Trailhead Matrix

Salesforce finished up the second quarter with a strong showing at its developer conference in San Francisco, TrailheaDX, roughly quadrupling last year’s attendance and flooding its developers with new technology.

Trailhead Matrix

Over the last few years, the company has built out a multidimensional matrix of product offerings that include customer relationship management components like sales force automation and customer service, but it has been careful to introduce back-end technology products that support administrators and developers as well. It makes all the sense in the world.

Salesforce rapidly is transitioning past a point where it can grow only by selling more CRM seats. Market research shows that only a plurality of businesses use CRM today, implying that there’s room for further growth — and there is. However, many of the businesses that don’t have CRM either are too small or don’t fit the model. A tire dealer and a restaurant are both businesses, but not likely candidates for CRM.

That’s not to say that they can’t benefit from application support. They can, and the bottleneck always has been the limitations of a spreadsheet app on one side, and the effort needed to build something new to fit a business.

You could say the same about smaller businesses that already use CRM: They need ways to build and tailor apps, and that’s what made the TrailheaDX conference so interesting.

3 App Development Paths

TrailheaDX encompasses all of the knowledge that one needs to develop applications on the Salesforce1 platform, and there are a lot of moving parts.

“Trailhead” is the name of the self-teaching/learning system that people can use to learn everything about app development on Salesforce.

There are three modes of configuring/customizing/developing apps that Trailhead teaches about, corresponding to the three development modes Salesforce offers: completely codeless, some code, and traditional professional developer mode.

Corresponding with these modes are roughly 200 learning units, each with a badge for the resume of everyone who passes an exam.

At the TrailheaDX conference, Salesforce introduced some sweeteners that enable development of very robust apps that go way beyond traditional database applications.

Briefly, they include the following:

  • Einstein Sentiment, which enables classification of the tone of text in a message. This rating capability will be useful for helping the Einstein AI tool to rank situations from negative to neutral to positive.
  • Einstein Intent, which helps developers train models to understand the underlying intent of customer interactions, which further will help to determine next actions and offers.
  • Einstein Object Detection, for training models to recognize different objects in an image.

At last year’s Dreamforce, CEO Marc Benioff said this would be the year of Einstein. The company has been executing on that strategy by embedding the artificial intelligence solution in all of its clouds, so it was time to make those tools available to developers too.

By the way, the developer tools are classified as “Salesforce DX,” which I find confusing — a naming convention that probably needs revisiting.

Two new partners — Atlassian, an agile development methods company, and GitHub, which provides source code management and collaboration capabilities — have joined the partner ecosystem to help ensure that developers leverage the new capabilities optimally.

The emphasis throughout Salesforce DX seems to be configure if you can — but if you’re going to code, leverage all of the modern capabilities, like agile methods, that you can. These partners appear to be testimony to that thinking.

CRM’s Future

What does all of this mean for CRM? Lots.

First, it further opens up the greatest opportunity for Salesforce to sell seats by enabling many more apps to be built and subscribed to through the AppExchange.

Second, it puts a friendly arm around developers at a time when all of the major software houses offer something to make developing code easier and faster. This might seem to defy a Salesforce precept that coding never would be needed with its products, unlike other CRMs, but the fact of the matter is that in a general-purpose development environment, coding isn’t going away. Instead, the little coding that will be done in the future will be really hard stuff that machines can’t do.

Third, this approach from no code to full code is expected to discover thousands of new people who can do the work — talent that might have been overlooked in another era. In a time of talent shortages, programs like Trailhead should help businesses find additional people to at least do some of the easier system maintenance, saving the developers for the hard stuff.

Salesforce DX is in an open beta and likely will show some results by Dreamforce. Einstein Sentiment and Einstein Intent also are in beta, while Einstein Object Detection is in pilot, and no pricing was available at the show for any products not fully GA.

It’s not too early to begin wondering what Salesforce will want to announce at Dreamforce. I suspect there will be more Einstein capabilities, especially in concert with other products like IBM Watson. Meanwhile, this company continues to impress. While other vendors are puffing up their reputations with cloud basics, Salesforce continues to imagine a bright future.

Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at

No one should buy Louis Vuitton’s stupidly expensive smartwatch

The $10,000 gold Apple Watch (R.I.P) may have just been unseated as the most pretentious smartwatch money can buy.

That honor should instead go to Louis Vuitton, which today unveiled a new collection of “luxury” Android Wear watches that start at $2,450. 

It’s called the Tambour Horizon and it’s a big hunking piece of Android Wear that no one should ever buy. But, before we get to that, let’s take a look at just what $2,450 (or $2,900 for the steel finish) buys you.

It has all the specs you’d expect from a high-end smartwatch: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor, 390 x 390 AMOLED display, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of onboard storage and a 300 mAh battery the company says will last all day. It’s also equipped with a gyroscope, microphone, ambient light sensor but *not* a heart rate monitor because, as TechCrunch correctly points out, you probably shouldn’t be exercising with a watch that costs well over $2,000.

Image: Louis Vuitton

Image: Louis Vuitton

That’s not all though: Louis Vuitton is also promising a bunch of “exclusive” content just for the Tambour Horizon. There’s customizable watch faces, dedicated travel apps, and those “iconic” Louis Vuitton watch dials meant to emulate the company’s analog watches. Even the watch’s charging accessory has that unmistakeable Louis Vuitton flair to remind you (and everyone else, really) just where your watch came from.

Now, none of this is entirely unexpected from a high-end designer like Louis Vuitton. Other designers, like Tag Heuer, have reportedly had a fair bit of success hawking ritzy smartwatches. But that doesn’t change the fact that shelling out thousands of dollars for a smartwatch is an absolutely terrible idea even if you have the money to waste.

Forget, for a moment, that Android Wear is still kind of a mess (especially if you’re an iPhone user), and that smartwatches as a whole are almost certainly doomed anyway. The reality is that even the best smartwatches, like the best smartphones, just won’t be usable for more than a couple years — at best. 

That means you’re shelling out thousands of dollars for watch just one buggy Android Wear update away from collecting dust in a drawer. That’s just not worth it no matter how many pretty watch faces you have. 9e3c 1a39%2fthumb%2f00001

Former NASA engineer builds world’s largest Super Soaker, firing water at 272 mph

Summer is here, and that means it’s time to break out the water guns. Or, if you’re YouTuber Mark Rober (formerly a NASA engineer), it’s time to build the largest water gun ever made (via Gizmodo).

Rober’s giant water pistol is a little more overpowered than the original backyard toy, firing jets of water at 272 miles per hour, with enough force to slice through a watermelon and shatter glass. But despite the giant scale, the supersized Super Soaker works pretty much the same way as the toy version: pressurized air is pumped into a chamber of water, and released with the trigger to shoot a jet of water. Rober’s version instead uses pressurized tanks of nitrogen gas and water for far more impressive results,. But hey, it’s all working on the same principles.

Video: Mark Rober

Rober is no stranger to building comically oversized children’s guns. Last summer, he put together the world’s largest Nerf gun. While that was impressive, the 40-mile-per-hour darts it shot barely hold a candle to the destructive power of the seven-foot-long water pistol.

The gigantic Super Soaker is definitely a custom, one-off build, though Rober does provide a build list of parts and CAD files should you want to try to cobble together your own. As a note: pressurized gas as used here is dangerous, and Rober is a trained engineer, so proceed carefully if you’re trying this at home. This is not meant for human targets!

Brace yourself: More ads are coming to Facebook Messenger

Get ready to see more ads popping up in Facebook Messenger.

An exec at the social network said Tuesday that it plans to roll out ads to the Messenger home screen worldwide by the end of the year after testing them in Australia and Thailand earlier this year, Venture Beat reports.

The company plans to gradually wean them in as to avoid annoying users with a flood of new ads.

“We’ll start slow,” Facebook’s head of product for Messenger, Stan Chudnovsky, said at a conference in San Francisco this week. “When the average user can be sure to see them we truly don’t know because we’re just going to be very data-driven and user feedback-driven on making that decision.”

Image: facebook

A single ad will appear about halfway down the central hub of the Messenger app, a slight change from the carousel-style format the company had previously tested. But Facebook has at least mercifully refrained from inserting ads into your actual conversations — for the time being, that is.

The space represents some of the last remaining untapped real estate for advertising as Facebook works to keep up its constant growth without smothering its users. Analysts believe the company may be nearing the point where it will start to really feel the squeeze of those constraints.

This isn’t the first style of ad Facebook has attempted within Messenger. The company launched an ad format last fall that allowed brands to insert conversational prompts into existing chats with users. As with these new ads, advertisers are only allowed to target people with whom they’ve communicated before. Facebook also claims it doesn’t use information gleaned from private messages for advertising purposes.

This article has been corrected to reflect that Facebook is not rolling out the carousel-style format it announced with the test run.

WATCH: Aerial footage shows Chernobyl 30 years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f3464%2f84091d67 53ab 4ca0 9429 287fcd04e70b

Marketplace liquidity

Liquidity is a crucial metric for all marketplaces. But how can we truly evaluate this liquidity? The three keys to answering this question are density, appropriately balanced demand and supply and category concentration.

Density, geographic reach and distance between counterparts

The first step to analyzing the potential liquidity of a marketplace is understanding its geographic extent. For example, Upwork will see transactions filled between freelancers and employers all around the globe, while Tinder will (typically) only see two people dating within the same city. Tinder would therefore require a city per city launch and a city per city liquidity analysis.

In local marketplaces, there is a strong correlation between density and liquidity. The higher the number of participants within a relevant radius, the higher the liquidity of the marketplace. We define liquidity as the number of transactions filled out of the total potential transactions in a marketplace. We refer to density as the number of participants within a certain geographic area.

Let’s use Tinder as an example. If in a given week Tinder acquires 1,000 female participants in Chicago and 1,000 male participants in New York, Tinder’s number of total users increases, but its liquidity remains the same. Now, if Tinder acquires 1,000 female participants and 1,000 male participants all located in the borough of Brooklyn, this higher density of users (from both sides of the marketplace) will lead to higher liquidity.

To determine the density in a marketplace, you need to first define the limits of the geographic area within which its transactions can be filled. This distance threshold (“r” in the visual below) is different for every marketplace and you will identify it by understanding how far your customers are willing to travel to complete their transaction. For example, a seller at Letgo might not be willing to travel 30 minutes to sell a used skateboard for $30, but a babysitter at will likely travel 30 minutes to make $150 for a day of babysitting.

Once you define this distance threshold “r” you need to maximize density. But how?

You start by optimizing your marketing strategy to achieve the highest customer acquisition within the established distance threshold. As a result, you will maximize the active participants within that distance of each other, and therefore maximize density, moving from the low-density to the high-density marketplace diagram above.

The evolution of a balanced marketplace

Maintaining the optimal balance of demand and supply in a marketplace is crucial to achieve liquidity. If a marketplace doesn’t have the right number of buyers per listing, or the right number of items listed per buyer, transactions will go unfilled.

How can we analyze what is the right balance of demand and supply? By looking at several ratios:

  • The average number of buyers relative to the number of sellers needed to fill a transaction
  • The number of bids per buyer required to fill a transaction
  • The average of items listed per seller required to fill a transaction

Let’s base our example on a used furniture marketplace in which the average ratio of bids per item listed required to fill a transaction is 100 to 1. So, every item listed needs 100 bids for it to sell. Now the conversion from this ratio to the ratio of buyers to sellers is determined by the average number of bids per buyer and the average number of items each seller is selling. This is the key to the analysis.

For simplicity, let’s assume the average items posted per seller is 1 and the average bids per buyer is 10. This means that the ratio of buyers to sellers is 10:1; it requires 10 buyers for every seller, to fill a transaction. However, it usually takes time for the average number of bids per buyer to be this high, and it will only happen once the company has reached a stable stage of liquidity.

At an early stage, the likely scenario is that the average number of bids per buyer is 1 or less, which means the ratio of buyers to sellers initially is more like 100:1. So, it requires 100 buyers for every seller to fill a transaction. The ratio of buyers to sell would evolve like this:

The first reason why average bids per buyer increase over time is that when a new buyer experiences a marketplace for the first time, they are hesitant to bid. The buyer needs to trust the marketplace before being ready to make a committing bid. Trust takes time. Furthermore, at a stable stage the diversity of inventory in the marketplace will increase the likelihood that a buyer will find something that interests them.

However, the conclusion here is not just that the bids per buyer increase over time and that this determines the evolution of a balanced marketplace. It is that you need to closely monitor the second-degree KPIs (like bids per buyer and listings per seller) to understand how to adjust your strategies to maintain a balanced marketplace over time. In the same way that it is common for average bids per buyer to increase over time, it also is usual that the average items listed per seller change over time.

Category concentration and diminishing marginal returns

Once you have defined the distance threshold under which your marketplace will fill transactions, you need to breakdown the liquidity per category within the marketplace. For example, if our used furniture marketplace has 1 million active buyers at a certain point in time, how many of them are in the market for a table? How many are looking for chairs? How many want a couch? Only a small segment of the 1 million active buyers will be interested in each category. This means you cannot just evaluate the overall liquidity of the marketplace, you need to do it on a per-category basis.

It is often the case that most participants are interested in just a few of the categories served by the marketplace. This means that as you spend marketing dollars to acquire users, the higher-concentration categories will yield liquidity faster than the rest. And in most cases, the low-concentration categories will require a much larger marketing investment to achieve liquidity.

Let’s go back to our furniture marketplace example to illustrate this point with the following assumptions:

  • 50 percent of the buyers are interested in buying a couch while the other 50 percent are equally scattered across 50 other furniture categories
  • We are spending $100 on marketing
  • Our CAC is $1
  • The liquidity threshold per category is 50 buyers (the liquidity threshold is the number of buyers needed for a transaction to fill)

We would have 50 new buyers in the couch category, and one new buyer in each of the other 50 categories. The 50 new buyers in the couch category will substantially increase the likelihood of a filled transaction within its category, while the additional one participant in any of the remaining categories barely increases its chances to fill a transaction in their respective areas.

If we take this example to scale and we assume:

  • Marketing budget of $500,000
  • A liquidity threshold per category of 250,000 participants

Only the couch category would reach liquidity. And even if we were to invest $1 million in marketing, only the couch category would reach liquidity because all the other areas would only reach 10,000 participants each. And the same would happen until the invested amount goes above $25 million. This means that such a marketing strategy would lead to diminishing marginal returns from a liquidity standpoint:

Again, the best way to solve this issue is to align the marketing strategy to the category concentration. In other words, allocate the majority of the marketing investment to the most predominant category (which in our example would be the couch category). The liquidity chart in that case would look like this:

This is, of course, an extreme example.

A more realistic case would have several concentrated categories and a long tail of dozens of others. To illustrate this, let’s assume 30 percent of the buyers want to buy a couch, 20 percent a chair, 10 percent a table and the remaining 40 percent are scattered across the 40 other outstanding categories. This time, the liquidity chart would look like this (which is more realistic):

Density, a balanced demand and supply and category concentration are crucial drivers of marketplace liquidity. To maximize your return on marketing investment, you need to align your marketing and liquidity strategies. To monitor the evolution of your liquidity, you need to track your second-degree KPIs.

VCs should also dig into these three principles when evaluating a marketplace investment opportunity.

Featured Image: LEONELLO CALVETTI/Getty Images

Twitter’s new CFO is getting $15 million in stock

Twitter has announced that it’s hired a new CFO. Ned Segal is joining the company from Intuit, where he was senior vice president of finance.

He also has investment banking experience, having spent 16 years at Goldman Sachs. This could come in handy if Twitter decides to sell themselves. (Just saying!)

Anthony Noto, who joined Twitter as CFO in 2014 (also from Goldman), was promoted to COO last November after Adam Bain’s departure. He has been handling both roles in the interim.

The CFO role is critical for Twitter, as the social media company tries to convince investors that it has growing value. Although shares are up about 30 percent in the past three months, at $18.64 they are only a fraction of the $69 high the company saw in early 2014. The company’s market cap is currently less than $14 billion.

Twitter is betting big that Segal is the man for the job. According to a filing, his annual salary will be $500,000 and he’ll receive a $300,000 signing bonus if he agrees to stay for at least a year. Oh, and he’s getting about 794,000 shares, which are presently worth close to $15 million. He also may get 372,000 more if Twitter reaches unspecified performance targets.

Twitter, which is also focused on user growth, is not yet profitable. 

Segal, who had previously tweeted just 19 times, shared the news on the social media platform.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

A group of Twitter users is suing Trump for blocking them

In a lawsuit filed today, a small cluster of Twitter users is suing the president for blocking them on the platform. The case, brought forward by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, argues that by blocking the users the Trump administration is in fact suppressing speech and that the act “imposes a viewpoint-based restriction on the Individual Plaintiffs’ participation in a public forum.”

Prior to filing the suit, the Institute condemned Trump’s decision to block the group of users in a letter on June 6. Pursuing the same complaints, the lawsuit argues that Trump’s Twitter account constitutes a public forum and blocking those users is a violation of their First Amendment rights, making it unconstitutional.

Filed in the Southern District of New York, the suit makes the following argument:

“President Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important public forum for speech by, to, and about the President. In an effort to suppress dissent in this forum, Defendants have excluded—“blocked”—Twitter users who have criticized the President or his policies. This practice is unconstitutional, and this suit seeks to end it.”

The lawsuit represents seven users who have earned Trump’s ire one way or another. Among them are verified users @aynrandpaulryan and @joepabike who were blocked after a tweet mocking his visit with the Pope and one criticizing him with the hashtag #fakeleader, respectively.

Apart from Trump himself, the suit names Sean Spicer, who ostensibly controls White House communications, as a defendant along with Daniel Scavino, White House Social Media Director.

The whole thing sounds a little far-fetched until you think about just how much current news and policy is disseminated solely on the platform by a White House happy to eschew communication norms. Considering that Twitter is an official White House channel and often the only way the president addresses the public, the argument might not be so crazy after all.

Featured Image: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Facebook’s Messenger ads are bad and must be destroyed

When Facebook removed messages from the main app, I swore then and there that I would never download Messenger. That’s been a pretty easy promise to keep, especially since they introduced the lovely idea of enormous ads that take up half your screen while you try to use the service.

Today Facebook redesigned them as part of a larger rollout — but fixed none of the reasons these ads are bad and should be destroyed.

They’re huge

The ads may be “dynamic” as FB told me, but damn, look at the size of the things. They’re simply too large for the interface they’re invading, the image larger than any other element of the design. Even in the official video and images posted, the sponsored section takes up like two-thirds of the screen, and you better believe that’s the best-case scenario.

Why so big? Did the ad department say they couldn’t sell anything that didn’t completely take over the app? Did they not want to ask for smaller assets after asking for ones at this size to begin with? Do they think people like ads as much as ad people do?

At least now there’s only one ad instead of a series you’re invited to explore. I’m guessing engagement with the carousel was abysmal — who would think, hmm, not enough ads in my chat feed?

They interrupt the user experience

To be fair, even good ads interrupt the user’s experience a little. But this is just way too much. As soon as you open the app, smack dab in the middle of the most-used main interface: an ad that takes up more of the screen than the content you opened the app to access. That’s intolerable.

[embedded content]

I asked Facebook what its test users had said about the ads. A representative told me that “We monitored people’s engagement closely throughout the initial test and the results were promising…” and that “since we began testing in Australia and Thailand we have put people’s experience first, and we will continue to prioritize this as we roll out the Messenger ads test further.”

The idea that these ads resulted from putting people’s experience first is, of course, ridiculous. If Facebook were doing that, it would never have snipped Messenger off from the main app in the first place, much less burdened it with huge ads.

When I asked again what the users’ feedback had actually been, I received no response. I also asked if users could expect to see ads just one time, or every few threads, or what — but no info on that either. We’ll find out soon, but I’m guessing they’re keeping their options open on that one.

Is it possible to make ads that fit on a mobile screen alongside your messaging content? Sure! In fact, I would bet that Facebook looked at several designs that did just that and rejected them.

They’re irrelevant

When you visit a retailer online, you get a popup that says sign up for our email list and you get 10 percent off your first purchase. I’m okay with that. When I search on Google for “air mattress” I see sponsored results for items at Walmart before the rest. I’m okay with that too. When I read an article at Anandtech, I see ads for things like power supplies (well, also the Cooking Channel). Sure!

Hmm, maybe I could use a new NUC…

All these ads are fine, relatively speaking, because they have context. They’re actually related to what I’m looking for or interested in, and no creepy tracking required! (Though it’s probably happening anyway.)

Messenger’s ads have no context. They’re big banner ads that show up regardless of what you opened the app to do — and anyway, what advertisement could possibly make sense for the “asking a friend what they’re up to” use case? There isn’t one!

The ads use the same targeting as other Facebook ads — no snooping in your messaging content yet. So if you’ve liked a bunch of retailer pages, you’ll probably see those, along with stuff in the same categories. That’s something, I guess, but who’s going to suddenly decide to browse men’s shoes at Timberland instead of responding to a message, which they opened the app to do?

Messenger isn’t really a “free time” experience the way Facebook proper is — you use the former with purpose, the latter idly. Advertisements must cater to that, just like anywhere else in the world: you don’t see the same ads on subway walls (where you have to sit and stare) as on billboards (where you have two or three seconds max and your attention is elsewhere).

Destroy them and/or let them destroy themselves

Facebook survives on advertising revenue, but it is also responsive to stuff that isn’t working. These ads are in testing, though public announcements like this usually mean they’re pretty far along — not some random lark the company may or may not follow through on. I mean, ads are a guarantee at this point, and you can’t escape:

But if you don’t want enormous, intrusive ads prominently featured in your Messenger app, don’t touch them. Use the little dot menu at the upper right to hide ads. And don’t encourage them by selecting “This ad is useful.” Who does that?!

Advertising is how things get paid for on the internet, including TechCrunch, so I’m not an advocate of eliminating it or blocking it altogether. But bad advertising experiences can spoil a perfectly good app like (for the purposes of argument) Messenger. Messaging is a personal, purposeful use case and these ads are a bad way to monetize it.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

LeEco delays payroll until August due to ‘financial constraints’

Some LeEco employees in China will not get paid until August. According to an official statement provided to TechCrunch, Leshi Holdings, LeEco’s holding company has decided to postpone July’s payroll until August 10th. This is at least the third time this year LeEco has delayed paying some of its workers.

Right now, it seems only employees in China will not get a paycheck into August. Sources in LeEco say the company has not yet announced delaying paying US workers though in the past it reportedly did so without telling employees. Gizmodo and Bloomberg points to two separate incidents where LeEco missed paying their workers on time in 2017.

The statement says that it has contacted the affected employees and guarantee’s full payment to individual’s social insurance and housing fund.

Today’s news is just another entry in the tale of LeEco’s downfall.

Over the last several months, LeEco started spiraling out of control. Deals fell through, workers were laid off and billions in recent investment couldn’t right the ship. In May the outspoken founder and CEO Jia “YT” Yueting resigned from his post as CEO from the publicly traded unit Leshi. Then, five days ago , he stepped down as Leshi’s Chairman. This came a day after news broke that a Shanghai court had in response to unpaid loans frozen more than $180 million in assets belong to himself, his wife and three LeEco affiliates.

“LeEco faces great challenges, and I will take on all the responsibility, I will persist in my duties until the end for the sake of our employees, users, customers and investors,” Jia wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter.

Just yesterday news broke that Faraday Future, an electric vehicle company with ties to LeEco and Yueting, is scrapping plans to build a massive manufacturing facility in the Nevada desert.

At this point it seems LeEco is nearing the end of its life. The company was once called the Netflix of China and lead by a charismatic CEO who seemed intent on turning his company into a worldwide force almost overnight. It scaled too quickly, didn’t understand new markets and is now facing the consequences.

Contact Matt Burns at if you have any additional information regarding this story, LeEco or Faraday Future. All communication is confidential unless specified otherwise.

2017’s social media landscape in one stunning infographic

Social media, once the name we gave for a platform like Facebook, has become quite difficult to define. Even Facebook and Twitter don’t typically refer to themselves as social networks — at least not exclusively that. 

A newly released infographic might just help us grasp the social media landscape: “The Conservation Prism 5.0.” 

Brian Solis, an author and digital analyst at Altimeter Group, first launched the aptly-named “Conversation Prism” back in 2008. His project — designed with creative agency JESS3 — covered the streets of Austin, Texas during South by Southwest that year and continues to be a popular reference among marketers. 

Now, he’s back with the latest update since 2013. Four years and so much has changed. Over that time, Solis, with the help of Jaimy Szymanski, kept track of the movements — like the entrance of social media darlings Peach and Meerkat that did not make the map. 

“There are constant iterations in how social media is used. Remember Peach?” Solis said in an interview with Mashable. “To update this with every new announcement and every new shutter, it sort of defeats the purpose, but there are times in its evolution where the trends are so dramatic.”

Those trends include the growth of livestreaming, messaging apps, and conversational commerce, Solis said. Big players, like Facebook and YouTube, have also spread across multiple categories as they follow each of those trends — a fragmentation and simultaneous expansion of their reach. 

Solis and Szymanski removed 84 companies, added 141, and created four new categories: messaging, crowdfunding, travel and hospitality, and connecting IRL.

As in versions past, the center of the Conversation Prism is “You.” 

“It’s meant to remind the viewer that social media is about the people in the center of their online experiences. Social media is much more than a series of broadcast networks. You shape the experiences of others as they shape your online experiences,” Solis said. 

The next ring is the ways “you” can interact with a network. The second ring expands on how they can impact the networks. The outer ring shows all the categories of the networks, which “you” can interact with to create your own brand and community. 

Solis said he will continue to keep tabs on the landscape and plan future updates. That also may include a new design. He noted the rise of other vertical markets like influencer site Patreon.

“This will never be 100 percent completed. It’s a snapshot in time,” Solis said. “I’ve already started to think about version 5.1 is going to have in it.” 9e3c 1a39%2fthumb%2f00001