Moneyhub, Truist Bank, MX, Franklin Templeton, Mentoro
Alloy Labs, Castle Hills Consulting, MX, Cornerstone Advisors
MX, Regions Bank, Informative Research, MX
I am gonna go ahead and introduce our moderator, Crystal Anderson. Crystal is the Vice President of Product at MX, where she's responsible for delivering on the strategic direction, future vision and roadmaps for MX's product portfolio. She has 20 years experience in digital and financial product management and product design, including 16 years at H&R Block, where she was the vice president of financial services, Crystal holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism, and completed a Master's program in speech communication at the University of Central Missouri. Thank you for joining us, Crystal. I'll go ahead and pass the time over to you.
Thank you. Um, okay. So I'm gonna introduce our session and our panelists, and then they're gonna just tell you a little bit about themselves and then we'll jump in. And we are going to reserve about 10 minutes at the end for Q&A, so we'll definitely get to you. We wanna hear from you all.
Uh, today's session is, um, as Ali said, the future of FinTech, a blend of business and technology. Tomorrow's successful FinTech companies need a perfect blend of business and technology from understanding financial regulation and building scalable products and meeting business needs. Uh, we are going to hear from this panel about, um, how they're doing it and, and they're very interesting and unique perspectives in this space.
So, who I have with me today, I have Ryan, Chris. Oh, dang it. I have been practicing his last name and I said, it's so important to me that I get it right, Christiansen, right? Oh, I did it. Okay. Ryan Christiansen, he's the executive director at the University of Utah, the Center for Financial Technology. And in this role Ryan directs and coordinates the labs Venture Fund incubator and student programs, uh, for the center. So, Ryan, can you tell us a little bit about, more about yourself and then I'll introduce the other panelists as well.
Well, uh, there's not a lot more to say. That's what I'm doing Right now. Okay. Um, prior to that, I did company called Ity, uh, local company, and, we sold to MasterCard. So I've done some FinTech work and then banking as well.
Very good. Welcome to our panel. Perfect. Okay. Next we have Chris Cox, the Chief Operating Officer of Aperture. Chris serves as the CEO of Apiture the digital banking company as COO. He leads product innovation, engineering, customer service, and professional services for the company. Welcome. Chris, do you wanna tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Yes, hi. Hi everyone. Is this on? Is this working? Yes, so Chris Cox Apiture is a digital banking company, so we provide full service, consumer and business banking, digital account opening for consumer business accounts, a suite of data intelligence products, some in partnership with MX and some API banking solutions. So we are all about business and technology. We're a fully regulated business. Our clients are financial institutions, so looking forward to the discussion today.
Great, Thank you Chris. We also have Adam Naor, the FIN for with fintech business Development, um, AWS Startups at Amazon. Adam hiked to the summit of Snowbird today. That's, um, my most recent, most interesting thing about him. I was like, you did what ran, actually, I think. Um, but he also works with fintechs to accelerate the adoption of Amazon's cloud technology. Adam, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Yeah. First of all, thanks for having me. Yes. Um, it takes roughly 90 minutes. If you have any free time later today or tomorrow, you can get to the summit. Um, the North Star for my team is to be value additive to FinTech founders. Uh, previously before Amazon, I was a FinTech founder of a neobank, and we spend all of our time trying to find ways to connect people, ideas, capital technology, in ways that we can help accelerate the adoption of whatever products people are building. So that's how I spend my time and really happy to be here.
Great, thank you. And lastly, we have Jason Wild. Jason is president of Wild Innovation Consulting, former Microsoft and Salesforce executive. Um, he, it he most recently served as Global Vice President at Microsoft, where he has held several leadership roles since joining in 2021. Can you tell us a little bit more, more about yourself?
Oh, well, thanks Crystal. It's also really good to be here. Uh, Jason Wild. Uh, I've been really, really fortunate and blessed over the last 25 years to work at IBM Salesforce and recently Microsoft, mostly in advisory roles, helping CEO, CXOs with topics like growth, innovation, transformation in 38 countries. I have kids, so I actually like wrote it down one time to make sure that I'm telling the truth. So I've been stuck on 38 for a while. So I guess I got some, still some work to do and not ready to retire in, uh, my free time.
I am, uh, really blessed also to be writing a book with Linda Hill from Harvard Business School. It's gonna be published at the end of next year. One of the chapters is actually on AJ Bongo when he was the Chairman, CEO of MasterCard, talking about the transformation from a payments company to a, you know, much bigger, behemoth than it is today focused on managing financial lifestyle. Um, so I'm not an expert on this industry, but, uh, really, really passionate about customer centricity. So it's great to be in a place that also values that.
Yeah. Great. Thank you all again so much. Okay. Let's jump into our panel questions. Ryan, we're gonna start with you. The university's FinTech center is focused on a unique blend of business, regulatory and engineering to teach the next generation of FinTech leaders. Can you tell us more about that?
Sure, you bet. Uh, one of the things that comes to mind is something you just said, the FinTech of tomorrow. And that's what's very exciting to me right now about uh, a university setting. It is the FinTech of tomorrow. We're working with students to help teach them about how to be successful in FinTech and how to build the future of FinTech. We have students around here somewhere, and I'm not sure they're in the room today, but if you see them, here we go. Here's one back here. So if you see the students, talk to them and hire them, the, um, but what we're doing at the FinTech center is we're a really multi-disciplinary approach to FinTech. So as we look at FinTech we see that as the nexus of business technology and law. And having worked in FinTech, we, I, I gotta see this really close up.
And what we saw in FinTech oftentimes is you could go find great innovators that could go out and be disruptive, maybe break things and wanna put 'em back together. And as soon as you start touching the US financial system, that's not really a thing. That's not what you want to do. You've got consumer protections and uptime that's important.
And so you can't maybe always have the same approach if you're thinking about innovation within the financial services sector. So you look to the financial services sector and say, yeah, you've got a lot of stability. You've, um, built a system that's reliable. But, it hasn't always been the place where you would go to find innovation either, right?
So the example I always like to give is, you know, the financial institutions had about 50 years to figure out how I could split a lunch check. And the best that we came up with was a check, right? So you needed a Venmo and the Squares and Cash Apps to come along and innovate, but they also need to fit within that regulatory framework. And that's where we bring in the call of college of law to help understand the regulatory, um, framework in which we're working in and how to build around that. So that's, uh, that's where our focus is, and it's, uh, very exciting.
That's incredible. Uh, Adam, in your role at Amazon and previously as a fintech founder, what do you see as the keys to succeeding in today's FinTech landscape?
Uh, well, the fintech that I founded failed. So I think I'm uniquely qualified to talk about things you shouldn't do. I'd say there's, like, I speak to probably three or four net new FinTech founders per day in my job. And so I hear from a lot of folks about what they're building and what interests them. And I'll share just a few anecdotes, not necessarily on how to be successful, but about sort of industry trends that are evolving.
The first is a lot of companies that get put on my call schedule that I think are fintechs are now positioning themselves as AI companies. So that's sort of like an interesting thing. They were in KYC, they were in fraud, they were in AMl, but now they're like, oh, we raised money. We're really thinking about generative AI for these services. Um, that's, that's a big one.
And then the second is I'm starting to see a lot of founders talk about something that's, I think, really long overdue for this industry. When interest rates were low and capital could flow freely to, to companies, a lot of CEOs talk to me about they want to build products and services that can produce predictable protectable free cash flow generation. And this is not vocabulary that you would've heard from startup founders three or five or seven years ago.
You think growth at all costs convert your users, have some sort of positive lifetime value relative to the CAC, you'd get positive unit economics, you need to be off to the races. And so it sort of catches my eye when you think about successes. You have founders that are trying to build financial services and the future of payments, banking, wealth management, capital market, et cetera, but they're now thinking about the predictability and protectability of the cash flows from their products.
So that's a second really interesting thing I'd say I'd share with this, uh, audience. Just an antidote that comes to mind a lot. There was a journalist that interviewed Gorbachev during the Cold War and said, what is the state of the Soviet economy? How is it? And he said, good. And the journalist pushed back and said, can you explain it in more than one word? And Gorbachev replied not good. And I see this a lot when I speak with FinTech CEOs and founders.
They say, you know, we're building the future of X, but when you really go into what they're building, it's not necessarily net new, It's not necessarily very compelling. And so I think success will come from people that really understand their users can demonstrate customer centricity and actually have technology and business foundations that are very strong. So those are a few things that I'm seeing. And, um, it comes up on a daily basis.
Adam, can I, can I ask you, is that, can I ask him a question? Is that allowed? So it's interesting you said you see fintech founders starting to talk about AI. Do you think, is that because it's hot right now and that's a way to attract investor attention? Or are they all truly pivoting toward like a gen AI based technology platform?
Yeah, I can't say for all founders, but I certainly think in terms of the capital markets, the ability to raise money, you know, it's very hard if you're a D2C neobank to go raise money right now, for example. Um, and same with RegTech. You know, if you're the next KYC vendor, um, that's probably a tough sell to investors. So I think that's part of it. But I think part of it is people are thinking, hey, you know, maybe there is this step function change that's going to occur as it relates to the adoption of technology for our company. That can change how we actually do things.
If we're trying to think about Fed now and real time payments, what is the surface area for fraud? How can generative AI help us mitigate fraud or combat fraud? Maybe we should position ourselves not as an RTP vendor, but as a, you know, building technology against fraud as it relates to RTP. How do you do that? Maybe through GenAI? So, um, my best guess is that it's a combination of both of those forces.
This is so fascinating to me, and thank you for asking that question.
Uh, you know, we're hearing a lot about how it's changing the current landscape, but I'd like to hear from any of you, how do you think AI is going to change the FinTech industry for the long term?
So I'll start. So, so we are in the digital digital engagement business, right? That's really our job is to give our clients who are financial institutions, the tools they need to interact with their customers through digital channels. And, you know, digital banking isn't new, right? Mobile banking, online banking has been out in the market for a long, long time.
But I think, you know, as we look at, um, the current iteration of AI technology, it creates a unique potential to change the customer experience in ways that maybe we didn't think about before. So we start to think about, and this is maybe a little bit down the road, right? But instead of like what you see today in mobile banking or online banking is typically a fairly complex user experience. It's kind of rigid in form guided, there's a lot of complicated technology integrations underneath, but there is so much potential to just drastically change the UX, like how the user interacts or the customer interacts with the bank.
And you start to think about like really cool things like what is a consumer or a small business really want from their financial institution? It's not another feature in the mobile banking app or a real time core or a more creative savings products. They don't really want any of those things. What they, I think what they really want is help maximizing their wealth. They've looked at their financial institution and say, banking, banking products. I don't know if I really understand them. I don't know what my options are, but can you just help me maximize my wealth? And that might mean making sure I've got the highest rate investments or the lowest rate loans or firm, but friendly spending controls or on and on.
So what if there's a future AI based where a consumer could just ask those fundamental questions to their financial institution? How am I doing today? And through open banking relationships and APIs and maybe some generative AI, you get a legitimate partnership based response to that. And then the follow up is there anything I need to do today to maximize my wealth? And you can there's a potential for financial institutions to become real lifelong partners through technology. It's exciting.
Yeah. And I'm gonna add something to that as well. Excuse me. The, um, we've seen this kind of iteration a few times before. I, I'm old enough that I remember when in financial planning we started running Monte Carlo simulations and that was gonna help everyone make better financial decisions. And turns out it really didn't help that much. You still needed to have a relationship with your customer. And, we've seen robo advising and I don't know that we've seen the promise of robo advising being fulfilled yet either.
Now where AI can make a difference is, sure, I can find the highest interest rate, but why am I not changing my account? You know, like, let's ask that question and let's understand our, let customers well enough to build AI that has the kind of intelligence to ask those kinds of questions.
Because I just had this conversation with my wife recently and she's like, yeah, I gotta put my money somewhere 'cause it's not getting very good rates. And I was like, uh, here's three places that have great interest rates. I don't like any of those. Why? Well, it's a hassle. You know, I like just being able to talk to one person and be all on one app, right? So those are the kinds of things that the winners are going to understand. You still have to build things that speak to people's emotions and provide the tools to help 'em make it easier.
Yeah. Maybe if I could just jump into this Crystal a little bit. Um, I was really fortunate to have been at Microsoft for two years in the middle of this AI thing. And, uh, you know, when I was asked to be a part of this panel, you know, the innovator or the strategist in me, uh, when I, when I hear future, it's like, okay, three years, five years, 10 years, define future. Um, so for me, I think thinking out in the next three to five years, I'm sure all of you at this point realize that AI is gonna be a big deal, if you haven't realized that yet as in it's gonna change many aspects of how we live and work.
And I think this is something that, that the cliche applies where we generally underestimate the long term, um, impacts and overestimate the short term, all of us waiting for AI to replace our jobs. But it just doesn't happen that fast. A few months ago, I got to see a demo actually was sat in some of the leadership team at Microsoft. We don't have the time to talk through the whole thing, but it literally like blew my mind. Um, it was a demo of a farmer in rural India who's intelligent, doesn't read or write is illiterate, um, interacting with, a very simplified version of Azure based GPT, open AI Azure. And, basically he hears about this government subsidy program.
He wants more information about it and asks GPT to go and figure it out, comes back and says, okay, you gotta go to this portal. You gotta fill out these documents and you know, your money will come in a you know, bank check in X number of weeks. This is when it got good. The farmer says, I don't know what a portal is. I'm not going anywhere. Just do it for me. And it comes back and processes, asks for a little bit more information, but executes the whole transaction for him. I thought Sadi was gonna start to cry.
He starts talking about how growing up in India, and I've been to India probably 20 times or more in my life, how they've been waiting for the industrial revolution to arrive. And finally here it is, some guy working on a foundational model on the west coast of the United States six weeks before changing the life material of our rural farmer. So this is the world that we live in.
Now, when I start to think about how does that apply to FinTech, I don't see the financial services industry, sorry, as the most customer-centric industry. Um, I think that there's a huge, huge opportunity. I think when you look at it and you look at it fairly directly and honestly with yourselves, but your own customer experience, it's either great or it sucks It's black and white. And the research usually shows that you may have customers who don't care they're apathetic or they're stuck, but the reality is it's fairly black or white.
So if your customer experience is not great, then what are you gonna do to make that happen? You already seeing Bank of America CEOs going around talking about, ah, gone to the days of selling, you know, financial products and services. It's all about selling the financial lifestyle and enabling that. But it's still, from what I see, a lot of lip service or hey, wait and see what's happening. Um, when you look at the talent, I think there's two points that I'll make on talent that I think are really interesting.
Building on what Adam said, I think they'd be dumb if they didn't at least follow where the intensity of activity is around a lot of, uh, investment and funding and into AI. But at the same time, we've seen before with other industries that were disrupted, you have rocket scientists who now all of a sudden get interested in wanting to disrupt or transform an industry sector or space because you have these resources.
Now, I don't know if you know this, but with GitHub, copilot, you don't even need to touch a keyboard anymore to code. I saw a demo of a guy talking through Siri on his Apple watch, changing a branch in the code, uh, without even touching a keyboard. So I think when you all of a sudden can open up new pools of talent that would've dismissed and poo-pooed and say, ah, yeah, it's too complicated too. It takes too much work, it's gonna change the game a lot in terms of talent.
And I think on the other side of it, it's an opportunity to, to a lot more for what customers want. And whether you're small or big, you've had to become optimized around efficiency to survive. Unit economics, however you define it, it's not enough in this world. You have ALS also have to be optimized by learning and a culture of continuous learning in a way that is cool and not creepy to your customers. And that's a lot, I think, what many organizations are struggling with.
Maybe one, one more point, please. This is such an interesting topic.
So, building on the point about opening up opportunities, one of the things that's really cool I think is the emergence of some of these open source AI tools or LMS that we all know about ChatGPT and others. It is creating the opportunity for non-experts to create commercial models around generative AI. Kind of the same way, like one of the really big advantages of cloud computing was that two guys in a garage now can create enterprise software without a huge capital investment in servers. And all of those things, I think these open source AI tools are gonna do the same thing so people can focus on business problems without having necessarily to understand or have access to all the tools, you know, underneath that just make it possible. So that's where you start to get a real, you know, boom in innovation.
I mean, this isn't a session on AI, but it's a session on technology, but I think we'd all be very remiss if we weren't talking about this. And it, it being such a huge disruptor to business today, and I was, as you guys were talking, trying to think of another example of a technology that so quickly has changes the way businesses operate, how they define themselves. And so maybe for, maybe for later at the concert tonight, we can talk about, you know, another technology that has done this, but let's talk about, uh, the FinTech, the investments in FinTech companies and how we're seeing that cool off, given the macro economic environment, um, and even some of them maybe recategorize themselves as an AI company.
Chris, this one's for you. Um, how is this impacting innovation and what do you think the impact of the future of FinTech means because of the cooling off of investments in FinTech right now?
So, uh, I, we're not an early stage startup, and I'm not a VC, so Adam might actually have better perspective, but I mean, what, what I see in the market is, so we're in a cycle, right? As we we're at, we go through these cycles but right now there's still a ton of capital sitting on the sidelines waiting to be invested.
So I think you're seeing two things happening right now significantly. One is a reduction in valuations, right? Especially early stage seed stage, you know, series A valuations are half what they were two years ago. You're also seeing a flight to quality, to use a phrase, right? Meaning quality of the team. So how good is the management team? How good are the engineers? And I think maybe in a healthy way, what that means is companies that got funded two years ago that probably shouldn't have get, shouldn't have been funded, aren't getting funded right now, maybe that's okay, but there's still a ton of innovation happening. There's still a lot of investment out there for good ideas, for good teams.
And then there's a focus on, there's capital efficiency, and that doesn't necessarily mean profitability or even a short term path of profitability, but it means that you're using your investment dollars in a way that's gonna turn into future revenue. So that's, you know, there's probably also appropriate focus on capital efficiency these days. Anybody else wanna comment on that?
I'll, I'll just throw in a quick comment. I think that you, you're right that profitability is one part of the equation. And I think you really need to create the Venn diagram of profitability and purpose and build those together with the trust that you have to build with the clients, and that's gonna get you through every cycle.
We're definitely in a cycle, we're always gonna be in cycles. Um, and that's got some impacts, but I don't think it has an impact on the amount of innovation that's happening. It may have an impact on the amount of innovation that's being funding funded, but if you can really kind of bring that, that profitability and purpose together and build trust with the customers that you're trying to interact with, you're gonna make it through this cycle and every other one.
I actually have a contrarian perspective to this. It's gonna take me a few minutes to explain it, but I sort of, uh, disagree. Um, so first of all, yeah, for sure, like venture is a subset of private equity. As interest rates have gone up, it's made that entire asset class less attractive. You look at public market comps, you know, the world's best companies and Apple and Google and Microsoft and Amazon et cetera, trade at certain multiples startups, uh, shouldn't be trading at those same multiples because they have less cash flows and EBITDA associated with their performance. And this is really impacting a lot of my friends that do venture for early stage.
Um, one I just like call out two things that I think are like really important trends that people might not be aware of, or maybe you are, but I'll just say them anyway. One is, I think you're gonna start to see companies cross pollinate and change their identities, especially in growth stage FinTech and maybe small market cap public. So an example of this, um, you know, earlier Jason I think mentioned MasterCard wants to be a lifestyle business. I don't really know what that means for MasterCard. They're a payments business.
But one of the biggest payments companies in the world right now is Airbnb, which is definitely a lifestyle business. And they're constantly thinking about foreign exchange and the amount of money that they move. People don't probably associate them with being a FinTech but really they are a huge, FinTech just masquerading as a place where people book places to stay. so that's one thing.
And then the second thing that is somewhat contrarian is yes, I think when the foundation models and the LLMs are built out by people, use cases for various business problems can be built on top of that. But one of the challenges when you look at open AI, anthropic, cohere stability, many others, is that they're super, super capital inefficient.
So I'll give you an example. You can read, you know, the Wall Street Journal or Pitch Book, whatever. These companies will raise 3, 4, 5, $700 million, but then only employ 30 or 50 or 80 people. And they're only hiring a very small subset of people. And almost, so you're like, okay, well where does that money go? They're not hiring, they're not doing marketing. You're, you're not gonna see ads for anthropic on, you know, the Super Bowl and it's going entirely to their compute infrastructure. Um, probably 85% of the dollars that they raise. And so it's going to Azure, it's going to AWS, it's gonna GTP. A
nd I think that creates some structural challenges for innovation as well, when all of the money isn't necessarily going to hiring entrepreneurial people or growing out teams. It's basically going to the gatekeepers of cloud. And so that's, I think, something to think about as well, when you think about the future of FinTech is how these dollars are actually gonna be parsed out.
I mean, what I, what I would add to this is, if I try to put myself in your shoes, at least in terms of strategic planning and where you wanna make choices or bets on the roulette table, I mean, I tell Fortune 100 companies all the time, Hey, you can only be good at three things, you know, try to focus and try to be world class at them. If you're a small company, a startup, obviously it goes without saying it's a matter of survival.
But for me, trying to think about, okay, well where would you place these bets? It's overwhelming. I mean, I can start to feel the smoke coming out of my ears and I would almost maybe flip the lens a little bit and start to look at where are the spaces where there is a ton of value that's gonna be unlocked that for whatever reason, just hasn't been disrupted or transformed.
Let me give you an example, loyalty. My wife is from Barcelona and my mom is from Chicago. Uh, why am I saying that? Because when I told my wife that my mom is, uh, holds more than 30, uh, loyalty cards, she thought I was nuts. There's no way that that's possible. So it was like, okay, well let's ask her to open up a purse at Thanksgiving. And after about 10 cards, we started laughing and gave up.
Uh, when I started looking at this, the average adult in the United States is, um, subscribed to 28 different loyalty programs. When you listen to young folks, they don't even understand it. they think it's a giant margin game of what I have to stay at a hotel for three nights to get one for free, just deliver on the brand promise from the beginning, and then I will be loyal and on and on and on. And yet, as we, you know, as you may have seen with iOS, I think it was 14.1 where even now my grandmother's opting out on tracking our information, opt out, opt out, opt out.
What did we see many of these B2C brands, including banks back to the future of loyalty programs, because they were worried about losing all of this first party data. And it's like, okay, you really have no choice but it's just piling onto something that was already massively saturated. So I think that there's an opportunity in the future for some organization as a consortium that's not a corporate overlord to basically create loyalty of the future. And in that you're gonna create value and there's gonna be stuff to monetize.
And I think that's one of the ways to start to, that's how I would approach looking at the future of FinTech, is these huge value pools where, you know, you can capture a lot of value. The experience sucks today, and there's just something that's holding it back and figuring out what's the right ecosystem to start to break through that. And to me, loyalty is one of many, many examples that exist out there.
Thank you for that. Well, we heard where Jason thinks you should place your bets. Let's end with advice from each of you. Where do you think the biggest pitfalls are in FinTech, that you wanna share or advice that you have for the group? And then we'll take questions. Ryan, let's start with you.
Whenever I think about FinTech, I think about partnerships, uh, that's, fundamental to, to FinTech. A lot of things are being built on the core of the US financial system. And if you're a financial institution, these partnerships are important. The ability to serve a niche market that you wouldn't necessarily invest in through a FinTech app, that's a big deal. If you're a FinTech app and you can find a solution, maybe it's loyalty or something, and partner with your bank or financial institution partners, there's wins out there to be had and then you scale up from there.
So I think that that's the first one. And then the other one would be, you know, failure is part of the game. And, there's a lot of everyday failures. And I, as when I was working at a FinTech, we were having dinner recently with several of us, and it was interesting how we said, you know what, we actually failed every day and never thought that we were failing. We were just like, oh, let's try some, let's do that differently. We just didn't think of it as failure. And when failure is terminal is when you cannot pivot. And so that's the other thing I would say is that you just need to really kind of be, you know, comfortable with failure. You hear that a lot, but you also have to be comfortable with the ability to pivot.
Well, probably so many things we could talk about, right? But I mean, one thing for fintechs, um, you know it's really difficult to build consumer brands, right? So if you're consumer facing FinTech, um your chances of being successful maybe are smaller than a business to business FinTech. Not that it doesn't happen, it's hard to do, but if you're a B2B FinTech, you really have to be intentional about how you're gonna scale from a go-to market perspective. So if you're selling to financial institutions or you need financial institutions to help sell your product or get your product to market, and that us is a really unusual banking market, you know, thousands of financial institutions, you have to really think about how you're gonna scale that. Um, and that always plays into what is your exit strategy eventually down the road. So something you wanna be intentional about from the beginning.
I agree, agree with a lot that's been said, experimentation, partnership, be ready to scale. Don't be surprised by your own success. I would also add data, um, data to me, I think it's interesting in general how this industry approaches data. Um, as the cliche says, trust is built, um, is gained and drops and lost in buckets. I think too many organizations are buying data, getting data, tricking customers for data. And then like in any relationship, people eventually find out, um, I think from the beginning, work on earning the right based on great experiences for those customers to want to give you their data.
And we as adults, there was a Lego study years ago, unfortunately we're kind of hardwired sometimes to not always approach things the right way. Adults walked into a room with just a box of Legos. What did they do? A fricking inventory of colors and shapes to then have a conversation about what are they gonna build with what they've got. What did the kids do? They had a conversation about let's build a castle or a rocket ship, and then started looking around to see what they had be the kids.
That's great. Okay. Adam, wrap this up.
Yeah, I don't think I've too much. You can't top that, those Were great. I just, I I'm gonna play with Legos with my nephew tomorrow, so I'm gonna think about that. You got me, I'm out Snowbird. I just, I'm gonna have to take the virtual tour.
Yeah. Walk in and say let's build a castle. That's what you need to do.
Okay, well, we're gonna open it up for questions. Alli is going to run the mic. So raise your hand. We have one back here.
Yeah. You were talking about using AI to generate, to, to write software code. Um, the problem is that some of that code is being based on other code with bugs or cybersecurity holes. So how do you keep bad data from entering and causing problems? Someone who's writing code without touching the keyboard could generate some pretty problematic software.
I mean, I, I could get the party started. I think it's a really good one. I've worked for companies who made a, you know, very deliberate almost policy decision of core code. We have to write it, we have to inspect it, you know, external code. We don't like it. It's the enemy. Part of it is a policy decision. I think number one,
I think number two is it becomes a strategic decision of speed versus readiness in some ways. Um, thankfully there's no media in the room. I've worked for both Salesforce and Microsoft. Um, my first week at Microsoft, somebody yelled at me that a friend of mine about how I'll never use Teams and how Slack is awesome. It's like expecting me to be upset as if I built the product. Most people will admit Slack is better than Teams, but Teams has five x the mass. Why? Because of the distribution channels.
So I think the game for many of you as smaller players is to innovate faster, um, than obviously the incumbents, but get to the distribution critical mass, which is what their advantage is. So I think when it comes to code, those are the risk trade-offs you have to make based on what ultimately success is. You may say it's not worth it for others, it's about brand awareness, speed and being first to market and whatever it is. And maybe that risk is worth it. So I think you have to decide that.
I mean, one thing to add, so we all have to keep in mind these models are still really new, right? I just learned how to code in Python, I'm a bureaucrat, right? But I just was interested in like what people on my team are doing, and that's very foundational chat, even ChatGPT, it's a super powerful tool to learn how to code, but I, you know, I could put in a code snippet and say, why isn't this working? And it gives a very confident response of what's wrong with a code. And more often than not, it's incorrect. And you can call it out. Like you could say, actually that's not right. Even on my limited knowledge of Python, what you just told me is not correct. And the response is usually something like, oh, you're right, I'm sorry.
Here's the, here's the actual correct answer. So these models are still really early, but the point is, you're not just gonna turn over your business or your software development to these tools without having some kind of quality oversight. I mean, at least not yet, right? Maybe someday, but there's, there's the ways to go.
Great question. Who else?
Adam, I had a question for you. Just, uh, in your role, do you have, um, you know, filters that you apply to some of the fintechs to come to try to get onboarded from a, like, just from a monetary perspective, when you're looking at their, do you look at their financials? Are you looking at run rates or burn rates or anything like that?
No. So if anyone couldn't hear, I guess the question, if I summarize this correctly is like, within my job, am I looking at the financials of a company to engage with them? Is that sort of No. So AWS has, um, sort of, and I'm sure the same is true with Azure and GCP, sort of a very democratic approach, which is these core services of compute and storage and database. We want the graduate student, we want the one person team putting their first workloads on the cloud, ideally with Amazon. And we make it self-service and easily accessible so that people can get up and running in terms of how I actually spend my time.
So that's sort of like the AWS service level. There's tens of thousands of one person company, two person companies, et cetera, experimenting and doing various things. In terms of how I spend my time with founders, there are some filters. Companies usually that, might have raised money from some of our venture capital partners, or a founder tells me, Hey, a really smart friend of mine has left this company and they're gonna go start something. They should be on your radar. There are certain informal networks like that.
But usually when I speak to a company, my North Star is how can I be helpful to that founder and work backwards from that? What do they need? Where are they in the lifecycle? That matters more to me than you know, if they've raised money or not great, the size of their team. Great. What are they trying to build? What vertical within FinTech are they trying to add value in? And that's sort of the hat that I wear going into those calls.
Yeah, of course.
Any other questions, comments? Okay, we're gonna wrap up. The challenge and homework for all of you is, can you think of another technology that has, I would say changed or disrupt business the way that AI has, in the last year as quickly. So come find me at the concert. I hope to see you all there and let's have a discussion about it. Thank you all so much.
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