After nearly 12 years at Google, the last 5 of which I’ve spent leading core conversational technology for Google Assistant, I’m excited to share that I’m joining TrillerNet as Chief Technology Officer. I will always love Google and remain super bullish on Assistant’s future, but here’s why I found this opportunity so enticing.
The internet and social networking were supposed to enable us to connect in meaningful ways with our friends and the artists, thinkers, and brands we care about. But it’s nearly 20 years since my last startup, Plaxo, helped usher in this “social web” phase, and it’s clear by now that this is not the future we were promised. Sure, the people you want to follow are now on Social, but we mostly receive undifferentiated, one-way broadcasts from them. They don’t really know who we are, what we’ve seen and done, or what we’re interested in, and what personalization does exist comes more from “surveillance capitalism” than real two-way connection.
It doesn’t need to be this way: the data we need to differentiate ourselves as consumers (what we read, watch, listen to, purchase; the places we visit, etc.) all leave “digital breadcrumbs” now (in addition to our social media comments/likes). Recent advances in AI (including Natural Language Processing, unsupervised clustering, large language models, and more) have given us the tools to understand all of that data well enough to enable a new level of two-way personal engagement at scale. But since this is all happening across multiple sites and services, a neutral arbiter is needed to tie it all together–a company that deeply understands the needs of both creators and consumers and can develop the technology to help them connect like never before.
Enter TrillerNet, the unlikely but oddly ideally-positioned rocket ship, built from a remarkable convergence of multiple startups spanning technology, entertainment, and the burgeoning creator economy. It combines (1) the “AI-driven conversational superpowers” of Amplify.ai (which originally caught me eye), (2) deep experience and credibility with the creator/influencer community from Triller and Proxima’s backing, and (3) the ability to repeatedly create marquee cultural moments with Verzuz and FITE TV. Bold new initiatives like CLIQZ hint at the massive potential at the intersection of those three core differentiators. And it’s still early days.
I’ve been excited about Amplify.ai’s technology and success in both the commercial and political arenas since their CMO (and my longtime friend and collaborator from Plaxo), John McCrea, joined them several years back. Earlier this year, after their acquisition by TrillerNet, Amplify.ai CEO Mahi de Silva became CEO of the overall TrillerNet conglomerate. He sensed the coming “1 + 1 = 11” opportunity to pair the strong creator relationships and cultural engine of Triller with the breakthrough conversational AI capabilities of Amplify.ai and recognized that, with my two decades in Silicon Valley focusing on social networking, identity, and data portability on the one hand and NLP and conversational AI on the other hand, I was the “unlikely but oddly ideally positioned” CTO to lead the company’s next phase of transformational growth.
It’s surely going to be a wild ride. I’m excited to get back to my startup roots and see how the world has changed and what I’ve learned from my time at Google that does and doesn’t carry over. I welcome any advice or support and will have lots more to say as things unfold!