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  • Stasior has an incredible resumé. A small selection of the giants he’s been stationed at include: Amazon, A9, Alta Vista, (and now Apple joins the A-list) Oracle and various positions at MIT before that.

    According to CNBC’s reporting, he led the growth of Apple’s machine learning initiative which wasn’t siloed to the Siri product alone:

    He said that he expanded the team from 70 engineers to more than 1,100 people and that he “played the leading role in bringing modern machine learning to Siri and Apple.” Apple said in 2018 that Siri was being actively used on more than 500 million devices, and earlier this year the company said that Siri would sound more natural in the forthcoming iOS 13 release. Apple previously made gains in this area through AI work.

    Microsoft has always been a company who grows throw acquisition, but recently they’ve been on a hiring spree. Which isn’t normally their modus operandi for acquiring talent. Something tells me they’re laying the pipework for an aggressive regime of ML and Voice growth in the coming years.

    I find this to be curious timing. Given Apple’s vestigial connection to its Jobsian past. Jony Ive has essentially severed that connection with his departure and newly launched design firm LoveFrom. Apple hasn’t engaged in this sort of assault from software and hardware competitors in decades.

  • Slack Rebrands

    The Slack homepage, as of early 2019

    Slack, the communication tool goliath rebranded today. Personally, I think it falls short. The homepage re-design, more-so. I know, I know — I’m pretty contrarian on these topics, but hear me out. Gone are the illustrations, branding and web design by Ueno. Front-and-center are images mainly of people — which feels very Apple-esque. Could be worse I suppose.

    The new logo.

    It’s apropos though, given the news that Slack may just list directly instead of the traditional IPO route. Which is equally astounding and shocking. I suppose given the impressive amount of cash on hand, and imminent fundraising success Slack may ride in on the next couple of years — they decided it was a good opportunity to rebrand.

    A screenshot of the WeeChat IRC client. Shamelessly stolen from Thoughtbot.

    The Slack rebrand is a harsh abandonment of Slack’s IRC past, deep cultural chat roots of the 90’s and internet progeny. This smells of hubris, and if there’s some big software revision coming soon, I would be nervous.

    To make matter’s worse, Slack claims the real impetus to change the branding is because their previous logo, was too difficult to use. I’m not kidding — really:

    Our first logo was created before the company launched. It was distinctive, and playful, and the octothorpe (or pound sign, or hash, or whatever name by which you know it) resembled the same character that you see in front of channels in our product. 

    It was also extremely easy to get wrong. It was 11 different colors—and if placed on any color other than white, or at the wrong angle (instead of the precisely prescribed 18º rotation), or with the colors tweaked wrong, it looked terrible.

    Ok…

    Many beautiful things—but without a sense of cohesion that you might expect. So here we are. Our in-house design and brand team, together with Michael Bierut and the team from Pentagram, worked to create a new and more cohesive visual identity. And we’re starting, today, with the logo.

    I’m not discounting the design problem Slack’s branding had — I’m just discounting your reasoning. An angle adjustment and tightening of the brand colors? It took this long to do this? Was this mostly internal direction? Was only Michael Beirut of Pentagram involved? Were there other iterations? You couldn’t wait to publish a long-form blog entry on the steps you took as a company, as a culture, to decide upon this?

    Isn’t that a bit… I don’t know — hasty? This rebrand is a hot-mess.

    So many questions will go unanswered. Mainly because Slack is no longer a communication software company — it’s a media empire that happens to sell software.

    Call me old-fashioned, I think it’s a major bummer to see Slack embrace this new “identity” and disregard its internet past so nonchalantly.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯