatbot crazy?
Has everyone gone chatbot crazy? Large language models have taken the (tech) world by storm, and all of a sudden it’s 2016 again.
Case in point, more and more, I’m seeing predictions like this one from Amjad Masad (CEO of Replit):
I do understand the allure. This kind of computer-human chat interaction brings to mind a certain kind of optimistic science fiction…the hero asking their AI copilot questions and getting prompt, if a bit sardonic, replies. Luke Skywalker chatting with R2-D2. Tony Stark bantering with Jarvis.
I just don’t buy it.
This prediction imagines a world where these systems will be able to perfectly understand free-form natural language input. But I think what has happened with Stability AI, Midjourney, DALL-E and now chatGPT is more likely. In an effort to get better, more fine-grained results, users will undoubtedly start to “engineer” their prompts. Prompts will get more stylized, with more precise semantics, depending on the domain of the request. And as the prompts get more specific to the domain, they’ll become just another version of “code.”
Some users will become fluent in this new coding “language,” as we’ve already seen. Others will default to a hybrid experience…prompting to get 50% of the way there, and manually doing the rest themselves.
And others still will just stop using the text box all together in favor of doing the work themselves. Why? Because the empty text box is…intimidating. It’s the lowest common denominator user experience. It’s where you land as a product when you have no idea what the user will want, so you give them as many degrees of freedom as possible. This is why Google starts with a text box…you can search for anything! But the vast majority of products are much more constrained than Google.
Rather than an “empty text box,” I imagine we will start seeing more “predictive UIs” that stay in the context of the work being done. Here’s an example of what I mean.
Galileo AI is a “copilot for interface design” which can turn natural language into “high-fidelity designs.” In other words, Galileo takes the “empty text box” approach. Give it a simple text description, and Galileo gives you a vector-based design that’s ready for Figma.
Genius, by Diagram, takes a different approach. Genius is an “AI design companion,” but it doesn’t require you to prompt it with natural language. Instead, you just start designing, and Genius jumps in to complete the design alongside you.
The former is undoubtedly incredible, but feels like the parlor trick. Not something you’d use everyday. The latter, on the other hand, folds seamlessly into your day-to-day work as a designer.
By the way, you probably interact with “predictive UIs” every day without even realizing it. Google’s autocomplete in search, Gmail and Google Sheets, for example. We’ve all had little AI copilots helping us out, but they were such a natural part of the user experience, we didn’t even notice!
In sum, I don’t think we’re entering the second age of chatbots, but I do think we’re entering the age of creative copilots…and there will be completely novel, collaborative user experiences to match their newfound, LLM-powered prowess. Yes, sometimes these copilots will use text boxes. Sometimes they’ll leverage voice input. And sometimes they’ll just watch us work and lend a helping hand when it makes sense. I don’t know what they’ll look like, but I’m certain they’re going to be much more enmeshed in our experience as users than George Lucas or Stan Lee and Larry Lieber ever could have imagined.
Do you have a novel, AI-powered, user experience paradigm in the works? If so, would love to see it!
Mar 8 / The Evolution of Collibra’s Product Positioning & How They Created a Category
Stan Christiaens, Co-Founder & Chief Data Citizen, Collibra
FROM THE BLOG
Why (and How) Investing in Billboard Advertising Sometimes Makes Sense
Part I of a series on non-standard growth experiments.
The Hierarchy Trap
Hierarchy is an important tool for providing structure and alignment, but it can easily grow like a weed if not managed.
The Tech Recession of 2022
What lessons can we learn from the successes and failures of the 2010s?
No One is Having Fun Right Now
And that’s okay.
EUROPE & ISRAEL FUNDING NEWS
France/Space Systems. Exotail raised $58M for its end-to-end space satellite mobility solution.
UK/Climate. Carbonplace raised $45M for its global carbon credit transaction network.
UK/Financial Services. The Bank of London raised $40M for its clearing bank, which means it clears transactions between other banks.
UK/Financial Services. Coincover raised $30M for its protection and recovery solutions to safeguard crypto investments, technologies and companies.
UK/Biology. Evonetix raised $24M for its synthetic biology platform bringing semiconductor technology to DNA synthesis.
Israel/Logistics. Wisor raised $8M for its freight booking software solution.
France/SW Development. Blobr raised $5.4M for its API monetization product.
Roadblocks to generative AI adoption. As David wrote, generative AI, especially ChatGPT, has taken the tech world by storm. While many individuals are already leveraging these tools for fun, to write emails or code, etc, enterprises have yet to meaningfully adopt the technology, as there are several roadblocks in their way.
State of Enterprise Tech in NYC. Work-Bench has released their State of Enterprise Tech in NYC: 2022 Funding Report. Check out the highlights below and the full report here.
- “$6.2B was raised. While this was lower than 2021’s $16.7B, dollars raised in 2022 were 6% higher than 2020 and 90% higher than 2019.
- Total deal count was 163. This is 31% lower than 2021, but when compared to 2020 was a more muted 14% decrease. Most impacted were Series C and above rounds, which there were only 24 compared to 78 the prior year.
- Meanwhile, Seed rounds kept pace with 2021’s peak and when combined with Series A’s, accounted for 61% of all 2022 fundraising.
- Mega rounds essentially disappeared, with only 8 rounds in the $50-$100M range and 4 rounds in the $100M-$1B range. However, Celonis helped boost the overall stats with their $1B raise.
- There were no meaningful exits across M&A and IPOs.
- The total unicorn count increased to 45.”
HOW TO STARTUP
More isn’t always better. Boldstart’s Ed Sim shared a must read post on how “more is not better, better is better”. Given the market downturn, many founders are feeling the pressure to do more with less — from having more PoCs to more VC meetings. While doing these things may feel like steps in the right direction, it’s important to not mistake movement for progress and to remember that a larger pipeline may not translate into more closed deals. Rather than chasing them all, Ed recommends “take a deep breath, pause, and examine your funnel. Where are things breaking down? I promise you if you qualify better, you will have more time to focus on what truly matters.”
New era, new metrics. Tessa Clarke, the CEO of OLIO, covered how, in light of this new era where the bar is much higher for startups looking to raise, founders must now focus on making their companies more sustainable and resilient in order to increase their odds of raising. This shift may include a change in core company metrics. Tessa detailed the metrics which are now more important in this environment. At the top of her list: their north star changing from growth-focus to revenue-focus and the burn multiple.
HOW TO VENTURE
Specialist versus generalist performance. Level Ventures’ Liam Shalon dug into data around if sector specialization impacts the performance of emerging managers. Based off his research, across the board, “early-stage specialist firms younger than ten years old outperform generalists”. Interestingly enough, this trend is even more pronounced for firms founded in the last four years. In fact, for funds in this cohort “highly specialist portfolios from young firms have a top-quartile hit rate of 61%, representing a 2x increase from the most generalist portfolios.”
Januar has launched their API to all customers. Their Customer API enables web3 companies and financial institutions to interact programmatically with their payment data.
Zigi’s VP of Marketing, Zivit Katz, talks developer marketing at a startup on the Scaling DevTools podcast.
DUST Identity formed a strategic partnership with Mobius Energy to secure battery supply chain.