Evan Spiegel : Meet the man behind the “ghost” App.

Great Evan-gelist… invented the App of the future! Snapchat, with its white ghost-shaped logo, is the temporary photo and video messaging company, which is very popular among millennials. What is exciting in this story is not the App itself but how a simple college assignment was transformed into a USD 19billion worth company? This is the story of Evan Thomas Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of one of the largest and fastest-growing social networks on the Internet.

Enfant Terrible

Despite Snapchat‘s phenomenal global success, the first version of the app was a flop! Picaboo, which failed to get off the ground, was rebranded Snapchat with a few more features. Today, at 25, Spiegel runs a multibillion dollar corporation with hundreds of employees and which has more than 130 million daily active users, chiefly millennials. Son of successful lawyers, John W. Spiegel and Melissa Ann Thomas, Evan is nowadays known to be the world’s youngest billionaire who will be remembered for turning down a USD 3billion offer from Facebook! “There are very few people in the world who get to build a business like this,” he told Forbes at the time. “I think trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting.” Another college dropout like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, Evan quitted Stanford University just a few credits short of earning his degree. He was more concerned about completely focusing on Snapchat and its growing success than graduating!

Working the system

Spiegel clearly believes that understanding the patterns behind things and making them work in one’s favour can be more rewarding when it comes to business. When speaking to young people wishing to become entrepreneurs, he stated that: “Life isn’t fair and it’s not about working harder; it’s about working the system.” He also advised them to dare create something that you don’t want to sell.

So far, Evan has been “working the system” quite well, in his professional and private life as well, by dating Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr (ex-wife of Hollywood superstar, Orlando Bloom)! So, how is the kid-turned-celebrity-CEO going to work the system and transform Snapchat into a sustainable and profitable business? Well, it doesn’t seem like Mission Impossible for this enigmatic and resourceful young man whose “Mission Impossible style detonation technology” promises to bring a lot more than “ephemeral” image sharing! Stay tuned!

Consequently, Evan Spiegel strongly believes in Snapchat’s business model. He often claims that : “There is real value in sharing moments that don’t live forever.”  It would be interesting to see if he succeeds in transforming an App into a sustainable business. Well, we now hope that he lives up to the challenge of building something that will ultimately “live forever”!

Snapchat: Sustainable business model or fad? Post your comments below!

Internet of Things (IoT): The rise of the machines!

If you grew up with James Cameron’s Terminator epic, you might perhaps feel a little uneasy about the Internet of Things. But you better start getting used to it as the rise of the machines revolution is well underway! You’ve heard about connected people (Web 2.0) or connected machines (Web 3.0), the Internet of Things (IoT) is actually the next great phase of the Internet (Web 4.0), a scenario connecting inanimate objects to our needs and desires. These objects could literally be anything from your keys, to refrigerators, lavatories, traffic stop lights, cars, the list really is endless.

IoT: The smart revolution

Are objects around us getting smarter? Physical objects are made “smart” by connecting them to the Internet utilizing ubiquitous sensors aiming to track all sorts of data. People very often tend to hang on the “Things” aspect of IoT. Actually, the real value and insight comes from the data provided by these objects or devices. For the first time in history, we have data on almost anything: from how we brush our teeth to how we drive, how we eat, how we sleep and so on. Today even wigs are getting smarter and your lavatories too! Well, it might seem crazy but imagine your lavatories providing health related insights about pregnancy, bacterial infections or even prompting you to seek medical advice! While smart cement equipped with sensors used in the construction of bridges or buildings will alert us to fix problems about cracks or shocks before causing human tragedies! Despite such benefits, IoT is seen by many as a major challenge to our privacy that needs to be addressed before it goes mainstream!

IoT: Redefining industries and economies

After the introduction of the steam engine (1st), the setting up of assembly line mass production (2nd) and the establishment of automation (3rd), it is now time for the fourth industrial revolution. Already tech giants are getting involved, viewing this as a logical progression from the personal computer and smartphone of previous decades. What does it mean for businesses? This isn’t just about money savings, but this is a huge and fundamental shift. The fact of starting making things “intelligent”, is going to be a major engine for creating new products and services. IoT is paving the way to a whole new “smart” Industry or Industry 4.0, which will very soon become the new Manufacturing standard! And what’s in for us, customers? On top of enjoying a “Smart Home Ecosystem”, where household chores can be handled by opening up an app, everything surrounding us will soon become vital communication tools in helping to make our lives easier, healthier and more productive. Although it all sounds like a futuristic life, thanks to IoT, the future has never been so close!

“The IoT has the potential to transform our society, economy, and how we live our lives,” Samsung CEO Boo Keun Yoon said during a keynote speech at the CES 2015 trade-show in Las Vegas. If organisations are struggling to cope with the rising tide of data volumes at the moment, they’re going to be overwhelmed once the IoT gathers real momentum. Why? Because the IoT is not just about gathering data; it’s also about the analysis and use of that data. And how firms approach this will be key to their success.

Is IoT the next industrial revolution? Feel free to post your comments!

Picture above: Courtesy of Brainsonic ©

Virtual Reality: The journey From Fantasy to Fact

Remember Marty McFly’s hoverboard from the movie Back to the Future, or Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak? Well, as unbelievable as it may once have seemed, science and modern technology finally caught up with the fantasy world. Indeed, today several futuristic gadgets that once only existed in the pages of fantasy novels or in science fiction movies have become a reality – or are about to any minute – and virtual reality (VR) is no exception!

Welcome to the future!

Virtual reality caught the public’s attention in the late 1980s, but at the time, the expectations of its potential far exceeded the lived reality that it delivered! Despite the growing interest in VR, virtual reality was still just another synonym for science fiction since technology wasn’t yet up to snuff.

And then quite suddenly — barely three decades later, the future knocked on our door and the futuristic fantasy became a reality! From students attending virtual classes, to virtual shopping with your avatar trying on clothes, or attending a concert featuring world famous artists across the globe, virtual reality is becoming more real than reality ever was! Ready or not, VR is about to change life as we know it on this planet. This new market will, in turn, create a new demand for a wide spectrum of virtual products and service providers. And this time, it’s for real!

A new dimension of opportunities for businesses

When it comes to business, the possibilities of making use of VR technology are endless. Virtual Reality technologies have evolved dramatically in the last few decades and this new industry is now picking up speed and rushing headlong towards a fierce competition between a handful of famed tech companies. The different VR competitors fervently believe that there’s a much higher interest in virtual reality than the average person might assume, whether for gaming, entertainment, education, business training or commercial applications. At the moment, the two major leaders in the VR industry include prominent firms like Facebook – who for USD 2 billion acquired the Oculus Rift device and Sony with its VR device, Project Morpheus. While both have been leading a David and Goliath kind of battle, other important tech companies including HTC (HTC Vive), Samsung (Gear VR), Microsoft (HoloLens) or Google (Cardboard) have also joined the ruthless competition.

Everything that’s been happening lately in this new industry seems to lead us into the dream of the future, that is seemingly just waiting for us over the horizon! Although the journey from fantasy to reality in the virtual world seems so compelling… no matter what, virtual spaces are still human ones, filled with human hopes and fears, thus inevitably blurring the line between virtual reality and real life! The sceptics among us may fear that the opportunity to lead a “second life” limited only by the imagination might cause some people to totally withdraw from the real life…

If you’re tempted to walk into new dimensions and experience worlds without limits or perhaps you think it’s only a fad? Share your thoughts with me.

Picture above: Courtesy of Brainsonic ©

Wearable Technology: Blending function with fashion

When it comes to wearables, people instinctively think about smartwatches or Google glass as “techy” accessories designed for men! Contrary to popular belief, wearables are not just a man thing! A study by The NPD Group, the US market research company, revealed that women (58 percent) outnumber men among prospective buyers of wearable technology. However, wrist-bound wearables and smart glasses aren’t the only things we expect to see! Smart jewelry and fibre-optic fabrics are two categories among others that are making headway in this new industry being particularly eyed up by high-end fashion companies!

Data, data, everywhere: But “wear”, why and how to use it?

In our big data era, data is of no use if you can’t see it when you need it! Wearable technology is an electronic sensor worn by the user that captures information about motion, location, speed, visualization and more. The promise of wearable technology is bringing into your field of vision the requested data which becomes accessible anytime you decide to glance at it! In other words, it brings the power of the smartphone but this time out of your pocket! Today the biggest market in wearable technology is health and fitness. Yet, wearables can be used not only track your heart rate, blood pressure and food consumption details but in other industries including security (road safety or self-defense), mining (safer workplace), construction and energy sectors (easily seeing inside pipes and walls), retail (increased productivity by accessing information on-the-go) and of course fashion.

Chic FashionWare

Perhaps the biggest complaint about wearables was their lack of aesthetic qualities. In other words, both genders liked using them, but for consistent wearability, women wanted more options, particularly more stylish ones. Things have changed a lot and today more and more fashion designers and retailers are collaborating with the tech world and all of them having one common goal in mind: “women” ! Designer Tory Burch created a line of sleek, sexy skins for FitBit, Diane Von Furstenberg worked with Google last year to come up with designer frames for Google Glass, Rebecca Minkoff is developing a notification bracelet that lights up when you receive a phone call or text and more recently Michael Kors also expressed an interest in breaking into the wearable tech space but without getting into specifics!

Ergo, it seems that Technology has finally found its way into the fashion industry, thus raising some important questions: Will this new smart fabric technology market be led by tech giants or by fashion houses? Will we soon be wearing gadgets instead of carrying them around with us? Indubitably, women are the heaviest users of today’s most vital technologies, hence compelling companies to keep women in mind if they want to compete successfully in this flourishing industry! 

Wearable Technology: Is fashion going to revolutionise this industry? Post your comments.

Picture above: Courtesy of Brainsonic ©