Converge with Casey Newton
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Eoghan McCabe chats about bots
The hype cycle for bots exploded in 2016 as developers poured time and money into the dream of personal digital assistants. Facebook and Microsoft announced major investments into conversational user interfaces, and Slack launched a fund to capitalize on the bots hoping to build on its platform. But when bots became available the public, the public largely shrugged. The advantages of conversational interfaces paled next to their drawbacks. It turned out that typing into text boxes — often...
Pandora’s Roger Lynch makes us a playlist
Breaking down music into its component parts helped Pandora build personalized music playlists years before services like Spotify even existed. Could taking a similar approach with podcasts help the streaming-audio company regain the users it has lost to newer services? That’s the bet Pandora is making under Roger Lynch, who joined the company as CEO in 2017. Lynch lays out his thoughts on the future of music on this episode of Converge, an interview game show where tech’s biggest...
Taggart Matthiesen takes us for a ride
Should ride-sharing companies build a “quiet mode”? “We have thought about it,” Taggart Matthiesen, head of product for autonomous driving for Lyft, told me. “I think it’s interesting. At some point, we may play around with that idea, but that’s unfortunately not a feature at this point.” Matthiesen says that a “zen mode” would represent another step in more personalized rides, a move the company plans to accelerate as it changes gradually to include more autonomous vehicles. “The...
The Human Utility’s Tiffani Ashley Bell on how small nonprofits are stepping up
Tiffani Ashley Bell is the founder of the Human Utility, a nonprofit organization working to restore water service to people who are unable to pay their bills. The organization, which was founded in 2014, began its work in Detroit and has since expanded to Baltimore. Bell lays out her thoughts on how Silicon Valley should change its priorities on this episode of Converge.
Dream Machine’s Alexia Bonatsos makes a surprisingly good case for an Airbnb for horses
Alexia Bonatsos has watched countless startups come and go. First as the editor in chief of TechCrunch, and now in her current role as the founder of venture capital firm Dream Machine, Bontasos’ job has been to understand what makes a tech company succeed. “A lot of it’s gut, but gut’s not magical woo-woo dust,” she says. “It’s taking in data and information, and eventually making a decision based on that.” Bonatsos has seen thousands of companies, and so on today’s episode of Converge,...
Front’s Mathilde Collin on why email is making a comeback
It’s been four years now since Slack arrived to kill email — and yet, email persists. While the group chat app has plenty of ardent fans and continues to grow quickly, it also draws criticism for its distracting, always-on nature. At many workplaces, if you’re at work, you’re also expected to be available on Slack. For some people, that means the thing that “replaced” email replaced it with something much more demanding. Mathilde Collin says the workplaces of the future ought to take a...
Mike Maples Jr's midas touch
It hasn’t even been four years since Amazon bought Twitch.tv, the live-streaming platform that has become the primary destination for broadcasting the playing of video games. Since then, the service has grown to 15 million daily users, with the average person watching 106 minutes per day. In hindsight, it’s no wonder that Amazon was willing to pay $1 billion to snap up Twitch — but for a long time, it was an open question whether anyone would buy it at all. Twitch began life as Justin.tv,...
Maran Nelson scares us about AI
Clara Labs cofounder and CEO Maran Nelson tells us there is real reason to be worried about AI — and not for the reasons that science fiction has trained us to expect. Clara’s approach to AI is innocuous to the point of being dull: it makes a virtual assistant that schedules meetings for people. (This week, it added a bunch of integrations designed to position it as a tool to aid in hiring.) But even seemingly simple tasks still routinely trip up AI. “The more difficult situations that we...
Pocket's Nate Weiner saves our content
Pocket founder and CEO Nate Weiner tells us why he sold his company to Mozilla — and how he’s working to build a better version of Facebook’s News Feed into the Firefox browser. By analyzing the articles and videos people save into Pocket, Weiner believes the company can show people the best of the web — in a personalized way — without building an all-knowing, Facebook-style profile of the user.
Google’s Mark Risher changes our passwords
On this week’s episode of Converge, Google’s Mark Risher tells us why the conventional wisdom about choosing your password is wrong — and about the expanding number of threats faced by platforms like Gmail as they work to protect users from phishing attacks and spammers. Conventional wisdom about choosing longer, more complicated passwords is getting less effective over time. Meanwhile, the people behind phishing attacks are getting much better. Risher is a director of product management at...
Shan-Lyn Ma from Zola gets married to New York
On the second episode of Converge, Zola co-founder and CEO Shan-Lyn Ma comes on to tell us why she’s building her company in New York. Zola runs a popular online wedding registry that couples have saved more than $1 billion worth of merchandise to, and days after I spoke to her, Ma announced a new $100 million round of funding that puts the startup among New York’s tech elite. But why did she start the company in New York? Ma attended school at Stanford and later worked at Yahoo. But when...
Sima Sistani from Houseparty throws a Tupperware party for pot
Converge is an interview game show where the biggest personalities in tech come on to tell us about their wildest dreams. It’s a show that’s easy to win, but not impossible to lose — because in the final round, I finally get a chance to play, and score a few points of my own. On the premiere episode of Converge, Houseparty cofounder and chief operating officer Sima Sistani sits down to tell us about her big idea: Tupperware parties for marijuana — or, as she puts it, Stella & Dot for pot....
Introducing Converge with Casey Newton
Get ready for The Verge's new game show that's easy to win, but not impossible to lose. Each week, Casey Newton will sit down with one of Silicon Valley's most interesting players — to play games that are both funny and revealing.