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Topia CEO Brynne Kennedy

Successful managing global talents is not dystopia especially with Topia

Human resources (HR) is one of the core things that distinguishes bad companies from good ones and good companies from great ones. That is especially true when it comes to managing mobile and global talents with all the the challenges it bring.

Today we are presenting you an interview with Brynne Kennedy, CEO of Topia. Her idea for Topia stemmed from her global career in finance and researchinghow bold companies are transforming their workforces with mobility betweenlocations and roles.

What is Topia?

Topia provides a future of work platform that enables companies and their employees to work everywhere around the globe. Our platform powers global mobility programs at the world’s leading companies including Dell, Schneider Electric, AXA and Equinor.  Put simply, companies use us to move their employees!

What sort of activities and functionalities are included within the Topia platform that users can take advantage of in their everyday work?

We have two experiences—one for HR teams and one for mobile employees.  For HR teams, our software takes away a lot of the friction of managing a globally mobile workforce with functionality like automatically creating a cost projection for an assignment, generating and storing documents, authorizing vendors for relocation services and calculating payroll instructions and year end compensation reviews for mobile employees. These things are all incredibly manual and complicated—which makes it hard for companies to operate really globally!

Topia CEO Brynne Kennedy

For employees, we have a portal that enables them to manage there location related tasks and explore a destination, all with personalization for individual and family preferences.

Who is your target group when we speak about the company size? Or if the company size is not that important, is it more important how often they have employees from abroad or if they relocate their employees to other countries?

We typically sell to enterprise companies with 5,000 employees or more, but there are cases where the complexity of a company’s global mobility program or number would warrant the use of a system like ours even if they are not quite as large.

You offer city guide so that users more easily learn about their new city. What other helpful information can you offer for mobile workers about their new city? Do you offer options to connect with other people who recently moved in to a certain city so they can meet offline?

Topia CEO Brynne Kennedy
Brynne Kennedy speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018

Our city guides provide a great deal of information about an employee’s new city and where they might like to live. The guides cover a wide range of topics—everything from how to set up utilities or registering with local authorities to the popular sports teams and weekend activities to do with your kids. We’re pulling hundreds of live data points and combining that with curated content to deliver an experience akin to an interactive digital magazine. One feature we’re really excited about is our Neighborhood Planner which enables you to find the right neighborhood based on metrics like commute time or costs. Today, we don’t offer options in the employee product to connectwith other people who have recently moved to a new city, although in major expat hubs there are separate third party web communities for people to connect.

Moving to another city can be stressful for employees but also often requires a lot of work for HR people. What are those things that you think consume the most time, for newcomers and for HR people,and how Topia helps in reducing that needed time?

For a lot of folks in HR and Global Mobility the process of moving an employee involves a lot of logistical administration—projecting costs, filling out forms to authorize vendors, chasing approvals from necessary stakeholders, managing spreadsheets to track costs, ensuring visa renewal dates are met and similar administrative activities. It ends up being an inefficient and poor use of the HR team’s time. By using technology to manage your program we’re able to automate nearly all of these types of activities. For example, when you initiate a move, instead of having to fill out roughly the same information multiple times to initiate different vendors, the Topia system is able to pull all the necessary employee information from your HRIS system like Workday, SAP SuccessFactors or Oracle and then automatically authorize the necessary relocation vendors based on the approved policy and benefits. That alone saves real time for the HR team.

Employees face different challenges. They’re worrying “Where am I going to live? How will my stuff get there? What do I need to know about my new office/role? How do I setup my mobile phone, setup internet, get groceries, etc.” Inevitably your employees end up spending working hours thinking or managing through these questions. By providing them the information and tools to manage their relocation in a single place we’re able to drastically simplify the process for a relocating employee.

In-game and 3D advertising

Reaching hard-to-reach audience in AAA games with Anzu

This time we are presenting you an innovative startup Anzu which is trying to connect advertisers seamlessly with gamers while they do what they love the most – play games. As you can see from the interview, based on the different stats, it is very un-saturated market with the huge growth potential.

What is Anzu?

Anzu has built a new advertising ecosystem that enables to create meaningful connections between people and brands using games. We call it blended in-game advertising because ads fully blend into the game world and become part of it. You can see it in action below.

Reaching hard-to-reach audience in AAA titles is a huge advertising
possibility if done right. Compared to TV advertising it is almost
un-saturated market. What is your unique selling proposition compared to  similar products?

The thing is that there’re no similar platforms that operate across the whole digital space. And that’s an issue since each year advertisers invest more and more into digital and they are always looking for new audience types and wider reach. At the same time, AAA publishers don’t have a scalable solution to bring ad monetization into their games, as the existing solutions and ad formats are very intrusive. We connected the dots and developed a cross-platform solution that enables top-tier game studios to make their game world more realistic with fully blended in-game ads that don’t block user sessions. We cover VR, AR, mobile, PC, console, connected TV and eSports verticals and operate on both Unity and Unreal.

Talking about other differentiators, we have also developed an in-house 3D ad tracking engine that measures ad viewability in real time. It gives advertisers full control over game environment they appear in, specific ad placements and ad quality in general. Our tracking system is compatible with 3rd party brand safety tools which means double protection, and brand safety.

Anzu - In-Game and 3D Advertising

Esports is getting more and more popular. With growing Esports it is
logical that in-game advertising will follow the similar growth trend.
What is some current in-game advertising market in size at the moment and what can be expected in the nearest future like 2020?

You’re right! We do expect in-game advertising to blossom within the next few years.

According to eMarketer, advertisers invested about $232B into digital space in 2017. However, only $5.6B was generated by in-game ads. The gap is huge for a number of reasons – lack of a scalable tech solution on both the publisher and advertiser sides, as I mentioned above; and lack of knowledge/education on what audiences the current games can offer. The gamer profile has changed a lot, but advertisers are still cautious and think that they can target only teenagers playing games. It’s challenging, but we hope to bridge this gap by developing innovative technologies and investing time and effort into the market education. Having talks with AAA game studios and Fortune 500 brands, we see their interest in in-game ads, which makes us think that in-game revenues have a good chance to boost within 2-3 years.

How easy is for brands to have ads in games and virtual worlds and
how easily developers can integrate your solution?

As veterans in the AdTech and gaming worlds, we did our best to make the platform easy to use. Developers can integrate our SDK in a matter of minutes with a drag-&-drop integration available for both Unity and Unreal engines.

People often mention so called banner-blindness as users often don’t
even notice banners. What is your experience when it comes to in-game
advertising? What are the reactions of the users, advertisers and game producers?

We took care of the advertisers as well. Our optimization engine transforms conventional ad formats into immersive in-game ads in real time. It means that advertisers do not need to build specific in-game creatives and can launch a campaign right away. This, combined with our ability to serve ads dynamically, also enables advertisers to work with us via the existing media buying channels they use – DSPs, Ad exchanges, PMPs, etc.

In-game advertising is the ultimate solution to fight banner blindness. Why? Ads fully blend into the game play and become an integral part of it. On the one hand, it’s difficult to miss them, but on the other hand, they don’t disrupt user experience which creates a win-win-win situation for the users, game developers and advertisers.

We’ve had a lot of discussions with the US gamers at E3 and GDC this year and were delighted to hear only positive feedback about the demos we showed.

The majority of gamers state that they have wondered why games do not have any billboards/logos and other ads we’re used to in real life. They also notice that in-game ads make the game world more realistic and vivid. On the economy level, we understand that the in-game advertising ecosystem can bring a free-to-play monetization model to the PC and console worlds that was not available up to date, or at least reduce the game price.

But it takes much more time to “turn” advertisers into the new technology adopters. Evidently, since it’s a matter of reputation, budget, prestige, a chain of decision makers…

When do you expect that VR and AR gaming will become wide-spread?

VR and AR are very different by nature, and we assume that their applications will differ too. In terms of VR, its main blockers are technology and cost at the moment. The more advanced technologies we see – device size, connection type, mobility, stability – and the cheaper devices cost, the more people are willing to give it a try. VR has a bright gaming future, but for now developers do not want to invest time and money into this space due to high costs and pretty poor user base. We believe that the situation might change by 2020-2022. AR is among the hottest gaming trends of 2018 and we believe that next year its worldwide adoption will boost.

Please tell us about your future plans (if you can share it with our
readers)?

We’ve perfected the product, have gone through the beta stage and are now fully available to the public. We have ambitious plans and hope 2019 to be a breakthrough year, full of productive events and long-term fruitful partnerships.

BlaBlaCar

BlaBlaCar acquired Autohop ridesharing platform

The world’s biggest ridesharing platform  BlaBlaCar has announced they acquired a Hungarian startup Autohop and, therefore, now they are present also in Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Croatia.

BlaBlaCar is present in 16 countries according to their main page country selection and based on Crunchbase data so far raised 110m usd in 2 rounds, from some of the the world A-list investors like Index Ventures, Accel Partners among others.

BlaBlaCar is headquarted in Paris and in July 2014 got the biggest investment that one French startup ever got – 100m usd. It enabled to fast open new markets or to acquire existing market leaders.

Markets like above mentioned are great because GDP is significant lower than the average EU GDP but the transportation costs are pretty much the same so we can expect further growing a ridesharing community. However, question is how much they will be able to monetize platform in those markets comparing to some wealthier markets.

We will see if some new ridesharing platforms will evolve in this market but anyway, having the biggest player in this industry present in this market can most likely mean only better conditions to travelers as community will grow more and big and safe environment is the most important factors in ridesharing platform.

Vaccancies

New job openings in SEEMEA

Different vacancies in sales, marketing, finance, tech support, software development at a global mobile solutions company Infobip. Different locations.

More details

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Prelovac Media, maker of ManageWP.com is looking for

Place of work: Belgrade, Serbia

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Different openings at the leading mobile technology company Monitise (formerly Pozitron). Place of work is in Istanbul.

Software Developer, Software Developer iOS, Software Developer Android, Front-End Developer, Graphic Designer, UI Designer etc

More details

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“At Dome9 we’re running the world’s leading cloud security management-as-a-service that enables a vast array of customers, an easy deployment, configuration and management of their cloud security policies.”

Send your resume to jobs@dome9.com

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 Computer Vision Scientist – Catchoom (Spain)

We are looking for a talented, highly motivated computer vision scientist with an excellent theoretical and working knowledge of advanced image processing and matching. The successful candidate will develop and implement visual recognition algorithms to be used within new generations of mobile games, working in partnership with an international game development company.As part of Catchoom you will work on academic-quality research combined with real-world product development and impact, and have the opportunity to collaborate with top-tier mobile game designers and developers.

More details

Viber

Rakuten will acquire Viber for 900m USD!

The largest Internet company in Japan Rakuten will acquire Cyprus-based company Viber for 900m USD.

Rakuten is one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies and Viber is one of the most popular free calling services in the world. Rakuten acquisition of Viber is one step closer to reaching their goal of becoming “No. 1 Internet services company”.

Rakuten is well-known for dozen of acquisitions also in Europe, like acquiring French logistic company Alpha Direct Service for enabling same day deliveries in Paris and next-day deliveries across Europe, then Spanish video streaming service Wuaki.tv.  Also invested in global Internet brands such is Pinterest (100m USD) etc.

Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said: “I am tremendously excited to welcome Viber to the Rakuten family. Viber delivers the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available. Additionally, Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform.”

Acqusition of Viber is one of the biggest acquisitions in the SEEMEA region.