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Author Archives: Sammy Singh

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Facebook finally lets you banish nav bar tabs & red dots

Category : Mobile

Are those red notification dots on your Facebook home screen driving you crazy? Sick of Facebook Marketplace wasting your screen space? Now you can control what appears in the Facebook app’s navigation bar thanks to a new option called Shortcuts Bar Settings.

Over the weekend TechCrunch spotted the option to remove certain tabs like Marketplace, Watch, Groups, Events, Profile, Friend Requests, News, Today In, Gaming and Dating or just silence their notification dots. In response to our inquiry, Facebook confirms that Shortcut Bar Settings is now rolling out to everyone, with most iOS users already equipped and the rest of Android owners getting it in the next few weeks.

The move could save the sanity and improve the well-being of people who don’t want their Facebook cluttered with distractions. Users already get important alerts that they could actually control via their Notifications tab. Constant red notification counts on the homescreen are an insidious growth hack, trying to pull in people’s attention to random Group feeds, Event wall posts, and Marketplace.

“We are rolling out navigation bar controls to make it easier for people to connect with the things they like and control the notifications they get within the Facebook app” a Facebook spokesperson tells me.

Back in July 2018, Facebook said it would start personalizing the navigation bar based on what utilities you use most. But the navigation bar seemed more intent on promoting features Facebook wanted to be popular like its Craigslist competitor Marketplace, which I rarely use, rather than its long-standing Events feature I access daily.

To use the Shortcuts Bar Settings options, tap and hold on any of the shortcuts in your navigation bar that’s at the bottom of the Facebook homescreen on iOS and the top on Android. You’ll see a menu pop up letting you remove that tab entirely, or leave it but disable the red notification count overlays. That clears space in your nav bar for a more peaceful experience.

You’ll also now find in the three-line More tab -> Settings & Privacy -> Settings -> Shortcuts menu the ability to toggle any of the Marketplace, Groups, Events, and Pages tabs on or off. Eagle-eyed reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong had spotted that Facebook was prototyping this menu and the Notification Dots settings menu that’s now available too

A Facebook spokesperson admits people should have the ability to take a break from notifications within the app. They tell me Facebook wanted to give users more control so they can have access to what’s relevant to them.

For all of Facebook’s talk about well-being, with it trying out hiding Like counts in its app and Instagram (this week starting in the US), there’s still plenty of low-hanging fruit. Better batching of Facebook notifications would be a great step, allowing users to get a daily digest of Groups or Events posts rather than a constant flurry. Its Time Well Spent dashboard that counts your minutes on Facebook should also say how many notifications you get of each type, how many you actually open, and let you disable the most common but useless ones right from there.

If Facebook wants to survive long-term, it can’t piss off users by trapping them in an anxiety-inducing hellscape of growth hacks that benefit the company. The app has become bloated and cramped with extra features over the last 15 years. Facebook could get away with more aggressive cross-promotion of some of these forgotten features as long as it empowers us to hide what we hate.

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Facebook finally lets you banish nav bar tabs & red dots

Category : Social

Are those red notification dots on your Facebook home screen driving you crazy? Sick of Facebook Marketplace wasting your screen space? Now you can control what appears in the Facebook app’s navigation bar thanks to a new option called Shortcuts Bar Settings.

Over the weekend TechCrunch spotted the option to remove certain tabs like Marketplace, Watch, Groups, Events, Profile, Friend Requests, News, Today In, Gaming and Dating or just silence their notification dots. In response to our inquiry, Facebook confirms that Shortcut Bar Settings is now rolling out to everyone, with most iOS users already equipped and the rest of Android owners getting it in the next few weeks.

The move could save the sanity and improve the well-being of people who don’t want their Facebook cluttered with distractions. Users already get important alerts that they could actually control via their Notifications tab. Constant red notification counts on the homescreen are an insidious growth hack, trying to pull in people’s attention to random Group feeds, Event wall posts, and Marketplace.

“We are rolling out navigation bar controls to make it easier for people to connect with the things they like and control the notifications they get within the Facebook app” a Facebook spokesperson tells me.

Back in July 2018, Facebook said it would start personalizing the navigation bar based on what utilities you use most. But the navigation bar seemed more intent on promoting features Facebook wanted to be popular like its Craigslist competitor Marketplace, which I rarely use, rather than its long-standing Events feature I access daily.

To use the Shortcuts Bar Settings options, tap and hold on any of the shortcuts in your navigation bar that’s at the bottom of the Facebook homescreen on iOS and the top on Android. You’ll see a menu pop up letting you remove that tab entirely, or leave it but disable the red notification count overlays. That clears space in your nav bar for a more peaceful experience.

You’ll also now find in the three-line More tab -> Settings & Privacy -> Settings -> Shortcuts menu the ability to toggle any of the Marketplace, Groups, Events, and Pages tabs on or off. Eagle-eyed reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong had spotted that Facebook was prototyping this menu and the Notification Dots settings menu that’s now available too

A Facebook spokesperson admits people should have the ability to take a break from notifications within the app. They tell me Facebook wanted to give users more control so they can have access to what’s relevant to them.

For all of Facebook’s talk about well-being, with it trying out hiding Like counts in its app and Instagram (this week starting in the US), there’s still plenty of low-hanging fruit. Better batching of Facebook notifications would be a great step, allowing users to get a daily digest of Groups or Events posts rather than a constant flurry. Its Time Well Spent dashboard that counts your minutes on Facebook should also say how many notifications you get of each type, how many you actually open, and let you disable the most common but useless ones right from there.

If Facebook wants to survive long-term, it can’t piss off users by trapping them in an anxiety-inducing hellscape of growth hacks that benefit the company. The app has become bloated and cramped with extra features over the last 15 years. Facebook could get away with more aggressive cross-promotion of some of these forgotten features as long as it empowers us to hide what we hate.


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Twitter drafts a deepfake policy that would label and warn, but not always remove, manipulated media

Category : Social

Twitter last month said it was introducing a new policy to help fight deepfakes and other “manipulated media” that involve photos, videos or audio that’s been significantly altered to change its original meaning or purpose, or those that make it seem like something happened that actually did not. Today, Twitter is sharing a draft of its new policy and opening it up for public input before it goes live.

The policy is meant to address the growing problem with deepfakes on today’s internet.

Deepfakes have proliferated thanks to advances made in artificial intelligence that have made it easier to produce convincing fake videos, audio and other digital content. Anyone with a computer and internet connection can now create this sort of fake media. The technology can be dangerous when used as propaganda, or to make someone believe something is real which is not. In politics, deepfakes can be used to undermine a candidate’s reputation, by making them say and do things they never said or did.

A deepfake of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went viral earlier this year, after Facebook refused to pull down a doctored video that showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stumbling over her words was tweeted by Trump.

In early October, two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), called on major tech companies to develop a plan to combat deepfakes on their platforms. The senators asked 11 tech companies — including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and LinkedIn — to come up with a plan to develop industry standards for “sharing, removing, archiving, and confronting the sharing of synthetic content as soon as possible.”

Twitter later in the month announced its plans to seek public feedback on the policy. Meanwhile, Amazon joined up with Facebook and Microsoft to support the DeepFake Detection challenge (DFDC), which aims to develop new approaches to detect manipulated media.

Today, Twitter is detailing a draft of its deepfakes policy. The company says that when it sees synthetic or manipulated media that’s intentionally trying to mislead or confuse people it will:

  • place a notice next to Tweets that share synthetic or manipulated media;
  • warn people before they share or like Tweets with synthetic or manipulated media; or
  • add a link – for example, to a news article or Twitter Moment – so that people can read more about why various sources believe the media is synthetic or manipulated.

Twitter says if a deepfake could threaten someone’s physical safety or lead to serious harm, it may also remove it.

The company is accepting feedback by way of a survey as well as on Twitter itself, by way of the #TwitterPolicyFeedback hashtag.

The survey asks questions like whether altered photos and videos should be removed entirely, have warning labels, or not be removed at all. And it asks whether certain actions are acceptable, like hiding tweets or alerting people if they’re about to share a deepfake. It also asks when it should remove a tweet with misleading media. The policy Twitter created says tweets will be removed if the tweet threatens someone’s physical safety, but will otherwise be labeled. The survey suggests some other times a tweet could be pulled — like if it threatens someone’s mental health, privacy, dignity, property and more.

The survey takes five minutes to complete and is available in English, Japanese, Portuguese, Arabic, Hindi and Spanish.

What isn’t clear, however, is how Twitter will be able to detect the deepfakes published on its platform, given that detection techniques aren’t perfect and often lag behind the newer and more advanced creation methods. On this front, Twitter invites those who want to partner with it on detection solutions to fill out a form.

Twitter is accepting feedback on its deepfakes policy from now until Wednesday, November 27 at 11:59 p.m. GMT. At that time, it will review the feedback received and make adjustments to the policy, as needed. The policy will then be incorporated into Twitter’s Rules with a 30-day notice before the change goes live.


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How to add text over an image in Photoshop, and adjust the font or color

Category : entrepreneur

  • You can add text in Photoshop in just a few steps, along with adjusting the color and font of the text. 
  • It may be useful to add text over an image in Photoshop if you’re creating a poster or want to label a photo. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Maybe you’re starting a band that can’t afford a marketing team to make posters just yet. Or perhaps you’re a frantic dog owner looking for a missing pup.

Either way, it’s undeniable — knowing how to slap text over a photo is certainly a useful life skill.

And Photoshop 2020 users have a huge breadth of formatting and design options at their fingertips when it comes to throwing text on an image. 

Here are the basics to get you started with adding text to your next Photoshop project. 

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

Adobe Photoshop (From $129.99 at Best Buy)

MacBook Pro (From $1,299.99 at Best Buy)

How to add text in Photoshop

1. Upload the photo. In this case, I downloaded my photo from Google Drive and dropped the image into Photoshop by dragging and dropping it over the icon, a feature on Mac computers.

NapoInitialImage

Napo the dog (short for Napoleon), looking poised and ready to be Photoshop famous.
Emma Witman/Business Insider

2. I choose an image where I could easily identify dark and light areas to place text. If, however, you need to modify the background to make the text more legible, check out our article, “How to change the background color of your photos in Photoshop to make your images more striking.

3. Click the icon on the left side toolbar that looks like a serif font capital “T.” Select Horizontal Type Tool. A text box with latin text should appear. 

NapoLoremIpsum

The latin dummy text is meant to be a useful placeholder, but can often just feel in the way and get accidentally left behind.
Emma Witman/Business Insider

4. To quickly swipe clean the included “Lorem Ipsum” dummy text, type Ctrl or Command+A, and then backspace or delete, depending on your operating system.

5. Adjust the font color to contrast from the background (if you need to) using the main options bar. There will be a rectangular color tile toward the center of the horizontal menu. 

NapoColorFont

For a dark background, I need to use light text. The default in photoshop for text is black ink.
Emma Witman/Business Insider

6. Keep in mind that whenever you make changes, you’ll need to hit return or enter, or click the checkmark on the main options bar, to secure your edits and additions.

7. In the “Properties” panel, you can adjust the font under “Character.”

NapoFinal

Just a PSA for everyone that Napo isn’t actually lost — don’t worry.
Emma Witman/Business Insider

Be sure to save your work.

Even as you save your every move while navigating Photoshop, your final product itself needs to be assigned a home on your computer’s hard drive, an external drive, or in a cloud service.

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • How to undo in Photoshop, depending on which version of Photoshop you have

  • How to rotate an image in Photoshop in 4 simple steps

  • How to resize an image in Photoshop and save it for optimal use on the web

  • How to crop an image in Photoshop in a few simple steps


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How to cancel a ‘Best Offer’ on eBay if your reason meets the site’s requirements

Category : entrepreneur

  • You can cancel an offer on eBay if you’ve made a “Best Offer” and want to retract it within the 48-hour window that the seller has to respond. 
  • eBay Best Offers are binding agreements, so your reason for cancelling must fall within one of three acceptable categories for it to be approved. 
  • You can cancel a Best Offer if you entered the wrong amount, if the item’s description has changed significantly, or if the seller is not responding to your inquiries. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

You can negotiate the price of an item on eBay by submitting a “Best Offer” for items that allow it. 

When submitting a Best Offer, you enter into a binding agreement to pay for the item at the agreed upon rate if it’s accepted by the seller. 

eBay Best Offers automatically expire after 48 hours if the seller does not accept, and the seller can reject or counter your offer during this time. 

You can also cancel your offer in these 48 hours if you entered the wrong amount, if the item’s description has changed since your offer was submitted, or if the seller is not responding to your inquiries. 

If your reason for cancelling falls within one of these three categories, you’re ready to request cancellation of your offer.

Here’s how to do it. 

How to cancel an offer on eBay

1. Navigate to My eBay and select go to Bids/Offers from the dropdown menu.

1_eBay_home_myebay_menu

Select Bids/Offers from the My eBay menu.
Michelle Greenlee/Business Insider

2. From the Best Offers section, click the View offer details button. 

myeBay_offers

Click on View offer details.
Michelle Greenlee/Business Insider

3. A pop-up window will load when you arrive to the offer details page. Click the retract your offer link found under your offer total, which will take you to the Best Offer Cancellation form.  

3_myeBay_retract_offer

Retract your offer by clicking the link.
Michelle Greenlee/Business Insider

4. From the Best Offer Cancellation form, click continue to begin the cancellation process. Enter your item number in the field provided if it isn’t pre-populated. Click continue

4_retract_offer_reasons_choose

You’ll need to complete the Best Offer Cancellation form.
Michelle Greenlee/Business Insider

5. Select a reason for cancelling from the dropdown menu provided. You may choose one of three options. Click the Cancel Offer button to save your selection and cancel your eBay Best Offer.

ebay_cancel_offer_reason_selected

Select your reason and cancel the offer.
Michelle Greenlee/Business Insider

Cancelling an eBay Best Offer does not incur a cancellation charge or penalty for the buyer or seller. 

However, it does count against the total number of offers per item a buyer can submit, which may vary. Some items may also not be eligible for offer cancellation.

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • How to cancel a bid you’ve made on eBay in 5 steps

  • How to remove a buyer’s bid from your listing on eBay

  • How to return an item on eBay if it’s defective or damaged, and meets the site’s requirements

  • How to contact eBay customer support for any issues with your account


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64 years after James Dean’s death, the actor will star in a new movie. Some in Hollywood are horrified but the advances in visual effects could make it commonplace.

Category : entrepreneur

  • James Dean has been cast in an upcoming movie, though he died in 1955.
  • It’s the latest chapter in the evolution of visual effects in Hollywood, as one of the most iconic figures in the industry is getting a second act.
  • The directors of the movie, “Finding Jack,” told The Hollywood Reporter they will create a full-body CGI of Dean with the help of archival footage and photographs.
  • The filmmakers have approval from Dean’s family to do this, but it still has provoked backlash from some big names in Hollywood, like actor Chris Evans.
  • Business Insider looked back at recent milestones in visual effects and de-aging technology to show how the industry got to this point.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

 

It was going to happen sooner or later.

The advancements in computer-generated imagery (CGI) in the last decade have been remarkable for Hollywood. CGI helped expand the storytelling of James Cameron’s “Avatar,” brought back to the screen characters like Grand Moff Tarkin (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) and Rachael Tyrell (“Blade Runner 2049”), and most recently made aging actors look decades younger in movies like “Gemini Man,” “The Irishman,” and “Terminator: Dark Fate.”

Now one of the screen’s most iconic actors — who has been dead for over half a century — has been cast in a new movie thanks to the tech.

Last week, it was announced that an upcoming movie titled “Finding Jack” will star James Dean in the secondary lead role. Dean — who found stardom in the 1950s playing roles in movies like “Rebel Without a Cause,” “East of Eden,” and “Giant” — died in a car crash at the age of 24 in 1955. His death dramatically silenced a career on the rise, but instantly turned Dean into a legend.

“Finding Jack” directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh obtained the rights to use Dean’s image from the late actor’s family, they told The Hollywood Reporter. The movie, which is based on the novel of the same name, is set around the abandonment of over 10,000 military dogs at the end of the Vietnam War. Dean will play a character named Rogan.

The news of Dean’s “casting” has led to an uproar of disapproval on social media from fans of the legend and Hollywood heavyweights like actor Chris Evans, who took to Twitter to voice his displeasure. “Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso,” Evans wrote. “Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes.”

Ernst told THR he and Golykh “never intended for this to be a marketing gimmick.”

“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean,” he told the trade.

Visual effects companies Imagine Engine and MOI Worldwide will team on doing a full-body CGI of Dean with the help of archival footage and photographs. An actor who sounds similar to Dean will do the voice. 

The movie’s eyeing a 2020 release on Veterans Day, so it’s going to be some time before we see for ourselves how this plays out.

Until then, here’s a look back at some of the recent advancements in CGI in just the last few years that brought the industry to this point:


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Apple just removed an iPhone app that made it easy for people to stalk the activity of their friends and partners on Instagram (AAPL)

Category : entrepreneur

  • Apple removed the app Like Patrol from the App Store this weekend, CNET first reported.
  • Like Patrol let subscribers follow what other Instagram users were liking and commenting on, after Instagram removed the following tab in October.
  • CNET reported in late October that Instagram had sent a cease and desist letter to Like Patrol, alleging it was scraping Instagram user data without consent.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple removed the Like Patrol app from the App Store on Saturday, CNET’s Alfred Ng first reported. Like Patrol is a third-party app that allows subscribers to see the Instagram posts that certain users interact with.

Founder Sergio Luis Quintero told CNET in an email that the app was like Instagram’s “Following Tab, on steroids.”

For an $80 annual fee, subscribers could set notifications filtered by gender, which would alert you when certain people you followed liked or commented on posts from men or women. Life Patrol even claimed to have an algorithm that determined whether those users were attractive or not. On the app’s public website, it downplays the potential for the app to be used to stalk Instagram users, saying “Check out current liked posts. You’ll never miss out on the best content,” and “Find new friends by looking at their recently followed!” but it’s not hard to see how the app could be used more maliciously.

Apple taking action to remove the app is just one example of a broader efforts among tech companies to prevent third parties from improperly using people’s data. Instagram recently announced it was rolling out an update that gives users control over the Instagram data they share with third parties. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has taken similar steps recently following a data leak that allowed developers to access user information through Facebook Groups.

Like Patrol filled a gap left by the Instagram “Following” tab, which was removed in early October. At the time, the company said that the function wasn’t used frequently.

Like Patrol launched in July, and functions by scraping Instagram user data in a way that Instagram says violates its policies. On October 31, CNET reported that Instagram sent a cease and desist letter to Like Patrol.

Apps like Like Patrol are only one of the recent ways technology has been used to spy on partners and family members. In October, the FTC brought a case against “stalkerware” manufacturer Retina-X studios. Stalkerware apps like this one can be installed without the device owner’s consent or knowledge, and then used to monitor the person or even track their location. A 2014 NPR study found that 75% of domestic violence shelters worked with victims whose abusers had surveilled them with stalkerware, and this area of technology doesn’t seem to be going away.

Like Patrol and Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment.


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SUCCESS INSIDER: The first steps for launching a business, a platform for freelance creatives, and female founders to watch

Category : entrepreneur

Greetings!

Let us take a moment to appreciate the nailing of fundamentals. 

Business news is awash with stories of founding, launching, and otherwise starting an organization.

But it can be hard to track down reliable information about how, exactly, one goes about such a venture.

That’s why we dispatched a reporter to get the facts.

All that and more in this week’s Success Insider, our newsletter for getting things done.

The first 5 steps every entrepreneur needs to take to launch a business, according to people who’ve done it

Should you opt for sole proprietor or LLC? Corporation or partnership? How do you set up an employer-identification number? And what’s the best way to keep your books?

These are essential common questions for new and prospective business owners. If you are thinking about doing your own thing, you’ll want to read Elizabeth Alterman walk through of the key first moves.

Dig in here.

We asked top founders, CEOs, and executives to highlight the women 30 and under to watch

To compile this list of rising business stars at or under the age of 30, we received 70 submissions from top leaders, including Marc Randolph, the cofounder and the first CEO of Netflix; Nancy Duarte, the CEO and principal of Duarte Inc.; and Geoff Ralston, the president of Y Combinator.

These young women are shaping the future of healthcare, fashion, tech, and education.

Meet them here.

A 35-year-old Palestinian American bootstrapped a $5 million platform matching freelancers with brands and agencies. Here’s how she’s taking on Accenture, McKinsey, and the biggest marketing companies in the world with independent talent.

The former advertising executive Stephanie Nadi Olson worked 13 years in sales and was frustrated by the lack of diversity in the industry.

The daughter of a Palestinian refugee, Olson has always identified with under-represented groups of people.

One of them, she came to realize, is the creative talent that burns out or turns off from the agency world. She calls them “corporate refugees,” and her method of helping them is the platform We Are Rosie, which matches freelancers to agencies in need.

There are now 2,300 freelancers, as well as 20 Fortune 500 firms, in the network.

And the name? It’s a reference to her daughter.

“We call her Rosie,” Olson said, “and it’s just a very personal kind of business name, so I can remember: If I can do my job really well, then my daughters will have better access in the future.”

Join in here.


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The CEO of $67 billion Intuit has a plan to stop AI from killing jobs: Use the machines to make better use of humans

Category : entrepreneur

  • Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi says its a “myth” that artificial intelligence will be a job killer. He thinks people will need to develop new skill sets for new types of jobs. 
  • “AI is going to automate a lot of what is done today, a lot of predictions that you have to make. AI can automate all of that, but then it actually elevate where people can provide value, it elevates where they can provide judgement, ” Goodarzi told Business Insider.
  • He says AI does have to developed thoughtfully by thinking about what AI is good for and being intentional with what’s built, making sure to avoid bias when creating AI, and finding the right talent to build the technology.
  • Those are the factors Intuit keeps in mind when developing AI. Goodarzi’s view is that AI is here to stay and will accelerate over time, so he wants Intuit to leverage it to the best of its ability to provide benefit to their customers.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Artificial intelligence is often associated with with automation and loss of jobs. 

But Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi thinks that’s a myth. He said people will need to develop new skill sets for the types of jobs that will be available, but AI is not the job killer many think it is. 

“AI is going to automate a lot of what is done today, a lot of predictions that you have to make. AI can automate all of that, but then it actually elevates where people can provide value, it elevates where they can provide judgement, ” Goodarzi told Business Insider. He says that this will create new, different jobs over time, though he acknowledges that  it is unclear what exactly those jobs will be. 

Goodarzi, whose company makes tax filing and accounting software, compares the situation to the advent of the internet.

“History is our best teacher. When the internet was coming around there was lots of concern that because of the internet, because of commerce, because of what you could now do that would be elimination of a lot of jobs and in fact it’s created a lot of jobs,” Goodarzi said. 

According to a report by the Brookings Institution earlier this year, roughly 36 million American jobs have a “high exposure” risk from automation, meaning that 70% of the job functions could be performed by machines. Some of the most at risk jobs are focused on manual labor tasks such as cooks, waiters, and clerical office workers.

While the rise of AI may create new jobs that — from a sheer numbers perspective — offset the loss of other jobs, most experts expect there to be challenges for workers. A person who loses a job in manual labor might not be fit to perform whatever new job is created by AI. 

AI is only as good as how it gets trained

Goodarzi acknowledge that getting AI right won’t be easy. 

AI must be developed thoughtfully and for good purpose, he says. And he calls out three areas — being very intentional about what AI is good for, making sure to avoid bias when creating AI, and finding the right talent to build the technology — as the key challenges facing Intuit as it develops AI. 

“Machine learning at the end of the day takes input and it makes a recommendation, and if something has to rely on one hundred percent accuracy, machine learning probably wouldn’t be good for that,” Goodarzi said. He adds that the AI is “only as good as the data that is has and it’s only as good as how it gets trained.”

Those are the things that inform how Intuit develops and uses AI, Goodarzi said. Instead of using AI to find the answers to solve everything, he said Intuit is using it to leverage the resources available including human expertise, in keeping with his belief that AI isn’t a job killer. 

This is seen in Intuit’s new tool called QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping that uses AI to connect small business owners to experts who can help them with the unique challenges that arise with small businesses — such as managing their cash flow, taking out loans, etc. The platform uses AI to help find answers or connect to the right experts who can help find the answers. 

“In our case, connecting people to experts, we’re creating jobs because we are personally connecting people to our customers and they’re not constrained by their local environment or their local access,” Goodarzi said.  

Goodarzi’s view is that AI is here to stay and will accelerate over time, so he wants Intuit to leverage it to the best of its ability to provide benefit to their customers.

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at pzaveri@businessinsider.com or Signal at 925-364-4258. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


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The CEO of Workato explains how watching his kids learn to code inspired his team to go from working out of his house to winning a new $70 million investment

Category : entrepreneur

  • On Monday, the automation startup Workato announced it raised $70 million in series C funding led by Redpoint Ventures.
  • Workato creates integration software that helps apps “talk” with each other, and automates repetitive tasks. It’s used by customers like Slack and Salesforce.
  • Workato CEO and founder Vijay Tella says that competitors like MuleSoft and Dell Boomi are often too technical for business users to use, while smaller rivals like startup Zapier are not as well-suited for enterprises.
  • When starting up Workato, the founding team spent a year working from Tella’s house, and found inspiration from cooking recipes, and from the children’s programming language Scratch.
  • Read more on the Business Insider homepage.

In summer 2012, Workato founder and CEO Vijay Tella brought a small team together to put their heads together and build a new type of software that would solve a common corporate headache. For the first year they were together, that team worked out of Tella’s own home.

Workato creates integration software, which ties apps together in a secure way and automates repetitive tasks. For example, a company might use it to take in customer data and automate the financial processes around it, such as creating an invoice. 

It’s an idea that’s only grown more important, Tella says, as data can be “chopped up and fragmented” among any of the dozens of apps that any business might be using, from vendors like Microsoft, Google, Slack, or any of the very many others.

“The scale of this problem is enormous,” Tella told Business Insider. “The scale and speed that needs to be done is really high.”

Against that backdrop, Workato announced Monday that it raised $70 million in series C funding led by Redpoint Ventures with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Geodesic Capital, Battery Ventures, and Storm Ventures. 

With the funding, Workato plans to invest in helping customers manage business systems, growing its customer success division, and generally entrenching itself in the market. Already, Workato has over 6,000 customers, including Slack, Pixar, Panera Bread, Levi’s, and Salesforce.

Taking on MuleSoft, Dell Boomi, and Zapier

Prior to Workato, Tella was CEO of Qik, which was acquired by Skype. When he left Skype in 2011 — around the time that Microsoft bough it for $8.5 billion — he reconnected with some former colleagues, with whom he got to discussing how there was no easy way to bring data between apps.

On one hand, Tella says, there were tools like MuleSoft (now a subsidiary of Salesforce) and Dell Boomi, which the team found too technical and difficult for business users. 

“These products are very capable,” Tella said. “You can run your business on them but they’re very technical. Only a few people can use them and it’s hard. That’s one set of players.”

On the other hand, there were tools like those from startup Zapier, which are easier to use, but not as well suited for enterprises. Workato sees its opportunity as being in the middle.

‘It left the adults kind of stumped’

For the first year, the Workato team worked out of Tella’s home, trying out different ways to solve that problem and allow applications to work smoothly together. 

The team took early inspiration from Scratch, a simple programming language popular for teaching children to code. Scratch relies on dragging and dropping to create simple instructions, rather than typing out lots of complex code. Tella’s 8-year-old twin boys often played around with Scratch, and the team thought a drag-and-drop interface would make their product easy for literally anybody to use. 

“These kids didn’t get any lessons. They were playing these games,” Tella said. “There was this super interesting dynamic happening with kids.”

However, when the team tested the software with IT workers, it was a different story. 

“What we found was this whole drag-and-drop thing that was easy for kids in Scratch, it left the adults kind of stumped,” Tella said. “They don’t know what to drag. We went back and said, we need to change it. Adults in many ways have linear thinking.”

After that, the team redesigned the software to work more like a cooking recipe, with conversational step-by-step instructions. Users can also share these recipes for businesses processes they set up or reuse ones that others have created.

“By the end of the year, we got to a place where we saw it could be done,” Tella said.

A growing business

Workato had just raised its Series B round of $25 million last summer, and the company says its business has grown 3.7 times since then. Tella says that the company still has about 70% of that funding left in the bank, but it decided to raise again because it saw a big opportunity to grow. 

Satish Dharmaraj, partner at Redpoint Ventures, says that he decided to invest in Workato because he talked to many CIO’s and asked what products they were using. Workato kept on coming up. He heard about various teams using it, from sales to finance to HR, and he says he hopes that Workato will continue to grow and build “a large big independent big business that can be a publicly traded company.”

“In the enterprise space, Workato had the best solution for the enterprises we talked to,” Dharmaraj told Business Insider. “We were talking to them about how they’re using Workato and what would happen if we pull Workato away from them. We always asked them on a scale of 1 to 10, what would be the pain point when you take the solution away. A lot of customers said that would be a 10 if you took it away. That’s what we like to hear whenever we decide to consider an investment.”