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SEO Strategies and B2B Trends to Watch for in 2018

2017 AO RethinkMktgPodcast Ep55 Kevin Getch Featured SEO Strategies and B2B Trends to Watch for in 2018

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Nathan Isaacs: Welcome to the Rethink marketing podcast. I’m here today with Kevin Getch, who is the CEO of Webfor and also the president of SEMpdx. SEMpdx is Search Engine Marketers of Portland. Kevin, welcome to the show. Can you tell me a little bit about both organizations?

Kevin Getch: Definitely. And thanks, Nathan, I really appreciate you having me on the show. So first let me start with SEMpdx. I’m very proud and lucky to be the president and serve as the president of SEMpdx. SEMpdx was one of the first nonprofits started to support the digital marketing community. And it really helped me out when I was first starting out in the industry and didn’t have a lot of people around. And so I was able to plug into that community and have been really active over the years. And we put on monthly events to help marketers, small business owners ‒ both in-house and agency folks ‒ to continue their education and continue learning. And we have our big conference coming up March 8th, Engage Conference, which features some of the best speakers from around the world. So, I’m really proud to be a part of that.

My own agency, I found it back in 2009. I’m the founder as well as the director of digital strategy for Webfor. And, again, nothing beats being able to pull in and build the team of people that you would want to spend your days with. And I think we have this amazing group of people. Our focus is on both creative and digital marketing. So we have team members that focus on the design UX development side. And then SEO is a big focus for us, content strategy, paid search, and then of course we provide a base of measurement and analytics for all of that. That’s really our focus area.

Evolving SEO Strategies

Nathan: We’re here to talk about SEO trends that B2B marketers should be thinking about in 2018. Can you summarize what the state of SEO is today? And what have been some of the bigger trends in the last few years?

Kevin: That is a full question. We could talk about that for days. But I’ll try to bring it down to the larger picture. I think today SEO is more complex than it has ever been since its inception. To be successful in SEO today, it’s no longer just these little skills here and there. It takes a team of people with this range of skills and abilities, from creative to very technical skills. So, on the creative side you have people that are creating content, and these beautiful design graphics that delight the user but don’t distract them from the ultimate goal. And then on the technical side you have developers, and you have technical SEO, and you have everything from utilizing regex, to JSON-LD, and injecting schema markup, and log-file analysis, to your basic kind of title tags and HTML coding, and all those kind of things.

So it’s more complex than ever. But it’s great for companies like ours. It definitely gives us a strong future. Because not everyone can do what we do. They just don’t have the resources, the budget, whatever it may be. And so it’s very important that you start and build. You focus on the big rocks first and really understand what are these top priorities. And then move over to the other areas, go down there.

Getting a Jump on Voice Search

Nathan: I’m wondering how companies should be thinking about voice search in terms of their 2018 SEO strategies.

Kevin: The last stat I saw was about 20 percent of mobile searches were voice search, so that’s already a pretty large number of searches on mobile. And it’s projected to hit around 50 percent by 2020. So if people aren’t paying attention to that at this point, it’s something that they should be looking up right now and trying to understand.

The average type of result that shows up from a voice search is different. If they’re looking for an attorney, it’s not: ‘Attorney, Vancouver, Washington.’ They say: ‘An attorney that can help with a car accident near me.’ So [the key is] trying to understand the intent behind that query and then providing the most relevant results.

But there are things that businesses can do to optimize for this trend that is obviously current, but is going to continue in the future. One of those things is use natural language, like the way they write content, the way they answer questions should be in a way that someone speaks often. Not as focused on keyword stuffing and things like that of the past ‒ and hopefully we’re already past that ‒ but that language will be important. And then understanding you can do a competitive analysis or just an analysis of the SERPs and see what queries are actually pulling up instant answers. And often voice searches, instant answers are one of the things.

So you can jump above all of your competitors with optimizing for this one, being the answer to that one question when someone does this voice search. It has so many opportunities. And that’s just the kind of baseline. There’s obviously utilizing schema markup, and there are all those other factors. But in general, the higher up you are, the more visible you are, the better you’re going to get from a click-through rate.

Nathan: And therefore make more money.

Kevin: At the end of the day it comes back to driving revenue.

Deciphering Digital Assistants

Nathan: Digital assistants, how does that come into play? Is that something we should be thinking about as a B2B SEO strategy?

Kevin: There’s always that answer: ‘It depends.’ It depends on your business. Some businesses should be paying more attention to it and other businesses should be aware of it. So there’s that level in between that.

There are options and ways to strategically get in there and be a first actor and get some foothold. They have actions on some of these, like Alexa or whatever, and so you can create apps or games and things like that. One of them is Dad Jokes. I mess around and I say, talk to Dad Jokes. And it’ll tell you all these horrible dad jokes.

But I think one of the biggest things to think about is it has made us think differently about search in general. So sometimes if you’re doing a local search, it might tell you the top three results. So you’re not even seeing the other results. If you say: ‘Hey, what’s a coffee shop nearby?’ or if you say: ‘I want to find a new convenience store to go to,’ it’s going to only tell you the top three results.  So you’re not going to see all the other results. And you can say, ‘OK, send option A to my phone.’ And it’ll send it to your phone and you can go out there.

I’d say depending on how far you go out in the future will vary quite a bit as far the functionality that you would use there. At the end of the day it all starts with your user. For some of these businesses, their customers are already utilizing these features. I’m a B2B customer, I own a business, I have a lot of people who are looking to sell to me, and I use the feature all the time. So I’m one of those early adopters that is in there and technologically savvy. And if I fit that profile or that persona for that customer, then they should be paying closer attention to this kind of technology and this kind of information.

The digital assistant is going to be probably one of the most disruptive things that we’ve ever seen ― AI being the driver behind that.

Linking the Past and the Future

Nathan: That’s the future. The past was really built on links. So how big a deal is that still? And what can companies be thinking about as they continue to think about link-building SEO strategies?

Kevin: Content, links, there are a number of things. But links is always up there as far as one of the top ranking factors. And it will continue to be for a long time in the future. The one thing to think about, though, if they haven’t already, is to go way, way away from a quantity perspective and think about a quality perspective.

And there’s a range there where the best link you could probably get is from a site that has a high authority in your niche or industry that is relevant and is linking to some great content that you created. When we look at creating a strategy, we create an endorser profile, who are the people who we want to endorse us. And then we go, OK, who are they linking to, who’d they link to in the past, and what type of content are they linking to in the past? Then create great content and work on getting that in front of those influencers that can link to you potentially.

Being in business for over nine years now, we’ve developed what we call the ‘low-hanging fruit list.’ There are tons and tons of links that you can get that are good, that are valuable, that may even drive traffic to your site, that can give you some value. So you should be getting those while you’re working on the long-term strategy. Because creating great content, and promoting it, and getting it front of the right people takes time, it takes budget, it takes a while. So you can start with this and start going after some of those bigger targets as well.

I often think some of the best SEO is just great marketing, great product, great service. When you’re building yourself as a thought leader in the industry, you tend to find more opportunities to do those kinds of things. That’s why I say that a good SEO strategy, if done right, employs a lot of different factors and tactics, and it has its fingers in many baskets, from content, to social, to branding, and all across the whole area.

Nathan: Kevin, I really appreciate your time today. How can I learn more about you, Webfor, and SEMpdx?

Kevin: So Webfor, just go to webfor.com. I also have my own personal site, kevingetch.com. I occasionally blog on as well there. And then sempdx.org. And come check out some of our events as well and subscribe to the SEMpdx newsletter, as well as on Webfor, and connect with us on social.

Nathan: I look forward to checking it out. Hey, thank you again.

Kevin: Thank you, Nathan, I appreciate it.

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WATCH: Chance The Rapper Tackles Sketches On ‘Saturday Night Live’!

ChanceTheRapper WATCH: Chance The Rapper Tackles Sketches On ‘Saturday Night Live’!

Chance the Rapper made the most of his opportunity to host Saturday Night Live last night, a solid, confident turn for his first time at the gig. The show itself was, well, here’s hoping the Thanksgiving break provides cast and crew a chance to regroup and refresh.

Despite a few highlights – a missing-you love ballad to Barack Obama, Pete Davidson’s Weekend Update riff on his rift with Staten Island – this Thanksgiving episode left a lot on the table.

Let’s start with the tastiest. “Come Back, Barack” was a music video starring Chance, Kenan Thompson and first-year cast member Chris Redd as smooth ballad crooners De-Von-Tré. What begins as just another broken-hearted plea for a lover’s return soon reveals the true object of all that longing. (Watch it above.)

Weekend Update was, once again, left holding the sexual harassment bag (right-wing conspiracies aside, the show clearly hasn’t figured a way to turn groping and rape allegations into sketch comedy gold, and let’s be thankful it hasn’t tried).

So the harasser-mocking has been left to the Update anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost, the latter having this week’s best punchline on the subject: “More than a dozen women have now accused actor Jeremy Piven of sexual assault spanning more than 30 years. The allegations were revealed in the shocking documentary Entourage.”

Watch that clip below, but first take a look at the week’s best Update performance, this one coming yet again from a newly revitalized Pete Davidson, whose self-deprecating, confessional laments have given him a profile lacking in his early stoner phase.

Here he is talking about his very real feud with the home borough he shares with Jost, and why Staten Island understandably favors one native son:

Upending the usual host pattern – strong monologue, weak sketch work – Chance the Rapper did some fine comic acting last night. He even passed the teleprompter test, a pitfall that’s undone hosts with far more experience.

Here’s Chance as a basketball announcer with no use for – or even familiarity with – his latest assignment, ice hockey:

Chance, Thompson and Redd re-teamed as another musical trio in Rap History, with the very old school Soul Crush Crew showing their age. Familiar territory for SNL, but nicely done:

A few Thanksgiving-themed bits were featured last night, though none are likely to show up on any of those Holiday specials in years to come. Best of the lot was “Wayne Thanksgiving,” in which millionaire Bruce Wayne (Beck Bennett) holds his annual holiday gathering for the less fortunate, only to get an earful from residents of a minority neighborhood (Chance, Thompson, Redd, Leslie Jones) about the Bat brutality plaguing the community.

The show’s host also appeared in “Family Feud: Harvey Family Thanksgiving,” a one-joke bit that Thompson’s overused Steve Harvey routine couldn’t save.

Not much better was “Career Day,” with Chance and Mikey Day as high schoolers way too excited by their dads’ career day presentation (maybe they should have gone the embarrassment route).

And no amount of enthusiasm could turn Chance’s opening musical ode to Thanksgiving into a holiday classic, try as the host might.

Still, it was better than “Porn Pizza Delivery,” the dregs of the evening. Less said the better. Happy Thanksgiving.

Source: Deadline

Russell Simmons Accused Of Sexual Allegations Along With Brett Ratner; Releases Statement

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WATCH: New Teaser Trailer For Tyler Perry’s New Comedy ‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween’!

TylerPerry WATCH: New Teaser Trailer For Tyler Perry’s New Comedy ‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween’!
It looks like Tyler Perry is back as Madea again, and this time its for a Madea Halloween as Lionsgate brings Tyler Perry’s BOO 2! A MADEA HALLOWEEN to theaters. 
In BOO 2!, Madea, Bam, and Hattie are back for this sequel.  The gang heads to a haunted campground and the group must literally run for their lives when monsters, goblins and the bogeyman are unleashed. Watch the trailer below:

Tiffany Haddish Makes Her First Appearance On ABC’s ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’!

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How to watch MB 2017 live

 How to watch MB 2017 live

9:40 a.m.  Fireside Chat: “Facebook’s vision for Messenger and business interactions” with Stan Chudnovsky, Head of Product for Messenger, Facebook.

10:05 a.m. Lightning Talk: “How shopping giant Walmart uses AI to bridge online and offline worlds” with Laurent Desegur, VP of Customer Experience, WalmartLabs, and Blaise Zerega, Editor in Chief, VentureBeat.

10:25 a.m. Fireside Chat: “How Mobile and AI Are Changing the Nature of Personalization” with Felipe Araujo, Director of Ecommerce, Diane von Furstenberg, and Graham Cooke, CEO, Qubit.

10:43 a.m.  Strategic company announcement from Digital Genius.

10:45 a.m.  Networking Break/Consultations.

11:05 a.m.  Dedicated Sessions (will not be livestreamed):

  • “Delivering mobile customer engagement: Retailers push mobile to the edge” with Siqi Chen, VP of Product, Postmates; Gregg Brockway, CEO of Chairish; Saumil Mehta, Customers Lead, Square; more speakers to be announced.
  • “AI 101: It’s all about the data, stupid” with Safia Ali, Director of UX, StubHub; Jean-Francois Gagné, CEO, Element AI; more speakers to be announced.
  • “Bot butlers: 5 things you need to know about home assistants and the future” with Deep Varma, VP of Data Engineering at Trulia; Kyle Nel, Executive Director, Lowe’s Innovation Labs, Lowe’s; Michele Chambers Turner, General Manager, Nest; Blair Hanley Frank, VentureBeat.
  • “Games: Where will tech disruption come from over the next 12 months?” with Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat; Margaret Wallace, CEO, Playmatics;  Adam Fletcher, CEO, Gyroscope; Kabir Mathur, Head of Business Development, Kiip; Brandon Wirtz, CEO and Founder, Recognant.

11:05 a.m. Mainstage: “A Million Influencers: The Next Wave of Disruption in Video” with Hans Ku, Chief Product Officer, Flipagram, and Rex Lin, Head of Product, Flipagram.

11:30 a.m. Strategic company announcements

11:50 a.m.  Lunch break: Networking Lunch in VB commons

1:00 p.m.  Company briefings from Slack, Verto Analytics.

1:05 p.m.  New AI Startup Showcase: Startups on the AI cusp share their innovative breakthroughs in quick five-minute sessions.

  • Bark
  • Azkarbot
  • Shoto
  • Visabot
  • Epytom

1:40 p.m.  Name Brands with AI Traction Showcase:

  •      Gabriel Kauffman, CEO, GobTech
  •      Swapnil Shinde, CEO, Mezi
  •      Maggie Moran, Head of Product, Hopper
  •      Matthias Keller, Chief Scientist, Kayak
  •      Joe Bentley, VP of Engineering, GoPro
  •      Jim Blomo, Director of Engineering, Yelp

2:10 p.m.  Strategic company announcement from Appdome.

2:15 p.m.  Networking Break/Expo

3:00 p.m.  Dedicated Sessions (will not be livestreamed):

  • “Fintech Disruption: 5 lessons learned from banking AI” with Jake Tyler, CEO, Finn.ai; Dan Stern, Director of Innovation Delivery, ATB Financial; more speakers to be announced.
  • “AI 102: Training your algorithms and model” with Joe Bentley, VP of Engineering, GoPro; Erbil Karaman, Head of Product Marketplace, Lyft; Anthony Goldbloom, CEO and cofounder, Kaggle.
  • “All bots and a bag of chips: New chatbot strategies for customer engagement” with Geeta Wilson, VP of Customer Experience, Humana; Henry Bzeih, Managing Director of Connected and Mobility, KIA USA; Himesh Patel, Creative Director, Dow Jones of the Wall Street Journal; and Daniel Brusilovsky, Digital Initiatives Lead, Golden State Warriors.

3:45 p.m.  Networking Break

4:00 p.m.  “Real ROI from applied AI” with Rashmy Chatterjee, CMO North America, IBM.

4:20 p.m.  Strategic company announcements from Workmarket, Branch.

4:25 p.m.  Fireside Chat: Coca-Cola unabashed AI strategy: Up front and personal with Greg Chambers, Global Director, Coca-Cola; Lauren Kunze, CEO, PandoraBots; Matt Marshall, CEO, VentureBeat.

4:45 p.m. Closing Keynote: “AI Lessons from the frontlines” with Christa Quarles, CEO, OpenTable.

Day Two of MB 2017 will also be livestreamed. Please view the complete agenda.

For more, catch up on all the news from MB 2017.

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Big Data – VentureBeat

Live from Seattle! Watch the Microsoft Data Insights Summit keynotes and featured sessions

Can’t make it to Microsoft Data Insights Summit? We’ll bring the conference to you!

We’re livestreaming our three keynotes and nine of our most popular breakout sessions, June 12–13, 2017 so you can learn alongside attendees. As Microsoft’s conference for business analysts, the Microsoft Data Insights Summit is filled with strong technical content to help you build a data culture at your organization.

See the full livestream schedule below. Mark your calendar and get ready to transform the way you work!

MDIS Livestream Banner Twitter 1000x560 Live from Seattle! Watch the Microsoft Data Insights Summit keynotes and featured sessions


8 – 9:30am PDT
Opening Keynote with Microsoft Corporate Vice President James Phillips
Get the latest product updates and vision for BI from Phillips, CVP of the Business Intelligence Products Group.

10 – 10:50am PDT (Featured Session)
Whirlwind Tour of Power BI and What’s New
Take a tour of Power BI—and everything it has to offer—at this info-packed session, complete with plenty of demos. Perfect for new and experienced users alike. Led by Microsoft program managers Adam Wilson and Kim Manis.

11:10 – 12pm PDT (Featured Session)
Introducing Power BI Premium
Extend your Power BI solution to everyone on your team with Power BI Premium! Learn how our latest offering can bring you dedicated capacity for your organization. Led by Microsoft program manager Adam Wilson.

1 – 1:50pm PDT (Featured Session)
Data Science for Analysts
Get the basics of data science, specially designed for analysts! Learn how to apply the process of data science to Azure ML—and build a custom machine learning model and web service for your business. Led by Microsoft program manager Ted Way.

2:10 – 3pm PDT (Featured Session)
Excel and Power BI Better Together
This demo-rich session will show you how the dynamic duo of Excel and Power BI can boost your business analytics and insights. Led by Microsoft program managers Olaf Hubel and Alexander Lahuerta.

3:30 – 4:30pm PDT
Special Guest Keynote with Alberto Cairo
Renowned for his award-winning work in the field of data visualization, author and professor Alberto Cairo will teach you how to unlock the stories hidden in your data.


8 – 8:50am PDT (Featured Session)
Storytelling with Power BI
Get tips for turning simple data visuals into memorable data stories, and learn how to share those stories via SharePoint Online and other web channels—and more. Led by Microsoft program manager Jeff Lumpkin.

9:10 – 10am PDT (Featured Session)
Power BI Everywhere: Mobile Insights with Power BI on the Go
Learn how to leverage Power BI Mobile applications to make data-driven decisions on the go. Led by Microsoft program manager Romi Koifman.

10:30 – 11:20am PDT (Featured Session)
Tips and Tricks for Creating Beautiful Reports in Power BI Desktop
Back for its second year, this session is packed with new hints and hacks to help you get the most out of your Power BI Desktop reports. Led by Microsoft program manager Will Thompson.

11:40am – 12:30pm PDT (Featured Session)
What’s New and What’s Coming in Power BI Desktop
Learn about the latest and greatest that Power BI Desktop has to offer—and get a sneak peek into what’s next! Led by Microsoft program managers Kim Manis, Will Thompson, and Amanda Cofsky.

1:30 – 2:20pm PDT (Featured Session)
Create and Customize Business Applications with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow (no code required!)
Learn how to build your own business applications quickly and easily—no coding required!—with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. Led by Microsoft product marketing manager Cathy Dew and Microsoft program manager Audrie Gordon.

2:30 – 4pm PDT
Closing Keynote with Freakonomics authors Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt
Learn how to think like a Freak with the minds behind Freakonomics. Bestselling authors Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt will show you how to create a data culture at your organization — leading your team to make better decisions every day with data.

Join us June 12 – 13 on the Microsoft Data Insights Summit website to watch the live broadcast. In addition to the livestreams, all session content will be available on-demand post event, so please check back for the latest updates.

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WATCH: New Trailer Debut Of Comedy ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Starring Samuel L. Jackson And Ryan Reynolds

 WATCH: New Trailer Debut Of Comedy ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Starring Samuel L. Jackson And Ryan Reynolds

The world’s top protection agent [Ryan Reynolds] is called upon to guard the life of his mortal enemy, one of the world’s most notorious hitmen [Samuel L. Jackson]. The relentless bodyguard and manipulative assassin have been on the opposite end of the bullet for years and are thrown together for a wildly outrageous 24 hours. During their raucous and hilarious adventure from England to the Hague, they encounter high-speed car chases, outlandish boat escapades and a merciless Eastern European dictator [Gary Oldman] who is out for blood. Salma Hayek joins the mayhem as Jackson’s equally notorious wife. 

The film will be “hitting” your theatres on August 18. Watch the trailer below;

Tyler Perry Moves Forward With ‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween’ This October!

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The Humor Mill

WATCH: New Trailer Of Animated Feature Film ‘Captain Underpants’ With Kevin Hart!

 WATCH: New Trailer Of Animated Feature Film ‘Captain Underpants’ With Kevin Hart!

DreamWorks Animation has released the first trailer for their upcoming film Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, which is based on the worldwide sensation and bestselling book series. The film stars an A-list cast of comedy superstars headed by Kevin Hart and Ed Helms.

This raucously subversive comedy for the entire family tells the story of two overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold, who hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.

Watch the first trailer below.

Dave Chappelle Recalls Helping LeBron James Do Stand-Up Comedy

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WATCH: Comedian And Host Michael Colyar Talks New Show Plus The Origin On The “N” Word!

Here is an interview we conducted with comedian and host Michael Colyar as he talks about his upcoming projects, plus the origin of the N Word! Check out the interview! SUBSCRIBE to our channel!

Universal’s Reboot Of ‘Scarface’ Loses Director Antoine Fuqua!

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15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

People are gearing up to say good riddance to 2016, and as the Earth completes another revolution around the sun, we’re all eager to try our hand at predicting the next big thing. Will virtual reality, on-demand services, and bots shine again in 2017? Or will the spotlight turn to messaging apps, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence?

Here are 15 startups that I believe are worth watching over the next 12 months. This is the latest in a series of annual posts — you can look back at 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 — and this one highlights companies that I predict will experience something interesting, possibly even major (good or bad), over the course of the next year. So here they are, in no particular order.

Eaze Homepage Shoot Selects edited 0639 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Above: Using the Eaze mobile app to select marijuana.

Image Credit: Eaze

In November, four more states voted to legalize marijuana: California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts. With these results, pot suppliers are now able to legally tap into a potentially large market, and Eaze is looking to capitalize. The company is already in nearly 100 cities across California, delivering medical marijuana to more than 200,000 patients. Dubbed the “Uber for weed,” Eaze recently raised a $ 13 million round from DCM Ventures, Tusk Ventures, and Fresh VC, with the goal of expanding into new markets.

While it seems voters have paved the way for Eaze’s entry into some markets, what also makes the company worth watching is the fact founder Keith McCarty stepped down as CEO this month but has promised to remain as a strategic advisor. In his place will stand chief product and technology officer Jim Patterson. The company said Patterson’s “management background and technology expertise make him uniquely positioned to lead Eaze during a period of rapid industry growth.”

As one of the earliest companies to focus on marijuana delivery, Eaze could become a significant player in the space, but it’s not the only startup in the market. Eaze competes with GreenRush, Meadow Care, Nugg, and Speed Weed. It will be worth keeping an eye out to see how Eaze responds to not only its internal growth, but also the political and regulatory situations that present themselves.

magic leap screenshot 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Above: A tiny, photorealistic elephant dances in someone’s hands on the Magic Leap website.

Image Credit: Magic Leap

It’s only fitting that Magic Leap makes this list, especially after the press it received during the tail end of 2016. The latest report comes from The Information, which says Magic Leap “may have oversold what it can do” and that with all the marketing and demonstrations of its mixed reality technology, the real commercial application won’t be available for a while. In fact, there doesn’t appear to even be a target date for the release.

“Magic Leap, former employees say, pushed the boundaries of marketing, releasing videos that purported to be Magic Leap technology that were actually created by special effects companies,” according to The Information.

Company CEO Rony Abovitz naturally defended Magic Leap, assuring his Twitter followers that it will be a great success … eventually. So in 2017, it will be interesting to see if Abovitz and his team can move the technology forward and get it into the public’s hands, especially since Microsoft has already introduced its augmented reality competitor into the wild. Abovitz hasn’t been shy about telling the world what he thinks of Microsoft, either.

Yes, Magic Leap did make this list last year, but here’s hoping that it’ll do something more newsworthy in the coming one.

inFeed BatteryD 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Above: Example of Kiip’s moments-based marketing at work in an app.

Image Credit: Kiip

In 2017, mobile advertising spend is estimated to comprise more than 26 percent of total marketing dollars in the U.S. That percentage may jump to nearly 33 percent by 2020. So as brands look for new ways to reach their customers, and consolidation in the space continues apace — just look at Verizon’s appetite for these type of companies — one stands out as having a potential banner year in 2017: Kiip.

Traditional online advertising isn’t cutting it anymore, and companies are concerned about where exactly their dollars are going. But Kiip isn’t just an ad network — it relies on “moment targeting,” which aims to reward people in a “serendipitous fashion.” Targets are based not only on page, screen, or context, but by factoring in other important elements, such as geolocation and mobile device performance.

More than 60 million people have redeemed a “reward” powered through Kiip, and more than 5,000 apps are using its developer SDK. In April, the company formed a partnership with China-based Cheetah Mobile to incorporate its advertising model into that firm’s popular apps: Clean Master, Battery Doctor, CM Security, and Piano Tiles 2. This is noteworthy, as eMarketer reports that advertisers in China are shifting more of their marketing dollars online, giving Kiip an opportunity to tap into the market.

Screen Shot 2016 12 27 at 4.26.28 PM 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Above: Octane.ai homepage

Image Credit: Screenshot

2016 was the year of bots, with messaging platforms Kik and Facebook joining the likes of WeChat, Line, and Slack in supporting these applications. Tens of thousands of chatbots have since been created for various use cases, but executives from companies like Facebook admit that many offer little value and that the whole thing has been overhyped. Brands looking for the next big thing, on the other hand, are trying to figure out how they can jump on the bandwagon. This is where Octane.ai may prove useful.

Started by Chatbot Magazine founder Matt Schlicht, DominateFund venture capitalist Ben Parr, and Omegle.com chat service founder Leif K-Brooks, Octane.ai wants to make it easier for brands to build bots. You could say the company wants to be the Squarespace or Weebly for bot technology. “You don’t have to be an expert in designing conversation. You can have a bot up and running in three to four minutes, not just as a big business but as a mom and pop shop…the 99 percent of people who don’t know how to program,” Parr told VentureBeat in November.

Octane.ai already has $ 1.5 million in the bank from investors like General Catalyst’s Phil Libin, Boost VC, Dimension 6, and others. Bots have already been created for 50 Cent, Aerosmith, KISS, Magic Mike, and Spin.

As bots continue to fight for respect, has Octane.ai put all of its eggs in one basket? Perhaps bot-building services will help brands provide actual value, instead of resorting to a spray and pray mentality.

WiFi Nomiku tenderapp 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Above: Nomiku’s sous vide device and mobile app

Image Credit: Nomiku

Two years ago, Nomiku entered the cooking market, following a trend of connected hardware that allows anybody to create delicious food in their own home. With a Kickstarter campaign, the company raised more than $ 750,000 to bring its Wi-Fi sous vide device to market. But what makes it so special? Nomiku promises that you’ll not only never serve overcooked meat again, you’ll be able to cook like a professional chef.

This Y Combinator alumnus has a mobile app from which you can control the device, so you don’t have to stand around and wait while dinner’s cooking — everything can be handled programmatically.

But it’s not just cooking hardware Nomiku is selling, it’s also a community. There’s a community-driven recipe app where people submit actual instructions for dishes that can be prepared with the device.

The company recently appeared on Shark Tank, where it said that it has sold $ 3 million worth of products in the past four years. And while many of the “sharks” declined to invest, Nomiku secured the backing of Chris Sacca, who agreed to a $ 250,000 deal for 10 percent of the company.

With all of the hype around sous vide cooking and the fanfare around Nomiku, it will be interesting to see if the company is able to further grow its business in the coming year.

Screen Shot 2016 12 27 at 4.32.21 PM 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Connected devices continue to flood the marketplace and are becoming part of our daily lives. Through cars, cooking hardware, refrigerators, messaging apps, cloud-based platforms, and even things like Amazon Echo or the Google Home, companies are looking for ways to tie in what they have with these new contraptions. This is where IFTTT may play a crucial role. It has been slowly adding third-party integrations over time to accommodate this trend. From letting Google Assistant set and monitor your Nest thermostat to having Alexa secure your home at night, there are applets available for anyone who no longer wishes to be confined to the original manufacturer settings.

As one IFTTT investor told us under the condition of anonymity: “With Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft all aggressively pursuing these channels and establishing IFTTT partnerships, the company seems very well positioned for 2017 and beyond.”

Houseparty press kit 2 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Above: Houseparty.

Image Credit: Houseparty

Meerkat is dead, but its creators haven’t given up on the potential of live video. Their latest creation is a group video chat app called Houseparty. Since its launch in September, more than 1 million people have signed up to use the service — a pretty good comeback for a company that almost went under after Twitter terminated its API access.

Houseparty has drawn the attention of both young people and venture capitalists. Earlier this month, the company raised a $ 50 million round led by Sequoia, with participation from Aleph, Comcast Ventures, and Greylock Partners.

Houseparty isn’t exactly a pioneer in the space, but it has seen some solid growth. It competes against services like Skype, Google Hangouts, and even Facebook Messenger, but its appeal may lie in its simplicity — people signal that they’re available to chat and that’s it. Up to 8 people can join a conversation. Perhaps part of the intrigue is the Meerkat story and the idea that the service is not corporate, like Facebook, Google, or Microsoft.

We’ll see if Houseparty remains a popular app amid strong competition in 2017.

accompany 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Above: Accompany’s mobile app

Image Credit: Accompany

Calling itself your personal chief-of-staff, Accompany aims to combine the best elements from smart calendar services like Tempo and Sunrise with the capabilities of Rapportive to provide executives with the precise bits of information they need to get through their day. Founded by former Googler Amy Chang, Accompany raised $ 20 million this year and launched a beta version of its app in both the U.S. and U.K.

The app aims to provide all the information you need before you walk into a meeting, including prior conversations with attendees and details about their lives, news reports on the meeting topic, relevant files and documents created, and more.

Accompany’s launch comes as most smart calendar apps have been either been acquired or faded away. Salesforce grabbed Tempo last year, and Microsoft picked up Sunrise, so the question is whether there’s enough interest to sustain another calendar app. Perhaps there is, especially for one that’s tailored to a particular niche, as Accompany is.

Screen Shot 2016 12 27 at 4.37.42 PM 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Loïc Le Meur has always had an eye on the latest trends in technology, as an entrepreneur with Seesmic, as an investor, and as a curator — he and his partner Geraldine started the Le Web conference, which ran for 12 years and explored emerging technology. Now he’s started a new company called Leaders, which aims to be the Product Hunt for people, helping us connect with influencers and experts who are working on things like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, chatbots, and digital health.

Launched a year ago, Leaders was inspired by Le Meur’s passion for discovering the best people. “I love finding new, interesting people doing amazing things,” he once wrote. What makes the company noteworthy is that it’s not focused on saturated markets and technologies — such as photo-sharing apps or social networks — but is looking instead at emerging trends. This is fitting, as Seesmic was early in the game with its focus on video messaging, something that we see a lot of today.

It will be interesting to see if Leaders experiences the kind of traction that Product Hunt managed in just three years, perhaps giving TED and other thought leader events a run for their money.

Screen Shot 2016 12 27 at 4.41.19 PM 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Artificial intelligence was all the rage in 2016, and we should expect more acquisitions and new developments in 2017. Clarifai is a company that will be worth watching, not only because of what it does, but also because it possesses some valuable brainpower that could be appealing to a bigger company.

Started in 2013 by Matt Zeiler, a former Google Brain intern considered to be quite the expert in machine learning, Clarifai specializes in visual recognition. It provides services to brands like Unilever, Trivago, 500px, Pond5, Curalate, and others. Earlier this year, the company introduced new tools that make it possible for developers to easily integrate visual recognition services into their apps, essentially turning itself in a platform.

Clarifai also raised another round of funding in 2016, bringing in $ 30 million to grow its team and continue as an independent company. The machine learning space has seen some interesting times this year, with competitor Skymind raising a $ 3 million seed round, Salesforce buying MetaMind, IBM acquiring AlchemyAPI, Intel snatching up Nervana, and layoffs at Ersatz Labs and H2O.

1. Intercom Product Mobile 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Above: Intercom’s mobile product at work.

Image Credit: Intercom

Customer service is no longer limited to responding to emails and phone calls. Brands have to be responsive to questions and feedback wherever their customers are. Intercom has emerged as a hot service in the space, with more than 15,000 paying customers, including Expensify, Product Hunt, New Relic, and Shopify, and a reach of more than 1 billion users.

People are currently infatuated with the idea of deploying a bot to facilitate customer support, but why should users have to jump away from their online and mobile presence into a third-party messaging app? Intercom enables companies to add messaging capabilities into their app or product so customers can engage them there. The experience feels like Facebook Messenger, even though on the back end it’s connected with the data businesses are interested in.

Software providers are interested in this kind of offering, and you’ll likely see some additional entrants in the near future. Salesforce recently launched its LiveMessage feature to tackle the conversational space, and while it’s not technically the same as Intercom, it’s nevertheless a competitor.

Investors took notice of Intercom’s progress and ponied up an additional $ 50 million in April. Intercom told VentureBeat that this would be its final round of fundraising and said that it will soon be profitable.

Screen Shot 2016 12 27 at 4.45.56 PM 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

In case you haven’t heard, we’re about to witness the mass production of self-driving cars. This year saw quite a bit of development in vehicle autonomy: Tesla’s autopilot feature has so far driven 222 million miles; Alphabet’s Waymo was spun out and has partnered with Fiat Chrysler to integrate its technology into minivans; Comma.ai stopped fighting regulators and open-sourced its technology; and Uber brought its self-driving cars to CaliforniaArizona.

DeepScale is throwing its hat in the ring with its perception software for autonomous vehicles. It’s worth watching to see whether automakers such as Honda, Toyota, and GM will invest further in the technology. Not much is known about DeepScale — including whether the technology works — so it’s hard to say whether 2017 will be the year it launches and makes a splash or the year it officially fails to live up to expectations.

Screen Shot 2016 12 27 at 4.49.49 PM 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Our digital lives can get out of control, managing files, images, text messages, calendar invites, and the rest. Atlas Informatics is seeking to bring order to that chaos by providing search capabilities along the lines of Google, but specifically limited to your information.

The company, founded by Napster cofounder Jordan Ritter, makes the Atlas application that runs behind the scenes on your desktop. Atlas released a Mac open beta version in November that will index everything you see across your devices and apps — but only if they run iOS or Mac OS. It bears some similarities to Found, a startup that was acquired by Hightail (formerly YouSendIt) in 2013. That application allowed users to search for files, documents, and data across devices and cloud services.

Whether Atlas’ technology can help improve our productivity remains to be seen, but if it succeeds, plenty of people will take back at least a few minutes of their day from endlessly sifting through buckets of information.

The Seattle-based company recently raised $ 20 million to further its mission of being the one search engine to rule them all. Investors include Microsoft, Aspect Ventures, and Nathan Myhrvold.

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What, you thought drones were going away? Nope. According to ClearBridge Investments, commercial drone usage will pick up over the next 3 to 5 years as part of a larger trend around automation. Companies like Amazon are already testing unmanned aerial vehicles’ ability to deliver packages, while others are using them for crop spraying, surveillance, industrial inspection, scientific measurement, and more.

It’s one thing to get drones up in the air, but how do you ensure the safety and reliability of these devices? AirMap bills itself as an airspace intelligence company, providing systems for developers and operators to make sure their drones don’t interfere with normal life. It’s already working with companies like Intel, 3D Robotics, Aeryon Labs, and DJI. AirMap is looking to create a standard system that all drones could utilize to prevent accidents, something similar to what airplanes currently use to navigate the skies.

The company raised $ 15 million this year from General Catalyst Partners.

civis platform 15 interesting startups to watch in 2017

Civis Analytics was started in the aftermath of President Obama’s successful re-election in 2012 to offer companies better tools for data analysis. The company recently raised $ 22 million in series A funding from Drive Capital, Verizon Ventures, WPP, and Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt. “Everyone knows that they need to be using data, but most don’t know where to start,” company CEO Dan Wagner explained in November. “Or, if they are using data, they aren’t necessarily asking and answering the right questions.”

Research firm McKinsey has predicted that by 2018, there will be a 50 percent gap between the supply of data scientists and the market demand. Data analysis serves an important role in understanding what figures and numbers a company receives, especially as more and more customer data becomes available. Civis Analytics believes it can help fill this gap with its core product, which offers tools, algorithms, and data to suit any workflow.

Companies using this offering include Airbnb, Boeing, Discovery Communications, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Verizon, Robin Hood Foundation, and the 2020 U.S. Census.

Happy New Year!

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, we’ll certainly be watching to see what happens with these 15 companies in the year ahead.

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Recommended article: The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False.

Big Data – VentureBeat

Five SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1 updates to watch

SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1 will blur the lines between Microsoft’s cloud and on-premises versions of the document…

management and collaboration tool, with enhancements to administrative logging capabilities and OneDrive, and fewer restrictions on MinRoles.

Microsoft routinely adds new features to Office 365, and will likely use Feature Pack 1 as a way to bring new tools to customers who choose to run SharePoint 2016 in their own data centers. When SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1 becomes available this month, it will be freely available — but there are some capabilities within the feature pack that only will be accessible to Microsoft’s Software Assurance customers.

The following are five of the upcoming features planned for SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1:

1. Administrative logging

One of the new features in SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1 is a mechanism for logging administrative activities, which can be useful for security and troubleshooting. If for instance, an organization experiences a problem with a SharePoint farm, the administrative staff can review the logs to determine if the problems can be attributed to recent administrative actions.

2. Lighter infrastructure requirements for MinRoles

Another new capability provided by the feature pack is reduced infrastructure requirements for MinRoles. This one isn’t so much a new feature because the MinRoles have existed since SharePoint Beta 2, and the roles themselves have not changed — aside from some roles being combined. However, Microsoft has made it less expensive to take advantage of MinRoles.

Prior to the feature pack, MinRoles were suitable for only larger organizations; they could not be enabled unless a SharePoint farm contained a minimum of four servers. Although a four-server farm isn’t really all that large, a four-server farm was unable to provide high-availability for MinRoles. Organizations requiring high-availability needed a SharePoint farm with at least eight servers to use MinRoles.

With SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1, it will be possible for IT shops to deploy MinRoles on a farm consisting of two or more SharePoint servers — though four servers are required for high-availability. Microsoft has accomplished this by combining the Front End role with the Distributed Cache role, resulting in a new role called Front End with Distributed Cache — the original, noncombined roles are still available. Likewise, Microsoft has combined the Applications and Search roles into a new role called Applications with Search. Again, the original, noncombined roles still exist.

3. Custom SharePoint Tiles

One of the new features introduced in SharePoint 2016 was the App Launcher, which was somewhat similar to the old Windows 8 Start screen. It contained a series of tiles that users could click to launch various Office 365 apps.

Feature Pack 1 extends App Launcher, and will make it possible to add your own Tiles. Administrators will no longer be limited to using Tiles solely to point to Office 365 apps. Tiles can also point to SharePoint sites, external websites and even legacy applications.

4. Unified auditing and taxonomy

One of Microsoft’s goals in Feature Pack 1 seems to have been to blur the line between SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online, making hybrid SharePoint more seamless. As such, Microsoft has introduced the concepts of unified auditing and unified taxonomy.

Unified auditing gives administrators logging information for file access across all site collections, regardless of whether those site collections exist in-house, or in the cloud. Similarly, the unified taxonomy feature allows administrators to create an information architecture taxonomy that spans site collections and web applications for both SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online.

5. OneDrive enhancements

Microsoft has provided a couple of enhancements for OneDrive to help developers and business users. The new OneDrive API for developers provides a single API for file access, regardless of whether the files are located on premises or in Office 365.

The other improvement is an updated interface for business users. Microsoft has extended the modern OneDrive for Business interface used in the Office 365 cloud to SharePoint 2016. However, this new capability is available to only Software Assurance customers.

More details about what’s to come in SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1 can be found on Microsoft’s Office Blog.

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