Over the years we've been pitched many thousands of times by startups. Sometimes those pitches are in person. Sometimes it's over the phone, which works if you have a live website to play with. But all too often we get requests for meetings via WebEx or one of the dozens of competing products. Over the years those products have improved, but the percentage of failures is way too high. It's always awkward when people are talking about what you would see if the meeting software worked.
The problems with these products are particularly frustrating when we put on a big launch event like TechCrunch Disrupt later this month. We schedule hundreds of live demos in a two week period, stacking them every 20 minutes for days on end. Companies can choose how they want to live screencast their software and demos, and we've informally tracked what software they choose and the failure rates.
Skype video, which now has screen sharing, now accounts for about 30% of all demos for us.
The failure rate is near zero and the lag is acceptable even for calls originating from thousands of miles away. It is hands down the easiest way to connect by screen and voice. And it's completely free.
There are few bells and whistles. It's only good for one computer to one computer communication, for example, and you can't view the presenter and the demo at the same time. But the benefits are more than worth it. Just about everyone in the tech community already uses skype for calls and chat anyway. You click to initiate a call and share your entire screen or just a part of it, and you're off and running. I wish everything on the Internet worked this well.
We are probably going to make Skype mandatory for our future events. The time and efficiency savings are substantial.
What amazes me most is that screen sharing is just a side feature for Skype. But that side feature is way better than the products released by companies that focus on virtual meetings and nothing more.
I like straightforward, reliable and easy to use products. Skype is doing all of that for us right now.
Also, I've been using Skype video nearly constantly since my move to Seattle for meetings with people in Silicon Valley that I used to do in person. When you go to full screen view it's the closest thing to them sitting right in front of you that I've seen. Well, other than if they were actually sitting right in front of you. That would definitely be more real than Skype Video, I guess.