Jun 25, 2019
This week, I was accompanied by Ryan Doyle (Digital-first AE) and Shezeen Ali (Customer Success Manager) to discuss a few companies that try to expand outside the scope of their main product offering to seize up some auxiliary revenue. Facebook is getting into crypto, Salesforce wants a cut of the CDP game, and Sony wants to give you a ride. Stay in your lane!
P.J. Bruno: Hi, again. Welcome back to Braze for Impact, your MarTech industry discuss digest. I'm your host, P.J. Bruno, and with me today...two close friends. I have to my left here Shezeen Ali, to my right, Ryan Doyle. Ryan of sales, Shezeen of success. Hello to you both.
Shezeen Ali: Hello, thanks for having us.
Ryan Doyle: Great to be here.
P.J. Bruno: Yeah, thanks for coming on short notice. I just realized I'm going to be away next week, so we need to get into this week and I don't know what brought us about this topic, but this week's topic is, stay in your lane.
Ryan Doyle: Stay in your lane.
P.J. Bruno: And we're going to be discussing different companies that are trying to expand their company operations and revenue streams into, maybe, some things that are more trends, but definitely opportunities.
Ryan Doyle: Right.
P.J. Bruno: How you doing, bud?
Ryan Doyle: I'm doing fantastic. It's a back to back to back day with customer meetings. I'm glad that we got to do some of the stay in your lane content because I haven't even had a chance to digest some of the stuff that's gone down this week.
P.J. Bruno: Be a good refresher. Shezeen, how we feeling?
Shezeen Ali: I'm feeling good. You know, it's been a good week. This morning I had some good calls with clients and I feel that...I'm a customer success manager for those of you who don't know, and I feel that it's really fun when I get to put my own experience into my client's questions. This morning, I have to tell you guys, because I just felt so cool, a client asked me...a dating app client, was just asking me some questions. And it was so cool because I got to tell them how I use their app, what I think about the space, what I think about New York City, you know?
P.J. Bruno: A dating SME.
Shezeen Ali: Yeah. What I think about New York City dating, which is where they're targeting their customers, and it was just really fun. Guys, I just love my job.
P.J. Bruno: That's awesome. That's great that you were equipped with the advice, too. As this is the stay in your lane episode, let's jump right into our lane right now and get going. In case you haven't heard yet, Facebook is moving into cryptocurrency. Their subsidiary, Collibra, will offer a digital wallet for the coming Libra Coin. Now, you turned me on to this, Ryan, and as soon as you did I just started digging and learning a ton about it. It's an interesting topic and Facebook moving into something as secure as sharing money, or currency, it's a little scary, actually.
Ryan Doyle: When they've been so loosey-goosey with our data before.
P.J. Bruno: Right, exactly.
Ryan Doyle: And I think we've all seen how this space is also ripe for scamming and really bad things going down where people take the money and run. And what could Facebook do? Given some of the secrecy around cryptocurrency.
P.J. Bruno: That's what I'm saying. I think they need to repair some trust before this happens. But quickly, let's kind of digest and understand what it is. Obviously, we know the popular cryptocurrency, which is Bitcoin, and the whole idea behind it is it's not run by any sort of government body. And their trying to do the same thing with Libra, but further than that, it's not governed by any one anything. It's governed by all the different data miners. They all need to validate and approve every transaction. The whole point of crypto is it's decentralized. Libra, it seems like, it is centralized in a way. It's not a government body, but with Libra came the Libra Association, which is 28 companies that will partner in governing the currency. The likes of Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Visa, Ebay, PayPal, Stripe, Vodafone and more. And each company has an equal vote when it comes to decision making, but Facebook owns subsidiary Collibra, which will be the app that the sharing will happen through. It's tricky business because, yes, no government body is ruling it but... A large group of corporations, and obviously, they each have a vote and there's checks and balances but there's no sense of protecting the consumer as much as protecting their own hides.
Ryan Doyle: I would say first and foremost, in the old crypto paradigm you described, it's the miners and the people supporting the transactions that get the earnings of the newly minted Bitcoin, or whatever crypto they're working within. It's not just in this Libra example, something that is governed by a consortium of companies, but they are also going to earn a percentage on every transaction that comes through. So, it's less of Facebook saying, "Hey, we are going to make something great that the whole world and the un-banked can use." And more like, "We're going to start putting out our own currency now, we're going to make some money off of it, and we have the reach to hopefully make it successful." I think that it's a little bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing, and I would prefer Facebook didn't go this route because I'm really scared of them.
P.J. Bruno: Yup, terrifying.
Shezeen Ali: I think when I read that some of those partners are governing the currency, like you said, I kind of thought, "Oh, maybe this is okay, because we have some big companies here and they don't want to have their name attached to something that's going to go horribly wrong." But I still think Facebook claiming that they have some sort of process to verify the identity of users...I feel like we need to see that, before we actually trust it.
P.J. Bruno: Right. Already, House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, called on Facebook on Tuesday to halt development of Libra until legislators have a chance to evaluate the plans, and take action. So they're kind of already getting warning signs, and stop signals from various politicians. It's also been flagged to me that there's other associations that would be concerned with this sort of thing. The whole point was that, with Bitcoin, there's no agency as far as the governance. But now that we have this group that's kind of monitoring the governance, that comes with responsibility. And so, Libra is a permissions-based system, and the validaters are known, and I don't think they're ready for the implications. Because the U.S. Treasury has regulations and there's the know your customer and anti-money laundering laws and money made from currency exchange volatility, these are taxable events. So there's even more implications as far as IRS holding payment processors accountable. It just feels like there's a lot more-
Shezeen Ali: It's complex.
P.J. Bruno: Oh man, there's a lot at play. There's a lot of hoops to jump through and, for my call, I hope that it's enough to shut the thing down. Because even if you frame it as this thing that could be better for the world, right? Non-government run currency, the idea...I love it. But you still have to earn back some trust after Cambridge, you know?
Ryan Doyle: Right, and you see that the House Oversight Committee has already tried to bring Facebook to Capital Hill to have them testify before, and they just did not understand Facebook's business. The senator asked, "How do you make money if you're not charging users?" And Mark Zuckerberg says, "Senator, we run ads." They just don't understand how Facebook makes money. What won't we understand about them once they get this? If they have it their way just one more time, what's going to happen now? In a bubble, it seems cool. Maybe even safe. But even the U.S. Dollar is used to do bad things. What happens when the currency here is out of the consortium's hands and out into the world? Who will use it to do the next bad thing? Even when the money was coming directly to Facebook, they still accepted those Russian ads to influence the 2016 election. Stay in your lane.
Shezeen Ali: What made Facebook, do you guys think, even want to venture into this avenue?
P.J. Bruno: They see the opportunity in it, you know? And I think maybe to them it seemed like the cross-hairs of...honestly, opportunity for control but also an opportunity to seemingly give back. The whole idea philosophically, is making governments the bad guys, because they are controlling currency. So I think that's the positioning for it, but still it's not enough.
Ryan Doyle: Yeah, I would say they're always trying to become a layer of the internet. So they've become a authentication layer for so many sites, they've become an advertising layer...a way to make money and sell space for so many sites. And now they're getting even closer to that money by getting into the financial realm. Think of how much their advertising business could be bolstered if they understood the financial transactions of two billion people, and think of how well their financial business would do-
P.J. Bruno: Geeze.
Shezeen Ali: I don't want them to know any of that, please.
Ryan Doyle: So this is just one layer deeper for them, but a broad, reaching layer.
Shezeen Ali: Those are good points.
P.J. Bruno: I don't want them to see all the moisturizers that I purchase on Amazon. They wouldn't have access to that, right?
Shezeen Ali: I hope not! I was genuinely confused why they went down this avenue so those are both very good points
P.J. Bruno: And you know what, let's wrap this one up because I feel like we're staying on it awhile. But one thing I will say is a book that Ryan first read and shared with me, The Four, which just kind of talks a little bit about, really, the magnitude of the...for lack of a better word, treason that was involved in what went down with Facebook. I think people don't really understand the gravity of that. And there still has been minimal to...yeah there's been fines but, any other media company in that situation would be shut down immediately.
Ryan Doyle: There's a certain likeability that protects them at the end of the day, I think.
Shezeen Ali: Exactly.
P.J. Bruno: Anyways. So Facebook, please-
Ryan Doyle: Stay in your lane.
P.J. Bruno: All right, next up. Ryan, you want to talk the helm on this one, buddy?
Ryan Doyle: Salesforce lent its hand to the CDP industry this week. A long time legacy technology who has a history of acquiring and bolting together different technologies has finally announced that it would like to integrate those technologies by having a customer data platform. Customer data platform, for those listening and not familiar, is a way of tagging events, attributes, moving data around in your tech stack to different ends. Like Braze, even, where we could send them engagement data and they could send us customer actions as they occur. It's just a great way to make sure that data flows seamlessly between all systems and Salesforce has finally decided that they would like to do that even though they have preached for so long, "We're helping the next generation of marketing companies. We are enabling real-time marketing." To see this now, after CVPs have already been in a space for so long, it's just like, stay in your lane! What are you doing? You're already so far down this path. What makes you think this is going to work now?
P.J. Bruno: In a way, it seems like a natural progression. Just because we talk about the Salesforce Frankenstein monster, you have so many pieces to the puzzle, the customer data platform seems like adding some grease to the wheels. Right? Because you're just going to ease the sharing between all those pieces, but you know, that said it is yet another layer that you're stacking across all of this fragmented ecosystem. We should have seen it coming, though, because they acquired Datorama in 2018 and then less then a year later, "Hey, we have a CDP." Do you have a CDP, or did you just purchase one, and slap a sticker on it?
Ryan Doyle: Hot take.
Shezeen Ali: Oh.
Ryan Doyle: It's in service of saying that they are trying to stay next gen by releasing all these new features and now we can enable all these use cases, but to quote Dan Head, who just walked us through our legacy marketing battle card, or how we approach conversations with people who might be of a legacy marketing paradigm, "The architecture is just fundamentally misaligned with the purpose you're trying to solve for." So, in that sense it will never work.
P.J. Bruno: Was that Dan Head, as played by Tom Hardy from Peaky Blinders?
Ryan Doyle: Yeah, Alfie Solomons, in the Peaky Blinders, yeah.
Shezeen Ali: So good.
P.J. Bruno: Do you know how he closes every deal? He literally just slams the paper in front of...what have you got there-
Ryan Doyle: Just sign right there.
P.J. Bruno: Just sign, right there-
Ryan Doyle: Your name.
P.J. Bruno: And then I'll own fifty percent of Shelby Company Limited. Oh my god.
Shezeen Ali: Wow that was great.
P.J. Bruno: Peaky Blinders shout out. And so, we'll say to that, Salesforce-
Ryan Doyle: Stay in your lane.
P.J. Bruno: Stay in your lane, bro. All right, moving on. Shezeen, what have you got for us?
Shezeen Ali: Awesome. Sony...which...you all know Sony-
P.J. Bruno: Oh, we know.
Shezeen Ali: They have officially launched a taxi hailing app to rival Uber, specifically in Tokyo. When I think of Sony, I think of all their electronics. I think of PlayStation, that's a big one.
Ryan Doyle: Headphones.
P.J. Bruno: Yeah, love it. PS4. That's like how me and Ryan became friends.
Shezeen Ali: Oh, there you go.
Ryan Doyle: Mm-hmm (affirmative) That's the only place we are still friends.
Shezeen Ali: So I was pretty confused by this headline, so they actually announced last year that they were planning to do this, and then they have officially kicked off the service in Tokyo. It's called S.Ride. Essentially, what's going to happen is they're trying to rival Uber, and they've claimed that there are 10,000 licensed taxis in Tokyo. Because right now, the way that it works is there's already so many taxis in Tokyo, so Uber has already partnered with these taxi companies. It's there right now, and that's how they get these drivers.
P.J. Bruno: So you're saying there's like a maximum number of licensed taxi drivers that can exist?
Shezeen Ali: Right now. Apparently that's what it-
P.J. Bruno: It's like alcohol licenses in Philadelphia.
Shezeen Ali: Yes.
P.J. Bruno: It's like you need to buy one or pass it on.
Shezeen Ali: Yeah. And I'm not sure of how they could expand that, but Uber's already there and they're already doing it. And there's also JapanTaxi, which... I just went to Tokyo two months ago, and JapanTaxi was what everyone was talking about. That's like the...I guess you could think about it as YellowCab in New York, but most people just use that.
Ryan Doyle: Is it app-based?
Shezeen Ali: It is, yep. It used to not be, it used to not be, and then they integrated it into apps. I had a really bad experience with trying to get cars in Tokyo, you know, they have an amazing subway system. People talk about it all the time. It's like New York City on steroids. Definitely one of the more confusing subway systems I've ever ridden. No one it Tokyo speaks English, so as a tourist, which...they get a lot of tourists, some times it's late, it's like midnight. The subways aren't running anymore. Even though they are efficient, they stop running. So that's when I started to be really grateful for New York and our 24 hour subway system. And we were kind of-
P.J. Bruno: No one speaks English in Tokyo?
Shezeen Ali: Yes! Plot twist. Plot twist. No one told me.
P.J. Bruno: I thought everyone would.
Shezeen Ali: Nope.
P.J. Bruno: It was like the end of Big Little Lies, I just got knocked on my butt.
Shezeen Ali: So that was something no one told me before I went and I was pretty humbled by the fact that I cannot speak anything but English, pretty much. And so, using a lot of Google Translate, and also I was with my brother and his girlfriend but we both were like, "You know, we don't want to just stand on the side of the street and wait for a taxi to come," because we didn't see a lot, "so why don't we use Uber?" And so we did, it took a while to arrive and it was the cutest old man just showed up in his taxi. So it was like a fancy taxi, he was wearing a suit...he had to be 80 years old. Didn't speak English. And it was so bad. We got really lost and it was just not a great experience.
P.J. Bruno: Really?
Shezeen Ali: And he got super lost. And he was so embarrassed but we couldn't really say, "Are we going to get charged for this?" Because he didn't know what we were saying, he didn't even understand the Google Translate app that we kept showing him with the characters, so it's one of those-
P.J. Bruno: But he was very cute.
Shezeen Ali: He was super cute. Japanese people are-
P.J. Bruno: Yeah, that's what you were paying for.
Shezeen Ali: They're so respectful. They're so polite. They love tourists. So long story short is, I started to kind of say, "Oh, Uber in Tokyo? This is not ideal."
Ryan Doyle: But what makes Sony think they have the special sauce to crack this nut?
Shezeen Ali: That's where I'm kind of in a weird place right now. Where I'm like, "Yeah, Sony. Let's see what you can do." If you think that this is a...You know what? I'm speaking from personal experience. Maybe other people have had good Uber experiences but we...we rode it a couple of times and it was not great. So maybe they can launch a partnership with these taxi companies that will allow for, I don't know, a better app or maybe GPS...the better GPS system for these taxi drivers, because most of them are really old and they don't even have GPS systems. So you're kind just telling them, "Hey" and they're not using their phone when they're driving so-
P.J. Bruno: Is this the one time that we allow somebody to-
Ryan Doyle: To switch lanes.
Shezeen Ali: I think it might be.
Ryan Doyle: Sony, feel free to skirt? Merge?
Shezeen Ali: Feel free. So I'm really curious to see what happens and-
P.J. Bruno: Yeah, Sony it sounds like the lane is relatively open.
Ryan Doyle: Wide open, yeah.
Shezeen Ali: You'd think Lyft would do something but apparently they don't have...they've expressed interest in Japan but they haven't officially done anything.
P.J. Bruno: I hope that means that on the inside of the cars that pick you up, the entertainment system is the bomb.
Shezeen Ali: That's what-
P.J. Bruno: That would be so good.
Shezeen Ali: That would be the best.
P.J. Bruno: PS4 in the back seats, what is up? I'm like, "You know what? Why don't you take me around a few more times?"
Shezeen Ali: There we go. PS4.
P.J. Bruno: I got to finish my game.
Shezeen Ali: This came full circle. I'm hoping S.Ride can do something, but you know, JapanTaxi is also used widely, I did mention that. So if they can compete with JapanTaxi and Uber...we'll see. We'll see what happens.
P.J. Bruno: All right, well I'm excited to see. We have one final one and this remains to be seen whether it was legit or a publicity stunt, because of all the back-tracking that happened. So I don't know if you had heard about this but IHOP goes to IHOB. So that's International House of Burgers, and it was to promote some of their new burger specials on the menu. And it received so much hate on Twitter and the internet.
Shezeen Ali: I love Twitter.
P.J. Bruno: The internet was disgusted. It literally chewed up International House of Burgers and spit it right back out.
Ryan Doyle: They just did it with such fanfare. It wasn't like they one day said, "Hey, we're IHOB." They had this pomp and circumstance around releasing it where it's like something big's coming. Like the same type of hype that was built around the Segway when that first came out, and everyone's like, "It's a Segway." And everyone's like, "It's IHOB." They were-
Shezeen Ali: I did think that the hype was overdone.
P.J. Bruno: It's a serious Steve Jobs iPhone level hype.
Ryan Doyle: Well, because of course, you need to...I feel like, for big releases, the hype is hugely important. But you also set yourself up for a huge fall. And that's what they did here.
P.J. Bruno: This is not just a stay in your lane, this is a what did you expect?
Shezeen Ali: But I will say, I had never heard this many people talk about IHOP in years. Unless you walk by one in New York City. I had not heard about, not really, it hadn't come up in conversations. So they got me talking, but maybe not in a good way.
P.J. Bruno: Yeah, it's crazy because IHOP, think about how firmly that is situated in the American zeitgeist, right? IHOP is immediately, you know what it is.
Ryan Doyle: Everybody's puked there once.
P.J. Bruno: Everybody's puked there once, everyone's had subpar breakfast. And yet, sometimes you just get a craving to jump into an IHOP and just crush some buttered pancakes.
Shezeen Ali: There we go.
P.J. Bruno: But the response from the president of IHOP, Darren Rebelez, he said, "But we want to convey that we are taking our burgers as seriously as our pancakes." He said, "Most of the 1,800 restaurants still go by IHOP." Which means, I guess, and handful of them are going to go by IHOB.
Shezeen Ali: I want to know which ones are IHOB.
Ryan Doyle: IHOB. The restaurants for hobbits.
Shezeen Ali: Now really, this doesn't help. Him saying that they're going to take their burgers as seriously as their pancakes just makes me even more mad. Why?
Ryan Doyle: Because they don't take their pancakes that seriously.
Shezeen Ali: Stick to pancakes.
P.J. Bruno: I'm going to go ahead and say stay in your lane.
Ryan Doyle: Stay in your lane.
Shezeen Ali: Stay in your lane.
P.J. Bruno: You know what, that's all we have time for today. Thanks for joining us everybody. I'd love to than Shezeen and Ryan for joining me, guys.
Ryan Doyle: Thank you for having us.
Shezeen Ali: Thanks P.J.
P.J. Bruno: And thank you all for joining us as well. Take care.