The tech pioneer who helped found CNET is aiming to build a new digital media voice empire

Unnamed 11Pylon aiPylon ai CEO Shelby Bonnie
  • Shelby Bonnie helped found CNET in the 1990s. Now he wants to build an artificial intelligence platform for a voice-controlled digital home of the future.
  • Pylon ai aspires to be the connective tissue for media companies and advertisers creating content for devices like Amazon’s Echo.
  • The first publication built for Pylon ai is Tasted, an instructional cooking product.

Shelby Bonnie was one of the earliest pioneers in digital publishing when in 1993 he and Halsey Minor cofounded the tech site CNET.

Now Bonnie sees a chance to be early in a new medium once again — one that may have just as much transformative potential as the web did a quarter century ago.

He’s set to roll out Tasted, an audio media brand built for voice assistant devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. And the plan is for Tasted to be the first of many new voice-centric “publications” built on a new tech platform Bonnie and his team have produced, dubbed Pylon ai.

While Tasted aims to help chefs access recipes from the web by talking to their various digital assistants (and never having to have their sticky hands touch a keyboard) it’s Pylon ai that Bonnie sees as revolutionary.

He’s calling the artificial intelligence technology a “conversational development platform,” and the aspiration is that it becomes the glue that connects all of a person’s devices in a soon-to-be-realised digital home. The vision is that numerous publishers and advertisers will build apps, tools, services and publications using the Pylon software.

“We think [voice] is one of the biggest transformational trends we’ve seen,” Bonnie told Business Insider. “It’s only meaningful if someone connects them in a really smart way. So imagine if you begin to take AI tech and connect all the things about my life, remember things about me and learn.”

“I think this has the ability to be that piece we’ve been missing.”

That missing piece will probably take a bit of time to be fully realised. In the near term, Tasted promises to offer some practical content for the growing number of consumers putting Amazon or Google-powered voice devices in their kitchens.

Tasted2TastedTasted is designed to help people make recipes using voice assistants

Bonnie and cofounder Mike Tatum has assembled a collection former product and engineering executives from companies like OpenTable, Stubhub and CNET Networks to build out Tasted. In addition,
Regan Cafiso, former food editor at Food Network, Martha Stewart and the foodie website Chow has been installed as Tasted’s head of content.
Pylon has received seed funding from Index Ventures, Allen & Co and a slew of digital media investors.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.