From left, Hans Peter Brøndmo, Ilya Fushman, David Helgason, Jack Krawczyk, and Tom Gardner
Hans Peter Brøndmo
Vice President, Head of Everyday Adventure, HERE, a Nokia business
Head of Product, Dropbox
Founder, Unity Technologies
Director of Product Management, Pandora
Co-founder and CEO, The Motley Fool
Gardner: The title of our panel is “Mobile Omnipotence: How the New Nomads Challenge Business and Reshape Society.” We’re going to do something interesting on this panel which is I’m just going to have you guys introduce yourselves rather than give my shot. Maybe just a little bit about what you’re doing specifically at the organizations you’re working at and what you’re most passionate about right now. We’ll start with Jack, the director of product management at Pandora, Krawczyk.
Krawczyk: Krawczyk. Yes. Nailed it! Jack Krawczyk. I lead the advertising product management team at Pandora so I always like to say that my job is to keep Pandora free for millions. I spend a lot of my time focused on how do you make Pandora as ubiquitous as possible to all consumers because that’s the way they want to consume music. So, we are, through our DNA, inherently mobile, 80% of our listening takes place on a non-desktop device. As we think to the future, as we think of developing our products, we’re always thinking about how do you basically blend the device away and make the device irrelevant and focus on the context that you can connect people with your product.
Gardner: Awesome. David Helgason?
Helgason: Question. When do you shift from 50/50, like 50 on the website to 50 mobile?
Krawczyk: It was very fast. When the iPhone app launched in 2008 it almost—
Helgason: Wow! But there was no iPhones in 2008.
Helgason: Yes. [LAUGHS].
Krawczyk: It was, like I say, it was baked into our DNA, I mean since 2008 mobile started inching and inching—I don’t know when the exact 50/50 mark took place, but certainly for the last three years it’s been mobile dominated.
Helgason: Wow! Cool!
Gardner: David Helgason, Founder and CEO of Unity Technologies.
Helgason: No longer CEO.
Gardner: No longer CEO. Yes.
Helgason: Since two weeks ago. I hired a new CEO. But yes, founder of Unity Technologies. We make game development tools which enable some outrageous number, like millions of developers, to create apps for practically all the devices that matter in our lives. Mobile, of course, but also consoles, and smart TVs and other strange things, PCs, and other declining form factors. We’re distributed company, 500 people across, I don’t know how many continents. We’re really proud of this impact we’ve had on gaming. We’ve changed the economics of game development fairly significantly, but one really cool thing is that every week, just in the data that our developers optionally share with us, we see 110–120 million apps being installed in what is, in fact, our network. We have a pretty interesting view of what’s going on in devices in mobile.
Gardner: Awesome.Ilya, Dropbox.
Fushman: Hi guys. Ilya Fushman, head of product for Dropbox and Dropbox for business. A lot of what I spend my time thinking about is how to get people access to their data on all of their devices and bring that data to life. Dropbox today has about 300 million users, 70% of them are international. We’re installed on something like 500 million devices and people save over a billion files to Dropbox every day. It’s a massive amount of data and certainly one of the reasons for Dropbox, and the reason Dropbox has become so popular is mobile, is the fact that people need access to their critical data on mobile devices, whether it’s business data or their personal data. We see that as a global trend that we want to help accelerate.
Gardner: Hans Peter, The Nokia HERE, a mapping platform and you’re work, let’s hear about it.
Brøndmo: Hans Peter Brøndmo. I came to Nokia about five years ago through an acquisition, they acquired my company. I spent two years with handcuffs on and when I took them off I was given an opportunity that no VC would be crazy enough to fund, which was essentially to be an internal entrepreneur, start some stuff internally and build connected devices, cloud, etcetera. For the topic of the day being digital nomads, we’re trying to get the nomads outside, outdoors. We have a very simple belief. We believe that if people spend more time outdoors in nature they’ll be happier and healthier. We believe that if you can tell stories about what you’re doing while you’re out in nature that will actually inspire others to do the same. So, we’ve got a very simple model where we’re building a whole new category of products. I think that’s enough for an intro.
Gardner: Awesome. My first question is so vague that we may just want to drive right by it and get to a better question. What is mobile now? We seem to think it’s just a single device, we associate it with a single device, but Jack, we don’t do it justice if we think that way.
Krawczyk: It’s the ability to think about computing wherever and whenever. That might be the phone. The phone tends to be your main remote control into how you access the Internet at this point, but my watch is now powered through the Internet, my thermostat at home, that has a mobile device in that it’s not necessarily mobile itself, but it’s mobily accessible. As I’m on the go I can change the temperature of my house through my NEST. What mobile has done is made us rethink the different context in which you get access to technology in a way that was never really accessible to us before.
Gardner: So, let’s think about some ways it might change and go to Hans Peter. Do you think that it’s conceivable that five plus years from now, five to ten years from now many people will be spending more than half of their work day outside? Is that conceivable?
Brøndmo: No. I don’t think so. What we’re trying to do is get them outside when they’re not at work. We all sit too much. I think it’s just a quality of life element. What I think is interesting with mobile, going back to your first question is, I think if you look at the evolution of communication, it started with pots, plain old telephones, where you call the home, you called a destination. Then it moved to, and this is really where Nokia sort of hit its stride, it moved to calling people. It was all passive. It was moving from places to people. It was passive, like you had to make a call or you were called. The thing that was happening with wearables, which is really where I think the future’s more interesting right now, and of course this is a wearable because you stick it in your pocket, you wear it, you bring it. What I think is happening with wearables generally, and I’m not just talking about silly little accelerometers you wear on your wrist, but sort of wear real, full, and connected devices, are going is that it’s becoming an active thing. It’s actively communicating on your behalf. The data thing it’s sticking stuff in the cloud, every second, every millisecond. That active of communication, the data, the profiling of what’s going on, that ultimately, I think, is when you’re looking five years out, when you’re looking where the stuff is going, that to me is a big part of what’s interesting and also a little bit scary, but I think it’s quite interesting, because the shift is really from passive to active as far as I’m concerned. It’s tracking, it’s tracing, it’s all that kind of stuff.
Gardner: Why scary?
Brøndmo: Because something knows where you are and what you’re doing every nanosecond. I think the scary part to me is around privacy, it’s around how you protect, and where you build those boundaries. It’s a question of intent, of access, of security, and I think that’s where you end up with some interesting challenges.
Gardner: I want to continue this theme of how we work and talk a little about the sharing economy and David, how game developers come to Unity and what that process means for how jobs are created with—
Helgason: Game developers are just a subset of developers. They’re the people we know best, but I think they’re very similar to other developers. What’s been happening is that more and more value is created by smaller and smaller groups, more and more independent groups, and there’s a lot of things that have happened around making small teams be able to be very successful. App stores is probably one of the biggest, well, I would say one of the most important innovations in the world the last few years. We have created a marketplace to let them collaborate to save for their cost and so on. It’s really fascinating. It’s just how—we used to sell to some of the big companies, not very successfully, and at some point the EA would fire 5,000 people which created 2,500 new customers for us. This is kind of dramatic, the dismantling of the big teams in favor of small teams. That’s something we track very closely.
Gardner: Ilya, what are some of the most dynamic ways people are using Dropbox? Just give us—
Fushman: Sure. We’ve had, for example, researchers in Africa, who are trying to save the black rhino use Dropbox to upload data over a very crappy Internet, and basically get drone videos out that look for poachers. In the Katrina disaster Dropbox was used to synchronize communications. On the flip side we have businesses who are using Dropbox. We have about 80,000 paying businesses today on Dropbox, but we have individuals in something like 4 million unique businesses around the world using the product to collaborate. And then you have people who have their exercise schedule in Dropbox and they sync it and they look at it every day. Back to the developer side of things, the real interesting thing for us is that all this data is actually very valuable for developers who want to build applications. We have a platform where there are about 300,000 applications that have been built to date by about 250,000 developers. And again, these range from guys storing password key chains so that you can have strong passwords with you everywhere to typical productivity apps, Yahoo mail integrates Dropbox to handle attachments for their mail product, Facebook groups integrates Dropbox, and even game developers who want to save high scores. It’s just this massive set of use cases because at the heart of it the product is just very simple, intuitive, and easy to use. It allows you to store your data in one place, and access anywhere, and share it. That’s a pretty fundamental building block of how things work.
Gardner: The beauty of being able to all be around the table here together is that we can make this more of a conversation, so rather than saving questions for the end I’m just going to ask one more question now and then turn to everyone here for any questions you have, and return to the questions that I have. If the world uses your solutions the way you hope they will, over the next three years, what will happen because of what you’re doing?
Krawczyk: For us it’s we’re going to continue to deliver a service that naturally releases dopamine into your bloodstream no matter the context that you’re in.
Gardner: Only through music or are their other Pandora—Is there a dating service being developed at Pandora?
Krawczyk: Actually there are only four releases of dopamine in the human body which are eating, sleeping, reproduction, and music, so the adage of sex, drugs, and rock and roll holds true [LAUGHTER]. When we think about the proliferation of devices, Pandora’s available on over a thousand different devices and that’s not going to slow down anytime soon. So, we invested in our HTML5 platform pretty significantly and last year that’s allowed us to continue that growth and continue that connection with consumers. As those devices proliferate and proliferate, we’re just thinking about, what are the different ways and contexts that you’re going to be experiencing the world and how can music be your companion. As you continue to go out and experience the world in real life, music has always served as that. We just want to continue to make it easier to be connected to the music that you love.
Gardner: David—Ilya go for it.
Fushman: I think for us it’s really about device independence. It goes back to the initial question you asked. There’s something like six devices per U.S. household. Knowledge workers, I think on average, have more than three devices or at least half the knowledge workers have more than three devices in the world. We’re only going to get more devices in our lives wearables, better form factor phones and tablets, thermostats, glasses. For us it’s really about freeing you from the device and bringing you closer to your data, and giving you access to your data on any of these devices in a way that you understand. Most people don’t really understand if they buy an iPhone and they want to play a video on the Samsung TV they need Apple TV. That’s a very hard thing to figure out for most people. We want to make those kinds of connections very easy so that for you, picking up a device is having your identity there, having your data there, having access to all the things you care about right at your fingertips without really having to think about it.
Krawczyk: Consumer expectation of what they get from their device is completely different than what’s actually available. I just want to pick it up and have it work. We have a lot of technological limitations that prevent that from happening. But consumers are completely device agnostic and for the most part developers are starting to figure out how to get to that point where you can create a level playing field.
Fushman: I have a sign in the office that says, “It just works.”
Brøndmo: I want to introduce another dimension. For me it’s about storytelling. I actually think ultimately where I—all meaning comes from stories, from narrative. All meaning comes from, all communication, all good learning comes from narrative. I think that we have—I have a particular passion for narrative which is sort of the adventures, the stories you can tell about your outdoor adventures, your outdoor stories. I think in all aspects of this is about storytelling. To the three to five year question, the impact I’d like to have is giving more people the ability to tell their stories and tell them and share their adventures, and share their experiences. If you look at what’s happening with Strava. Pam and I were having a dinner discussion yesterday and we were talking about Strava. Strava is really a storytelling service. It’s also a competitive thing, but it’s about telling your story and now you can link in your Instagram photos and anything else. But RunKeeper or if you take even Instagram or the success of all these services it’s all about some either micro-narrative or some full narrative. So, I think for me whether it’s a business thing or not, it’s about storytelling. Business communications is about storytelling. I think the interesting tools, the interesting capabilities, interesting mobile apps, the things that I’m drawn too and that I’m interested in that will have a big impact are the ones that allow you to somehow wrap a narrative and tell a story in a very simple way. That’s also where wearables becomes really interesting because they can help you tell your story.
Fushman: I think the business aspect of that is pretty fascinating because we’re moving from a world where people were sending around files, you had these things on USB drives that you would exchange, but we are now able to bring in people, bring in activity, bring in states, bring in the concept of a network into place and actually enrich the data that you work with. I agree, that’s a huge part of storytelling. For us, the way we think about Dropbox is really a network of both knowledge workers and individuals. In fact, about a third of Dropbox users come in through invitations so they’re connected already. That means we can enrich any piece of content they store with the activity of others that they’re connected to.
Krawczyk: The meaning also stems from the deeper concept or urge that we have as social beings which is we all aspire for some sense of community. We each, everybody in this room has some form an identity that they associate with. The way that we think about identity is just the way it reflects the communities that humans inspire to be associated with. When you dig deeper mobile is just allowing people to connect with those communities in one way shape or form so they can identify with them. One of the things that we’ve been able to find, I’m not going to say correlations or causation, but when you look at the portions of the country where pickup trucks get purchased most frequently to tell you that there’s a high correlation between areas that listen to country music in those areas is probably not extremely surprising, but one of the things that’s funny about that there’s no self-organizing way to say that country music and pickup trucks should work together. They just do because they tend to associate and affiliate with similar communities. Mobile’s allowing us to better understand what those relationships are like and drive toward that story telling so that we can better understand the communities that we’re organizing.
Gardner: David what will Unity be driving over the next three years if the new CEO and the organization develops in a way and customers use your solutions the way you dream they will?
Helgason: The big mission for the company has always been to help developers be more successful, to allow more people to create games, and game-like experiences. We see a lot of people using Unity for sort of a other types of media, like for training simulations, various types of showing off everything from archeology and architecture. The militaries around the world use Unity for training and all these things. What’s really cool is that it lets a developer who knows how to build this kind of stuff be super productive and jump between these industries. Every industry we visit, we see game developers building their products, which is kind of neat. And at some point we realized that we were really good at this and we want to keep doing that as well as we can. Then at some point we realized that there’s a very significant other problem for developers, namely how to get their games out there, how to connect with the audiences, how to find users. That’s kind of what we’re diving headlong into, helping them, not just build the games, but also connect with the audiences whether it’s through analytics, understanding segmentation of behavior, and also we launched a social platform called Everyplay where you can record all these videos of all your gameplay, share it with other people, and that becomes the outrageously and big growing discovery platform.
Gardner: Is it fair to say that TV was a very isolating experience where humanity spent a lot of time sitting in front of a box that connected, sent messages and stories to them, then the desktop was a step toward connection, but mostly connection with information, and that mobile is the social platform. In a way that sort of is playing into what’s happening with Facebook that this device is about really turning technology into developing communities much more than the desktop ever could.
Brøndmo: It’s a good point if you go all the way back to where storytelling started with campfires and people sitting around in small groups and sharing and telling stories. One on one, or many to many because oftentimes it was acting out rituals etcetera. Then we discovered distribution, the printing press, Guttenberg etc. and it all became very much a one to many type radio, television, all these channels. What we really have done with these social medias is we’ve come back to the small group telling each other stories. We’ve come back to people connecting the way we used to millennia ago. From essentially the beginning of the Industrial Revolution until very modern times in the last 20 years there was a choke point for all communication. You could do one on one with phones, but even that was only in the last 50 years. Now you can have scale communities. You went from small communities to scale distribution, but no community to now, scaled community that can still share and tell stories. That has many implications. Again mobile just brings to your point, brings that even further. It enables it.
Krawczyk: Would you make the case that the sitcom was a blip in the radar in terms of the technological inefficiency that we created.
Gardner: Tony Danza, it was huge for Tony Danza.
Krawczyk: It was huge for Tony, but the sitcom rose as a suburbanization started to grow in the United States, so you started to define that whereas people use to be organized in urban areas where they would congregate in the pub and tell these sorts of stories, they were now sitting on their couch in the suburb left feeling for some sort of meaning and connection. When Tony and Andy Kaufman came into your living room you sort of felt this feeling of connection, but it was one-sided, it was one-directional. When we think about advertising, advertising worked that way for a very long period of time and now the media’s catching up to what our true roots are as social beings which is, we have bi-directional relationships with people in communities. What mobile’s allowing us to do is have those connections. There’s no question in my mind at least, that Facebook has really served the need for a lot of people’s form of connection that was left out, sort of allocated towards spending a lot of time watching TV. When you look at the rates of which people below the age of 25 are watching TV it’s actually precipitously declining over time as they have those forms of connection.
Gardner: Questions. Yes.
Margolis: I’m Jeff Margolis, chairman and CEO of Welltok, a healthcare technology and founder and CEO emeritus of TriZetto, which about 160 million Americans process their healthcare benefits on. So, I’m all into information technology and digital, was there when we brought it into the business of business, at the forefront. My question for you guys is my detection is that people are analog deprived, you talk about the sitcom, but the thing about the sitcom was people could—you could go out during the day, and most people could relate to what you were talking about. In the media scrum this morning we talked about how a few years back we were in the 500 channel world and now it’s 500 million channel world. So, my question to you guys is how much thought do you give to the notion that mobile is in fact the new tethering, it’s a new kind of tethering where the person cannot get away things and in fact can no longer find themselves because of the level of noise and the constant attention they have to pay to these small and large groups no matter how meaningful or superfluous they might be to their lives? Are you guys potentially even driving the opposite effect of the mission you’re trying to create by not allowing a disconnection?
Gardner: Hmm, stirring the pot [LAUGHTER].
Brøndmo: Great question. I’ll just comment on it quickly. I worry about that all the time because talking about getting people outdoors one of the beauties of being outdoors is you’re off the grid, or if you’re far enough outdoors. My idea of a good vacation is [LAUGHTER]—I know it worries me.
Helgason: Maybe in the north of Norway, yes.
Brøndmo: Actually my idea of a good vacation is Greenland for a week where there is no coverage. But I think it’s a very real problem because there’s been great research and you’re all probably familiar with much of this but, there’s all such great resources on the whole—it’s Pavlonian. When this thing rings in your pocket, I don’t care what’s going on, you’re conditioned to—it’s a fix, it’s a hit, right? The reason likes are good and the reason there’s only a thumbs up and not a thumb down is because it’s a positive hit. It’s the old Sally Fields “Somebody likes me.” And I think that there is a huge and interesting challenge with this whole mobile everywhere, connected everywhere which is how do you create contemplation, how do you create presence, connection even, connection in real life? I’m sure you’ve had this with all your children or significant others where you’re in a conversation, or friends or colleagues, you’re in the middle of a conversation that thing buzzes and all of a sudden that conversation is over for the next five seconds, ten seconds. It’s very disruptive to human connectedness. I don’t have any crystal balls on this one.
Krawczyk: It requires us to be more interesting in conversation. Look at the positive side. [LAUGHTER]
Brøndmo: Define interesting. If you’re two-year-old is demanding attention that should be interesting even if it’s kind of annoying and this thing, and something might be happening at work.
Helgason: Some people bring reading materials to dinner, so it’s not new.
Fushman: We think about this a lot for example on the one had we create a lot of efficiency for people in their ability to access their most important information at any point, at any time, whether it’s critical business data like you’re getting on a plane and you want your PowerPoint right there on your tablet and you get it. Or, you go on vacation and you take a bunch of photos and you want to get them to your family in one tap. You don’t want to deal with 100 or 1,000 photos. We want to facilitate those types of interactions. On the flipside you’re right. That means you’re more frequently engaging with devices, more frequently, engaging with technology. I think for us another core part of what we think about is how we can make those interactions faster and more efficient. For example we acquired a small company called Mailbox which built a highly efficient mobile email client that lets you get through your email very quickly on a mobile device. That was a really deep insight for how they did it because ultimately you don’t want to be tethered to your phone, and typing out long emails, trying to figure out what to do. I think it’s a double edged sword, but ultimately the efficiency of being able to get to this really important content, whether it’s personal or work related, is just so valuable an if the onus doesn’t come on all of us to make those experiences—
Gardner: Why are we addicted to this device?
Krawczyk: We’re probably addicted to it—
Helgason: The whole world is on there.
Brøndmo: It’s clinically addictive. People get withdrawal symptoms.
Krawczyk: I feel if you went back 50 years in people started talking about TV and how it was going to ruin society we’re having those same conversations like watching TV’s addictive and it hasn’t ruined us and we’re still here.
Brøndmo: How do you know that?
Krawczyk: These problems tend to sort out and solve themselves. We’re all inundated with email if you’re over the age of, again—that magic number of 25, for some reason—but if you’re over the age of 25 you’re inundated with email, but you look at services and how they’re emerging now the younger generations aren’t using email. Email is probably going to be something that is unique to our interactions with one another. Sorry?
Audience: It’s because they can’t write sentences. [LAUGHTER]
Helgason: They do nothing but write, it’s like a writing culture now.
Gardner: The language is changing rapidly now. But David.
Kao: I’m John Kao.
Gardner: Oh John. Sorry.
Kao: I’m CEO of a company called EdgeMakers and I wanted to ask you a question about mobility and the future of education. Education is one of these areas that’s also heading into a very disruptive phase, self-directed learning, kids dropping out of school, school no longer being relevant, etcetera. If you talk to people in the education field the rhetoric now is the future of education is mobile. But it’s really hard to understand what that means because, just getting drilled on conjugating French verbs or accessing Codecademy isn’t really necessarily an education in the broadest sense. The word learning kept coming up from our colleague from Nokia and I’m wondering about what you see as the relevance of mobile for education maybe now, but projecting out into the future. Is it really going to enable learning in a different way, relating to some of the collaborative themes that have been discussed already and some of the others? What’s the relevance of mobile for education?
Helgason: There’s two aspects. One is the actual educational setting and so on. I actually dabbled in educational software companies. It’s a mess. I don’t understand it and I won’t comment on that. It’s very complicated. I’m more confused than I was before I started. There is a comic strip that is one of my favorites and it’s not just mobile, but it’s about Internet. It’s a one image strip and the title is “The World Before the Internet.” and it’s like two people sitting on a couch and they’re clearly watching TV and one says, “Oh Gee. That’s a really interesting topic.” and the other says, “Well, that’s too bad.” [LAUGHTER]. Just access is pretty fantastic right? How it actually relates to actual education I have no idea.
Krawczyk: I think what mobile offers is our exposure to information that wasn’t previously accessible. I think it’s moving into a world that’s more self-discovery. One of the things that we’ve found in terms of just trying to understand people’s connection to music and education levels, we found that as education levels tend to go up among users the diversity of music they listen to also starts to go up. We found those probably a cultural tie between the various communities that you find and the music that they listen to. It’s hardly an area of expertise from my perspective, but if I were to take a guess as to the role that we can play in that world is, if we can introduce people to new cultures through the form of music, which has been a way for communities to communicate over time, then we’re just offering a new entry point to learn the world that wasn’t previously accessible before.
Fushman: I think education for me, first and foremost, is access to visual content. I think its access to visual content on a massive, massive scale. I mean, we’re seeing classrooms go to tablets, we’re seeing cheaper smaller form factor tablets going into places where people would not have access to computing or visual information before. That to me is an extremely important just in terms of setting the baseline. I think the thing that follows from that that’s really interesting are two things. One is digital content is much more interesting and much more malleable then written content. We can have adaptive learning and you can have different modes of education that can occur. Two, back to the social aspect, I think there is a wealth of interesting, for example, peer to peer learning apps, which means you can start interacting with individuals around the world who are experts at something, in this case language, in other cases something else, and really get that face time that you wouldn’t have access to before. Somebody in a very remote part in the world can now have access to somebody in a very modern, very educated part of the world and I think that’s extremely valuable. This is for everyone.
Gardner: Not my place—Oh good, Hans Peter.
Brøndmo: If we take the mobility angle of it though, which perhaps hasn’t been addressed yet, because all the things we discussed can be done with a laptop or it can be done—to me mobility and context go together. If you always a compute device with you, which is what mobility ultimately enables, and mobile is about, then you have a smart and increasingly smarter device that understands a lot about the context you’re in and that can be the context of the people your with or it can be context of the environment you’re in, the place you’re at, all these contextual things. I think that becomes a lens for exploration. You can all think of it as a, take a very simple example, some of the virtual reality stuff, in an educational setting, for example, the ability to be able to look through a lens and where that lens can modify what you’re seeing, historically you can zoom back through time. It can modify and give you information. You can look at a planet and it can have a built in spectrometer. There’s so many things that a smart, connected, seeing thing can help in terms of enhancing—you’re in the moment. That’s ultimately where mobility, to me, and this whole idea of mobile nomads is that you have an assist, you have a smart device which is connected to the great oracle, Google, and is contextual. That’s where the sweet spot for me for education is. Also coming back to my theme of storytelling, it kind of gets to you can tell your stories, you can discover other people’s stories, and through those learn in context.
Kao: That interests me a lot because that implies a mobile device changes it’s role from in a sense being the librarian that’s kind of pointing you to the course ware to being an actual teacher. Because teaching is about context-specific learning and provoking evocative experiences and facilitation and all of these things where we’re at a very rudimentary stage of trying to embody these visual devices with. You would think that the mobile device would be the one that would be the most susceptible to being endowed with a certain more human characteristics just because of its presence.
Brøndmo: Think about the number, it knows where it is, even more than this thing, it knows exactly where it is. It has eyes, it can see. It has a whole bunch of sensors. It’s always on. It’s always connected. That’s got to be a panacea almost for exploration.
Gardner: There’s a learning program I think called Soul where children are split into groups of four and they each have an iPad and teachers role is to guide them with a question that they must go solve and the rate at which they’re learning is rapidly greater than sitting in a passive lecture format or where most of the students would be quiet during that 40-minute period. There are a lot of things to be discovered. It’s still so early in figuring this out. I’m just going to go to microphone to microphone and then I—so, Yes.
Camarata: Hi. My name is S.J. Camarata, I’m with a company called ESRI. I have a different kind of a question and that is that it’s interesting the panel here has four very different types of representation, different types of companies. What I’m looking at, is if mobile devices, you just mentioned this Hans Peter, that they’re all sensors, they are all devices that are keeping track of everything anywhere. They’re collecting huge gigantic amounts of information. My question kind of gets around, okay, there’s all these different types of information coming in, how do we actually use those and take advantage of those totally disparate types of information to solve real, or interesting, or new problems, not just necessarily to say, we’ve got patterns of usage so we can get smarter targeted ads to somebody because I’ve watched what’s happening, but like healthcare’s been talked about this morning, or education. How do we actually, I’m curious as to some of your feedback on some of the challenges, but also opportunities at how you actually take advantage of these gigantic amounts of information from all these mobile devices and start to do very powerful predictive big data analytics that actually solve very fundamental problems?
Brøndmo: I’ll start with that one, given that you’re from ESRI you’ll relate to this, but we see these things as live probes and we do a lot of stuff in traffic, HERE, the location in business Nokia. As a probe if, road conditions change—the obvious thing is traffic and the ways it’s done, and what these new devices have done, but also routing. It has huge impact on potential—can have a huge potential impact on fuel efficiency, and on time, you know back to spending less time sitting down in transit, getting more efficiency in the traffic, getting more traffic flow on roads. All these things it’s just one small example, but all things can be empowered by the fact that everybody’s got this live sensor that talks to the cloud and immediately can create an image of what, in this particular case, a traffic pattern might look like. There are a number of examples like that.
Gardner: Let’s go here.
Wells: Yes. My name is Donna Wells, I’m CEO of Mindflash in Paulo Alto and we’re actually an online training platform for businesses. Just to the point about mobile learning, what we see is very much mobile enabling in-context, compelling content that’s created by subject matter experts in the field, and then uploaded, and shared with everybody else in the organization. So to Hans Peter’s point, the content is definitely more contextual, more compelling, more engaging, which helps decimate that information through the rest of the company. More employees are likely to watch a video shot by one of their peers then the HR consultant in the ivory tower that may have never done the job that the subject matter expert is doing every day out in the field. So it also democratizes the creation of educational content within the organization and we feel that’s really important and really powerful. One of our customers, Dyson, did a great thing recently where they had all of their best sales people across the country, maybe globally, video tape their best sales pitch for a brand new product that they were releasing, then upload it to a site where there was a competition and a leader board from fellow sales people to give the points to the guy that made the best pitch. It was just phenomenally successful for Dyson. My question goes back to conversation that Hans Peter and Jack were mentioning earlier. I think something that’s truly unique and new to mobile is the sort of Twitter in Tahrir Square, or it’s Snapchat covering a stream of the Giants fans’ Snapchats as opposed to the Royals fans’ Snapchats in the moment at the World Series, sorry, the Royals fan that sort of tanked right after Panda made it last out, apologies to any Royals fans in the audience. I know there’s something unique to that, but I’m not sure how that plays into mobile strategy in the future, but that concept of because we’re all at a physical event, we don’t know each other, but we all have computing devices in our pockets, we’re able to share the experiences sort of instant but very temporary community, I think usually for the good of mankind, there are probably negative experiences as well, and I wonder how that plays into either your company strategies or your product development and roadmaps in the future. Is it truly important? Is it truly unique?
Gardner: Great question.
Krawczyk: I think any forms of trying to solve how people interact with one another, there’s always some form of an existing analog solution that—these points of time of being able to say, “I’m at this World Series game.” It’s less about connecting with the people that are at the game and meeting that community and more about the closer analog to what you would be doing—we went on a Wednesday so when you go to work on Thursday, you would “gasp” wait for twelve hours until you were in the office to tell people or show them the photos of being at that game. Now what we’re able to create through technology is eliminate that gap in time, “I can tell you right now that I’m there,” and sort of use that as a mechanism for associating myself with that moment in time. We’re getting—these technologies allow us to get closer to the moments, but it also is preventing us from experiencing the moments. When I go to concerts, when I see some artists perform they’re out there giving their heart and soul of their life’s work to the crowd and you just see everybody on their phone and they’re staring at their phone and not at the actual performance. I don’t know that we’ve solved it at this point, but there seems to be some sort of dilution of the experience that we may trend back toward. I really do hope we do.
Gardner: You had your hand up before. You’ve got a mike, I don’t know if you—Okay, yes.
Audience: It actually was motivated by what you said initially but you’re point just now, what are your views about how the technology tools coming together so that a device like this will have things integrated so that when you’re at the conference you don’t have to interrupt your experience and you are more present, whatever the contextual experiences, whether it involves music, or performance data, like Strava, whatever story you’re trying to tell. Are you optimistic about technology progressing and what’s the timeline you see for the integration of the kinds of tools that would enable that, would enable people to actually be more present to get the relatability and value out of the experience?
Fushman: The reason you’re taking that shot is because you’re afraid you’re not going to be able to relive that moment in many cases. People want to capture these moments that are very important to them in their lives. If there’s technology that insures that something is capturing that moment wherever you are, at the same time, and you will have access to it, and you will be able to pool these experiences across different points. That actually frees you a little bit.
Audience: That’s such an argument for Google Glass and as […] it’s not so amazing.
Fushman: Or drones at concerts right? I actually think that this is going to happen because ultimately what all of us are benefitting from that Dropbox, companies like Google, companies like Facebook are creating a data fabric that allows all of these experiences to be uploaded and then shared, and then downloaded to you whenever you want them to have access. You will have the certainty that you will be able to relive this moment whether you captured it or somebody else captured it. You may know them or you may not know them. That’s the beauty of all this stuff I think.
Helgason: I think a lot of this comes from, sorry, from micro-innovation, just like stupid things like I’ve got a shit ton of email, 2% is really interesting. If I can tag these people and only get notifications from these people, I can not look at my phone as often. Little things like that. And like I said if we get categorizations and storage so that everything is sort of there.
Krawczyk: One of my favorite stories is the proliferation of mobile was when I was working in investment banking in 2006 and it was the CEO of either Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley was rumored to have gotten rid of his Blackberry because he couldn’t stop playing Brick Breaker in the middle of meetings [LAUGHTER] and that’s always stuck with me as we look at mobile and I think we’ve all been in a meeting where somebody’s got their laptop open typing away and not really paying attention. What I think technology’s really done for us it’s moved us toward more efficient meetings because those people used to just sit there and daydream and now it’s very clear that they don’t belong there so you can ask them to leave, as you watch people texting. We actually have a rule that you’re not allowed to more than six people in a meeting in any of our product meetings because anything after that people aren’t paying attention. We’re actually getting more efficient by not using the technology or identifying the technology as a signal of really not being efficient with the work that you’re not getting done.
Gardner: So, if you have an iPad or laptop open please leave the room now [LAUGHTER]. I’m just kidding.
Helgason: Except if you’re writing something really important.
Gardner: I know, of course. Of course. That’s would be the one judgment we’d make for not throwing them out.
Krawczyk: Judgment calls. Robots aren’t there yet.
Elkehag: Hello, my name is Elin Elkehag. I’m from Vinna Ventures and I’m taking notes, I have a book here. Actually had a different take on the title of this panel. I interpreted it a bit different and my focus was on the nomads. We are seeing a world where people, the young generation, don’t necessarily see that they are going to work 9:00 to 5:00 in an office in a corporate world for 30 years. Like 40-60% in a rather close future actually see that they will work as freelancers or independence with what they want, when they want, and more on their terms. Like mobile in the forests or wherever they feel that they are most productive. I want hear from the panel on the topic. How will this new phase where 40-60% are working independently or mobile, or remotely, how will that affect your business and then how will it affect reshape society? What affect will it have on your businesses and your business model?
Brøndmo: Early on there was this early “New Yorker” joke, I don’t know if you remember seeing that, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Remember that one? There’s a little bit, my take on it is the Internet nobody knows where you are which I think is very powerful because you can be always connected and you can be everywhere connected, so you can very much with all the ways you can manage your time. If it’s important for you to take your children to school from 8:00 to 10:00, you can still be connected if there’s something urgent, all that stuff, but then everywhere is important too because it doesn’t, we’re less and less—and that’s the nomad thing—we’re less and less in a sense we’re tied to place. We can be much more fluid that way. I find myself, it’s a tricky balance because it gets back to some of the stuff we were discussing earlier, but it’s a tricky balance because I find myself being able to do more things than I classically would have been able to before because I’m always connected and I can be places, and I can do things with much more flexibility, and I also find myself being connected all the time which means you don’t have that downtime because the expectation of connectivity is there on all fronts. I do ultimately think it has huge impact for work, just that nomad thing, that you can go anywhere, be anywhere. I was in—What day is today? Monday. I had breakfast yesterday with my brother in Oslo, and I’m sitting here talking to you guys now. To me, it’s a little bit personal here, but you get inside this metal tube, that metal tube, called an airplane, that happens to be connected to the Internet. I was working all the way back so I had a very productive 11-hour flight. I had a birthday dinner with my 76-year-old mother on Saturday. I had breakfast with my brother on Sunday. I flew back and I was here for this event yesterday afternoon or evening. We probably all did something like that or some variant of that last night. I never cease to be amazed by how that works and how we can do that, and how I can be connected the whole time. There’s a lot going on at work. I was texting while I was on my way to the airport. I was in the plane. I was emailing to all kinds of people. It’s completely changing the way we live our lives. Given everything that’s going on in my professional life right now, if I was not always connected I couldn’t have spent the weekend where I spent it. That’s just my little story, but I think it’s having huge impact across the board on how we work, how we communicate, and how we play.
Gardner: David—Oh, go ahead Ilya.
Fushman: I was going to say that’s actually the core focus of our business is enabling this. So it starts with you effectively being able to take a piece on that sit on your device and moving it into the cloud. In fact, that two people can say the same thing is actually incredibly valuable. If two people can then edit the same thing it’s even more valuable, and you can pass these things around and have access online and offline. That really enables this mobile work force. I think that’s ultimately the core part of what we’re doing, especially on the business side is enabling people to work more, being more free, being able to access their content at any time, whether they’re on an airplane or in a park.
Brøndmo: The only thing that wasn’t working on the airplane connection was that little blue Dropbox thing, it was blue, it didn’t turn green.
Fushman: That’s the Internet’s problem there. But that’s effectively our core business because we want to give you the freedom to be able to access your stuff wherever you are at any point at any time and that opens up a whole wide range of efficiency.
Gardner: David, do you think that when you described that Electronic Arts layoff creating an opportunity for your business, do you think that mobile and the nomadic workforce that’s emerging under the age of 30 is a real threat to large companies? Just the structure of a large company?
Fushman: I hope so.
Helgason: I hope so too and I think if you look at human society from the very beginning it sort of a drive towards more and more specialization. When you remove location as a parameter two can work together you get more outrageous levels of specialization. This is in software development and gaming development where there’s incredibly deep pockets of specialization. We see these people that are like most brilliant at whatever of these things. They never tend to never work with local partners, clients, employers, just because there’s no way, it’s too fragmented for that. In that sense it’s phenomenal. I don’t know about the big companies, I think so, but there seems to be a bit of a pendulum swing and I can’t quite figure it out.
Krawczyk: I would take objection that it’s people under the age of 30, I mean, if you look at what Uber and Lift have been able to provide in the market. My mom’s retired and she’s 63 and I’m trying to convince her to be an Uber driver just to make some extra bucks on the side and not be bored all the time. When you look at what’s taking place is that mobile is basically allowing us to be connected and introduce new forms of basically allocation of capital. It’s Instacart’s a great example of something that is changing the world of grocery delivery whereas if we move to a world where groceries get delivered to us at all times, what does that create the need for—very expensive real estate for grocery stores in cities and if that mobile proliferation takes out, what does that do to the job market as people are mobile. It presents a lot of cascading opportunities as we look at these.
Alsbury: Seth Alsbury with Target. How can we have a panel on mobile omnipotence and not talk about the God platform in AI? Have we all seen “Her”. Disturbing movie, but that’s happening right? Tell us. How long until this thing knows me so well that it can be that kind of companion, that it loves me?
Brøndmo: Well Siri does love me. She says so. I’m probably the oldest guy on the panel here. When I was a student at MIT my first startup was actually an AI startup, it was Expert Systems. This was in the late 1980s. We studied it then. I took Winston’s classes back in the early days and it was that the promise was right over the horizon. Did a startup, Expert Systems, and learned a lot about why that technology didn’t work then. I’m still a believer. I think it’ going to happen. We overestimate the short term and underestimate the long term kind of thing. I think AI, we’re actually on a cusp of, I wouldn’t say an intelligent machines, but we’re on the cusp of machines that have so much context and so much access through the cloud, through information, that I almost consider Google today to be an AI platform. What question can’t you ask Google and get a very quick answer to. Maybe not deep philosophical insightful questions. I don’t think they’re self-awareness up there yet, but you can certainly ask most reasonable questions and get a pretty darn good answer. I was at this birthday dinner on Saturday night. A question came up about a somewhat obscure Norwegian historical fact and while it was being debated heavily I just pulled it up. I literally asked the question in Norwegian to Google and the answer was right there. It’s just astonishing. If you start taking that and you take local context, and there’s learning, as described earlier, I think we’re very close to what I’ll call, not self-awareness—we won’t hit the singularity for a while, but we’re close to what will seem very smart and intelligent to most users. They might even pass some kind of Turing test.
Gardner: Final question then we’ve got three minutes before we get booted.
Audience: I’ve got a comment, you can comment on it. It seems to me that we are going to reach a capacity. Everybody here is, you do your business on this, your mobile health, your mobile learning, your gaming, your music. What kind of hardware are we going to have in the future? How is this possible that we can be glued to just this one device and have absolutely everything on it.
Helgason: It’s just going to keep doubling its speed every year.
Audience: And also the attention span? How could you have your mobile health and your mobile learning and your business, and all this, and your social, all going on simultaneously and actually retain anything?
Fushman: I think that’s a smaller capacity than the capacity of the device because if the device is connected and you have high bandwidth network then really it’s not about the hardware of the device it’s about the hardware you connect to. I think it’s more like, can you enough imput into you and interact with that. That’s—
Brøndmo: I think there’s an architecture question in what you’re asking, right? Because there’s no question this thing, big or small, with the screen and general purpose compute, and an app for that, will continue to exist. That will evolve. But the question is really the ecosystem around it. Are you going to have this little thing up here that makes you look like you’re cross-eyed half the time? Are you going to have a little bud in your ear? I think voice is something or even to be able to listen to the answer and get input through voice.
A friend of mine is a big Strava fan. He always felt that what Strava should do is put a little ear bud in so that, you know the way the coaches talk to the riders in the Tour de France, Strava should talk to you that way. There’s all these little opportunities for that. Then of course, the body’s becoming pretty—and the wrist is becoming a busy place. So you’ll have an iClock there, you’ll have something here, you’ll have something on your body, you’ll have some listening device, and then they’ll all communicate. Another quick one is, I think there’s going to be a plethora of special purpose smart devices, not just dumb devices but smart devices. I think you’re going to have them more purpose-oriented. It could be a thermostat on your wall which seems to work, but it could also be stuff you bring with you. That architecture of what that looks like is a fascinating question, and where do these things sit and how do they interact with you?
Gardner: I think we only have 60 seconds left so I’ll ask the final question. We started with it a little bit, but in a heavily mobile world, do you believe, very briefly, that you have any privacy in the future. We’ve all talked to some really bright people. I’m sure I talked to somebody in world of technology who is I consider to be profoundly smart and he said, “Legislation will never catch up with the technology. It just can’t happen. You know the government will fall behind technology so data will always be gathered on us in ways we don’t fully know or understand, and how it’s being used.” If privacy were a stock would you short it and expect that it’s going to zero?
Krawczyk: I think there’s going to be more transparency and more consumer choice. For a long time those people didn’t even think when you used your Safeway Club Card they were tracking all of your purchases and making important decisions. When you tell that to most people and you say, “Oh, you’re seeing that banner ad because you went to that website.” There should be roughly and equal amount of freak out that happens and so it’s always taken place, but we’re moving towards a world where there’s greater transparency into privacy, and I think the adage of you can’t fix what you can’t measure, you can’t really fix what you can’t understand so consumers are going to move toward a world of greater understanding.
Gardner: Agreement, disagreement? Eight seconds remaining.
Brøndmo: Since you introduced a financial analogy and a stock to zero, I think personal data’s an asset. There’s three entities vying for that data corporations, government, and shady characters trying to steal it. And yet, we have no ownership model for the asset. I think what we need, to give you another, we all owned land, that was very important development when you could own land. It was an asset that you could collateral and otherwise. I think what you need to do is recognize personal information as an asset and then with that recognition you need to define ownership. My personal opinion is that you should own your own personal information, I call it your electronic soul. You should own it. That soul, by the way, with prediction, with predictive technologies, analytics, etcetera, the insights people have into your electronic soul might be greater than what you have into your own soul, like, what might happen to you, what could happen to you, where you’re going, what are you going to buy next, all these things. My simple solution is it’s an asset, it has economic value, I should be able to control it, government can tax it, but if corporations want to use it, I deposit it with them and I should be able to withdraw it if I have no interest in what they have and deposit with their competition. I think it’s not technologically unfeasible to do something like that. I testified on this very thing at in a Senate hearing in 2001 and the Senator from Oregon—No, it was interesting. There were a couple of guys on the panel that asked really insightful questions and the rest of them just completely missed. But I think for a long time I’ve been making this case and I think the time might now be getting here. We might be getting to a point where people understand enough about it. There’s an opportunity to do so. It would be a huge opportunity for the IBMs in the world, these big infrastructure players to basically to build the infrastructure to support this stuff. So, you own your own personal information. We should all go out and claim it, and ultimately I think that’s a financial model that has legs and it’s a policy model that we can learn.
Helgason: I love it, but I’ve heard this one. I wish though.
Fushman: Part of the world is moving in that direction right? The major authentication services on the Internet are Google and Facebook and you see more and more that you have more granular control over who has access to data. I think we went through this transition phase is where you have this plethora of apps, you connected to the app, the app store your data on some bucket in Amazon or some server in Rackspace or somewhere else. You don’t really know where that data is. Actually I think what I am seeing and I think what will hopefully happen is that these major authentication services and services that can really contain most of this information will form more transparency to your point and more control over who has access to this information and who can revoke it, and who can have it.
Gardner: We have to end there, but Hans Peter, Ilya, David, and Jack, Thank you very much.