Exclusive Interview with Chris Barton, the co-founder of Shazam
Chris Barton is a well-respected entrepreneur and one of the masterminds behind the music recognition app, Shazam. Shazam was created in London over 18 years ago and caught the interest of Apple who went on to purchase the technology for a speculated $400 million in 2017. The app is now amongst the most popular apps on both iPhone and Android with over 1 billion downloads to date.
Chris’ career also includes companies such as Google where he worked for 8 years and Dropbox, where he held the position of head of mobile operators business development. He has collected a wealth of knowledge and experience through his journey to make him a leading entrepreneur within the digital field and more specifically, mobile applications. He is now embarking on creating a new startup focused on machine learning and computer vision.
What affect will disruptions such as the machine learning and A.I have on mobile apps over the next 10 years?
Machine learning is fundamentally changing the way computers can now perform extremely difficult tasks.
Mobile apps are simply one user experience that consumers directly interact with computers both on their phone and in the cloud. With the maturation of machine learning, we can expect to find new features and capabilities of mobile apps that will make our life easier by letting a computer solve problems. We can expect almost everything from news personalization to real-time navigation to be impacted by these new capabilities.
From your experience, how vital is it for businesses to be agile and reactive in order to keep pace with the changing technology and consumer world?
It is incredibly critical for businesses to be fast moving as the world of technology changes around us.
With sufficient reaction, a business can be leapfrogged by competitors or even new substitutes. The pace of change in technology is now so fast that any sizable business really needs to embrace changes as soon as they become apparent.
Is there a balance between reacting to the consumers current wants and anticipating their future needs and has this changed over the years from when Shazam began?
A business must always be prioritising the interests of the end customer and thus the current wants of consumers are critical however it is absolutely the case that these needs can change quickly so a business must begin research and development often years in advance in order to insure that future needs are met.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned from taking Shazam from an idea to one of the most popular apps to date?
The most valuable lesson I learned from the early days of Shazam is the importance of seeing the world through your own lense rather than everyone else’s lense.
Many influencers and stakeholders may unknowingly detract you from your goals but ultimately it is your belief that will lead you to realize the vision you have.
What was the key driver behind your entrepreneurial success?
Determination and persistence were the key drivers for me in my 18+ year experience with Shazam.
Without these, I would never have been able to make it through all of the hurdles along the way.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs within today’s digital space?
I would advise today’s technology entrepreneurs to think hard about how they can get a business to profitability very early in order to fund the long-term goals of the greater vision for the company.
And lastly, have you got a favourite quote or a quote that you live by?
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” (Buddha)
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