Meet Nobody’s Research and Innovation Guru: Donald Farmer

Meet Nobody’s Research and Innovation Guru: Donald Farmer
November 11, 2021 Nobody Studios

We’re excited to announce one of our secret weapons in our bold quest to build 100 compelling companies in 5 years: our VP of Research and Innovation, Donald Farmer!

Donald was the face of business intelligence at Microsoft for nearly a decade. He’s also former VP of innovation and design at Qlik. 

And as the principal at TreeHive Strategy, he’s a prized consultant for some of the biggest tech companies and private equity investors on the planet.

We’re extremely grateful to have Donald’s focus and brainpower at Nobody Studios. 

He’ll be responsible for investigating interesting spaces in business and technology to figure out where our best opportunities are (and which ones to stay away from!).


Technology with Purpose

One thing we love about Donald’s perspective is he’s not into technology for technology’s sake. It’s always in the interest of creating great customer experiences and making the world better

It’s tempting to get excited about technologies and decide, “Let’s do a machine learning company,” or “Let’s do a blockchain company.”

But the question must always be: Why? What’s the purpose? 

Not only what problems will it solve for people, but how will it enhance what’s already going well in their lives?

For example, Donald calls himself a crypto-skeptic. When asked to explain, he shared:

“Whenever I come across a crypto and blockchain scenario, I have two questions. One is ‘Why don’t you just use a write-only ledger database?’ And second is ‘No, really, why don’t you just use a ledger database?’ And, honestly, 90% of the time, there is no good answer.”

Donald went on to point out, however, that the widespread fascination with blockchain has revealed a ton of scenarios and use cases that had never been explored before, with more coming up all the time. Some of those may be areas we can lead with our companies.


Technology Overlaps

We know that cryptocurrencies, blockchain, machine learning, natural language, and other emerging technologies are individually fascinating, but they’re also collectively fascinating. 

A lot of our research focus is on understanding where these technologies are most applicable, and what opportunities they offer not just for one company, but across our business ecosystem.

As we develop innovative business models, what are the key technologies that, if understood and used in the most effective ways, can underpin all our efforts?

Here are a few areas Donald has been honing in on:

Research and Innovation

Natural language

Donald has been investigating a couple of cutting-edge startups with promising technology who are also building strategic partnerships with hardware companies. 

Natural language technologies hold tremendous potential in all sorts of areas. 

For example, they can be used to give on-site guidance for complex maintenance tasks in construction and engineering: no need for a clumsy manual when a combination of natural language and visual recognition can talk you through the process. 

Combined with translation technology, the potential for working (and playing) globally are fascinating!



While Donald is somewhat skeptical about the wilder edges of crypto, there is still a ton of value to explore. 

For example, analytics of what is happening in the crypto market can be really exciting, including price predictions and data around blockchain and decentralized finance (DeFi). 

People are so used to analytics of conventional stocks and shares that we don’t even notice how much technology and analysis is involved. 

But many of the indicators we’re used to relying on aren’t really suitable for crypto assets. 

Most people aren’t aware such insights exist, and those that do are looking mostly for what’s hot right now. We believe these insights can be a powerful asset to guide our long-term business strategy.


The Crowd in the Cloud

At Nobody, the crowd is our lifeblood. 

We are committed to leveraging the wisdom of countless people through their investments, insights, and advice.

But doing so at scale requires smart investments in new technologies that make this safe, reliable, and insightful enough to be compelling. 

Get it right, and the outcomes are genuinely exciting: products shaped by mass insights, funded by numerous smaller investors, and even sustained by continuing engagement of countless global users. 

To make this work we need to understand the dynamics of crowd technologies and then develop them further into specific breakthroughs unique to Nobody.


Human Engines

If you’ve ever interacted with an AI bot, you may have experienced that frustration of reaching the limits of the tech and realizing a human agent could understand better, or take the next step to help you with more empathy and understanding. 

But it’s not only empathy that’s lacking in AI—there are some scenarios that are just too complex for bots, but relatively easy for humans. 

Uploading a document for validation, for example, requires accurate, precise scanning if a bot is to automate the task. However, a human being, acting as a ”human engine” can often perform much more accurately. 

So why not just outsource the task to a human being directly? Because the human engine model enables us to interface with the service just like a software app. 

So, for example, the document-reading function could be used by a real estate app, or a property rental app, or for event management or travel insurance or…the list is endless.  

This does not mean that AI has no role. 

In fact, AI tech is developing rapidly, but that in itself creates opportunities at the edge of automation where human beings can contribute to the most valuable scenarios. 

Nor does it mean that the human is treated like a machine. Rather, the way in which information is exchanged becomes much more streamlined so that the system can integrate into a much wider variety of scenarios.

To achieve this competitively, but still ethically, is a fascinating challenge that Nobodies will understand. Research in this area requires both unique insights around AI and an understanding of human work that could prove very valuable!


We welcome Donald to the Nobody Studios Team!

Are you excited about any of these areas of business and technology? Have expertise to contribute to our research? 

Join the journey:


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