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This week, Travis and Stewart discuss the latest AI startups, including Replika, a spinoff of the Luka bot that creates a “digital ghost” of your friends. We also talk about DemandBase’s new (massive) round of funding and Twitter’s new ad units that put a bot in your DMs.

We then interview Taylor Freeman of Upload, who tells us all about the future of VR, AR, and every other kind of reality you can think of. In fact, we had so much fun with this week’s guest, we don’t want to return to actual reality.

And remember the Huawei MediaPad M3 giveaway? Well, the competition is now closed, and if you join Travis and Stewart live on the VentureBeat Facebook page later this week, you’ll find out who our winner is!



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Join us in San Francisco on July 11-12, where top executives will share how they have integrated and optimized AI investments for success and avoided common pitfalls.


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  • Welcome to VB Engage Episode 54! [0:10]
  • Starting next week, VB Engage is going live on Facebook! Make sure you follow VentureBeat’s Facebook page. [02:00]
  • We received over 1,400 entries for VB Engage’s first ever competition. Stay tuned and we will be announcing the winner on FB Live! [03:30]
  • Twitter launched a new ad format to allow bots in DMs. They also launched a new way for advertisers to boost chat experience by use of Promoted Tweets. [05:15]
  • Jon Cifuentes, a former research analyst for VB Insight, cofounded All Turtles, an AI studio that has backed eight startup companies. [07:10]
  • Replika, a new company and subsidiary of Luka, is going beyond assistance and working towards essence of a person or digital ghosts. Cofounded by Eugenia Kuyda after she wanted to resurrect her friend Roman Mazurenko, who died in a car accident. [08:45]
  • Wouldn’t it be nice to have an AI-powered Mastermind Group with John Lennon? Travis can’t wait.  [10:10]
  • DemandBase raised $65 million in a round of funding led by Sageview Capital and Silver Lake Waterman. They are offering a marketing platform that helps you target specific people from specific companies by aligning IP addresses with company information. [12:00]
  • Please welcome our guest, Taylor Freeman, founder and CEO of UploadVR. [13:30]
  • Upload’s mission is to unify all the resources of the VR professional community — a place where they can get access to the hardware that they need, or a place where they can connect with mentors and corporate partners. [14:30]
  • The company has grown into an academy for VR developers and creatives, with different types of developer trainings. [15:05]
  • We are only a little bit away from the hardware being as good as it needs to be, but all of this is going to die unless we can continuously provide engaging content. [15:55]
  • 2017 is going to be the era of content. For the past two years, there has been a massive presence from Oculus and other companies showcasing their hardware. The industry is definitely recognizing the need for great content, especially at conferences like E3 and GDC. [17:05]
  • What are some of the things that are out now that wowed you? [18:30]
  • Taylor only had three “aha” moments: trying VR, using the configuration utility of the Oculus Developer Kit, and six degrees of freedom. [19:45]
  • Six degrees of freedom within VR is what gives it the real feeling. [20:15]
  • This year and next year will solidify architecture, and engineering will be using VR more frequently. [20:50]
  • Looking at education, VR is more like having a real experience. Kids who are 4-5 years old actually remember going to a baseball game that was only a VR experience.[21:10]
  • VR is such a powerful medium that it needs to monitored so that companies don’t do nefarious things with it, like subliminal messages, etc. [21:50]
  • Mobile phone-based augmented reality is going to be HUGE. [22:40]
  • 360-degree screen with whatever is all around you, natural gestures, and eye-tracking. It’s going to blow your 4-inch screen away. [23:20]
  • The construction industry is doing some cool things with AR and hard hats. [24:00]
  • Robert Scoble and Travis went to Shanghai Disney back in August of 2016, and Scoble mentioned that it was the first amusement park to be built 100 percent in VR before being physically built. [24:45]
  • There is going to need to be a cultural shift before people can handle some of this technology. [25:30]
  • VR took 50 years to become an overnight success. [26:10]
  • Let’s talk “Glassholes” and Scoble’s shower picture. [27:00]
  • Over time, societal expectation will shift, and the public will expect this technology exposure. [27:10]
  • 5X-20X efficiency gains by being in a 3D world over a flat-screen. [27:45]
  • Voice interaction and eye-tracking will be huge in VR. [28:05]
  • AR glasses will be as popular as smartphones in first world countries. [28:35]
  • Kickstarter had a set of AR glasses recently called Vue, which has bone-induction speakers in the ear pieces.  [28:55]
  • Travis took his son to Upload SF and had more fun there than in the city itself. [29:25]
  • We will all be taking mid-afternoon “VRacations” or enjoy a “VRay-Dream” and chill out on a beach during the day. Stewart hates VRacations. [30:20]
  • VR developers studied awe as a means to help develop content for VR. [31:30]
  • 13 years old is a good age to start getting on VR, due to how your brain reacts to the visual and spatial area. [32:10]
  • Is there a watchdog group around VR to protect the consumers? [33:15]
  • There needs to be guidelines in place around age restrictions around content. The subconscious mind is a powerful thing. [34:20]
  • The McGurk Effect shows how some media can trick the mind, and that is just 2D. Some media could really twist your brain in a negative way, if not careful. [36:10]
  • Connect with Upload at and if you want to up-to-date on VR news, check out [37:35]

Next week, we interview TJ Leonard, the CEO of Video Blocks. We discuss how he has grown his startup and how he engages his community here in the 21st century.

If you missed last week’s episode, we interviewed the awesome Kristian Segerstrale of Super Evil Mega Corp, who gives us the lowdown on how to create amazing communities, and how to sound like an evil genius.

As always, thanks for tuning in. Don’t forget to follow VentureBeat over on Facebook where you’ll be able to find out — live — who won the amazing Huawei MediaPad M3 in our first ever giveaway! We’ll also announce the winner on next week’s episode.


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