All Posts

#18, Igor Jablokov, Yap (Alexa) and Pryon

August 16, 2019

Igor Jablokov is the founder of Pryon, Inc, an enterprise AI company that recently completed a $20 million round of funding.  Igor previously founded Yap, which he sold to Amazon and it became the foundation of Alexa.  He also worked on the Watson team at IBM.  In this episode John and Igor talk about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, building two successful startups, raising money, selling a company, and the tech scene in smaller cities like Raleigh or Charlotte.

7:30 – 9:05 – Igor talks about trying to get IBM to put a microphone on Play Stations in 2003, then talking to Popular Science about voice in the home and they titled it “America in 2025”

12:34 – 15:26 – Igor talks about why Amazon got to cloud and IBM didn’t and a broader discussion about the Innovator’s Dilemma and how a $100 million hurdle may have cost IBM $1 billion in annual voice AI profits and how Microsoft avoided a similar fate in cloud and collaboration

20:36 – 24:44 – Igor discusses the importance of platforms and eco systems and how early Apple was thinking about AI and voice assistants

25:11 – 29:39 – Igor talks early history of Yap and raising money.  He transitions into how capital raising for AI startups has changed and where it may go

30:15 – 32:45 – Igor talks about job creation/destruction and AI and technology and why media and politicians often get it wrong

52:17 – 54:15 – Igor talks about what Pryon is

59:59 – 1:00:09 – “Having an exit is like reaching a broken level of PacMan”

1:01:14 – 1:08:10 – Igor talks about raising money from Engage Ventures ( and trying to do this same concept in NC with Daniel Friel.

1:17:44 – 1:19:52 – The people who share risk and share reward are the ones who win.  John and Igor discuss naming a company and building an aspirational brand.

1:21:21 – 1:22:07 – “Give employees more than a job.  Give them a mission”

1:22:09 – 1:25:37  – Igor discusses horizontal vs vertical focus for a company and which he prefers.  John discusses how Levvel tried to blend the two