In today’s increasingly connected world, businesses are realizing the need to embrace the realities of the omni-channel environment to stay ahead of the digital curve. In an Interview with Analytics Insight, Todd Greene, Founder and CEO of PubNub shares his valuable insights on how the company offers a secured infrastructure to build and scale realtime apps which significantly accelerate digital transformation with rapid application development, anywhere in the world.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization and the services that your company offers.
Todd Greene: PubNub makes it possible for companies to deliver applications that provide “Connected Shared Experiences” to their customers. These experiences are part of every modern application: the ability to chat in realtime, control devices in realtime, and track real world activities (like taxis, inventory, and auctions) in realtime. PubNub provides the infrastructure and APIs to solve the 3 key challenges of building and scaling these realtime apps– delivered through a global, realtime network. PubNub connects any number of devices – ensuring secure, always-on connectivity for web, mobile, server-side, and IoT smart devices. PubNub maintains fully-synchronized points-of-presence across the Earth to deliver messages in under a quarter second. And PubNub allows you to control your realtime streams of data – to manipulate, filter, and augment data as it flows through the network. And it does this in a secure and compliance-ready way (encryption, access management, HIPAA, SOC2, EU-US Privacy Shield).
PubNub currently powers apps and products in a wide variety of industries, from social and collaboration, to IoT, to the on-demand economy, to agriculture, to gaming, to fitness. Customers include Peloton, Adobe, Yelp, Logitech, Atlassian, athenahealth, and PocketGems.
With what mission, the company was set up? In short, tell us about your journey since inception of the company?
Todd Greene: Three billion people now have smartphones, most with virtually unlimited data. Most people use their phones to read content, watch videos, and send emails. Yet the most exciting uses of our phones happens when we leverage that realtime connection to the Internet. Just think about what has changed in the 6 years: People worldwide now use their phones to order taxis, track food delivery, control their lights, and have a bunch of apps specifically for chatting with people. These applications fit into a new, fast-growing category of applications called Connected Shared Experiences. And PubNub was launched to deliver the new technology required to build Connected Shared Experiences (CSE).
These CSE apps are all powered by a new layer of technology, realtime technology. At PubNub, we call this a Data Stream Network, and our tech is used by many of the apps you already have installed on your phones, in your homes, and on your browsers. In the early days of PubNub, pitching our vision about realtime technology was mostly about speaking in the abstract. That was before Uber, Peloton, Slack, Yelp!, Logitech, Symphony, and thousands of other similar apps became commonplace. But as far as we’ve come, the uses of realtime technology have just started to scratch the surface.
Mention some of the awards, achievements, recognitions and clients’ feedback that you feel are notable and valuable for the company.
Todd Greene: Our Data Stream Network won the 2019 DEVIES Award for API Infrastructure. Here are some of the motivating quotes from our customers:
“From testing, to 1,500 rides a day today, to an estimated 15,000 rides a day in the coming months, we’re confident PubNub can handle that growth.” – Kabir Chandhoke, COO of SourceFuse (Makers of RelayRIDE).
“The time to implement was negligible, it probably took longer to clarify we were using a service called PubNub and having people try and decode what I was saying with my English accent. We support three clients, web, iOS and Android, and everyone was up and running ‘in a jiffy’ as we say.” – Ramin Keene, StockX CTO.
Brief us about your role and contributions towards the company and the industry.
Todd Greene: I’ve dedicated the better part of this decade focusing on PubNub because I believe that everyone, and every product, will be dramatically changed by our “always-on” connection to the Internet, and through it, to every other person and device in the world. I previously founded Loyalize (acquired by the owner of American Idol), which was the first company to deliver large-audience realtime experiences that were synchronized with live TV shows. With experience in SaaS, consumer, and infrastructure companies, I and my co-founder Stephen were able to identify the broad need for a general-purpose technology that could deliver the realtime, Connected Shared Experience requirements across industries as diverse as Financial Services, Gaming, Retail, and Social Apps.
What technologies/ tools/ practices your company offers to drive digital transformation to its clients?
Todd Greene: We enable products and companies to deliver connected shared experiences. These are features that turn static applications to be interactive and immersive. We provide the technology to connect users instantaneously.
Swiggy, Peloton, PocketGems, Atlassian, EasyTaxi, HotStar, and Symphony all represent companies that are delivering new experiences enabled by realtime connectivity. Connected shared experiences are characterized by a higher reliance on realtime tech, and a focus on realtime engagement as part of their core value proposition.
Tell us how the company is contributing to the Big Data /Artificial Intelligence/NLP/Cloud Computing or Automation Industry of the nation.
Todd Greene: PubNub Functions empowers developers to integrate best-in-class services directly into their realtime applications. Let’s look at two AI/NLP examples. Chatbot services like Watson Assistant and Amazon Lex provide the brain for smart, AI-powered conversations. However, you need to give that chatbot a voice as well. You need a way to send text (or voice converted to text) to the chatbot, so it can process the message and respond accordingly. That’s where PubNub, and PubNub Functions specifically, comes into play. PubNub powers the chat functionality, and Functions brings in that AI service, without having to spin up any 3rd party services. All processing, computation, and decision making happens within the network. Another example revolves around NLP services like Tisane or Watson Natural Language Understanding. This allows you to gauge the sentiment of a massive stream of content, like Tweets, and get an overview of how people actually feel about a topic.
How are disruptive technologies like Cloud Computing/IoT/ Big Data Analytics/Artificial Intelligence/ Automation impacting today’s innovation?
Todd Greene: It’s completely being transformed. These services, combined with realtime data streaming, gives companies big and small accessible, affordable ways to innovate.
What makes company innovative/unique? What are the key partnerships and involvements done to drive the innovation?
Todd Greene: – Reliability at Massive Scale: There’s a reason we were a part of both Hotstar and Peloton’s world records. We know that our customer’s audiences are global, and the realtime features must be high-performant no matter where users are located. Seamless interactivity, and a reliable connected shared experience, is a key selling point for our customers, which is why we focus so heavily on enhancing and improving our global infrastructure. It’s secure, it’s reliable, and it stays realtime, no matter how many users are connected.
– Serverless Functions: Realtime software requires rethinking aspects of your application stack. PubNub Functions delivers a top-to-bottom global stack for collaboration, IoT, and other realtime applications. Now developers can focus on building apps, not infrastructure. PubNub Functions brings unprecedented levels of productivity to developers, while being the fastest and most scalable serverless environment in the world. Unlike many stateless compute environments, PubNub Functions comes complete with a global Key/Value store for keeping application state in high performance, globally-scaled environments. With Functions, developers and businesses can set their sights on building and enhancing the application experience instead of focusing on the web infrastructure required to run it.
Kindly mention some of the major challenges the company has faced till now.
Todd Greene: Crossing the chasm to widespread adoption – any new market requires education. There’s no shortage of demand for realtime technology; in fact, the majority of new software projects require it. But most people still don’t go searching for a “Data Stream Network”, since the nomenclature for this technology isn’t normalized yet. So a lot of our efforts go into blogging, speaking, and sharing best practices to better inform the world’s software developers that they don’t have to build all of this, it’s available and easy to use.
The rise of the Internet and global social media has already led to some scary outcomes: the recent “fake news” phenomena, the many privacy breaches, and increasingly worrying security concerns from individual and state actors, to name a few. Realtime technology, especially when home-grown and not well designed, can be used in support of these nefarious activities, and sometimes even are used as the core of how these attacks are planned. Much of our time at PubNub is designing this technology to balance its power with its ability to be secured, monitored, and controlled. In fact, that’s one of our key selling points with our customers.
Beyond privacy and security risks, realtime technology will also change the way we interact, and demand new interpersonal dynamics, rules, and customs. We don’t know how this will change our cultures, and traditions, and our values. And ultimately, we are biological creatures that crave each other’s physical presence for love, comfort, and contact. Hopefully, our ability to connect with anyone in realtime online will actually give us more time to spend in the real world with those we cherish.
How do you see the company and the industry in the future ahead?
Todd Greene: Realtime will change the world. Cars, planes, and other means of transportation are a leading cause of climate change. But as realtime experiences get more real, people will find fewer needs to travel to and from work, meetings, conferences, seminars, and other events. The online experience will meet, and eventually exceed, the “real-world” experience. The online tools to collaborate will get better than people standing at a whiteboard. Realtime technologies will also change how people attend and participate in large events, like sports matches, concerts, and speeches. Already, leading companies like Hotstar in India are using PubNub to break records by powering live audiences of 10 million plus who participate in online experiences that are synchronized with live cricket broadcasts. And people like actor/musician Jared Leto have performed in live streaming concerts where PubNub is used to provide a massive scale audience experience online.
But that’s also just getting started. Online realtime technology exposes everyone to amazing classes at the best universities. People can get medical help from experts halfway around the world. We can have deep and meaningful collaborations with people in any subject: academic, creative, and professional. While the rapid rise of smartphones and realtime tech like PubNub might make it feel like we’re already living in the future, we’re really just embarking on a change that will affect every person worldwide in every aspect of their lives.
We are quickly entering a new phase of always-on connectivity for the majority of the world’s population. The companies that deliver the best-Connected Shared Experiences for the largest audiences are truly changing every aspect of our lives.