From one successful firm to another: Former tech executives tapped by startups to make a difference

June 20, 2016 / by / 0 Comment
  • SumoMe

The success of Siri is highly disputable. It can be useless to some since it isn’t really capable of giving a sane answer to every question, perhaps the reason why Apple dropped it in the first place. Still, one thing that’s hard to deny is that it put virtual assistant (VA) technology to the mainstream, and it proved that such an imperfect technology could jumpstart a new tech trend or improve an existing innovation, in this case, artificial intelligence (AI).

Now, Dag Kittlaus, who developed the VA with mellifluous voice is developing Viv, a new kind of VA powered by AI, machine learning, and third party services. Kittlaus has been developing the new VA technology since 2014, which has been favorable for him in terms of exercising the creative freedom he never obtained under the wing of Steve Jobs. With this, Viv, unlike Siri, is more personal and efficient—calling it “the intelligent interface for everything.”

Last month, Kittlaus publicly demonstrated Viv at Tech Crunch Disrupt New York, and it was received well. Viv is similar to Siri, honestly, but what makes it different is it’s bereft all the humor present in Siri every time it ends up at a loss for words to questions that are either unintelligible or simply difficult to answer. The secret, according to Kittlaus, is in the “perfection of the third-party ecosystem” they’ve worked on for years. There’d be more “direct” results for every question, and the possibility of “I don’t know what you’re talking about” is smaller, which will soon become a lot smaller, if not totally nonexistent, in the future as Viv is still at its embryonic stage.

Gil Amelio, now co-director of 5BARz International (OTCQB: BARZ), was also an Apple executive. After that, he also worked for AT&T holding executive and directorial positions. These are mega-companies, but Amelio immediately found the request of Daniel Bland, revered tech entrepreneur and incubator, to join him in his new company highly enticing.

To partner with a company that will soon help India alleviate their network-related quandaries, among which is the call-drop problem that made global headlines for its utter insolubility, is a windfall for Amelio. “An opportunity of a lifetime,” he once said in an article. “Daniel’s idea of creating an environment-friendly, easy-to-install, cheap, and revolutionary device that could help extend and enhance mobile signal anywhere is difficult to ignore,” he added, emphasizing that accepting a crucial post in a promising firm puts him right in the middle of a huge megatrend.

5BARz International is indeed a trendsetter and game-changer in the network enhancement segment. Most companies in the segment have not achieved what 5BARz has. Apart from being easy-to-use, it is the only network extender that doesn’t deal with intricate cabling and overly huge antennas, add to this that it utilizes patented radio frequency technology that makes it highly functional  even in open areas, crowded places, and moving vehicles. With the help of Amelio, the company is now ready to go outside India and penetrate the Southeast Asian market, a move that is an outright preamble to becoming global soon. “Latin America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, will be next,” said Amelio, “and surely we won’t forget [about] bringing it here in the US.”

Even  Leslie Miley, the man behind the controversial Twitter racial conversation, would find a second home in Slack. Indeed, Slack, an unconventional messaging app, has recently announced that they tapped the services of Miley to lead its diversity programs as its new director of engineering.

It’s a challenging role for Miley as he will be spearheading a small but important department in a company filled, but not actually dominated, by whites. But Miley has no problems with this as he sees a different situation in Slack’s working environment. “The culture Slack is building here, the people they have and the things that they say are important to them really resonate with me as a human being, not just as an African-American,” Miley told USA TODAY. “Empathy and engineering, when was the last time you heard those two words spoken in the same sentence?”

Miley is certainly in the right place. Slack is considered one of the most promising startups in the US for its efforts in revolutionizing its working environment by building a more diverse workforce. Yes, there are still plenty of white employees, but the number of colored people here is growing. Color is not an issue here, in fact, making it a lot easier for Miley to do his job this time.



Desmond O’flynn is Irish but he’s not into boxing. He likes everything finance and investing, as well as world politics. He used to believe that he didn’t have the luck of the Irish since he failed his art class thrice, but this immediately changed after meeting his wife Katarina, a startup interior design consultant based in Dublin.