Internet bot

11 chatbots created at Y Combinator’s online startup school

Recently Sam Altman from Y Combinator announced a new online Startup School. It’s a 10-week massively open online course (MOOC). The idea is to teach everyone how to start a startup and help them along the way with guidance from people who’ve started companies.

Startup School will have guest speakers covering a wide variety of topics, including Alan Kay, Jan Koum (WhatsApp), Patrick Collison (Stripe), Steve Huffman (Reddit), Jason Lemkin (SaaStr), Harry Zhang (Lob), Dalton Caldwell (YC), Emmett Shear (Twitch), Adam D’Angelo (Quora), Alex Schultz (Facebook), Tracy Young (PlanGrid), Michael Seibel (YC), Kirsty Nathoo (YC), Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures), Ali Rowghani (YC), Jess Lee (Sequoia), and Aaron Harris (YC).

Our company ChatBottle was one of a few chatbot startups enrolled in the course. Each group has its own mentor, usually a founder of a well-known company or a YC alumni. We were lucky to work with Ryan Bubinski from Codecademy. The total number of messaging and voice chatbot startups is close to 50. Here are the ones from the course I thought were the best.

Reply is an enterprise-level bot building platform that allows you to build and manage cross-platform bots across all messaging apps, no coding required. Reply.ai is being used by KIA, Nike, VAIO, HP, and others, and the platform integrates with major customer support platforms such as FreshDesk, Zendesk, and LiveChat.

The first ecommerce fashion and shopping chatbot for Facebook Messenger, ChatShopper asks users about their fashion taste and replies back with the product suggestions. “We believe in conversational interfaces and investing in NLU and deep learning to make fashion shopping via chat an awesome experience,” says Antonia Ermacora, a ChatShopper cofounder. Earlier, ChatShopper won the First ChatBottle Awards as the best ecommerce chatbot of 2016.

BotMakers is a marketplace that helps chatbot development agencies and indie developers make money from selling Facebook Messenger chatbots templates. The marketplace makes AI chatbots affordable for small and mid-size companies. Instead of creating…

Trump Twitter bot reminds us that all his tweets are coming from the White House

The often flippant, emotional stream of tweets from President Trump never ceases to amaze, particularly since it is, for all intents and purposes, filled with official messages from the White House.

Now, thanks to one clever Twitter user, we can view those often bombastic, poorly worded, and downright trivial tweets in their proper context: official White House statements.

On Sunday, Twitter user Russel Neiss launched a new Twitter bot called Real Press Sec., which takes Trump’s tweets and presents them in the familiar form of an official White House press statement. The effect of seeing Trump’s social media bloviation as history-framed, official-looking statements from the nation’s highest office is devastatingly poignant.

The way forward with Facebook Messenger bots

Image Credit: Pixabay

From the moment Mark Zuckerberg got on stage at F8 in 2016 and announced the Messenger chatbot ecosystem, innovative brands, agencies, and developers jumped to start testing the waters with chatbots.

Dazzled by massive user numbers on messaging applications, the accessibility of chatbot authoring platforms and the perceived ease of bringing a product to market, it was too good to pass up. 30,000 bots were launched within six months and thousands more surfaced each month afterward.

Today, that number is up to 100,000. Scores of brands have developed bots for Messenger, all of them seeking an opportunity to drive quality one-to-one interactions with their customers at scale. Keeping in mind customer experience and the challenges brands face as app downloads decrease and ad blockers increase, there’s hardly a better opportunity available to brand marketers today.

The evolution of bots

In the first year, we learned many lessons about chatbots. Because of its one-on-one nature, people feel comfortable sharing their opinions and truthfully answering questions, making chatbots an effective tool to collect data and customize offerings.

But, it only works if users are engaging the bot in the first place. And when users do utilize bots, they expect the experience to feel natural and authentic as if they were speaking with a friend or an actual brand representative.

We also learned that not enough users were discovering bots. And those who were discovering and using bots weren’t necessarily having highly engaging experiences. Many of the so-called chatbots didn’t really chat. They just guided users through menu-based interactions in which inputs were limited to whatever buttons were presented to the…

How data analytics will help us understand chatbots

Bots can augment human interaction, create greater business efficiencies, and remove friction from customer interactions.

It’s also a market that’s attracting impressive investment dollars, with 180 bot companies raising $24 billion in funding to date. Industry leaders from IBM to Facebook are making big efforts to take advantage of this trend, spending significant resources encouraging developers to create new bots that enable more personalized customer interactions. In March of 2016, Cisco announced the Spark Innovation Fund, a $150 million investment in bots and developers who want to make new products for Cisco endpoints in offices around the world.

Some of the most obvious uses for bots revolve around communication, customer service, and ecommerce. Chatbots are at the center of the way people communicate today, with over 2.5 billion people worldwide using a messaging platform like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Telegram. Twitter recently rolled out a bot-like feature within its DM service to enable brands to interact more frequently with customers, with the goal of ultimately improving the customer experience. Facebook is testing a service to enable users to make payments on Facebook Messenger that are facilitated via the use of bots built on its platform. Gaming companies are using bots to help ward off trolls that might interfere with the natural progression of the game.

All this is happening while we create almost unfathomable amounts of data — data that is expected to reach 35 zettabytes by 2020. So how can companies outside ecommerce take advantage of bots to automate these new data sets and deliver smarter, faster analytics access in the process? Let’s take a look:

The concept of human to machine interaction via natural language processing can drive immediate analytics responses, rather than waiting on human analysis…

Microsoft is helping restaurants cook up their own bots

Microsoft has launched a service for businesses to quickly and easily create a FAQ bot customers can chat with inside Bing search results.

The Bing Business Bot service begins by asking a business owner a series of basic questions about their business, like where parking is, how to make reservations, and handicap accessibility details. The service then creates a bot that draws on your answers as well as Bing Places business listing data.

If the bot doesn’t know the answer to a question, it will reach out to the restaurant owner — and remember the answer to the question for future customers.

The simple creation of a bot based on Bing Places information provides businesses with a less technical way to enhance…

Telegram Messenger gets bot payments and video messages

Telegram Messenger today announced a series of new features, most notably the ability to make orders and purchases through a bot, and share one-minute long video messages.

“Currently, most of the payments are handled by Stripe, but Telegram Bot Payments are a platform for payment providers all over the world,” read a Telegram blog post. “When accepting a payment from a user, the bot developer can choose between all available payment providers, selecting the one already…

Slack is working to make bots more discoverable

Slack recently shared insights into how it plans to compete with new entrants to the enterprise chat landscape that include Microsoft Teams, Google’s Hangout Chats, and Workplace by Facebook.

Near-, mid-, and long-term plans for the future of the Slack platform for bots were updated Friday in this publicly visible Trello project management board.

In the near term, Slack will make bots discoverable for users inside Slack. Today Slack bots are added from the Slack App Directory with a web browser. The company also plans to enable “deeper messaged-based interactivity with text input and more” and track new events like when a Slack team uninstalls an app or bot.

The ability to install Slack bots inside Slack is a mid-term goal, as is allowing new display of attachments like lists and tables inside Slack.

Long term, Slack wants…

5 bots to try this week: Golden State Warriors, Vexera, Rasa NLU, Movie Finder, and Spotify

Here are the five most popular bots this past week, as they appear on Botlist. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

5. Spotify

Share and find music directly within Facebook’s omnipresent messaging app. Spotify will now automatically offer playlist recommendations based on factors such as mood, activity, and genres.

4. Movie Finder

Movie Finder helps to decide what movie to watch tonight. The bot’s library contains only “good” movies based on IMDb rating…

You Can Chat With Albert Einstein’s Facebook Bot Alter-Ego

Albert Einstein is on Facebook, and he’s ready to chat. As a promotion for its new show, Genius, the National Geographic Channel has created an Albert Einstein bot for Facebook Messenger. You can banter back and forth with the theoretical version of the theoretical physicist about life, love, and science—although he’s quick to warn that “I become absent-minded during light conversations that do not involve the physical properties of light.”

Nevertheless, he will tell you all about his long list of lovers and send you plenty of GIFs from the show. The bot is more fun than most—full of puns and pithy…