CXTech Week 5 2021 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 5 2021 newsletter is to highlight, with commentary, some of the news stories in CXTech this week. What is CXTech?  The C stands for Connectivity, Communications, Collaboration, Conversation, Customer; X for Experience because that’s what matters; and Tech because the focus is enablers.

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Audio-based social app Clubhouse raises $100M

Following on from last week’s CXTech News, with Yac raising $7.5M. Clubhouse an audio-based ‘semi-private’ social media app raised $100M. Clubhouse describes itself as “a new type of social product based on voice that allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world.”

Its had quite a few controversies through 2020 because of the lack of moderation, with some chats including quite nasty racism, hate, and harassment. Nutters kicked off other platforms have flocked to apps like Parler and Clubhouse.

Moderation has to be baked in from the start of any social media app. Here is a great thread from Tatiana Estevez (worked on Quora moderation) on the moderation challenge Clubhouse faces.

Recently Elon Musk joined the app, it’s an old-boys network on billionaires these days. With some in the media claiming it proves the case for Clubhouse. I think the content will appeal to his fans. However, I struggle to see how Clubhouse wins against any of the live streaming services available today. I’m sure the PR teams at many of Musk’s companies would prefer a podcast style where some editing could be applied before broadcast 😉

We’ve had similar voice chat hacks created at TADHack over the years. In the pitches moderation was always raised as an important step in the development of the app. Back in 2016 Sacha Nacar did a great hack called BigBro built on Cisco Spark and IBM Watson, which automated some parts of moderation. Today TADHack sponsors like provide solutions to the moderation issue.

Automation of moderation is improving, there’s much work to do across people, processes and technology to adequately moderate social media. Once upon a time parents were expected to teach their children how to behave, both in the real-world and online. Unfortunately, some people have little control over expressing nasty ideas or their online behavior, or are paid to to do so by creepy billionaires / foreign powers, so it falls to the platforms to fulfil the role parents / common sense / self-respect once did.

Element suspended on Google Play Store: now resolved.

At 2021-01-29 at 21:35 UTC Google suspended Element from the Play Store.

They submitted an appeal that Element is a generic chat app for connecting to the global Matrix communication network, just as Chrome is a generic web browser for connecting to the Web – and just as Google does not control the content on the Web, Element does not control the content on Matrix.

The Matrix servers that they run as Element have strict Terms of Use. In order to enforce those terms they have a full-time Trust and Safety team dedicated to investigating and tracking abuse reports sent to or reported from the app. 

At 2021-01-30 23:17 UTC they received a call from a VP at Google, and the app was restored as of 2021-01-31 00:30 UTC.

It’s a fine line between chat app / social media app / social product / social platform. Automation of moderation will become a critical issue, with much work to do across people, processes and technology.

Sangoma Acquires Star2Star for US$437 million

In CXTech Week 25 2020 I noted “Sangoma Files Base Shelf Prospectus for $110M US”.

Looks like they used $105M of that for Star2Star (UCaaS provider) + stock for total value of $437M.

I was thinking international growth in programmable communications would be cheaper to acquire. This certainly moves Sangoma into the top tier of enterprise communications providers. Key will be pulling through the rest of Sangoma’s portfolio into these accounts.

2021 looks like it’s going to be as busy as 2020 for M&A!

Part 2 of my Tyntec Interview on Programmable Communications

Thanks to Jean Shin of tyntec for the interview.

Wootag’s Growth Continues

They came close to one billion Wootagged views in 2020 expanding their vision across 16+ countries, 11+ verticals, 12 billion+ behavioral insights generated from interactions across millions of Wootagged audiences! Well done to all the Wootag team!

You can see Wootag winning at TADHack all the way back in 2015!

Oyster (distributed workforce HR) raises $20M

Founded by Tony Jamous, with a growing band of Nexmo alumni, Oyster has just raised $20M from Emergence Capital and the Slack Fund; bringing the total to $24M to far. It’s great to see the team creating new value in a completely different industry. Based on Tony’s experience of the challenges in hiring people from around the world. Oyster aims to solve that.

This is a hot area, other start-ups looking to become ADPs of the world of distributed work include DeelRemoteHibobPapaya GlobalPersonioFactorialLatticeTuring and Rippling

I’ve used out-sourcing organizations (off-shore / near-shore), professional services businesses, partial teams of other organizations with a lower cost-base and spare capacity, independent contractors, etc. But in all these arrangements I knew and trusted the people involved. Which is not the case for most people looking to hire internationally. There is a clear need, and as always it’s finding the right recipe to make things work well in harnessing talent around the globe.

Microsoft Reveals Size of its Security Business: $10B

Microsoft is officially an IT security giant at $10B. This covers Azure Active Directory, Intune, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Office 365, Microsoft Cloud App Security, Microsoft Information and Governance, Azure Sentinel, Azure Monitoring, and Azure Information Protection. BTW the term cybersecurity is nonsense as cyber means nothing, its security or to be a little more specific IT Security, as both physical and IT Security are essential to the end result of security.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Kevin Summers is now Head of Product Management at CareAR, a Xerox Company. We mentioned in CXTech Week 2 2021 that Sajeel Hussain is now Vice President, Head of Strategic Alliances / Partnerships & BD, Digital Services at Xerox. Xerox are investing.

Stephan Massalt is now SVP Service Platform Operations at AlefEdge. Previously VP Cloud at Swisscom Labs. I’ve known Stephan since his API work at KPN. AlefEdge provides services and computing at the edge of the mobile network. Edge compute is a hot-spot at the moment. I’m a little less sure of the benefits of edge compute in mobile networks, it’s often linked to 5G due to the potential of low latency. For private 4G/5G networks edge compute could also be called a data center 😉 Amazon / Azure / Google have a range of cloud compute offers for enterprise data centers and their clouds.

Congratulations to Claire Brown for joining Simwood as Chief Marketing Officer.

Koushik Chatterjee has joined Infinitive, he’s a TADHack winner.

Dr. Thomas Papanikolaou is now Adjunct Professor at International University of Monaco.

Sabrina Ratheekan is now Senior Product Manager at Walmart Canada. I’ve known Sabrina since her time at WSO2.Telco.

Aleksandar Turkovic is now Head of EMEA Sales at Mitto, joining from TeleSign.

Rahul Awasthy is now Vice President Product Marketing at Guidewire Software

Gözde Yaman is now Software Engineer at OneSpan. We first met at TADSummit 2014 in Istanbul.

David Burkhart is now Enterprise Account Executive at Talkdesk. I’ve known him since his time in Vonage.

Marc Weinberg is now Senior Vice President, Sales – Americas at Symend. We first met when he worked for Aepona.

Jose Valles keeps being promoted, and is now Senior Vice President & General Manager, Customer Experience EMEA South at SAP. I’ve known him since his time as head of BlueVia, so many many years ago 😉

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