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In Case You Missed It: A Slack Ask Me Anything with Travis Todd

contactspls | September 21, 2017


Data, Privacy, Security, Integrations, The Future of the Smart Address Book and more!

We recently rolled out a Slack group to allow our customers to communicate directly with us and with our platform community as a whole. You can join FullContact on Slack here! From time to time we will use this as a medium for more formal communications. One example of which is an AMA or Ask Me Anything we hosted with FullContact Co-Founder, Travis Todd. Below is the transcript of that AMA, edited slightly for readability.

Jake: Hi All, and welcome to FullContact’s first AMA. I am very excited to have Travis Todd our Co-Founder as our first host. He is one of the most versatile people I have ever met. At FullContact he has held just about every role humanly possible. From founder to developer, COO to data strategy, Labs and integrations to leading our iOS and web app strategy. Simply put Travis is a jack of all trades and he is a winner. As clearly demonstrated by his Silver Medal in FullContact’s 2016 Fantasy Football season(your’s truly is currently in first though but let’s give Travis this win).

Travis: A lot of season left Jake…

Jake: Fair enough!

Travis: But thanks for the intro.

Darren.hugo: Hi, Travis, any thoughts about the future of LinkedIn contact and company data, without their API? Services like FullContact are getting close but there’s still nothing as current as individuals updating their profiles.

Travis: Hi, Darren!  Well, LinkedIn has actually limited their API for quite a number of years.  They had some crazy low rate limit on it (while still offering it) that made it basically unusable.  So, I personally believe there is a huge opportunity there for someone to come in and be an OPEN platform for this very thing.  Not a walled garden like LinkedIn is.  And that is a place that FullContact has every intention of playing in.

Darren.hugo: Fantastic – totally agree. That’s why we see so much value in FC.

Travis: Yep.  It’s a tall order, LinkedIn has a couple hundred million users where the model is self-updating of data.  And as you pointed out, while companies are pushing into this void, it’s not a trivial matter to replicate that data at that scale.  But we strongly believe that we can be the one to fill that void as we are pretty hyper-focused on it.
What use case do you have @darren.hugo?

Darren.hugo: Totally. We help teams grow their important relationships by simply storing, organizing and sharing vital knowledge from meetings. Enrichment is an important part to reduce the effort of data entry and ensure that the right meeting notes end up associated with the right companies.

Travis: Very interesting.  So do you silently sit in on meetings and take notes?

Darren.hugo: We ask attendees at meetings to contribute notes after each meeting, then socialize the notes with relevant members of the team to drive discussion, decision-making and assist them with future dealings with those relationships

Travis: Very cool.  We should figure out how to integrate your business with one of our products  We are focused more on the “pre-meeting” information.

Darren.hugo: For sure – I’ll ping you directly. Thanks Travis

Travis: Sounds good.

Jake: Travis, that leads to a good question. How do you think about integrations? What qualities or outcomes do you look at? Or is it more about a journey that an end user might ultimately take?

Travis: For FullContact that answer probably has two parts for it.

On the platform side, I think good integrations show powerful use cases so that a developer/product manager can quickly see examples of ways you can harness the power of the FullContact APIs.  I think many of the outcomes are shared learnings and driving interaction with our product.

On the apps side of our business, I think the integrations are very different.  They are really designed to engage end users.  Increase conversion and end user growth, reduce churn and make the overall app platform more valuable and fit into more daily use cases that our customers have.

Jake: I know I have always been really fond of the integrations that allow us to get more value from the platform. My favorite to use is by far the Dossier tool( Is there one that you have been dreaming of?

Travis: I have a list of 100’s.  Let me go look at it and pick a few favorites.

  1. So one that I look forward to someday having on the App’s side of our business is an integration that tracks user events.  Such as user viewed/edited contact, user-initiated email/call/SMS with contact, user added/removed a tag, etc.With that data, you could start to imagine all of the cool use cases in making a super intelligent address book.  It could tell you who you need to reach out to, who should be marked as a favorite in your address book.  Who you should even delete from your address book, etc.
    In general, I think the “smart address book” integrations get me the most excited because they have the potential to really add value to people’s lives.
  1. And then there are super simple integrations that really just don’t exist commonly if at all in other address books.  Like from a contact record, being able to type out a quick message and have an old school hand written letter sent to the recipient.
  1. And then there are the customer 360º type integrations that are super interesting to entrepreneurs.  Like being able to look at a customer contact record and see that they might:
    • Be on the XYZ Premium Plan that started on some date
    • Have an outstanding invoice
    • Have 3 open tickets in our ticketing system
    • Have 1 open Opportunity in our CRM system
    • Have an out of date credit card on file in our billing system
    • Have recently communicated via email with my account rep etc.

You can quickly start to see how powerful that could become.

Jake: Indeed! I want some of those now. If I did I would be a lot less lousy of a friend.

Travis: I’m the worst.  And I hear you.

Jake: Well we have talked about LinkedIn data, Integrations and the future of the smart address book. @here What else would you like to hear from Travis?

Matt: @travis tell me what you think the Broncos could improve on in game two?

Travis: Now we’re cooking. lol

Right tackle, he didn’t have a great game.  And while QB play was generally really good, you can’t take a 20-yard sack near the red zone.  But they’ll be okay!

Matt: I agree there. The line has been a pain point for the last few years. I look forward to some improvements there.

Koryc: That defense tho!

Koryc: Along those lines… @travis – with the enforcement of GDPR approaching, what are the major challenges you foresee the industry encountering?

Travis: Great question.  I think the biggest challenge right now is that 80%+ of people reading this thread may not have the slightest idea what GDPR is, and means.  I could be wrong, but I think most don’t have it on their radar as they should.  

There is a great deal of uncertainty out there about GDPR.  I think everyone is sort of waiting to see which companies take the lead on it and how they approach it.  And when Trump came into office, I think it further complicated things because he takes a pretty cavalier approach to international legislation.

So to me the challenges are first, general lack of awareness.  Second, general understanding.  It’s a very legal reading document, not something you read over a bowl of cereal at the breakfast table one day.  Another challenge is that it’s intended to protect EU citizens, but how do you know which users in your database are EU citizens?  You can’t rely on IP address alone for that one.  Finally, meeting the requirements could potentially be a lot of effort depending upon the classification of your company and the types of data that you store.  So it’s not something that I would recommend waiting to the 11th hour to address.

Koryc: Those definitely are some big challenges! And while it is meant to protect EU citizens, do you think a similar form of legislation would find its way to the US or even the rest of the world eventually?

Travis: Certain parts of the world are most certainly moving in that direction.  Parts of Asia are developing similar, if not stronger regulation.

I think that we will eventually get there in the US.  But my intuition is that it will not be a focus at all over the next few years.  But who knows, how many Equifax type situations will we stomach before something more formal is put into place with some teeth behind it.  For example, GDPR has a section in it devoted to Security.  And GDPR has teeth that allow for substantial fines for breaches and things like that.

Koryc: That all makes a ton of sense, and perhaps an event like the recent Equifax breach will help put more priority behind these initiatives.  Thank you for the answer!

Travis: Yep, honestly that’s probably the only way things like this will happen, unfortunately.  Big events will happen and the constituents will get tired of companies getting off the hook with no repercussions.  Think about how Sarbanes-Oxley came to be.

While I put a lot of thinking into these things, we’re lucky to have Hector Rodriguez on our team as our Data Privacy Officer, as he’s CIPP/E certified (which is specific to GDPR regulations).  Most of what I know about GDPR I learned from him, I couldn’t stomach reading through all the legal documents:slightly_smiling_face:

Looks like our time is up.  If you have any follow-up questions don’t hesitate to direct message me, I’m happy to visit further!

You can join FullContact on Slack here!