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From Google Now to Bang with Friends: our biggest tech interviews of 2013

From the man who invented WordPress to the lady behind a site that is now bigger than the New York Times, we’ve spoken to dozens of interesting tech leaders this year about their efforts in the space and their vision for the future. They’re working on projects ranging from a social discovery engine to the most intelligent personal assistant to ever grace your phone, but they all shared their thoughts on their disruptive pursuits and innovations in technology.

Missed all the Q&As? We’ve rounded up a few of our most popular interviews from this year, and highlighted a key quote from each.

10. The Memeburn interview: Google exec on the future of the ‘third screen’

From the startup nation to the search giant’s Africa plans and the rise of the third screen, we spoke to Google’s managing director for Israel, Greece and Sub-Saharan Africa, Meir Brand, about everything emerging markets.

“Think about the amount of innovation you see today on the internet, which is a result of how many people are connected to it. So think about how much more innovation we will see in the world when more people are connected to it. We’re very excited about it.”

9. Why SEO isn’t evil by search guru Rand Fishkin

All the dodgy practices and sneaky tactics used by black hat Search Engine Optimisers has skewed the perception of SEO as a whole — but is it really that bad? The Moz founder does his bit to save the industry’s rep and discusses the future of online marketing as a whole.

“When I look out there at a lot of the most phenomenal content, stuff that I enjoy the most on the internet, it’s created by people that practice SEO and social media marketing and content marketing and inbound marketing as a whole. Because of that, I think the web would be a much sadder, lonelier place [without SEO].”

8. Personalisation and social discovery: Q&A with StumbleUpon’s CEO

With more than 25-million users, StumbleUpon is helping surface the best of the web everyday. We spoke to CEO Mark Bartels about the decision to split from eBay, the future of discovery online and the rise of mobile.

“The challenge with personalisation is that good enough is never good enough and you are serving up content that a person hasn’t explicitly requested or doesn’t even know exists. Every person’s taste is unique and of course changes over time. We believe the secret sauce is leveraging a living and breathing community combined with a healthy dose of machine learning.”

7. Senior Google engineer: building innovative products requires team work

From Gmail to Google Wallet, Petra Cross has been involved in some of Google’s most exciting projects. She discusses the importance of good leadership, the challenges of software engineering and why more women don’t code.

“If you are building a technology that the world does not want, it does not matter whether you have a group of geniuses working on it. If you are working on the perfect product and don’t have the right people on the team, your product will never be good enough to become a hit.”

6. Paywalls, aggregation and the ‘third metric’: Memeburn interviews Arianna Huffington

Online publishing heavyweight Arianna Huffington is the woman behind a site visited by millions — but she’s not done yet. The Huffington Post founder explains why aggregation is a good thing, and shares her views on the state of online journalism and interactive, crowdsourced stories.

“I think one of the key things about the web is that you have to be in a constant state of disrupting yourself. You know, you can never be in a space, where you say this is Memeburn or this is The Huffington Post and let’s put a bow and maintain it. That’s death. So you have to constantly be looking at what is next and coming up with what is next.”

5. The end of Moore’s law: Q&A with POET technologies’ Peter Copetti

With Moore’s law predicted to come to an end before the decade is out, the makers of the chips inside your favourite gadget have to look for another framework. Peter Copetti discusses what happens next.

“The end of Moore’s Law: it’s not a question of when Moore’s Law will end, but what next. Rather than focus on how many more years we can expect Moore’s Law to last, let’s look at the opportunities for new developments and solutions to continue advancements in computing.”

4. Matt Mullenweg on how open source is democratising the web

WordPress founder and open source champion Matt Mullenweg shares his views on the evils of proprietary software, open source hardware and startups he’s excited about.

“The reasons those folks use it is because we created great software that writers love. For me, it always comes back to the blogger, the author, the designer, the developer. You build software for that core individual person, and then smart organisations adopt it and dumb organisations die.”

3. Google Knowledge Graph and the future of voice-activated intelligent search

Yes, Google is getting smarter. It’s now trying to link the random words that make up your search query to real concepts, things, people and places, using its Knowledge Graph. We spoke to the project’s technical lead about the evolution of search, why natural language queries are so important and the interesting things that pop up when you’re building a product across cultures and countries.

“Users are going to talk to search like an intelligent agent and ask natural questions like you would ask a friend. And the computer is responding like a friend would respond. It’s not going to talk for 10 minutes, it’ll talk for 10 seconds. ‘Did you mean this other thing?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Ok, let me tell you more.’ That’s the end game. Conversational, voice-activated, natural language interfacing.”

2. Bang With Friends co-founder talks honesty, getting banned by Apple

It’s the app that made waves by making it easier to hook up via social media — but what was it like as an insider? Down (formerly Bang With Friends) founder Colin Hodge speaks about using tech efficiently to break the ice and why he thinks they’ve gained so many users so quickly.

“The key thing that we’ve learned is to not bullsh*t people. We love being able to take such an unabashed, honest, and simple approach, whereas many companies sugarcoat everything. People love to talk about BWF and get their friends on it so they can find out who reciprocates their interest.”

1. From a 20% project to Google’s future: Q&A with Google Now’s creator

It’s been called the answer to Siri, but Google Now is much more than that — it’s been called Google’s mobile future. We spoke to Baris Gultekin about the project, how they’re planning on predicting your every need but not annoying you.

“You want to spend more time with people around you and you want the computers to work for you so you don’t have to spend time doing those things, instead you focus on your life. That’s something we care deeply about. We’d like to do these things for you so you don’t waste time doing them.”

Author | Lauren Granger

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping tech sites and Twitter than she was in picking up one of those printed things called 'newspapers', she decided to specialise in... More

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