Clara

Clara was the first girl I worked up enough courage to ask out on a date in high-school. We went to see Titanic, ate at a chain restaurant in a suburban strip mall and at the end of it all, both our moms picked us up in their respective minivans. Pure swagger.

Incidentally, my latest crush is also a Clara and she's the most reliable assistant I've ever had.

When I hired her, I told I told her my default meeting preferences in 30 seconds: For calls, always have the other person call me on my mobile. For coffee meetings, let’s do them at Flyjin Café preferably in the afternoon. For lunches, let’s do them at Holder at 12:30pm. Unless I tell her otherwise, of course.

Whenever I want to meet someone, I simply cc Clara and ask her to take care of it. She then emails my interlocutor directly and gives them my availabilities. They negotiate back and forth until they find a mutually convenient time and she sends us both a calendar invite with all the info we need. This sometimes saves me over 20 emails. 

One thing that really amazed me is how she kept following up with an unresponsive contact. He asked me for a meeting, I responded cc’ing Clara and he went MIA. She would nudge him very nicely every few days with a slightly different message until he responded a month later. It was like magic. This is ideal for biz dev folks who have trouble nailing down times to talk to prospective clients.

What is truly incredible is that Clara works 24/7 and always responds within a couple of hours (but often in less 10 minutes). She never made a mistake. Was never late. Never took a day off and only costs $120/month. 

This is only possible because Clara is not human. Here is how her creators describe her:

Clara is the first intelligent, natural language interface that feels human: a virtual employee you can depend on. Powered by machine intelligence and trained by executive assistants 24/7, Clara is highly responsive, empathetic, and learning more everyday.

My only small gripe with the service is that the emails were sent from a Clara Lovelace (clara.lovelace@claralabs.com). The surname was a bit too sultry for my industry and domain was a giveaway that I am using an outsourced service. I brought this up with the team and we renamed her to Clara Roberts (clara@emcision.com). She's even more perfect now.

I don't know much about the company but it was founded by a Maran Nelson, clearly an absolute genius. It went through YC and is apparently backed by Sequoia. I can't wait until we find out more about the company.

I brought Clara up in a few conversations and a word that often comes up is "scary". To me, there is nothing scary about this. On the contrary, Clara gives me so much hope about our future. The Singularity is truly Near, my friends.

When I signed up, the site was open to the public but they seem to be back in private beta. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend adding yourself to the waiting list and giving it a try when they open it up to more users: claralabs.com