I had the pleasure of interviewing Kei Watanabe, Co-Founder of Glasp and Product Head of Product Development.
Glasp is tackling a use case to democratize knowledge leveraging opportunities for everyone to share and develop their learnings, using highlighted information methods – in simple clicks. The vision of the company is to provide access to the highlighted world’s information in one click, says Kei, but with a vision to share learnings and experiences that others have collected in their life long journey’s.
Glasp stands for “Greatest Legacy Accumulated as Shared Proof”, with a vision visualize everyone’s unique contribution to human knowledge history.
I had a chance to review in detail the Glasp application user experience and I immediately could see this tool was a researcher’s dream app or anyone that is trying to keep track of their own research or self-interest knowledge clips and keep the threads uniquely identified, but also others who have read the same material can be easily referenced.
The app has a strong social and collaborative design vibe versus a private use case. Long gone the days of hoarding one knowledge, as these behaviors impact a company’s growth in increasing errors, new hires don’t know how to easily get to speed, and as we all know unhappy employees are more likely to churn.
Tools like Slack have been very effective in moving collaboration to shared conversations and now with Glasp deeper highlights can be made visible on more important knowledge clips, supported or downgraded by Glasp users.
“Glasp users can share their learnings with others, interact with others to deepen their learning, and encounter unique binding and memorable moments as a result of interacting with like-minded people,” says Kei.
3.) Who are your closest competitors and why are you stronger?
With any new innovations entering the market, being alert to your closest competitors is a key success factor. Kei was well armed in answering this question and he felt that Readwise and Matter were the two players for Glasp to track.
Readwise is a knowledge management tool focusing on importing and exporting digital content. They provide integrations with several applications such as iBooks, Instapaper, and Kindle. And it lets users import and export their collections such as notes, highlights, tweets, etc.
Matter is one place for all your reading” for mobile devices. It is a read-it-later and reader app designed to be a private reading experience. It was developed as a newsletter highlighter for mobile, but it is now available on a desktop. It used to have a social aspect that lets users see others’ highlights and notes, but this feature has been recently removed.
Although Glasp has less integration with other applications, it does provide more AI features such as: writing assistance, personalized summaries, YouTube summaries, and digital clones.
Kei and his co-founder, Kazuki Nakayashiki, understand the value of a strong social network effect that amplifies knowledge but also attracts knowledge, and are successfully leveraging attractor and complexity science theories.
When I did my doctoral studies and research on collaboration methods it is critical to build trust and reciprocity in a community like Glasp is striving to build and advance. In other words, the more users highlight and leave notes on Glasp, the more Glasp will have unique and valuable content on its platform. And other people come to Glasp to see those unique opinions, insights, and learnings from others.
Kei also said that “Glasp is also taking advantage of ChatGPT and is already used it for writing assistance, supporting also a personalized articles summarizer, and digital clones. They are also using ChatGPT for YouTube summaries. As many writers, researchers, and students utilize Glasp, writing assistance and article summarizer are obviously helpful features. A digital clone is a personalized AI model built with each user’s highlights and notes. It’s like a chatbot for your learning, so if you ask a question to your digital clone, your digital clone answers your question. It’s used as a personal search engine for your learning.”
One of the key questions key to any new innovation is what is the strategic value for the end users in a world overwhelmed with so many apps and stack fatigue for corporations is impacting productivity.
This is what Kei had to say:
The first one is to leave a digital legacy to future generations. We believe that everyone in the world has unique experiences and learning. And they’re useful for someone in the world. But people usually don’t take notes, and even if they take notes, it’s all in a private space such as a physical notebook, Notion, Spreadsheet, etc. People don’t share their learnings as often as they could openly. So, no one can access their knowledge and experience after they pass away. And it’s a loss for human society. We call it “knowledge isolation” and we’d like to prevent it.
Glasp provides a way to save what you learned online while you’re learning without disturbing your reading or learning experience. And all the highlights and notes are visible to anyone, so others can access your learning forever. Your learning is your digital legacy for future generations. We believe this is an innovation that few companies have noticed.
The second one is social learning. People learn from each other. And by learning together, they can find a blind spot, deepen their understanding, and widen their knowledge. However, many products for learning in the market are focusing on single-user mode or private learning. It’s easy to lose motivation and stop learning. People should notice the benefit of social learning and start leveraging the concept in their learning process.
The third one is a digital clone. The digital clone is your personalized AI model built through your learning. And you can make your AI available and accessible to the public. (Please try my AI/digital clone. “Ask Kei Anything” You can ask anything and you get an answer from my AI/digital clone). With the digital clone, you can ask questions to professionals and thought leaders. You can ask a question about spaceships for Elon Musk and a question about building a company for Steve Jobs. And interestingly, the answers differ from the person you ask even though it’s the same question. It’s an AI model, so there are no limitations on the number of questions to answer. One million people can ask Elon Musk and his AI model can answer all of them simultaneously. Giving access to professionals and thought leaders is our innovation.
You can already see the clarity of Kei’s vision he wants to democratize knowledge and ensure everyone is connected with their unique insights and learnings to maximize knowledge for the greater good.
That’s a big vision to grasp for Clasp. Parson the pun.
To be successful in Kei and Kazuki’s product roadmap, mentorship is going to be key. I was thrilled to learn they have two mentors. The official one is Marvin Liao, an ex-commercial director at Yahoo and a partner at 500 Startups. And the unofficial one is Sridhar Ramaswamy, an ex-senior vice president at Google, a co-founder of Neeva, and a partner at Greylock.
These founders have learned how important it is to have experienced leaders who can guide them through the challenges of running a company and provide operational insights to mitigate risks and making mistakes to accelerate their own learning curves.
This wisdom will increase the ability of Glasp to tuck in, or lean it or duck it as the biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur is staying focused but also not being afraid to pivot when you need to.
When you meet young and very bright and talented entrepreneurs, a real good test on their leadership wisdom is their own willingness to share advice with other entrepreneurs – no matter how old they are.
Here is what Kei had to share with me:
“I think it’s important to work on something you can believe in and bet your life on. If you’re excited about your idea, you’ll find a way to succeed eventually. People tend to follow up on trends and do something around the trends. It’s okay if you love it, but if you follow up, you’ll lose motivation and be unable to think of exciting ideas. So, even if what you’ll do is out of the trend, you should work on it and wait till the world will change. And if you make B2C products, think of product growth. One of the ways to achieve this is to have a social aspect. If the product is to be used by multiple users together, it’s way easier to acquire new users. Glasp is a knowledge management tool. And most products in this domain are used by individual users and not shared with others often. Therefore, you’ll struggle with product growth. Please think of having the growth engine and something that accelerates the product in your product’s DNA.”
One of the areas I consistently write about is responsible and ethical AI and I like to hear how AI co-founders solving valuable business challenges – especially our next generation of young CEO’s and here is what Kei had to say.
“We understand that AI has a strong impact and will lead the paradigm shift in the next decades. So, as an AI-first product and company, we take responsibility for the world and future generations.
To make it clear, we think openness, transparency, fairness, respect, and a road map are necessary.
In today’s technology, LLMs lack the explanation ability, so we cannot see why AI models output those outcomes. It might harm people in this case, so we should take care of outputs and make the algorithm open so that people can understand what’s going on.
Transparency is achieved by making our company’s culture visible to the public. We will show our vision and mission, what we’ll work on, what we are concerned about, and why we should work on it.
Fairness is necessary. We’d like to give access to all the people in the world and don’t want to limit access without any reason. And outputs from AI should be fair and not biased. It’d be controversial to determine what’s fair and what’s right, but by continuing to explain our vision and reason, we believe that people can understand us.
Respect. We should respect everyone in the world. Lacking respect for others will cause many problems in the future. AI models should be considered so as not to lack respect for people.
A road map is necessary for pioneers. As Glasp is a new startup company in the initial phase of generative AI, we should be a road map for other companies working in this domain. If we can show a noble vision and use cases of AI that consider human society well, followers would be affected by us and would work on something that helps human society. As early adopters of generative AI, we should contribute to making a good culture in this domain.”
Looking ahead as Glasp plans its own product journey, I think it will be critical for them to embed their solution directly into tools like Slack or other collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, and Google to support Glasp’s future growth success as organizations are facing stack fatigues in diverse collaboration platforms. Building an open API no doubt is already on their product roadmap so other innovators or table stakes collaboration vendors dominating the desk top experience can integrate Glasp knowledge sharing functions into their applications.
I must admit I was very impressed by the humility, wisdom and vision that Kei was able to share with me in writing this article. All core values to have an open mind to listen to other’s voices – now Kei and Kazuki have an app that can lift everyone’s voices up and democratize knowledge.
We are modernizing our world and the Glasp co-founders have a vision that connects us all for ever. I for sure will want to see where they are in 12 months out – as I think they have an AI Thunderbolt to advance the knowledge management industry into deeper collaboration DNA.
Recommend you download it and try it.