BotBeat Weekly // Sep 8, 2016

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BotBeat Weekly // Sep 8, 2016

News Events Insight
BotBeat
Hi Peter,

We’ll see the first bot IPOs in the next two or three years, Phil Libin told me when I visited him recently. Libin, of course, is a leading figure in the bots community who joined venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners a year ago and already has made five investments in bot companies. As an investor, Libin is bullish, as you’d expect. But he was also conscious of the challenges facing the current bot ecosystem. “”Right now there’s a lot of fart bots,”” he said almost apologetically. “”None of which are meant to be substantive. They’re there because developers want to see what it’s like to write one and ask: What does it feel like? What are the analytics that I can get? How many people will discover it? You’re not supposed to take them seriously.””

Libin was speaking about the relatively trivial bots that do things like order pizza, check the weather, or send flowers. In his view, bot startups need to satisfy three criteria in order to have a chance at becoming a viable, independent company:
1. A company’s bot (or bots) must solve a real problem, not a manufactured one.
2. The bot cannot be just an app replacement.
3. The bot should help multiple people have a conversation among themselves, with the bot providing functionality and structure in-line to that conversation.

The first two criteria eliminate perhaps 99 percent of bots today, Libin estimates. And while there are too many variables for a startup seeking funding, and then building a sustainable, profitable business (let alone going public), Libin’s criteria are clearly a good place to start when thinking about the value being created by bots. Our full interview with Libin is available here.

Thanks to everyone who has visited our revamped Bots Channel and sent us feedback. We continue to make improvements, so please keep the suggestions coming via email. And as always, please share your ideas for guest posts with John Brandon, and send story tips to Khari Johnson.

— Blaise Zerega
Editor in Chief

P.S. We hope you enjoy this video of Robert “”The Botfather”” Hoffer as he argues that bots need personality and soul.
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