The art of conversation may not be dead quite yet, but its demise will be hastened further if one recent VC investment bears fruit. Boston-based US start-up Kensho has raised $10 million from a group of seed investors including Google Ventures in order to develop an "intelligent virtual market research assistant" for capital markets trading floors.
Ignoring the implication that non-virtual (or to put it another way ‘real’) market research assistants are not intelligent, the new assistant will do away with the need to have any pesky conversations with your peers about, for example, what the impact of Middle East unrest will be on oil prices or what a tornado in Kansas will do to real estate prices (particularly of small airborne wooden dwellings).
The backers of the new software, which is run off one of the largest unstructured geopolitical and weather databases not run by the US government, enthuse that it will shorten investment research cycles from "days to minutes".
Given that most banks have now fired all their research analysts to save money, having an investment research cycle of minutes could be a healthy improvement.
The new virtual assistant is called Warren, presumably a reference to the Sage of Omaha rather than Warrens Christopher, Beatty, Mears (apparently of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) or the old bloke from the movie ‘Up’. Let’s hope it is adequately programmed for the first question that every user is going to ask it: "What is my bonus going to be?"