I had the great privilege to talk with a large group of entrepreneurs and developers last week about where we’ve come from in cloud services and where it might take us.  The video of my talk is above and the transcript is below. What do you think about the idea of Mashups as predictor of future tech?

Keynote: I’m going to try to make this fun. Maybe a little funny and a little atypical. I’m at GoDaddy for about 13 months. My path to the company was … well … isn’t really a very obvious one. My path to the technology not really a very obvious one. I started my career in technology as a typographer believe it or not and had a very unusual arc I think to my career. My father actually had a very unusual arc to his and maybe I was inspired by what he have done. My dad is now 84 years old. He actually started his career as a child star. His name was Jimmy Fay. You can find him on IMDB if you wish and then he became a jazz musician and then he became an FBI agent. Everybody has their own arc. Then he became a district attorney and then he became a jazz musician again. I was inspired by that arc. The idea that somebody’s arc can be multi-faceted and have a bunch of different directions fascinated me.

I did the same thing. I actually started my notion of being a technologist as a jazz musician myself and then there was this notion of mash ups which is what I’m going to talk about today, mash ups that I think that really define not just technology but define a lot of what is happening in the world today and what has happened over time. One important thing I learned as a musician is how all these mash ups actually created different types of music. I’m not going to go into a musical theory or history but if you think about mash ups today and think about music where New Orleans, one of the birth places of jazz in the United States and what was jazz initially? Jazz was a mash up between African music and European music. If you go back and you listen to whether it’s Chet Baker or Charley Parker and you hear what those guys are doing.

They’re actually playing orchestral music that was inspired by Beethoven, Brahms yet they were doing it over a arrhythmic pallet that was very, very different than ever done before. Now fast forward in another 20 years into a genre that’s basically rock, it was a mash up of jazz, RnB, country music that was very unusual. I’m thinking about Elvis and the Rolling Stones or Chuck Berry. Those guys were doing things that didn’t make any sense whatsoever to a lot of people. In fact the parents of folks that dug that music thought it was a huge problem sort of like Miley Cyrus twerking a midget on stage today which folks actually think it’s a huge problem. Certainly that was not one  of my highlights of the MTV Music Awards but those are just two examples. If you think about the disruptive power of mash ups, it’s sort of I ended up getting into tech.

I actually started in a company called Xerox and Xerox in 80 I think I was a junior in college and I started going into tech. Now, what you see up here, anybody recognize this? Amazing. This is an Alto computer in 1981. This was a fully wiziwig removable hard drive, 512K of RAM, 20 megabyte removable hard drive. This thing was insane and if you think about the mash ups it took to create a full wiziwig page view in 81 on the full ethernet, 10 megabyte ethernet with a laser printer down the hallway, crazy in 1981. Now, I ended up going to Microsoft about 10 years later in 92 after entering my way. Remember this is 81. Okay. Then I ended up using one of these things and I was incredibly disappointed. Because it didn’t have all those wonderful things that the mash up that provided that Xerox have done.

Now it turns out that not all mash ups make it to market but I would love to seeing that Alto computer making to the market place but because of variety of things that prevented from getting there or not. Just the politics that existed inside Xerox but the platform wasn’t ready. That Alto computer that I showed you was probably 40, $50,000 box and price point wasn’t there that was going to get it in the market. I ended up in Microsoft about 10 years later, 92 and actually got very, very passionate about what I thought was a pretty cool mash up and I actually ended up at Microsoft by doing things that were music related on PC’s and compact that got me in the voice recognition and a couple of other things in Microsoft that got me oddly into Cloud services pretty early. Now, I did a product there called NetMeeting in the late 90’s, mid 90’s.

Then we couldn’t figure out, NetMeeting was a virtual conferencing tool that allow people to talk back and forth. Allowed them to share applications, video conference, audio conference and we had a very difficult time having people connect with each other. You couldn’t get folks to finding each other in something like active directory didn’t exist. We put something up that was kind of like an IRC server and it was a rendezvous server where folks would meet each other and that actually advertise their presence that they were online. If you think about this back in the day, this is pretty icy cube, pretty AOL messenger, and that go find each other. As it happens with a lot of technology, folks founded a really interesting way to go meet people and have like interest and so they would post their names up there that was usually pretty heinously offensive and meet each other.

We ended up doing something called Messenger that allowed us to quietly let folks disclose who they are and meet each other and then exchange video, audio, data, text, application, whatever it happens to be and now you’ve got WhatsApp that gets bought for $19 billion which makes perfectly good sense to me. As I’m sure it does to most of you. What is WhatsApp? It’s another mash up. It’s a mash up of phone numbers, and IP, texting, it’s just a real simple, simple thing which takes advantage of one on one cellphone ubiquity. Frankly you wouldn’t think 10 years ago as being a possibility frankly. Some of the biggest technological failures actually have been mash ups so just kind of missed the window, missed the time, and if I think back in my careers of things that happened that were miscalculated mash ups.

One of them which was actually super cool and just kind of missed the market a little bit was Melinda Francis product which is called Microsoft Bob. Anybody remember Bob? I never quite understood it but it was a very simple user interface that frankly made his way into a whole bunch, the metaphor has made its way to a whole bunch of computing today. Another thing that was … and it’s just a flat [Inaudible 00:08:05] failed. There was another product that happened close to the same time frame called the Newton. Anybody remember the Newton? Brilliant product, brilliant product. There’s a story about an Apple salesman who actually brought it into the CEO of Random House. They were very, very excited about it and there was a speech recognition component to it. They gave the CEO of Random House the Newton and they said, “Why don’t you just say Random House and then watch what happens.”

The CEO proudly takes the Newton and says, “Random House.” The Apple salesperson on the other side of the desk, a big smile on his face, waiting for the result and the CEO turns it over and shows it to him and it says, “Condom Nose.” This is another mash up that didn’t quite work in terms of time. The foundations were there. It was a right foundation. It was time … it was pretty close to right. Understanding how mature technologies mash up can actually help us predict future disruptions, things that are going to happen. Again, potential disruptions. Newton could have been a kick ass disruption but the timing was wrong and there was just a couple of things that weren’t quite right about it and those tiny little new once that were quite right. Those tiny little new ones make such a massive difference.

The difference between Random House and Condom Nose could either sell something or not. Incredibly important. Think about the Alto that I showed you. It took 10 years for that product to actually have the metaphors that existed. 1981, three button mouse, full wiziwig 10 years to really get into market with power. Park couldn’t do it. Pal Alto Research Center couldn’t do it and finally guys, Steve Jobs took a lot of those metaphors, made them affordable, put them into the market place and we were off to the races. Copied over and over again. Let’s think about some other technology mash ups that were in the middle of today and we’ll talk about some others. Personal Cloud. Those are the big Cloud for. A lot of these things that don’t even think about Cloud in terms of these technologies. If you think about personal Cloud, smartphone ubiquity and music, something we talked about earlier in this conversation, you get Spotify or Pandora.

I’m a music guy. I have a CD library. I had a big ass library, giant. I sold it. Do you know why? Because I had Mp3’s. I had all I needed. I didn’t need them anymore. Actually, I ripped everything with a really nice stack so the quality is excellent. Truth be told, I did keep all my vinyl. Anybody keep their vinyl in here. Look at it, see. Right on. I don’t know. It just sounds better to me, a little warmer. I ditched my CDs, I got MP3s and my kids think that I’m an absolute moron for having MP3s. They can’t understand why in god’s name I would buy a song when I can just like go read it and stream it and whether I’m in the car, whether I’m at home, that’s what they do. It’s all based on that Cloud. Now, digital streams rose 24% last year according to Nielsen. Digital sales were down 2.3%.

This is happening right now and I got to tell you that when I’m at my office and I’ve got … I’m one of those weird guys, I actually have a drum set in my office and a pretty big stereo that when I’m actually listening to music, I’m streaming it now, very unusual that I will actually go hook up unless I got something really, really important that I know I can’t find online. I’ll just stream it so really important. Now, what about home entertainment? Same deal. Again, I’ll go back to my kids. My kids were not young, 19 and 17. They can’t imagine why anybody would actually go buy a piece of media ever or even why would you try to flip around on a TV with channels trying to figure out what was on or go to a guy where you can just go up to Netflix through your CD player or your TV because they’re both digitally attached to the internet now. Usually wired if you want to have good quality and get whatever you want through a variety of services.

Whether it’s Netflix, whether it’s Hulu, whether it’s Amazon Prime or whether it’s one of the other services as competing for that. Same deals happen in here. Prior to 2010, the pay TV industry never saw a subscriber decline. Forbes reported last year that there are 1.12 million left people subscribing the cable. Yet, there were 6.5 million subscribers to broadband from the same freaking providers, same providers, It’s all about having that pipe and it’s all about the disruption of that pipe enables me to do pretty much the exact same way. Big cloud of entertainment and a client device that allows me to stream it at home. What about Siri? Let’s go back to the Random House, Condom Nose conversation. What about Siri? If you take machine learning and you combine Siri, you actually get something that could be pretty powerful.

I know some of you probably watched Jeopardy. When a couple of the jeopardy, what I call them experts, the guy who would won more Jeopardy shows. One guy had won the most … got more answers correct than anybody else and the other guy had won more money than anybody else. They’re both played a jeopardy game against what? A computer. That was running a massive Hadoop instance with every possible answer that could be program into Jeopardy and they got their butts kicked by Watson. That’s Cloud technology. If you apply that same technology to something that I’m quite passionate about which is customer service, if you take a customer service instance and take the entire corpus of questions that you know you’ve got and you take natural language processing both client and server side.

If I can process that and I can go take those questions and apply them with a big Hadoop instance with everything that I got that I know that my customer cares about, man can I save money and time and make a customer a hell of a lot happier than they are when they’re talking to somebody on the phone who may not have the answer. Now, if they like to talk to a human maybe that Hadoop instance and maybe Watson and that natural language processing, all it’s going to do is give an answer to that person who’s going to talk and transfer it to an individual so at least you have a human touch. Which as it turns out still matters a lot. Here’s another one. This is another instance that you can think of that is frankly I wouldn’t have imagine at all possible when I got my drivers license, long time ago. How many people use Waze?

If you haven’t used Waze, it is a killer application that will tell you what’s happening in traffic around you, right? This is basically taking GPS location data from cellphones running the application, feeding it up into a Cloud and then getting that information back to you so you can see where cars are starting to bunch up, where they’re going slowly, where they’re going quickly. Not only that, it allows people to weigh in where there is a problem and where there is a cop. That last point is pretty helpful. If you know that you might be going a little fas and up around the bin, there happens to be a law enforcement officer just waiting for you, it’s pretty darn cool and it’s all anonymous. It attracts the driving of everybody using the app. 70 million users in two years. Most all US and it is world class if  you haven’t used it. That’s just Cloud technology. It’s not brain surgery.

I’ve got Cloud, I’ve got a client, I’ve got ubiquitous connectivity even if it’s not always on but it’s partially on, I can do amazing, amazing things with it. The last example is my favorite. I tend to be a car guy. Think of this. Big data, 3D painting, and race cars. What in god’s name do those things have to do with each other? Now, for those of you who are into Formula One, did you know that everyone of those cars on the track has 300 sensors on it and that every lap, 25 megabytes of data is transferred back to a pool of computers in the pit which doesn’t look like a pit, it looks like a laboratory and it calculates what that driver should be doing to the car. Now, the driver still has to do all the work but all that telemetry that’s on the car that comes back to the data that is crunched back on that data room and sent back out to him so he can make a judgment on what’s happening with the vehicle is incredible.

Now, believe it or not, because so much data is gathered, Formula One has limited the amount of transfer to 25 teraflops per week per car. That’s pretty amazing. 25 teraflops a week. Now, more over and I think that this is what’s truly amazing is that they actually use this data  to create parts. Big Cloud of data, giving information about what that could be created and if they’re in, now imagine this. You’re at Austin, you’re in a Formula One event and people are going around the track and they’re getting a bunch of data from the car and they realize well, the down force on the front of the car has to be greater so you see these two little wings on the left side of little carbon fiber flip. Depending on what’s happening of track conditions, temperature, weather, they’ll change the shape of that thing automatically with the data they’re getting.

Saying, “We need to actually apply more down force. Let’s go ahead and jam one of those things up.” A 3D printer will create that part and they’ll just go put it on the car and see how it performs. That’s pretty incredible. Now, what’s more incredible is actually I got to take these pictures and freak out some Formula One guys in the Red Bull Toro Rosso pit. I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to be taking photographs with my cellphone and one of my buddies was with me and he said, “You have a bunch of guys that are walking over to you and they look like they’re going to kill you and take the cellphone out of your hand.” I understood why. Look at the picture on the right. Something you’re going to have a very hard time seeing that I didn’t even realize I took in the photograph. There are three invisible pieces of plastic on the very front. Can you see those things?

Three little levers. You can’t see them when the car is going around the track but they change those with the 3D printer as well. They actually manufacture those things depending on what’s happening with the track and to hide their presence so other competitors can’t actually see it, they just make them clear. Pretty cool. Cloud, client, race cars. That mash up Is incredibly important. All of those mash ups actually helped me think about what I do for my customers at GoDaddy. I’m not going to talk a hell about GoDaddy but I will talk about the little customer that we serve and how we honor them. Historically, going into business for yourself was a very scary thing. Still scary. People that actually decide they’re going to go off and do their own thing are incredibly brave and entrepreneurs today are not people that do high tech stuff. Entrepreneurs today are people that decide they’re going to take their cake making business and make that their life.

Decide they’re going to take their puppet business and make that their life. They’re going to leave their job, they’re going to start something new. It’s incredibly alluring to be your own boss and man, it’s some scary shit. It is very, very scary and every one of our customers which personified by this little tiny business can articulate it so, so well. We have 3500 customer care people on our company that talk to these guys on a daily business and if they weren’t there to help guide them through their journey that they’re on, that would be a deep trouble. Cloud services have actually helped these folks figure out how they’re going to become a real business in a huge way. I’m not just talking about host. There are some things that i guess I call mash ups that are very very big for these guys.

If you think about this, 75% of businesses in the United States are sold proprietorships. 85% of small business are five people or under. Big companies and I use Microsoft as a great partner of ours as an example. I think small businesses are 50 and below. Do you think there’s a pretty good size difference between somebody that sold for proprietorship and a 50 person company? Not kind of. It’s pretty stark and vast. Let me talk about a couple of things that we’ve done to recognize the differences between these low businesses. Something these guys are trying to do is get found. Another thing they’re trying to do is try to do mail and I will talk about Plesk and Parallels and how that makes it easy for IT manager as well. Just trying to do something for maybe 10 of these little businesses.

First, something called Get Found. This is another one of those mash ups. I want you to think about big data, giant index of very small business data, and the different listing services that exist today. It used to be all about searching. I go to Google, I go find something and I’m going to look up a restaurant and say old Thai food in Old Town Scottsdale. I’m going to look Thai food in Old Town Scottsdale. Now, if I’m on a mobile device I’m probably going to use Google. I’m probably going to use Yelp if I got the app on my phone. I could be using Open Table, Urban Spoon, I could be doing any of that stuff. Anybody got a phone, I want you to Google Thai food Old town Scottsdale, we’ve got one. We’ve introduce the product called Get Found. With Get Found allows small businesses to do is enter all information once into a panel; address, phone number, location, hours of business.

My list could be my menu, it could be whatever I want it to be. Prices all that information in one panel and then I push it. What we do then is we actually take that data and we push it to every listing service and every search service possible. What you see here is the search result for Old Town Scottsdale, Thai food in Old Town Scottsdale, you swear to god that the only restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale is mainly Thai Bistro because they use the service. Anybody did that on their phone? How many screens did you keep going until you ran up? I think it’s usually four or five and it’s mainly Thai Bistro. The signal strength and search of what they’re looking for is consistency of data. The more consistent your data is across all these listing services, the higher you’re ranked organically without spending any money. That’s an organic search result. That’s not a paid search.

Think about that mashing up of a Cloud service that then pushes information out to other Cloud services and aggregates it and all of a sudden some small business in this case mainly doesn’t actually have to think about, “My god I got to go put information into Yelp and Urban Spoon and all these other stuff.” I only have to do it once. Not only that, we allow somebody to go make menu changes and as they make the menu changes, that gets pushed as well. It’s clinged by owners so that the search engine or Yelp or Urban Spoon or Open Table knows that’s actually the person that’s doing it. Because they’ve said, “Yeah. That’s me.” That’s one. That’s a mash up. The guys who did this, the company we bought called Locu. Brilliant guys from MIT, all big data scientist and some good UX people in San Francisco. It’s where we have one of our offices.

Here’s another simple example. It’s pretty powerful and we just rolled this thing out. I know it’s just a panel. We threw a partnership with Microsoft about five weeks ago introduced Office 365. Now, it turns out if you have … if you ask small businesses, what do they want to use, Google Docs or Office 365? The vast majority will say, “I want Office 365.” Why? Because it makes and feel more professional. They’ve been using it for a while and that’s what they want. However, the installation process of actually trying to take your domain name which is the most important thing that these little businesses so they don’t look like they’re on their pajamas on their couch, [Johnny 00:27:12] had comcast.net address. They actually want to be their own domain because it seems professional. If you want to do that and you want to do it on Microsoft’s usual screen, it’s going to take you about 20 different screens to go through.

It’s a process of 20 different inputs. Recognizing that this very small business which we helped educate Microsoft on. We said, “No. There’s a difference between 1 and 50.” That actually need us to be on one screen. Super simple where they can all do it themselves and it’s just a really easy thing to do. It’s just a mash up that says, “We recognize what this little customer wants to do and it has to be so brain dead simple, they’re going to do it.” We just provided a tool and it is the biggest distribution partner for O365 the company has seen. We’re only five weeks into and we’re doing about 10,000 a week. It’s pretty successful. I’m very happy. The Microsoft guys are just doing a great job. Next slide and you’ve all seen this before. Another great example of Cloud services one click is the Plus Panel. Plus makes it super easy for web pros to manage GoDaddy sites.

Now, one click installation is something that allows them to get on with maybe managing 10, 20 small businesses or more. It matters by spending a less time doing traditional activity set up on servers web pros can do other things. Frankly, way more valuable than spending time in panels. The next example is a little further out but I want you to wrap your head around it for a minute. Cloud services with small business analytics equal the network. Now, remember I talked about how daunting and how scary it is to actually go into your own business. What little business guys that are trying to figure out if they take the leap to become their own business, they just want to see examples of what other people have done. Can you just share with me what I shouldn’t do because it’s a lot worth if you’re going to screw up and have a really, really bad experience. What’s that look like?

Number one reason guys, don’t pull the trigger. Trigger is a lack of confidence to get started. They don’t think they can take that step. They just don’t know. What would you do? Now, if you think about the franchise model as an example. Franchises exist to solve this problem. I can become a mail box et cetera or a the UPS store franchisee, all I got to do is follow these simple steps that you’ve laid out for me because you’ve seen what worked and what didn’t worked. If you imagine if you’re a lawyer, at GoDaddy we have 12.2 million customers, 75% of them the US, every business is a segment. Virtually, every business segment you can think of is represented there. I know that there are thousands of other attorneys that are actually in this corpus and we know how they’re interacting with their customers on their website, we know how they’re interacting with us.

Wouldn’t be helpful if we took that data and made it available to them? Anonymously of course so there’s nothing that people are uncomfort about being exposed but the metadata that’s generated from those businesses is absolutely staggering. We’re using the same technology that Watson uses. It’s all in the Hadoop Cloud. Yeah, we’ve got instances to Cassandra so we can do it more quickly and have near real time experiences but that big data service is pretty damn important for those little guys. Because it can help them get off the porch and go start their own thing because they can see existence proofs of other businesses that are doing the exact same thing and across the chasm. That what should I do next question is answered. Just think about that. Just powering your customers dreams in a way that makes it, feel like it’s just nothing to it. That’s it. That’s all there is for me anyway.

That’s mashing up technology. That’s mashing up small business. That’s mashing up the things that you’re passionate about. All of these little businesses that we’re talking about, these little tiny customers are incredibly passionate about what they do. As providers of technology and every time I have a conversation with a group of folks that are in the technology business is please do all you can do to help these people get off the couch and do their own thing. You can actually make an argument that said look, when economy has failed, people rely on themselves. Not just in this country but in other countries. To the extent you can build technology that allows them to take a step, a bold step to become their own boss, to become their own leader and do something that’s incredibly important to them because they’re passionate about it then you’ve done something good.

Our vision at GoDaddy is radically shifting the global economy towards small business by enabling, by empowering people to easily start confidently grow and successfully run their own venture regardless of what that venture is. How would you actually measure that? If you look at GDP growth over the course of the next 10 years and you look backwards, just imagine you’re a decade away from it right now and you saw that tiny businesses as a percentage of the world’s GDP actually grew more quickly then you know something good happened. It’s not just us, it’s not just GoDaddy, it’s the rest of the people they’re going to say, “You know something, that’s the righteous thing to do and I’m going to help do it.” That’s what we think we’re doing at our company.

Thank you very much. I appreciate your time and with that I’m off.


4 thoughts on “Mashing Up The Future of Technology

  1. Good article Blake. It reminds me of my own IT journey and how base computer systems morph into other offerings in other markets. For example the logic behind a client’s recruitment agency employer/candidate system , with a new lick of paint, suddenly became a romantic dating agency system.
    IT’s all about evolution.

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