News Uncategorized 18 February

A Word from XenZone’s New CEO, Tim Barker

Kooth app

My next move, XenZone. Personalised mental health care for all

After an incredible eight year journey at DataSift, including two years at Meltwater following our acquisition, it’s time for me to start my next adventure. In evaluating my next move, I had two criteria:

The mission: Something I’ll happily invest a decade in. 

In my early career, I looked at career progress in two to three year chapters, with the job role (and ability to learn) driving me more than the company mission. Over time though, you learn that the company mission itself becomes the one thing that drives, sustains and motivates you. Work for the journey, not the destination.

The future: ‘Coaching Networks’ to drive positive behavioural change.

Over the last few years, I had a front seat in the data industry as it evolved from ‘Big Data’ to ‘Applied Artificial Intelligence’. During this evolution, one thing that heavily influenced my own thinking is Emergence Capital’s investment thesis on Coaching Networks. Emergence was one of the first VCs to identify the horizontal SaaS opportunity (investing in Salesforce), and vertical SaaS market (investing in Veeva). 

The opportunity for Artificial Intelligence isn’t to automate what humans do, but to work alongside people. To augment, support, and coach; not to replace. 

By using Artificial Intelligence to analyse data within a system, you can coach individuals on how to better achieve their goals based on collective learnings from the past. 

During the last two years leading Meltwater’s data + AI platform business, we started down this path: applying AI to billions of news articles, social posts and Google search trends to recommend topics that marketers should write about to grow their brand awareness and competitive advantage. You can’t automate creativity, but you can apply automation to identify the areas where a creative approach would have the biggest impact.  

XenZone: Personalised mental healthcare for all.

I couldn’t be more excited to join XenZone as CEO to help tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges: the growing, global crisis in mental health. 

As a true pioneer in its field, XenZone is the UK’s largest provider of online mental health services, offering online mental health services to children, young people, and adults via partnerships with over 70% of the NHS’s Clinical Commissioning Groups. Its flagship Kooth service for children and young people now sees more than 2,400 logins every day. Access is free at the point of use, safe and anonymous. 

Since inception, XenZone has amassed an incredible data set that captures the journey to wellbeing through the interactions that individuals have with the service. XenZone’s approach is unique in that it does not prescribe a journey to wellbeing. Individuals can choose to participate in (clinically moderated) communities, engage with therapeutic content, or text-chat with counsellors in a 1:1 session.  

The long-term opportunity now is to apply AI to take this further. For the benefit of individuals that use the service, and for practitioners that provide 1:1 counselling and support. 

Taking the ‘Coaching Networks’ approach, we can provide individuals with a personalised journey to wellbeing by looking at the journeys that thousands of other people have taken and recommending a pathway that’s right for them. 

For our highly skilled practitioners providing counselling and support to the community, AI becomes another tool to help them; flagging individuals that may need help based on their interactions with the service, or suggesting content/articles that may be helping for individuals in a counselling session based on what’s been successful in the past.  

I couldn’t be more excited for the journey ahead.