Facebook Messenger changed its policy Monday to allow bot makers and businesses to send promotional messages. This is a significant development that will redefine conversational commerce.

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson wrote that he now encourages entrepreneurs to pitch bots, not apps. He argued that chatbots are now out of the hype phase and are now entering the “figuring it out phase.”

Like the birth of a galaxy, the bot ecosystem is taking shape from many interconnected, disparate elements. The primordial soup consists of more than 170 companies, $4 billion in funding, and tens of thousands of bots, according to VB Insights. Learn more in this brand new report.

Some new bots that caught our eye this week: DOM the Pizza bot from Domino’s, a Rio Olympics bot from Sports Illustrated, and a SAAS accounting bot for Slack. Next week, DoNotPay, the parking ticket-fighting bot, will launch in Seattle, and San Francisco after that. DoNotPay bot has successfully challenged 170,000 parking tickets, according to its creator Joshua Browder.

In a pair of bot-related insights shared this week, Init.ai’s Keith Brisson compares 11 of the best messaging platforms, and VentureBeat’s John Brandon spells out exactly why he thinks President Obama’s new bot (called a major moment in the history of bots by this newsletter last week) is an epic fail.

As always, share your ideas for guest posts with John Brandon and send story tips to Khari Johnson.

Finally, here’s a clip of Josh Jacobs explaining why all bots should be cross-platform. Interesting perspective coming from the president of a messaging platform!

From the Bots Channel

11 best messaging platforms compared
From WhatsApp to Telelgram to Facebook Messenger, each messaging platform has its own approach. The interfaces, capabilities, and focus all vary in subtle ways. Each user base is made up of distinct demographics and is receptive to different types of products and experiences.

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Introducing the Bots Landscape: 170+ companies, $4 billion in funding, thousands of bots
I Google search, therefore I bot. Since Facebook announced a bot developer framework and distribution platform in April, the media has been hyperventilating over its impact.

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A short history of chatbots and artificial intelligence
Starting in the 1980s, technology companies like Apple, Microsoft, and many others presented computer users with the graphical user interface as a means to make technology more user-friendly.

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Facebook Messenger now lets chatbots send promotions and subscription-based messages
Facebook has made policy changes to speed up reviews of chatbots on Messenger and allow chatbots to send subscription-based messages, as well as promotional messaging.

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The bot that beat 170,000 tickets launches in Seattle next week, then San Francisco
Joshua Browder believes parking tickets are a tax on the poor and really wants to make bots that help people. That’s why his free bot DoNotPay that fights parking tickets launches in Seattle next week.

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Beyond VB

WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger face tighter regulation in Europe
Messaging apps born out of Silicon Valley may have their freewheeling wings clipped to fit in with new European telecom regulations. (via CNET)

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See Maps of Fantasy Worlds Created by Bots
As you travel northeast along the shore of southern Nimrathutkam, the first town you’ll encounter is Ak Tuh, followed by Nunrat and Nrik Mah before you reach the coastal city of Tuhuk, the largest urban area in the region of Mum Huttak. (via National Geographic)

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Operator fuses bots with humans to build cyborg shopping experts
Big purchases are scary to make online without anyone there to quell your fears and answer questions. Operator’s app wants to give you the same peace of mind, not with mechanical chat bot responses, but through real humans with knowledge about whatever you’re buying. (via TechCrunch)

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Lin-Manuel Miranda is now fighting ticket bots across the US
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced their collaboration to promote the BOTS Act (Better On-line Ticket Sales Act of 2016) yesterday, in a joint press conference. The bill, which mirrors one introduced in February of last year by House Republicans, proposes a new federal law that would fine ticket resellers who use bots to bypass online security measures. (via The Verge)

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