13 episodes

Welcome to Converge, a conversational game show hosted by Casey Newton, the Silicon Valley editor of The Verge. Listen as the tech industry’s most fascinating entrepreneurs step into the hot seat to play a series of tailor-made games that are funny and revealing. Produced by The Verge and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Converge with Casey Newton The Verge

    • Comedy Interviews
    • 4.4, 188 Ratings

Welcome to Converge, a conversational game show hosted by Casey Newton, the Silicon Valley editor of The Verge. Listen as the tech industry’s most fascinating entrepreneurs step into the hot seat to play a series of tailor-made games that are funny and revealing. Produced by The Verge and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Eoghan McCabe chats about bots

    Eoghan McCabe chats about bots

    The hype cycle for bots exploded in 2016 as developers poured time and money into the dream of personal digital assistants. Facebook and Microsoft announced major investments into conversational user interfaces, and Slack launched a fund to capitalize on the bots hoping to build on its platform.

    But when bots became available the public, the public largely shrugged. The advantages of conversational interfaces paled next to their drawbacks. It turned out that typing into text boxes — often while trying to guess the appropriate commands — felt frustrating compared to the visual interfaces people were used to. And so bots largely receded into the background as another Silicon Valley innovation that arrived before its time.

    Eoghan (pronounced “Owen”) McCabe, co-founder and CEO of the fast-growing marketing startup Intercom, says the collapse was predictable. “Have there ever been any super destructive, sexy technology innovations that haven’t actually worked that way?” he says. “You’re just never going to be able to perpetuate that excitement for the amount of time it actually takes for actual innovation to actually take hold in a market.”

    In other words, the bots never really went away; they just became invisible. More automated messaging can be found on companies’ websites and apps than ever before. The work continues. And as Intercom’s own story has shown, businesses’ appetites for the automation they enable is only increasing. (Intercom released a tool to let businesses build custom chat bots earlier this month.)

    Founded in 2011, Intercom’s first product was a (human-powered) chat box that popped up when you visited a company’s website. The idea was that a website should say hello to customers the same way a barista might when you enter a coffee shop — and then sell you on something available for purchase. Since then, Intercom has added machine learning to automate more of those conversations, along with various other tools for generating and managing sales leads. (In these ways, it’s a direct competitor to Salesforce.)

    While public interest in bots waned, Intercom has continued to invest in the technology. In March, the company announced that it had 25,000 customers and was powering 500 million conversations a month. As part of the announcement, Intercom — which is based in McCabe’s native Dublin, with additional headquarters in San Francisco and London — said it had raised another $125 million from Kleiner Perkins and Google Ventures. The company is valued at nearly $1.3 billion.

    McCabe says the company has grown because businesses are looking for a single platform to help them organize their communication tools across every platform. That’s an approach that’s different than a company like Facebook’s, which similarly hopes to offer a popular front end for business conversations through its Messenger and WhatsApp services. But those are just endpoints, McCabe says. Another service is needed in the background to organize a company’s communications.

    “What the world will need is one platform to band these multiple channels together,” he says. “They’ll need someone to build workflows for the people inside these companies to help them collaborate and be efficient. They’ll need someone to build the automation that works on these channels.”

    McCabe lays out his thoughts on the future of bots on the season finale of Converge, an interview game show where tech’s biggest personalities tell us about their wildest dreams. It’s a show that’s easy to win, but not impossible to lose — because, in the final round, I finally get a chance to play and score a few points of my own.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 44 min
    Pandora’s Roger Lynch makes us a playlist

    Pandora’s Roger Lynch makes us a playlist

    Breaking down music into its component parts helped Pandora build personalized music playlists years before services like Spotify even existed. Could taking a similar approach with podcasts help the streaming-audio company regain the users it has lost to newer services? That’s the bet Pandora is making under Roger Lynch, who joined the company as CEO in 2017.

    Lynch lays out his thoughts on the future of music on this episode of Converge, an interview game show where tech’s biggest personalities tell us about their wildest dreams.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 44 min
    Taggart Matthiesen takes us for a ride

    Taggart Matthiesen takes us for a ride

    Should ride-sharing companies build a “quiet mode”?

    “We have thought about it,” Taggart Matthiesen, head of product for autonomous driving for Lyft, told me. “I think it’s interesting. At some point, we may play around with that idea, but that’s unfortunately not a feature at this point.”

    Matthiesen says that a “zen mode” would represent another step in more personalized rides, a move the company plans to accelerate as it changes gradually to include more autonomous vehicles. “The autonomous car is going to know a lot more [about you],” Matthiesen said. “It’s going to know your temperature that you’re going to want. It’s probably also going to know that it’s early in the morning, and so it’s going to have a dark-lit cabin to let you sleep. Maybe you can even relax in the seat, and the back will extend into some sort of lie-flat mode. Maybe not complete lie-flat, just based on the area, but a good recline.”

    Lyft is currently testing self-driving cars in Las Vegas in a partnership with the British company Aptiv. In March, it signed a deal with auto parts maker Magna to build and deploy its own self-driving cars. For Lyft, which is valued at more than $15 billion, autonomous vehicles represent an important plank of the company’s plans to remain competitive against larger competitors like Uber, which has grand autonomous driving plans of its own.

    “THE AUTONOMOUS CAR IS GOING TO KNOW A LOT MORE ABOUT YOU.”

    Matthiesen lays out his thoughts on how Silicon Valley should change its priorities on this episode of Converge.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 46 min
    The Human Utility’s Tiffani Ashley Bell on how small nonprofits are stepping up

    The Human Utility’s Tiffani Ashley Bell on how small nonprofits are stepping up

    Tiffani Ashley Bell is the founder of the Human Utility, a nonprofit organization working to restore water service to people who are unable to pay their bills. The organization, which was founded in 2014, began its work in Detroit and has since expanded to Baltimore.

    Bell lays out her thoughts on how Silicon Valley should change its priorities on this episode of Converge.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 44 min
    Dream Machine’s Alexia Bonatsos makes a surprisingly good case for an Airbnb for horses

    Dream Machine’s Alexia Bonatsos makes a surprisingly good case for an Airbnb for horses

    Alexia Bonatsos has watched countless startups come and go. First as the editor in chief of TechCrunch, and now in her current role as the founder of venture capital firm Dream Machine, Bontasos’ job has been to understand what makes a tech company succeed. “A lot of it’s gut, but gut’s not magical woo-woo dust,” she says. “It’s taking in data and information, and eventually making a decision based on that.”

    Bonatsos has seen thousands of companies, and so on today’s episode of Converge, we turned the tables. Using two decks of cards — one with a set of famous companies, and the other with a set of random nouns — we invited Bonatsos to draw two cards, and pitch us the resulting company.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 43 min
    Front’s Mathilde Collin on why email is making a comeback

    Front’s Mathilde Collin on why email is making a comeback

    It’s been four years now since Slack arrived to kill email — and yet, email persists. While the group chat app has plenty of ardent fans and continues to grow quickly, it also draws criticism for its distracting, always-on nature. At many workplaces, if you’re at work, you’re also expected to be available on Slack. For some people, that means the thing that “replaced” email replaced it with something much more demanding.

    Mathilde Collin says the workplaces of the future ought to take a different approach. She’s the cofounder and CEO of Front, which makes tools for sharing inboxes with your teammates. If you’ve ever emailed a business address starting with “contact@” or “info@,” there’s a chance the team is managing the emails with Front.

    But Collin’s longer-term vision is to build what she calls an asynchronous version of Slack. Like Slack, Front will be integrated with all the other software tools you use — Asana, Trello, Github, Google Docs, and so on — and collect any important notifications in a place where you can read them on your time. It takes away the constant pinging of Slack in favor of something calmer and more conducive to doing focused work. Not only hasn’t email died — the tech industry’s current focus on Time Well Spent might have made it stronger.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
188 Ratings

188 Ratings

Gummi0707 ,

Good!!

Really good podcast

Cupertinouser ,

Verbose with little substance

Too verbose, lots of pomp and show and little substance. Quite a waste of Casey Newton talent.

Thomas McBride ,

Consistently outstanding.

Casey Newton’s Twitter is among the best on the blockchain. If you enjoy that content, you’ll love this.

Top Podcasts In Comedy Interviews

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by The Verge