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Kevin Garber: [0:09] Good morning, good evening, wherever you are in the world. Today is Friday, the 17th of July, 2015. We usually say, we are looking out at a beautiful, sunny downtown Sydney, Australia.

[0:23] But, unusually, it is cold, wet, and windy, today, on Friday, 17th of July, I've already said that, in Sydney, Australia. You're listening to Kevin Garber and Nic Barker on the, "It's a Monkey" Podcast, we have not been around for a little while.

[0:40] This is episode 61. I have been busy, I was in New York, and got thrown off a little bit with a crazy schedule there, Nick's been busy in Sydney. Nick, hello, thank you for joining us.

Nic Barker: [0:52] Hi. It's good to be back on again, after a short delay. It's always good to do the podcast.

Kevin: [0:57] Nic is head of product and front end at ManageFlitter, I'm CEO and co-Founder of ManageFlitter. We talk about everything tech related, tech economy related, thank you for the feedback, and a couple of you have said, "Where's the podcast?" We are still here, we are still around. We still aim to do it every two weeks. It got derailed but we are back. I'm actually, Nic, I'm going to flick on my periscope and see if anyone, while we're calling.

[1:26] Eventually it will be nice if we can get a few people that want to watch the recording. We do most of this live, we do very, very little editing. It sort of would suit a Periscope. There we go, I'm hitting Periscope. Periscope of course is the live streaming app that's connected to Twitter. Now I'm just hitting, I haven't used it much. Broadcast title, I'll put it "It's a Monkey."

Nic: [1:55] Periscope is really, really wonderful piece of software if you've never used it before. It's available for both Android and iOS now, but it is a mobile exclusive unless something else has come out in the last couple of weeks that I'm not informed of. But essentially you start a stream, point it really at anything.

[2:14] When I was first using it, when it first came out, I was getting 40 to 60 people just randomly joining the streams that I was creating. With me eating lunch or something like that, and people were coming in.

Kevin: [2:26] We've already got three, I'm not exactly sure where they found us, but we've already got three, down to one.

Nic: [2:34] Also there's a trend on Periscope for the moment, for some weird reason people always join streams and ask, "Let me see your fridge," or, "Show us your fridge." That's something everybody does on Periscope for some reason. They join a stream and say, "Show us your fridge." A lot of random strangers on the Internet have seen my fridge in my kitchen at home.

Kevin: [2:56] That sounds super exciting. Anyway, we've got a fantastic show lined up for you. I interviewed, a few weeks ago, I interviewed a journalist at "Fast Company," Neal Ungerleider. He wrote a bit about new Instagram search engines which are pretty interesting. I spoke to him, and we'll post mortem that. But we've got a lot to talk about in the news part of the show.

[3:20] First up, Nic, Apple released their much hyped Apple Music product. Now of course Spotify has been the big kid on the block, there's also been Pandora which was one of the original streaming music services, and there's Google Music, and there's a few other bits and pieces.

Nic: [3:39] That one that starts with zed I'm pretty sure, it sounds like Zune I'm pretty sure, like the Microsoft thing. There's also Rdio that people talk about.

Kevin: [3:48] Rdio, that's right, and I think that Telstra in Australia have a deal with Rdio that it doesn't count...so there's quite a few. I'm a very big Spotify user, love it.

Nic: [3:56] Me too, I'm a big fan.

Kevin: [3:58] If Spotify was around when I was a teenager, my life would have been a lot easier. Instead of having these super-expensive compact discs to buy. Have you had a look at Apple Music?

Nic: [4:10] Yes, I had a brief look at it recently, and unfortunately with this kind of thing, it's the idea of getting to know a piece of software at a very high level. Like I've been using Spotify for a long time now, and I really know the ins and outs, I'm really quick at finding and listening to music that I want to listen to. Of course there's that initial learning curve.

[4:32] One of the things that you'll notice about Apple Music, so it is a streaming service, but of course they still have the iTunes store where you can buy tracks as well, which is sort of like a bit of a strange dichotomy to have now. Especially seeing as on Spotify you can make tracks available offline for free, and listen to them whenever without having to have an Internet connection.

[4:57] The fact that on Apple Music if you want to download something and listen to it when you don't have an Internet connection you have to pay, like you have to buy it through iTunes, that's still not something that they've really worked out. This whole iTunes store competing against Apple Music sort of feels a bit off when you use the service, because you're not sure whether you're in Apple Music or in iTunes Store.

[5:19] Apart from that, they're very, very, very focused on personalization. The biggest thing that they're pushing at the moment is the idea sort of continuing on from the Beatz Radio stations that they've had available for a long time.

[5:39] There's a relatively in-depth customization process when you first sign up to Apple Music, and they ask you to select artists you like, and indicate who you really like, and pick genres and stuff like that. Overall it seems like it's really powerful and it's really interesting as a new service. Everyone knew that Apple was going to enter this market at some point, but honestly the UI and the experience feels kind of half-baked in comparison to Spotify.

[6:08] Because Spotify has been around for a while, and they've been iterating relentlessly to get this exact user experience really perfect, and Apple Music just doesn't feel like it's quite there yet. It's a bit eclectic, in terms of you don't know what is clickable, and what isn't, and how to go through, traverse through artists and playlists and that kind of thing.

Kevin: [6:28] From the reviews I've read, it looks like one of the angles that Apple Music is taking is the radio side of things. Now, Spotify has their Spotify radio feature where you click on an artist, and it creates a radio out of it, related artists. Theirs is a human curated, from what I understand, so they essentially have live DJs from around the world with different playlists and themes, and they're human curated.

[6:54] Are they actually presenters? Do they actually talk, do you know?

Nic: [6:57] Yes, they do.

Kevin: [6:58] It's more along a classic radio station, in a sense.

Nic: [7:02] Yeah, it's very similar to classic radio, except they don't have advertising, because you are paying to use the service. It's essentially closer, yes, to a paid radio station. Which is bizarre, yes.

Kevin: [7:15] It's done full circle.

Nic: [7:16] People want more freedom, on one hand, to be able to listen to whatever songs they want whenever they feel like it, but on the other hand, it came back to this thing where now there's so much choice that people are overwhelmed, and they don't really know where to even start looking for new music. The radio stations, in general, I think are really aiming to help with the discovery side of things more than anything.

Kevin: [7:39] I saw on the Apple side of things, they bought Beats by Dre for a fortune, and part of the reason I think they bought it is to get Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, who are real heavyweights in the music industry, and where Apple will be able to really fully surpass Spotify is if they suddenly have exclusives.

Nic: [8:09] Absolutely, yeah.

Kevin: [8:10] There was the was the whole Taylor Swift saga, et cetera, which we won't get into, but say for instance that does a 180 and Taylor Swift launches her new album only on Apple Music. Boom, then suddenly it's a whole different, it's not a commodity anymore. At the moment, it is just commodities.

[8:28] They seem to have about 30 million plus songs on each, it's commodified a bit. The new U2 album was, of course, pushed in Apple, but it was onto all the Apple and iTunes devices for free. But of course, there wasn't an exclusive. If it wasn't exclusive, it would've been huge. I think that this is still early days, and Dre and Iovine might be cooking up a few bits and pieces.

Nic: [8:55] Oh, absolutely.

Kevin: [8:55] I wouldn't write Apple Music off, as much as I'm a massive Spotify user and a Spotify lover.

Nic: [9:02] One of the huge things that Taylor Swift was citing as one of the reasons to pull her music from Spotify is because obviously, I've had music on Spotify before, and the royalties that you get per stream are really, really paltry in comparison to other things.

[9:20] If you made a YouTube video, for example, of one of your songs, and you monetized it by putting on ads, the conversion of views to paid royalties is much, much higher on a platform like that than something like Spotify.

[9:35] That being said, though, TechCrunch published an article that linked to a study by EventBright just recently, that said that a huge number of users now that are buying tickets to actually go to live shows, which is where a lot of artists make their money. A huge number of people who are buying tickets are buying them because they discovered the artist through streaming services.

Kevin: [10:03] In terms of discovery, these platforms are huge.

Nic: [10:08] They're saying 51 percent of people are now buying tickets to see artists live that they discovered through the use of streaming services. They're trying to claim now that there is much more of a vector to spending money in other ways, rather than a reward in itself in streaming.

Kevin: [10:23] This is where music has been moving for a long, long time. I think one of the biggest line items on their revenue is merchandise these days. It's just huge. The industry has really been turned around, but yeah, I wouldn't write Apple off. The good news is, the consumer's going to have a lot of choices, which is fantastic.

Nic: [10:44] Absolutely, and the biggest thing that we haven't spoken about, because we're talking about it, it's strictly a music service. A huge advantage that Apple Music has that Spotify doesn't, is that Apple Music has the full iTunes library of music videos as well. Whereas Spotify doesn't support music videos at all, they're a strictly audio platform. You can watch the music videos on Apple Music as well, which is a big difference.

Kevin: [11:10] Actually I follow Daniel Ek on Twitter and Facebook, on Facebook he posted out something that since Apple Music launched, there's been an uptick in interest in Spotify. Of course because there's more discussion about it, it's sort of free marketing. It's the same thing about the Uber, when this Uber protest, everyone signs up and starts using their...

Nic: [11:30] Yeah, absolutely.

Kevin: [11:33] I hope Spotify succeed, they were one of the first on the block and they've done...one thing before we move on to the next story, just one comment which I still find a little bit perplexing about these music services is that they are an amazing base to build out a social media network, because it's such an emotive product, and of course way back in the day MySpace was in a sense a little bit about this, but Spotify are sitting on a huge opportunity, and they don't seem to be pushing that social side that much.

[12:07] I don't know, I always wonder why they don't. You land up in being able to connect with other users of your favorite bands, and friends that have similar type of music profiles. There's something there that they're missing, I feel.

Nic: [12:21] Yeah, it's interesting, because they started off with this huge idea of having all the plug-in ecosystem, people were writing apps for Spotify, I don't know if you remember that in particular.

Kevin: [12:30] Sure, I used to use an app that used to ping me if some of the people I listened to where playing live in Sydney, which was pretty cool.

Nic: [12:34] Yeah, exactly. For tour dates, it was really useful. Then they canned the whole thing, they canned the whole ecosystem around plug-ins and apps in Spotify, and of course you probably remember Spotify used to have this really tight integration with Facebook as well, where it would always post to your Facebook, like, "So-and-so is listening to blah blah blah." They seemed to have...

Kevin: [12:54] They've toned that down a lot, it's still there, you can still...if you click on someone's Facebook profile.

Nic: [12:58] You can still see it, yeah.

Kevin: [12:59] ...you can still see it. That's Apple and Spotify, et cetera. Big story been going on in the tech world, the social media world, the content world, Reddit. Now it's a whole backstory to it, a lot of people still don't know what Reddit is. Nic, take us, just give us firstly a helicopter view of Reddit, and then tell us about all these politics that have been going on with Ellen Pao, and resignations, and freedom of speech issues, and...

Nic: [13:35] Yeah, sure. Essentially Reddit is a content aggregation service, which literally it only has a few really core functions. One of them is that users can submit links or just text topics. They can then be voted on by other users, and the most popular stuff floats to the top, essentially. When you take that core concept magnified by the immense amount of traffic they get per day, you get what they call themselves the "Front Page of the Internet," essentially.

Kevin: [14:13] Didn't Digg used to call themselves that?

Nic: [14:15] Yes, they called themselves something similar to that, and ironically Reddit was actually first popularized when there was a mass exodus of users from Digg. People think of Reddit's relationship to Dig in the same way that they think of the relationship between Facebook and MySpace. But, yeah, so Reddit is a content aggregation service that allows users to vote and comment on links or topics.

Kevin: [14:39] Of course one of the founders of Reddit is Aaron Swartz who got involved in all source of controversial activities, and very tragically killed himself. I recently watch the documentary about his life.

Nic: [14:51] It's called, "The Internet's Own Boy."

Kevin: [14:53] Yeah, it's fantastic. If you're interested in freedom of speech issues, government issues, political economy issues, tech issues, it's really a fantastic documentary, I highly recommend it. Aaron Schwartz was one of the founder of Reddit. Reddit then got bought by, is it Conde Nast?

Nic: [15:09] Yes, they did initially, and I think they're owned by someone else now.

Kevin: [15:13] Right, so they got sold, but some of the founders are still with Reddit, I believe.

Nic: [15:17] Yes. Essentially, the current CEO of Reddit is one of the founders, Steve Hoffman, or Huffman rather, I think, rather. Anyway, the controversy of what's happening now is that essentially there are three levels of users on Reddit.

[15:38] There is the standard low-level user who can write comments, and vote on stuff, and submit links. Then there are moderators, who own what are called subreddits, which are basically just like grouped topics that you can submit links to.

[15:54] Like there's a subreddit for pictures, and a subreddit that's just called "Funny," and there are subreddits for different products, and for people interested in cycling, or running, or whatever. Moderators are the people who have created and moderate these subreddits, and they can change the style of these...

Kevin: [16:17] They're volunteers, right?

Nic: [16:18] Yes, they are unpaid volunteers, they are users that have decided to make or maintain these subreddits, basically. They have the power to ban people from just inside their subreddits, and they also have the power to delete topics, or delete comments, or whatever inside their subreddit.

[16:33] What you find is that the tone and the attitudes of the users inside these subreddits are often very reflective of what the moderators are like, and the big personalities sort of at the top of these things.

[16:46] Then the level on top of those users are people called admins. They are paid employees of Reddit that have even more powers than moderators, themselves, and they're allowed to ban moderators, or close subreddits, or whatever. They have a lot more power.

Kevin: [17:03] If I can just go on a tangent, just before you continue...

Nic: [17:06] Sure.

Kevin: [17:07] ...which another relevant fact is, Reddit has been quite controversial in that, am I correct in my understanding, they're taking a very strong line of freedom of speech, they've been criticized for posting leaked photos of nude celebrities.

Nic: [17:23] Yep.

Kevin: [17:24] Even sort of borderline discussion about illegal behavior, and things like that?

Nic: [17:31] Oh, there's been plenty of illegal stuff on there, in the random little dark corners. The whole point is that it's a very open discussion platform, and they have not up until a couple of years ago, they never actually explicitly banned people just for the content they were posting. A couple of years ago there was a big sort of controversy that happened in the US with a particular group of subreddits that were posting, basically they were posting illegal content.

[18:07] Reddit pushed for a long time to be able to keep them there, but eventually they ended up shutting them down. That was sort of the first step in which a lot of users were saying, "Oh, it's the end of free speech on this site," and whatever.

[18:19] Fast forward to a few years in the future, and what's happening now is on one hand, they're talking about clamping down even further and banning a whole lot more subreddits and putting in rules to stop people from organizing to do stuff that they call "brigading," which is basically like if a politician says something that I don't agree with, I'm going to organize a bunch of users on the site to bombard them with phone calls, or stuff like that.

[18:46] They're planning to make that kind of stuff against the terms of service and banned uses, which a lot of people are unhappy about. The freedom of speech thing is one half of it, but another big part of it was this schism that formed between admins and moderators.

[19:05] Because basically, Reddit, people have been arguing that they are a kind of site where they have hundreds of millions of anonymous users coming to view the content, but only a few thousand of these volunteer moderators who basically keep the whole site going, and they just weren't giving enough love to these volunteer moderators.

[19:29] They weren't giving them the tools they needed, they weren't giving them the visibility that they needed into internal business processes. They were totally in the dark about this whole thing.

Kevin: [19:37] Of course, to add another layer of complexity on it, the most recent outgoing CEO, Ellen Pao, she was fired from one of the leading VC companies in the valley, and she sued them for sexual discrimination for $6 million or something like that, and she lost.

Nic: [19:56] Yeah.

Kevin: [19:57] There's all controversy around her, and she stepped down a couple of weeks ago, or a week ago, and the board's saying, "No, she only stepped down because she was not performing," but she was under a lot of pressure.

Nic: [20:10] Absolutely. Now, they suspect that she was. People are, basically the major discussion on the site now is about the fact that the general user base suspects that unfortunately this woman was brought in as a straw man, because she was already unpopular because of this lawsuit.

[20:31] People are suspecting that they brought her in because they knew that she would be unpopular, so she could take the fall for a number of decisions that were going to be made while she was there, and then exit quickly so that they could recoup on the lost a reputation as a result.

Kevin: [20:50] There's this narrative, or this theory in the whole discussion around women in tech, and there is this one theory that women get put into position sometimes where they set up for failure.

Nic: [20:59] Yeah, absolutely.

Kevin: [20:59] They call it the class cliff, I think. Boy, this Reddit story has really the makings of an epic.

Nic: [21:08] Yeah, absolutely.

Kevin: [21:09] There's just layer, upon layer, upon layer.

Nic: [21:11] Now, it's almost too cheesy what's happened. Everybody hated this outgoing CEO, Ellen Pao, for the entire time that she was there, and now that she's left, they've brought back one of the original founders of Reddit. 10 years ago, when Reddit was founded, they've brought back one of the original founders, Steve Huffman, to now be the CEO.

[21:34] He's posting, and making everyone happy, and it's almost too cheesy a result to happen. The board is saying, "We listened to our user base, and we got back a CEO who's one of the original founders." But people have this very strong suspicion.

Kevin: [21:48] Cynical.

Nic: [21:49] Yeah, they have this very strong suspicion that she was just put in there as the fall guy, to take the blame for them bringing out these new regulations saying we're going to be a lot tighter, and we're going to respect free speech a lot less. Now that we're a business that's moving towards having to monetize, we can't have this kind of image in order to attract more advertisers. You know what I mean?

Kevin: [22:14] Again, another angle on Ellen Pao, I was reading an article yesterday in which her husband had some problems in the business dealings. Apparently, there were some accusations of running a Ponzi scheme, and lost a lot of money. People say her court case was just an attempt to try and absorb finances. You almost couldn't make this stuff up. Hollywood would love this.

Nic: [22:36] Oh, yeah. If you go and dig into it, it's very dramatic.

Kevin: [22:43] It's very dramatic.

Nic: [22:44] One of the most interesting things about Reddit is that it's almost as live as Twitter. Basically things, there is such a bulk of users voting on stuff that very popular things will shoot.

Kevin: [22:56] Very real time.

Nic: [22:57] Yeah, they'll shoot from initial submission all the way up to the top of the front page, seriously in minutes. Not only was there this whole drama unfolding with Reddit's CEO, but Reddit itself was doing the news and documentation on the process, as it was happening.

[23:15] There were these big discussion threads doing play-by-play of everything that was happening with the CEO. It's very interesting. You rarely see networks introspectively discussing issues that are happening.

Kevin: [23:28] CNN running a story on themselves and their internal politics, what's going on at CNN.

Nic: [23:32] Absolutely.

Kevin: [23:32] It's interesting, whenever I look at Reddit, I really enjoy it. But because I'm such a content junkie, and I love text content, I find I can move through it really quickly. I can be selective, I can scan it. I like Reddit, even though I know there is a lot of other types of content on there, but somehow I just don't get to embed it in my day-to-day somehow.

[23:55] Twitter and Facebook are still my day today. I can't even embed Instagram or Pinterest, or Snapchat, but I guess we've all got a finite amount of headspace and time, and there's a pecking order.

Nic: [24:07] Absolutely. The really interesting thing is, I think given what your position is in your job, and the amount of time, obviously every day that you have to dedicate to running a business, potentially your feelings about what social networks are important are potentially indicative of how appropriate those networks are from a business perspective.

[24:31] Because Reddit, I think honestly, incredible time wasting tool. Not necessarily that useful, from a business or productivity perspective. Whereas Twitter is the kind of thing that is more useful to media journalists, people involved in business, that kind of thing.

Kevin: [24:48] There are a lot of people asking me how I use Twitter during my day, and I have three screens. Two big ones, and then my laptop. My one screen is TweetDeck, with my columns with different lists, and one my lists is called, "Startup and Tech."

[25:03] I follow all of the who's who of the industry, and throughout my day, these folk tweet amazingly insightful articles. It probably forces me that about 25 percent of my day, I am actually learning new things, and it pushes it to me. From that aspect, I find Twitter adding huge value.

Nic: [25:19] Yeah, exactly. In the same kind of way, it may be that for you, Instagram and Pinterest, they're made. They're wonderful software, but at the same time they're probably more err towards the enjoyment/spending time side of the scale, rather than the insight and business intelligence side of things, whereas Twitter is more towards that side of things.

Kevin: [25:45] Yeah, it has a bit more utility. Interesting. We'll follow this Reddit story with great interest, and let's see how it all pans out. You're listening to Kevin Garber, CEO of Manage Flitter, and Nic Barker, head of product at Manage Flitter. It's the It's a Monkey Podcast. We broadcast every two weeks, check your software on a Friday.

[26:08] You can also comment on these articles on our website, you can tweet us @MonkeyPodcast. You can email us at podcasteditor@monkey.com. If you email us with a comment or something, and even explain who you are and what you do, we will even pop it up on the podcast, so just send us an MP3, et cetera.

[26:28] We're going to take a short break, and after the break, we're going to be playing the interview that I had with Neil Ungerleider, who is a journalist at Fast Company. He wrote an article on the Instagram search engine wars, why machine vision is the next big thing for brands. Stay with us.

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Kevin: [27:22] We're back with It's a Monkey Podcast. My name's Kevin Garber, where we talk about everything relating to tech, the tech economy, social media, et cetera, on this podcast. Remember, you can tweet us @MonkeyPodcast. You can email us at podcasteditor@monkey.com.

[27:37] Instagram is one of these social media networks we don't talk all that much about on the podcast. We talk a lot about Facebook, we talk a lot about Twitter, but Instagram's growth has been absolutely huge over last few years. Of course, Facebook bought Instagram for an insane amount of money, which doesn't seem as insane these days because they bought WhatsApp for an even more insane amount of money.

[28:00] But the growth of Instagram has been very strong, and in fact if you months ago it eclipsed Twitter in terms of monthly active users. They were both at about 300 million monthly active users. I came across an article a few days ago about Instagram and one of my favorite magazines. Fast Company Magazine, which I've read for quite a long time.

[28:20] The title of that article was, "The Instagram search engine wars, why machine vision is the next big thing for brands." Subtitled, "A wave of new startups can identify brands, locations and people inside Instagram photos." Really interesting content in the article. I've tracked down the author of the article, a journalist at Fast Company, Neil Ungerleider, and I've got him at the end of my Skype. Thanks so much for joining us.

Neal Ungerleider: [28:48] Absolutely, Kevin. Happy to be here.

Kevin: [28:49] Neil, tell us, there's so much to talk about in this Instagram search engine space. Firstly, why has Instagram themselves not seen the demand for better search engines? You make the comment in the article that there's all these third-party startups that are filling the space, and not Facebook and Instagram themselves.

Neal: [29:15] Definitely. Kevin, it's interesting. I think Instagram and Facebook have seen the demand for search engines for Instagram, they've just chosen not to actually make a search engine. If your listeners go to FastCompany.com, they'll be able to see my article where I talk about a new search engine called IN, which allows searches of Instagram for content of specific photos, specific videos.

[29:49] But what I found interesting was, it was targeted at media brands such as newspapers looking for photos to include in articles, and marketing divisions of Fortune 500 companies looking for mentions of their brands, rather than for your typical Joe Public Instagram user.

Kevin: [30:11] You mentioned in the article that these brands are quite interested in tracking down photos because Instagram is public, and there is no legal issue with them using a photo on Instagram on their publication. If Sydney, Australia a few days ago, there was a double rainbow that people were taking photos of, and putting it on Instagram.

[30:35] In theory, is a news publication just allowed to scrape that Instagram photo and not have to pay any royalties or anything like that?

Neal: [30:47] It's a legal gray area. That's what is so fascinating about that. Whenever you or I take a photo and put it on Instagram, which I do often, at least, that becomes available to anyone in the general public. There's nothing stopping them from scraping that image, publishing it in a magazine, and in the case of publications, it really is a gray area, whether they are allowed to use photos or not.

[31:20] This, it depends on the jurisdiction that you have, one set of copyright laws in America, another in Australia, another in the EU. It very much is the Wild West.

Kevin: [31:31] You talk about IN, one of the search engines which I've tried out, which is actually pretty good. Even the user interface, and IN, interestingly, was created by the same people who created Yo. We actually interviewed one of the Yo founders a few months ago, so it's interesting that it's coming out of the same software house. IN works pretty well. You type in a location and you can sort by time periods. It brings up the stream of Instagram photos.

[32:03] I'm wondering, the technology behind this is obviously...they're just scraping Instagram, I would imagine, and they're using smart technologies to identify the location and what the content that's in the actual photo. They layer in some sort of machine learning around that.

Neal: [32:24] That's absolutely correct. When they take these machine learning techniques and apply them to photos, the techniques that IN, which is owned, as you mentioned, by the fellow who created the Yo app, whose main business is an image sharing app called Mobli.

[32:46] They use these machine learning techniques to examine the very basic things such as how many people are in the photo, whether it's day or night. But even these very basic interpretations of the photo take massive, massive amounts of engineering talent and hours to actually figure out.

[33:09] In terms of search, for image search we're not even at the 1990s, I'm going way back here, Alta Vista or Lycos phase of web search for searching content within images themselves. We're still at the very beginnings, which is why we're still pretty much stuck searching through hashtags and geotags in photos to figure out the context.

Kevin: [33:34] If you want to search for an Instagram photo of someone wearing an Apple Watch, unless they've hashtagged it or they've commented in the text somewhere there's still no really good way of actually putting that up, is there?

Neal: [33:51] Exactly. That's why Facebook, why Google, why Yahoo and a host of other companies are investing a ton of resources into building the algorithms, building models that will allow them to do just that. In IN, one of the first to commercialize, honestly, a pretty early, primitive version of that technology.

Kevin: [34:17] Reverse image search has been around for a while. I find that quite interesting. I show people that every now and then because it's quite impressive when you upload an image and it will actually match it with an existing image on the Internet. But that's a straightforward use case, guess.

Neal: [34:37] It is. That's a tough thing. It's really easy for us to tell that one picture resembles another picture. If we do a reverse image search on Wolfram Alpha or another site we're able to trace it back to the source. But getting a computer to tell, "Oh, this is a picture of Barack Obama. Oh, this is a picture of Allen Iverson." That is amazingly difficult to do.

Kevin: [35:08] As you said, it's very early days. There's honestly great rewards for people that will get this right. I was at a conference in New York a couple of weeks ago where...is it Stephen Wolfram, the founder of Wolfram Alpha?

Neal: [35:23] That's correct.

Kevin: [35:24] He gave a presentation about his search engine platform. It's really quite fascinating. Very, very interesting guy. It's interesting to see that he's in this space, as well.

[35:40] What do you think about Instagram's growth in general? The whole Instagram versus Twitter race, in a way, which Instagram, at the moment, their growth numbers are stronger. They've opened the real time social media sites in a way. Any particular thoughts on what the future holds for them both?

Neal: [36:04] Absolutely. Instagram is a unique place because they do one thing, share images. Now sharing images and video, but image is still the main product. They do that very well.

[36:17] They also have the benefit of being owned by Facebook, which is sitting on, for our purposes, infinite reserves of money right now. If Instagram had decided to grow organically and not be acquired, this would be a difficult conversation but right now Instagram has the luxury of being able to sit around, perfect their product, and not aggressively monetize.

[36:44] On the other hand, Twitter is a publicly traded corporation which, as we've seen in the news this month, had a chance of CEO. They're trying to figure out the best way to monetize their model. Twitter isn't owned by a Facebook or a Google that can afford to put funds into R&D for years at a time while they build a user base. Twitter has very real pressures to their shareholders, to their investors to show a profit that Instagram does not.

Kevin: [37:18] I still remain a Twitter...they're still my favorite social media network. I've got a vested interest. I [inaudible 37:31] is a management app but besides that, something about Instagram that just doesn't draw me in every day. What's your favorite social media network?

Neal: [37:37] That's a very good question. I think my favorite social media network is Twitter, but that Twitter has become less my favorite social media network. Does that make sense to you?

Kevin: [37:53] It does. It does. I think, for people...I'm looking at your account. You've been on Twitter probably a similar time to what I've been, 2008. You've been around Twitter for a while.

Neal: [38:05] We have. In that time, the service has changed. It stinks to say, but services like Twitter aren't made for power users. As a journalist, I rely on Twitter to find sources, to keep abreast of the news cycle, to verify information, to communicate with my readers, you name it.

[38:29] But the community of journalists, of folks working in the communication industry, in the marketing industry, in the tech industry who formed the early component of Twitter power users, they simply don't click on enough ads. They don't do enough monetization for Twitter to survive as a company.

[38:51] Twitter is moving more to a straightforward format of curated information, of showing photos, of showing videos, of very much a handholding experience which, frankly, isn't something I'm looking for.

[39:09] But in the meantime, my favorite social network is still talking to my friends in person and going to coffee shops, going to bars, actually doing things out in real life, which is still absolutely the best. Twitter still remains a pretty decent number two, I suppose.

Kevin: [39:27] Yeah, interesting. Today Twitter announced, what was it? Lightning. What did they announce? Is it called Lightning? That Twitter...

Neal: [39:36] Lightning, that's correct.

Kevin: [39:37] That curated content, advanced streams, where you can follow in advance on Twitter and now curates tweets and accounts and things like that. I'm trying to look at what it's called here. I'm sure I tweeted out about it. "Secret Project Lightning revealed."

[40:06] Twitter's becoming, in a way, more of a media company than a technology platform.

Neal: [40:13] What I find very interesting about Project Lightning is that its aesthetic, in terms of automatically playing video, in terms of determining the top events of the day and showing you images and video of it, it owes a lot aesthetic wise to what Snapchat is doing with Snapchat News.

[40:33] Snapchat is really interesting. You have this social network that began, essentially, as a way to share disposable photos with a very small number of people. Now they're actually hiring a full-time journalist to cover the 2016 American presidential election.

Kevin: [40:52] Is that Snapchat hiring a full-time journalist?

Neal: [40:56] Snapchat hiring a full-time journalist. They have partnerships with organizations such as CNN, ESPN here in the states for sports, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They've really done amazing things with their network.

Kevin: [41:13] It's interesting. We spoke about [inaudible 41:20] . They've already partnered with people like CNN and probably ESPN for them to push content with famous Snapchats app itself.

Neal: [41:29] They have. Snapchat has outflanked Twitter in terms of partnerships and building bridges with outside organizations, which is something Twitter's leadership up in San Francisco is fuming about. For social media right now, for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, you name it it's weird. There's no shortage of top notch engineering talent. No shortage of people who can make the mobile app more agile, make the web experience better.

[42:04] But in terms of folks who can actually go to a partner organization and say, "Hey, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Snapchat isn't just for sexting. We can get tens of thousands of young visitors in a single month for your organization. That's something where the skill set is pretty low for. It is absolutely needed.

[42:26] In Twitter's case, they've been trying hard to partner with sports teams, with city governments, with television news stations, you name it. It really has been an uphill struggle for them.

Kevin: [42:38] Yeah, Twitter's really this social media network that has had...I've always felt that Twitter's greatest strength is its greatest weakness. It's versatility. Since the early days there's been a struggle to onboard people and now part technology platform, part social media network, part curated content, et cetera. It's struggling to find its way.

[43:08] I do believe there's a lot of smart people involved there. I'm hoping it's all just the beginning for Twitter.

Neal: [43:19] Bouncing back to Instagram and the image question, context plays a huge part in that and also a huge part in search. For instance, on Twitter if I share images they're going out to an audience that's primarily looking for news. On Instagram, if I share a photo, let's say, of my favorite taco place here in Los Angeles down the street and I post a caption, my friends will get the joke I'm talking about.

[43:49] If I post that in Snapchat, the only people seeing it would be people getting the in joke about the taco shop. But meanwhile, if I were to make a caption on Instagram about the hard time parking at the taco shop and you didn't happen to know me, the reaction would be a confused, "What the heck is happening here?"

[44:10] For Instagram search, that's been a big problem. Figuring out the context in images and content is a huge, huge issue for all these search engines.

Kevin: [44:23] Facebook would have to know that there's huge potential in that. I actually noticed on Twitter's careers page that they're hiring a lot of machine learning. They're trying to hire a lot of people in the machine learning space. We never quite know what they're trying to work on, these companies, in the background, but Instagram's definitely a social media that platform [inaudible 44:56] would like to watch.

[44:51] Our platform focuses on Twitter but it's constantly getting requests to please provide tools for Instagram, as well. There's a lot of potential there to see where, if Instagram's going to pull ahead...

[45:10] Of course, Jack Dorsey, who's now interim CEO, the legend has it that he tried buy Instagram and that didn't work out. Of course, Instagram went to Facebook. Do you remember Instagram used to post in line photos to Twitter and then they disabled that. Now you only get a link in a tweet.

Neal: [45:30] I remember that very well. You bring up a very interesting point. Both Facebook and Twitter aggressively try to share their FIOS data. If we go back a few years, there were all these third party clients for Twitter that came out for the iPhone, for PC and Mac desktops. You name it. One by one, Twitter shut down access to the firehose for these apps until Tweetdeck, which they acquired, became the only alternative.

[46:04] You had a few other services like Hootsuite which were hanging on but, by and large, the ecosystem of third parties around Twitter pretty much were wiped out because Twitter didn't see enough monetization in working with them, which is exactly what's happening to Meerkat right now.

[46:23] For Facebook, that's been happening, too. Just at a much slower speed because their API is less valuable to folks over on the app side of things.

Kevin: [46:36] I always thought Google Plus, which, of course, has almost been abandoned, in a way, by Google...I always felt that a great experiment for them would be to just open their API and push people to develop in the API. People love developing on interesting platforms. They would have had something really interesting on their hands if they literally ecosystem-ed to do their work.

Neal: [47:08] They could. That could definitely happen in the future for other social networks, taking elements of new technologies coming up. I'm thinking of virtual reality. Not now, but 5 to 10 years from now.

[47:25] Google wasted huge amounts of resources on Google Plus because they messed with the value proposition. Facebook is at the top of their game and there is no opportunity, frankly, to out-Facebook Facebook. Facebook came to dominance when MySpace was the dominant social network. Before that, Friendster.

[47:48] MySpace had huge problems with speed. It was slow to access pages. The UI was a mess. It scared away users who weren't teenagers. Facebook definitely took advantage of that for growth. But Google could have used their resources in a much smarter way than building a Facebook clone, frankly.

Kevin: [48:11] I absolutely agree. I remember Friendster had issues with site speed, as well. In fact, Marissa Mayer, who I've heard talk many times at conferences. When she was still at Google she admitted that Orkut, which was their [inaudible 48:35] product that they bought. It became very popular in Brazil. The reason for failure, she said, was they didn't scale it properly and it was slow speed issues.

[48:44] It's quite amazing that even the big companies can get such fundamental issues rise. I think, in those days as well, I think it's become a little easier to scale your systems these days. We've got to remember that things have become a little bit easier to solve some of these big technical problems so we shouldn't be too harsh on these companies.

Neal: [49:07] We shouldn't be. I would recommend your listeners watch out for, over the next year or two, is the growth of social networks in emerging economies. Right now, we're seeing WeChat and Tencent over in China, WhatsApp and Viber all over the world get massive, massive market share. Because the high cost of SMS text messages in many countries, these services which allow you only to communicate with your friends, only with your family, only with people you know are gaining mass popularity.

[49:45] I've had the opportunity to play a little bit with WeChat. In terms of image sharing, in terms of...my family is here in the States so this doesn't apply but if they used it, it would be amazing, amazing for image sharing of birthday parties, weddings, graduations, you name it. That's where the next big opportunity for social networks lies, in these semi-closed networks.

Kevin: [50:16] That's interesting. There's huge, huge growth in the developing economies.

[50:23] Neal Ungerleider, who's a journalist at "Fast Company." We could probably carry on talking about all of the interesting world of social media and messaging apps for a long time. We'll keep an eye on your articles and maybe when something else interesting pops up we'll have you back on the show live from LA.

[50:44] I really appreciate your time chatting to us today.

Neal: [50:48] Thanks, Kevin. I appreciate it.

Female Announcer: [50:52] The "It's a Monkey" podcast is brought to you by Managed Flitter. Managed Flitter helps you to work smarter and faster on Twitter. With Managed Flitter, you can schedule tweets for appropriate times, gain insight into Twitter connections, grow your Twitter account, and much more.

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Kevin: [51:12] Nic, it's been interesting. Instagram's been creeping into our lives more and more. Their number of active users are about the same as Twitter these days. Of course, they're owned by the juggernaut Facebook. It was obviously, in retrospect, it looks like a very cheap acquisition.

Nic: [51:28] Absolutely.

Kevin: [51:28] What did they pay? One billion?

Nic: [51:30] Yeah, one billion for it.

Kevin: [51:31] One billion. WhatsApp was 23 billion. Instagram is eating into a little bit of Facebook's and Twitter's territory of the real time space. Interesting, when I spoke to Neal, which was a couple of weeks ago already now, Instagram hadn't launched their own search engine. Funnily enough, a week later they announced that they've revamped their own search and now you can search by location and you can do all sorts of interesting things with it.

Nic: [52:01] Absolutely. It's sort of inevitable that these companies are going to release these high level tools at some point but, I guess, the biggest thing is often...especially where Twitter's going to now. They're so big and their software and the amount of data that goes through Twitter every day is so monolithic that they can't move quickly enough to put these high level search things in.

[52:29] Which is, I think, one of the main reasons why they opened their APIs and allow third party companies to build these nice tools around the outside because small, agile teams can put this stuff together relatively quickly, whereas it's a little harder to go through it when you have 100 employees or 500 employees, or whatever.

Kevin: [52:47] They're certainly a big company and the layers to get things done are pretty hard.

Nic: [52:52] I thought one of the most interesting things that Neil said though, so insightful, was when he said that Instagram is basically just a tech team that is being backed an incredibly huge amount of capital.

Kevin: [53:08] Great position to be in, right?

Nic: [53:10] Whereas Twitter is a publicly listed company that now needs to focus on generating revenue. The board has fiduciary responsibility to push for revenue generation. Whereas Instagram is allowed to be much more relaxed and to have that sort of future, long-term vision.

Kevin: [53:29] Just let it percolate there, put it on a slow boil, just get the product right.

Nic: [53:33] Yeah, absolutely. I think the pressure on Twitter, and the pressure that they're seeing to generate more revenue, I seriously think we're going to see something's going to come out of that over the next year or two. Especially with the CEO change, it can't keep going this way forever.

Kevin: [53:51] It will be interesting, Twitter's...if you're a gambling person and you're listening to this podcast, please don't take my financial advice. I am not a licensed financial anything, but I've been telling a few people. If you are a gambling person, and you do have a bit of money that you can lose, Twitter is an interesting stock, because they had about $35 per share, they are generating about one billion at the moment.

[54:13] Facebook's hit a new high of $90, and generating whatever 12-13 billion. In theory, Twitter should be able to get up there, but also, of course there's also the option that the two big companies, probably the only two big companies that could actually buy Twitter -- Apple and Google. It would fit nicely with both of them. Apple on the music side of things, Google obviously on the search side of things.

[54:36] I tweeted out an article earlier this week, and I sent it to you, about Google indexing tweets, and how they...

Nic: [54:42] Yeah. How things have changed since they started...

Kevin: [54:44] Started indexing tweets. But, will they? Who knows? Twitter still owns the real time space, the celebrity space, the sports space, the TV space. People give them a pretty rough time.

Nic: [54:59] I, honestly believe that, there hasn't been very much innovation on YouTube, at all over the last three to four years, and I know, because I use it a lot. But, one of the biggest things is that, I really think that Twitter has a potential to own video, given...

Kevin: [55:19] They feel the same way, there's Vine, there's Periscope, and they bought this company that helps with REVSharing with the artists. These artists are looking for new ways to get revenue, they're also businesses in turn, themselves, and so, they should in a way.

[55:41] I don't want to use the example of Justin Bieber, I am struggling to think of another celebrity. Tyra Banks, OK. If she wants to tweet out, and chat about some product, and people click on her thing. It's got to be neatly managed, and pay back well.

[55:58] There's a lot of low-picking fruits for Twitter and I think. They're a bunch of smart people, I don't think we should underestimate them. Instagram, I try to love it, and I don't know why I get bored after scrolling through my feed for three minutes.

Nic: [56:13] I think Instagram is one of those things where you need either a critical mass of friends who are posting a lot, or you need a critical mass of celebrities who you follow who are posting a lot. It's the same with Pinterest. If you don't follow enough boards on Pinterest, you can look at it one day, then go to look at it the next day, and you scroll for 10 to 20 seconds and you're back to seeing the same stuff as before.

[56:43] Whereas on Facebook, if you have a couple hundred friends on Facebook, you look at your newsfeed two days in a row, you'll never see the same thing, no matter how much you scroll down. It's just enough...

Kevin: [56:51] Interestingly, Facebook have updated their algorithm, and I don't know if you might have noticed, or if you're listening to this podcast you might have noticed, suddenly you're seeing things, groups that you haven't followed in a while. They've messed with their algorithm.

Nic: [57:07] Yeah, they're internally trying to determine...Basically they've had this data for a long time that they've been sitting on, this huge amount of data about all of the pages that you've clicked on, all of the searches that you've done on Facebook.

[57:24] If you've ever met someone in real life and then stalked them on Facebook trying to find out who they were, then Facebook knows that you've done all of that stuff. They have all of this huge amount of data on all of the searches, all the pages that you've clicked on.

Kevin: [57:40] They even collect your IMs, texts.

Nic: [57:41] Yeah, so they've started resurfacing these pages that you've looked at a lot, but don't necessarily, you haven't subscribed to, or don't necessarily promote their posts. You might notice that a bunch of pages that you've followed of bands you like, or celebrities you like, will suddenly start turning up in your feed, where they haven't done a lot before.

[58:03] One of the things they're doing is using that historical data from when you've looked at pages and searched for things to try and improve the algorithm, I guess.

Kevin: [58:14] I think people underestimate how hard it is to create a product that is so compelling that people spend hours on it a day.

Nic: [58:23] Yeah. It's crazy.

Kevin: [58:24] It's really, I sit and sometimes I think it's really remarkable that someone managed to pull off that product, and to a lesser degree the other social media products as well.

Nic: [58:33] Yeah, it's incredible.

Kevin: [58:33] Interesting, WhatsApp. Many, many years ago in another life, I worked at a radio station in Johannesburg, South Africa called 702 Talk Radio. I saw that they were promoted this week that you could sign up for a service that they ping you updates via WhatsApp. I'd never seen that before, did you know about that?

Nic: [58:50] Yes.

Kevin: [58:50] Really? I've never seen anyone else do that.

Nic: [58:54] It's quite a rare thing. People don't do it much, but they built it in quite early, and it was one of the things that we were initially considering when I was building this notification platform. It was, "Oh, we could either build our own solution or we could just get people to send out these notifications through WhatsApp."

[59:11] [crosstalk]

Kevin: [59:12] ...this is the first company I've seen do that. I've never seen...

Nic: [59:14] Yeah. I can't think of anything specifically. I know a lot more European brands do it, because WhatsApp's much more popular in Europe.

Kevin: [59:22] Also in South Africa. It would be a low bandwidth type of service.

Nic: [59:29] Absolutely.

Kevin: [59:30] Even turning things like WhatsApp into messaging and broadcast services, really, there's a lot of crossover in all these services.

Nic: [59:38] Absolutely. The instant messaging platform is the most bizarre ecosystem. I think of messages like WhatsApp versus Facebook messaging, for example, or WhatsApp versus LINE or WeChat, I think of those as the comparison between Coke and Pepsi.

[59:58] There's almost no difference in the product. Some hardcore users would tell you there's a difference [laughs] in the product.

Kevin: [60:04] But there's a religious following on both.

Nic: [60:06] Yeah, but really, the biggest thing is the marketing and just nailing specific demographics and really launching well in particular emerging economies. That's actually proving to be the difference in whether these messages are successful or not.

Kevin: [60:19] You're a fan of the Telegram services, the Russian services...

[60:21] [crosstalk]

Nic: [60:21] Love Telegram, yeah. It's great.

Kevin: [60:23] I met someone else at a meeting this weekend. He also said he uses Telegram with his friends. Besides you two, I've never [laughs] met anyone else that uses...

Nic: [60:29] You should check their user numbers because they are continuing to explode. It's really, really big.

Kevin: [60:37] The whole angle was Uber Security and of course they got hacked as well.

Nic: [60:42] They didn't get hacked, they got taken offline or they got attacked by someone, so they got DDoS-ed. Some of you might have heard of that acronym before, Direct Denial of Service.

[60:55] It's essentially, basically these people send a huge number of requests to the telegram service and totally overwhelm them, because it's very hard for them to determine which requests are spam and which ones are actual messages that people are trying to send.

[61:08] They had a couple of hours downtime in the Asia Pacific region last week. But the most interesting thing was the most famous period for telegram was when they had six million sign-ups in four hours. That's because WhatsApp was down for four hours.

Kevin: [61:30] I remember that.

Nic: [laughs] [61:30] The whole thing come full circle. Now people are jumping from Telegram onto something else because they were down for a while. It's bizarre how even just the tiniest little bit of service loss in these cases can cause such a big product disruption.

Kevin: [61:46] Crazy world of the Internet and tech, that's why we love it. Anyway, we're going to wrap that up for this episode. That's episode 61 of It's a Monkey Podcast. Please tweet us, please email us.

[61:56] You could also subscribe to a list which we've getting some nice subscriber numbers up at itsamonkey.com. Pop in your email address. You'll get pinged when the latest episode is up. That's pretty useful.

[62:09] You can follow myself on Twitter, Nic on Twitter. We'll be back in two weeks' time, talking about everything tech. Wherever you are in the world, hope you enjoyed the show and we'll see you next time.

Nic: [62:20] Cheers. See you later.

[62:23] [music]