In 1996, I was invited to pitch a prior company to investors at the first-ever venture conference in San Francisco. In the room next to me was a guy named Jeff pitching an online book store. I remember thinking that Jeff’s book store was not very compelling when all of the other presenters were talking about their cool new technologies. At the end of the event, Jeff and his bookstore were voted to be the most likely to succeed… because they were the only company presenting “that had an actual business model”!
I was dumbfounded… and perhaps the most wrong that I have ever been in my life. Some of you may have already guessed that Jeff’s book store was Amazon. Jeff went on to invent online retailing and he became, for a time, the wealthiest man in the world. Bravo.
Amazon has some secrets. You will never guess how they make their money. A friend in senior management told me that their biggest profits come from the interest that they gather by not paying their vendors for 90 days!
They have another secret, Alexa exists solely to come into your home to study you, collect your personal data, and sell it to the highest bidder. Amazon is not alone in this practice. All of the major voice assistants also see you as a crop as they harvest your personal data.
We think this is wrong. Many of our customers agree, saying that they come to us specifically because we don’t sell this data. Our assistant does learn about users… but only to serve them better. Since we can run offline, we can keep this data locally, where it’s easiest to protect. The times are changing and we believe that eventually, the other companies will need to follow our lead.
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