1. Facebook continues to develop its Messenger service
Facebook announced that bots built for its Messenger platform will now have the ability to process payments without leaving the service. This news represents a huge step for Messenger toward building an all-encompassing ecosystem. For example, a company like Hipmunk could now build a bot that can converse with a customer to find travel dates and preferences, then book and charge the flight, all within a conversation. WeChat has seen marked success in China, and Facebook seems to be looking to follow that model.
2. New CVC firm launches
Computer gaming company Razer announced the launch of a $30 million venture fund that will operate off of its balance sheet. The newly formed firm, zVentures, will look to invest across a range of technologies, including IoT, AR/VR, Big Data analytics, and robotics. Investments will range between $100,000 and $1 million. Razer itself is VC-backed, counting Accel and Intel Capital amongst its investors.
3. How far along is artificial intelligence?
Predictably, artificial intelligence was brought up multiple times throughout the day.
Not as predictably, the general consensus was that the technology is a little too young to be very useful. Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, argued that interacting with a bot today is still frustrating, a particularly interesting observation since his company is based on powering communications. Slack’s director of engineering, Leslie Miley, said he’d be more interested in the technology once it’s further developed. While venture capitalists have been pouring cash into the sector, it seems it's still very much in its infancy.
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