16 NYC tech leaders share their favorite moments of 2018

by Katie Fustich
December 14, 2018

Whether 2018 was your best year ever or a 365-day groan, the fact remains that our current lap around the sun is nearly at its end. As 2018 (or MMXVIII, as the Romans would say) draws to a close, Built In NYC asked local tech leaders to share what makes this year one worth remembering. Their responses were funny, thought-provoking and a crystal-clear sign that NYC tech is in store for greatness in 2019.

 

NYC
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“Virtual reality and autonomous things, smart cities and smart ecosystems are just some of the ways technology has shifted from us being consumers toward complementing our lives and lifestyles. Now, we are becoming partners with our digital landscapes both in our personal lives and at work.”

 

“The biggest achievement in 2018 was building our integrated technology platform, encompassing a wallet and exchange service with free and nearly instant worldwide payments (White Wallet), a merchant processing service (White Pay) and a debit card. Our focus is on the applications of blockchain technology, not cryptocurrency. We have never had an ICO or launched our own token, in fact, we do not hold any Bitcoin for investment (although I have to admit that it's probably a good time to buy now).”

 

Randy Jimenez
CTO

“Specific to Ollie, we developed an ice algorithm that helped us determine the exact amount of ice to pack inside individualized Ollie shipments based on a customer's location, weather and amount of food. Because Ollie delivers freshly cooked, human-grade dog food all over the country, it's incredibly important that when a customer's food arrives, that it's still frozen and that the food isn't compromised. This ice algorithm has helped us ensure food safety, and ultimately helps with retention rates as it provides a better customer experience.”

 

“In 2018 there was a proliferation of voice user interface (VUI) applications related to financial services. Financial institutions have come to realize that VUI provides a convenient and growing engagement channel. Today you can check your credit card balance, make a mortgage payment, or receive market updates through voice. Given how far the technology has evolved, it is a matter of time before one will be able to apply for credit through a VUI application. ‘Alexa’ (or ‘Hey Siri’ or ‘Hey Google’), I need an auto loan’ will be a reality in the not too distant future.”

 

NYC
image via shutterstock

“My favorite tech moment of 2018 came late in the year with the $8 billion SAP acquisition of cloud-based survey startup Qualtrics, the day before the company was set to IPO. The value of customer based ‘big data’ has been understood for some time, but now no one can deny that understanding your customer through ‘small data’ is also a core fundamental for all data-driven businesses. The acquisition reinforced what category insiders already knew about the maturity and volume of the ‘experience economy,’ while surprising investors by demonstrating just how much brands value those insights.”

 

Peter Marchese
Senior Technical Evangelist

“My favorite tech moment from 2018 was seeing VR and game-related technologies become more accessible and accepted so anyone could take advantage of them, as opposed to being tools that only specialists could work with. Knowing designers and owners have the ability to truly see a project before it is built, and construction clients can better navigate a site for constructability with the use of VR technology was a great feeling.”

 

Mark Webster
Director of Product

“My favorite tech moment of 2018 was seeing Amazon launch a variety of Alexa-enabled products, outside of smart speakers. Seeing Alexa-enabled microwaves and wall clocks really speaks to the importance and relevance voice interfaces are earning as a part of our everyday lives.”

 

Nis Frome
co-founder

“My favorite tech moment and experience from 2018 was one that gave me a window into the future: I was in Seattle completely serendipitously on the same day that Amazon opened their cashier-less ‘Go’ store. It was nothing fancy; essentially a glorified bodega. But being able to just walk in, pick a few things out, and then leave without 'checking out' was eye-opening. It made me realize how much friction normally exists throughout everyday activities and errands.”

 

NYC
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Shamim Samadi
co-founder and Chief Product Officer

“Our favorite moment from 2018 arrived on May 25, when the adtech industry survived the GDPR apocalypse. The doomsday hype and headlines leading beforehand made for dramatic morning reads, but the reality was and continues to be that the roll out of GDPR was a natural phase in the evolution and growth of our industry. In fact, GDPR, like the conversations around transparency before it, helped weed out the bad players across the ecosystem. And it only bodes well for those of us that survived.”

 

Chris Fischer
CTO and VP of Product

“I’m rarely a fan of any hardware launches or specific companies, but the launch of the Apple Watch 4 with ECG capabilities is a really important moment in technology because it helps warn individuals of life threatening situations in the body. It’s a pretty amazing advancement.”

 

“We need to look no further than continual improvements made to the Apple Watch in 2018 to see how data and technology is ushering in an era of radically personalized health. This has huge implications as biometric data becomes increasingly more important in the practice of healthcare generally and clinical research specifically. We have just begun to explore the benefits of using biometrics for other use cases, and potential benefits include everything from rapid identification of disease to new methods of detecting abnormalities in voice that could indicate deception, stress or illness.”

 

Emi Gal
co-founder and CEO 

“I would say that my favorite tech moment of 2018 was definitely SpaceX landing two rocket boosters at the same time, in concert, on land, while a third one was landing on a self-driving drone. I mean, what can possibly beat that? Humanity sent three rockets to space at the same time and brought them back safely. And by humanity, I mean Elon Musk. He's great.”

 

NYC
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Thomas Sehested
co-founder and CEO

“2018 was a breakout year for machine learning and artificial intelligence. For the last few years, these have felt like buzzwords, but now real-world applications for both business and consumer-use have become more and more prevalent. This technology has already impacted everything from sales to service and more.”

 

Kris Beevers
co-founder and CEO

"My favorite tech moment of 2018 was the announcement of AWS Outposts, the new on-prem AWS compute and storage offering, because it validated the need for technology companies to ensure their services can be used across a continuum of delivery models, from on-prem to SaaS to hybrid cloud environments. We as technology vendors have to accommodate the broad range of infrastructure models, in whatever form they take, or the experience of the end customer suffers.”

 

“In 2018, ONYX announced a $30 smartphone for Africa. This could be transformational as it will provide access to critical technology for areas that are otherwise left behind, particularly when it comes to access to knowledge. The strategy is also well thought out: the phone keeps processing requirements to a minimum, battery life to a maximum and even includes manufacturing in Africa to account for economic advantage as well. Doing good while doing well should be a tenant of modern businesses, and this approach is a beautiful model.”

 

Packy McCormick
VP of Experience

“In 2018, Airbnb announced Backyard, an initiative to design and test prototypes for adaptable residences. What’s fascinating to me about Backyard is that it’s a great example of a company that historically provided access to others' supply (in this case, hosts' homes) realizing that by creating the product themselves, they are able to better meet the demands of their customers. This is similar to Netflix creating their own content or Uber experimenting with self-driving cars.”

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