About The Bitvore 22
The Bitvore 22 is a series describing a day in the life(time) at Bitvore and working on the bleeding edge of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Jeff Curie, President, Bitvore gave our 22 questions a serious run for the money.
1. How long have you worked with Bitvore?
Since the beginning of time. How long is that? A little over five years now.
2. What has been your role with Bitvore?
My role has been to take this formative technology and figure out how to bring it into being a valuable product with a defined market. I’m involved in everything from raising the money to building the team to finding the market.
3. How has your role since you started?
It's changed dramatically because we've hired a whole layer of people that are experts in what they do. Business development, products, marketing, sales, and engineering.
4. What do you like about Bitvore?
The thing that makes any company worth working for, is the people. Great people, great ideas, overcoming obstacles together. We've overcome a huge number of different challenges in taking this kind of product into the market, not only convincing the world that they need it, but figuring out how to technically deliver it in an efficient way every day that is not incredibly expensive. How do you optimize it? And it's the people who figure that out. We have a great, diverse set of people that all work as an integrated team to make it possible. The whole company is designed around the efficient delivery of our product. It’s really, really cool. It's really fun to see it grow. We have nearly 100 of the largest financial companies in the world as customers today. It’s amazing growth from a company that seems like yesterday was just a couple of smart engineers chatting over Skype.
5. How would you explain Bitvore in simple terms to a non-tech person?
Let me give you two different ways to look at this. The company and the product. As for the company, ask yourself, do you ride your bike at night without a light on it? No, you would crash into things. Then why do you drive your business without headlights? You can't see what's in front of you until it’s too late. You have no way to manage and monitor what's going on around your company. Today employees focus on their daily job and casually shares tidbits of what they find in their daily reading, that’s the way it’s always been. Casual, error-prone and slow. But intelligence is strategic, companies work in complex interdependent ecosystems and markets move faster and faster. That’s what we're fixing - making strategic intelligence a fast, reliable asset to companies. What companies want to be come in second place on deals? None. So we are a headlight, or radar, for companies.
The other way to look at it is, what does the Bitvore machine do? We've taught computers how to read the news of the world and sort out what's important and impacts companies, and what is not. That's effectively what Bitvore is. It's computers taught to read and make decisions, and doing that all day long.
6. What do you think the biggest promise of AI is, and how will it change everything?
The biggest promise of AI is that it eliminates the information drudgery. It's an enhancement to humans. It's the ultimate assistant. It's not making decisions for them, but it certainly can gather enormous amounts of information, point out issues, and make recommendations. People are trying to make decisions, and to do that you need information. To get that data, there's a huge amount of work, time, and labor, and AI is brilliant at reducing that effort, or potentially eliminating all that work so people can make better informed decisions. That's the great promise here; the augmentation of human capabilities with better digital assistance. I won’t use the Ironman analogy, but think about what the suit allows Tony Stark to do
7. What do you think the biggest threat of AI is?
Self-driving cars running over your pets. [laughs] No. There's so much hype around this. It’s science fiction: “computers are going to take over the world.” Could they? Well, if we let them. I think the biggest threat is more military. AI can be a tremendous ally in the field. You don't have to put humans at risk. You can conduct large scale cyber attacks with incredible speed, without any person slowing it down. You can create autonomous planes, submarines, missiles, soldiers, jeeps, and tanks, and no people are involved. It changes that world a lot. The other big threat is against personal privacy, which we’re seeing in China, and could happen anywhere, is the Chinese government is systematically taking all privacy away from people. In order to do that, AI is a great benefit.
To build AI and vision recognition systems that can track anytime a person walks in front of a camera, and then put cameras and sensors everywhere because they cost pennies to deploy. Heck you may pay your own money to carry the evil in your pocket right now. Now you know everything about everybody: where they go, what they do, who they talk to. You can record their conversations and take it all apart. If you are building a state where you are looking for troublemakers, and you define what trouble is, that's a problem. Any company with enough information about people can do the same thing. The biggest threat is the surveillance and the reduction of personal privacy around the world.
8. What are your favorite online website or resources that you check every day?
I read enormous amounts every day. I'm not particular about the sites. I use Feedly, which is an aggregation tool. I read everything from photography and art, to tech and automotive, to architecture, biology, and archaeology. I'm interested in all of it.
9. How do you keep your technology skills current?
Related to the previous, I love to read. I track everything from basic research, in everything from chemistry to biology, to computer science to physics. I like to get hands on. Every tool we have I use, and I like to figure out what their limits are, and where the gaps are between different products and where the opportunities are.
10. What qualities do you think are most important in a startup leader?
You have to be very organized, and have the ability to balance every dimension of a company in your head at all times. Whether it's legal and finance, or sales, or technical, or investor relations, you do all of those things daily, and move them all around constantly. Tech companies are not monolithic. They don't do one thing, they need everything to operate.
11. What does Bitvore or yourself do to help altruistically?
I spend quite a bit of time with other entrepreneurs in Orange County. Helping other companies, helping other executives get over hurdles, helping people figure out how to figure things out. Orange County is not like Silicon Valley, in terms of business relationships being prioritized. I've worked with a bunch of groups like OCTANe, or The SCENe, which is a group I started, and ended, a long time ago. These different types of groups are trying to figure out how to recreate the networking that happens so easily in Silicon Valley? If you’re looking for startup companies in Orange County, there's no list. So I focus on trying to build Orange County into a more vibrant growing startup tech area.
12. What is your favorite technology product and why?
My favorite technology product shifts, but today it’s the Apple Pencil. I'm a note taker. I draw pictures in my notes, so I like the paper and a good pen. But it's page after page after page, and good luck finding something months later. I wanted a way to take notes digitally, because I can't type as fast in a meeting and I can’t draw pictures on a computer. I did some research on the Apple Pencil, and I got one. It actually works like a pencil! I draw, I can write as fast as I can write on paper, but it's all digital and organized. I use the Notability note-taking application. It's fantastic.
13. Do you have a least favorite technology product?
Nothing comes to mind. Everything has a trade off. I only buy stuff that I really research and believe I'll use. If I don't, I'll send it back.
14. iPhone or Android? Mac or PC?
I’m Apple: iPhone, Mac, iPad. I love it in some ways, but I hate Apple in many ways. I'm locked into their ecosystem. I'm not particularly happy about it, but they all work so well together.
15. Can you tell us about a tech project that you've worked on in your spare time?
My projects tend to be things that have hydraulic fluid, oil or wood involved, not chips. I like to work on old cars. I like to mountain bike and work on my bikes. They're purely analog, mechanical machines. I like hands on. I’ve also been doing lots of experimentation with voice assistants and home automation.
16. What was the last presentation you gave, to who, and about what?
The last big presentation was at a user conference, and it was a portfolio management tool that we partnered with. I gave the keynote address. It was all on the emergence of AI and how it was going to change the particular industry that crowd operated in.
17. What was the last show you binged watched?
I am currently binge watching the Star Trek show on CBS. I'm a Trekkie.
18. How do you manage your work life balance?
I’ve merged them together, which is the simplest solution for me. One way to look at it is that I'm on 24 hours a day. I have my phone, I can work anywhere, I am totally portable. Something comes up, I'll take care of it. It doesn't matter if I'm on a plane at 30,000 feet, or if I'm in New York, or if I'm at home in Irvine. My family's used to it, nobody minds if you don’t miss the important moments and quality time.
19. Kids? Family?
Family: yes. Married with two kids. Both my kids are in college. My son is a Junior studying Computer Science and is currently in Seoul, Korea doing a study abroad. My daughter is a Sophomore studying Neuroscience and Psychology.
20. What do you like to do when not working on or thinking about Bitvore?
I am a runner, a mountain biker, and I like to work with my hands on things. Building and fixing stuff.
21. Dogs or cats?
I have a big lovable Labrador. I would have a cat but our last cat experience was not a good one, and cats aren’t welcome in our house these days!
22. What are the next major challenges for Bitvore?
We're cracking open some very large, new markets. The next big challenge will be the next stage of growth for the company and overcoming the issues that typically come with that. Adding more people that can manage more things, yet keeping the speed and agility of the company we've created.