[Insights #4] Amazon's AI Agents 🤖
Also the New Normal in AI
GM Readers! ☀️
Welcome to the 4th issue of Evolving Internet Insights — a weekly newsletter curating the top stories and our insights on the “Evolving Internet,” which covers everything from AI, Web3 and everything in between.
The pace of innovation in AI is honestly mind boggling. 🤯
Thanks for reading!
Liang and Dan 🙌
P.S. This newsletter will evolve like the internet does, please give us feedback in the comments section or reply directly via email! 🙏
💾 Byte Sized Stories
This week’s top stories with our insights on top.
1. Amazon AI Agents 🤖
⚡️ TL;DR: Amazon expands its Bedrock platform, which enables developers to build AI Agents. These AI Agents can complete actions for users instead of just providing suggestions. For instance, ChatGPT can suggest a sweater resembling a given image, but an AI Agent can actually complete the transaction and buy the sweater for you (if told to do so). Think of AI Agents as more sophisticated and capable versions of AI chatbots. Bedrock allows developers to customize foundation models, and, in turn, companies can then fine-tune them using their own data.
⚡️ So What: It was only a matter of time before the $1.3T eCommerce giant doubled down on the AI race in a significant way. Amazon has a huge competitive advantage because Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the leading cloud and infrastructure providers globally as well. As we covered in Issue #1, most of the value capture will likely accrue to the infrastructure part of the stack because that is where the constraint is. Many companies already use AWS, so it is an easy sell for them to use the AI solution that works natively with AWS.
2. Crypto Regulation Making Moves 🌊
⚡️ TL;DR: In the past few weeks, there have been quite a few regulatory wins for the crypto industry.
Ripple’s XRP token was deemed not a security by a judge, which can serve as precedent for other cases.
Bipartisan effort in Congress has advanced the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, a comprehensive bill that would provide much of the regulatory clarity needed by the industry.
Blackrock pushed forward with their Bitcoin ETF and is now under formal review. Blackrock has ~$9T assets under management.
⚡️ So What: Regulation is one of the key issues that everyone in the industry wants to get clarity on. Particularly for larger financial institutions that are more heavily regulated and that want to explore a nascent industry. Without clear regulation, entrepreneurs, investors and companies don’t quite know how to move forward — that’s why they usually go to other jurisdictions. For example, Coinbase, the leading US-based cryptocurrency exchange platform, in recent months has looked outside of American borders and recently launched an exchange for international investors. 🛩 If you believe that crypto is a foundational technology, having it move offshore has implications such as long term economic impacts, job growth, etc.
3. Realistic Sci-Fi Movie Trailer Made by Hobbyist 😱
⚡️ TL;DR: Nicolas Neubert, a product designer at Volkswagen created a SciFi trailer that many thought was a real trailer for a movie. He is a hobbyist who spent over a thousand hours learning Midjourney, one of the leading AI image generators. To create the trailer, it took him a total of seven hours, 316 Midjourney prompts, 128 images generated in Midjourney, 310 videos generated in Runway (an AI video maker). To the surprise of many, the total cost to create the trailer was $125 (total price of Midjourney and Runway subscriptions).
The Trailer is worth the watch 🍿🕶👇
⚡️ So What: With the ongoing Hollywood strike, the question of how filmmaking will coexist AI is front and center. One state of the world is that hobbyists like Nicolas play a bigger role in the future of film production. But with AI and the Internet, they don’t even have to work with Hollywood, which would undermine the very business model that is film production. While writers and actors are worried they will be disrupted by studios using AI, studios should also be concerned that hobbyists might disrupt studios as well. AI tools are only getting better and ideas circulate on the Internet way faster with lower costs of distribution. 🌐
📊 Let’s Get Graphic
One visual we couldn’t stop thinking about.
Developers in Web3 per Electric Capital
⚡️Takeaway: Yes some developers have left Web3 amidst the Crypto Winter, but if we zoom out, developer interest is still up and to the right. This chart tells the story of every emerging tech revolution. The cycles and volatility in a short enough timeframe feel extreme but over the long term the industry is growing rapidly. In this case, developers represent a good growth metric since industries are built by (usually small groups) of talented people. As far as tracking the trajectory of Web3 goes, the old adage of “follow the talent” is very much true. 👩🏿💻🧑💻👨💻
🧠 Brain Food
One focus topic to feed your brain.
The New Normal in AI 🤖
One of the reasons that the AI hype burns so many people out is that the news all starts to look and feel the same. Honestly, we understand the headaches. As we have researched the space, we are noticing a trend: many companies are “adding a dash of” or “sprinkling in some” AI into their larger product offerings. This trend is helpful to think about when juxtaposing it with other startups that offer more “AI native” product offerings.
⚡️ Just “A Splash” of AI: Many companies are quickly dropping in AI into their tech stack as a defensive move. The last thing they (and their shareholders) want to do is miss the boat. Understanding the greater potential of AI, these companies know that not (or slowly) acting and investing in the technology is just as dangerous to their share price as not doing anything at all.
Here are some stories we saw recently:
Pearson, the education resources company that also produces textbooks, publicly reiterated their use of AI after earlier in the year to calm investor fears. This comes off the heels of an earlier announcement when Chegg, a US rival, noted that ChatGPT and generative AI was directly to blame in their loss of customers.
Doordash, the food delivery app, is implementing a Chatbot into its app, to give customers personalized restaurant recommendations. Customers can ask simple questions about ratings, affordability, and menu options, with the hope that the AI-based ChatBot will be faster and easier than browsing through menus.
Meta, is exploring launching a range of artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbots that exhibit different personalities in an attempt to boost engagement on its platform.
⚡️ Fleeting Adoption Advantages: AI is an interesting technology because the early mover advantage erodes quicker than ever before and the technology itself is rapidly becoming table stakes.
With new technologies, there are 3 broad phases of advantages:
Early Adopters Phase: In this phase, the advantage comes from the fact that the competition isn’t using it yet, i.e. first mover advantage.
Post-Chasm, Pre-Mainstream Adoption: Once a technology has “crossed the chasm,” a lot more users adopt the technology but there is also more competition. Advantage in this phase requires more novel use cases.
New Normal: Once the technology is widely adopted, it becomes table stakes for businesses. There is little advantage to adopting it but you might get penalized for not using it.
AI will largely follow this phased approach to full adoption, but what is different with this technology is the duration of those phases (read: phases are progressing faster).
⚡️ So What: As companies deploy AI, they have to remember that AI is merely a tool, albeit a powerful one.
AI is quickly marching towards the “New Normal” phase relative to technology adoption curves of the past. In this New Normal, if you don’t use AI in your business, you risk getting left behind.
The key question becomes how does one preserve and develop a competitive advantage in this world? Especially since AI is becoming widely accessible to all.
You might use AI but so can everyone else.
Executives will now need to ask themselves (and answer wholeheartedly), “How can we use AI to build a truly defensible competitive advantage?” ⏱
Additional Readings: Here
🐇 Down the Rabbit Hole
Some deeper dives to help you get smarter on emerging tech.
Jargon Free Explanation of AI: Great long read explaining how AI and GPT models work.
Founder Archetypes Framework: An interesting framework that breaks down the different founder archetypes into “Cowboys,” “Craftsmen” and “Visionaries.”
AWS CEO on $100M Investment in Gen AI: AWS CEO Adam Selipsky’s CNBC interview describing Amazon’s generative AI program.
🌊 Watercooler Talk
Overheard from our community.
This week, the Latin American (LatAm) VC Slacks we are in were ablaze talking about two leading online publications focused on all things tech in LatAm – LatamList and Startups Latam. Called “THE go-to sources of entrepreneurial ecosystem news in Latin America,” we wanted to give these outlets some props 🤜🤛
Here were some interesting companies at the intersection of emerging tech and the emerging market of LatAm discovered through these publications:
P.S. Got some watercooler talk for us? Share your suggestions in our comments section!
📝 Elite Jobs Corner
From our networks, we curate and connect top founders and companies to rockstar recruits.
⚡️[Web3] Senior Smart Contract Engineer at Story Protocol:
What: Story Protocol is building Web3 technology to revolutionize how narrative universes are created. Its mission is to unleash an entirely new way to create, govern, and license intellectual property on the blockchain.
Who: Team has deep expertise in media, tech, and business. Founding team members are successful serial entrepreneurs. Backed by elite VCs globally. 👀
What: Konko AI is a fully managed API that allows developers to easily access, evaluate, choose, fine-tune and deploy large language models (LLMs)
Who: Founding team with operator and technical experience in AI, venture backed startups, consulting, both HBS grads 🤓
⚡️[VC] Post-Wharton MBA with Early-stage VC Investor Experience Looking for Full-time Role. Meet Stephanie Michael Silva 🇨🇱
Who: Brings extensive global investment experience from early-stage venture capital to private equity, having interned at L’Attitude Ventures, Gilgamesh Ventures, and 1616 Ventures during her MBA and worked at MLC on late-stage and buyout deals across the fintech, SaaS, healthcare, and consumer sectors in the US and Europe
Secret Sauce: While much of her career has been as an industry generalist, Stephanie utilized her MBA/MA to deepen her knowledge on Latin America fintech and emerging markets venture capital
Fun Fact: She was a critical piece in an investment in Comp, a promising Brazilian pre-seed HR tech startup backed by the preeminent VCs in the region. Stephanie led market diligence, wrote the investment memo, participated in the IC, and assisted in allocation negotiations.
📣 Call to Action
Are you a potential candidate? You can apply directly and reply to this newsletter with an email asking for us to refer you (please include why we should refer you). What are you waiting for? Take a chance. 🎲
Are you hiring? If there is a rockstar recruit that you want to get connected to and/or you want us to showcase the role(s) you are hiring for, please reply directly to this newsletter. We would love to hear from you! 👂
Do you know someone who is a great fit for a role? Reply to this newsletter providing us more details in your email (also, since you are already in your inbox, forward them this newsletter and ask them to subscribe). 🙏
🗳 We’d Love your Feedback
What did you think of today's issue?
🙏 Shameless Asks
It takes us days to put this together, sharing it takes you 19.45 seconds 😘
An easy way to support us and the newsletter is through the referral program.
⚡️ Share Evolving Internet Insights with a friend and ask them to subscribe
⚡️ Share on Twitter and Linkedin with a short note
⚡️ Share on your company Slack/Teams channels and communities
DISCLAIMER: This post is provided strictly for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing written in this post should be taken as financial advice or advice of any kind. The content of this post are the opinions of the authors and not representative of other parties. Empower yourself, DYOR (do your own research).