AI/Machine Learning

We asked ChatGPT to write a story about the rebranding of a fintech people confuse with a Chinese social media site – so it made up fake names for the CEO

- November 14, 2023 4 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
First up, the TL:DR version. 

Adelaide fintech Tic:Toc has rebranded as Tiimely, six years after the home lending assessment platform launched.

You can guess why. The ByteDance social media video platform with the same name (but different spelling) now has 1.5 billion users, having launched in 2016, several months before Tic:Toc.

That leaves the local startup has a bit of catching up to do on the customer numbers front.

The startup’s PR firm put out a media release featuring around 450 words of corporate buzz-babble talking about how the name change was “designed to better reflect how the company’s AI-driven technology solutions can be integrated into any financial assessment processes”.

And that got us thinking, with the first anniversary of the launch of ChatGPT coming up at the end of November. What if AI wrote up this story?

There are plenty of raves from people across different sectors who rave about how generative AI is transforming workflows.

It’s also being used in journalism, although Startup Daily has avoided it because, quite frankly, it’s deeply flawed and fraught and prone to errors.

And as Microsoft found out last month, it lacks empathy and good taste.

After 21-year-old water polo coach Lillie James was found dead from head injuries at a Sydney private school, MSN prepublished The Guardian’s new story. Microsoft sacked hundreds of its own journalists over the past year, replacing them with AI. And it was AI-generated poll next to the story of her death that shows how wrong things can go. It asked readers to speculate on the cause of her death – a choice of murder, suicide or accident. The Guardian was furious, accusing Microsoft of damaging its reputation with generative AI. Microsoft has since disabled polls on news stories.

Our personal fave is an AI-generated list of top tourist spots in Ottawa, Canada, with the local food bank a “cannot miss” at No. 3

There’s a generic genius of logic in generative AI algorithms that slips through the cracks of perceived psychopathy to conclude the recommendation with “Life is already difficult enough. Consider going into it on an empty stomach”. If food insecurity is on your bucket list of sightseeing, AI’s got your back.

Meanwhile, when we asked ChatGPT to explain 9 epic startup failures, including FTX, it was a huge fan of the “investment opportunity”.

No wonder songwriter Nick Cave calls ChatGPT  “replication as travesty” and “kind of burlesque”.

Which brings us back to the Tiimely.

We thought perhaps AI could explain what this, from the press release, means:

“AI-driven data enrichment and decisioning can be interacted with via Xapii’s user interface to enable acceptance or edits to the platform’s recommendations, which it then continuously learns from… Xapii can be accessed as either API-first software solutions to solve for discrete problems across a financial journey or as an end-to-end platform (PaaS).”

So were asked ChatGPT: “write a 300 word news story on Australian startup Tic:Toc rebranding to Tiimely”.

And we have to confess that when it comes to jargon-free clarity for ordinary mortals, the AI does a good job.

Here’s the response:

“In a strategic move to reflect its evolving identity and commitment to timely solutions, Australian fintech startup Tic:Toc has announced a comprehensive rebranding initiative, unveiling its new name, Tiimely.

Tiimely, founded in 2017, initially gained recognition for revolutionizing the mortgage application process by leveraging artificial intelligence to streamline and accelerate approvals. The rebranding signals a broader scope for the company, which now aims to expand its services beyond the mortgage sector.

The decision to rebrand comes at a pivotal moment for Tiimely, as the fintech industry experiences unprecedented growth and diversification. The company’s leadership believes that the new name not only captures the essence of their mission but also positions them as a versatile player in the rapidly evolving financial technology landscape.

Speaking about the rebranding, Tiimely’s CEO, Sarah Thompson, expressed enthusiasm about the company’s trajectory.

“Tiimely reflects our core values of efficiency and precision. It goes beyond mortgages to encompass the broader spectrum of financial services that demand a timely and innovative approach,” said Thompson.

The rebranding is accompanied by a fresh visual identity, including a new logo and website design. The updated branding aligns with Tiimely’s vision of providing accessible and user-friendly financial solutions. The company aims to cater to a wider audience by diversifying its offerings to include personal loans, insurance, and other consumer finance products.

Tiimely’s rebranding has been met with positive responses from industry experts, who see it as a strategic move to stay ahead in a competitive market. With an increased focus on agility and adaptability, Tiimely is poised to meet the changing needs of consumers in a digital era where speed and convenience are paramount.

As Tiimely embarks on this new chapter, the fintech community eagerly anticipates the innovative solutions and advancements that the company is likely to bring to the financial services landscape in Australia and beyond.”

But there’s one big problem.

We refined the question 4 times. Each time it provided quotes from the CEO. And each time it changed the name of the CEO – Emma Wilson, Sarah Wilson, Sarah Thompson – although perhaps the AI does get bonus points for adding a female executive.

Tic;Toc/Timely founder Anthony Baum has been the company’s CEO since its launch in 2017.

We’d also question making up quotes. In the release sent to Startup Daily, Braum said none of the above – although perhaps he should have.

Instead, he said: “Of course, Tiimely also responds to confusing associations from sharing the name Tic:Toc with a certain social media app. While our trademark proves we came first, the rebrand provides the room to focus on our platform business model without mis-categorisation or distraction.”

If AI is the answer, you need to be very careful about the question.

But perhaps the PR industry – and ultimately journalists – could benefit from greater use of generative AI.