In a matter of days, the team from Firespotter Labs, makers of conference calling solution UberConference, will be on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012, handing off the trophy for their Disrupt NYC 2012 win to another new startup. But today, UberConference has news of its own. The company is now exiting its closed beta and is launching a Pro version with a ton of premium features designed with the needs of business users in mind, including support for recurring calls, automatic outbound dialing, local phone numbers, removal of branding and more.
UberConference, for those unaware, presents users with an attractive, visualized interface for calls which also helps address typical conference call annoyances like the inability to figure out who’s making all that racket in the background and mute them. The company also recently rolled out more features like instant conferences, chat and Evernote integration.
Until today, UberConference was in private beta, rolling out invites to users who signed up. While CEO Craig Walker declined to provide numbers around users or sign-ups, last we heard there were “tens of thousands” on UberConference and just as many waiting to join. User interest in the service isn’t just because conference calling has traditionally been a generally horrible and broken experience. There’s also the fact that this is the latest project from GrandCentral (now Google Voice) creator Walker. And again, he’s managed to prove that something boring like phone calls can be sexy – Firespotter Labs recently raised a $15 million Series B led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Today, the Pro version adds even more new features for paying users, including the ability to automatically schedule recurring calls (weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.), support for local phone numbers, the ability to remove the in-call audio branding (i.e., “This free conference call is provided by UberConference”), and support for automatic outbound dialing. This latter feature means UberConference can call all the participants for you at a scheduled time – helpful for when people forget they had a call scheduled. The premium version also comes with unlimited call recording, but this is still a feature within the free user’s reach, too – you just have to complete your profile to gain access.
Oh, and Pro edition users can upload their own hold music (via an MP3 file), but I don’t know why you would want to do that. Firespotter co-founder Alex Cornell’s “I’m on hold” song is pretty awesome. (Sample lyrics: “Well, I’ve been sitting here all day/I’ve been sitting in this waiting room/And I’ve been waiting on my friends/Yes, waiting on this conference call – all alone/And I’m on hold, well yes, I’m on hold/I hope it’s not all day”).
UberConference’s call times are now averaging 35 minutes (higher than competitor FreeConferenceCall’s 31 minutes), and have been growing every month. Why is that? Maybe it’s the consumer web app appeal – the consumerization trend in enterprise I.T. personified. That’s as it should be, says Walker. “That’s been our philosophy throughout everything we’ve done - Dialpad, GrandCentral, Google Voice – we see a lot of people using those products in the work environment, too,” he says. “Enterprise [services] should be better than consumer because they want you to be more productive,” he adds.
Next up for UberConference are mobile apps (iOS and Android) and international expansion – which will be dependent on a number of factors including the regulatory environment, local telecom opportunities, and, of course, consumer demand.
The Pro version month-to-month is $10/month for unlimited conferencing, and includes 500 minutes of dial out conference time (for the new automatic dialing feature). After that, it’s 2 cents per minute. Sign up for either the Pro or free plans is available now on the UberConference homepage here.
Firespotter Labs is not a company. Of course we’ve got all the fancy papers and rolling office chairs to make it seem like a company, but at the end of the day we’re just a room full of crazy people dying to make an impact on people’s lives. None of us go to “work” anymore. Then what do we do here at the lab? We make things people like. Simple. If people don’t like what we make we throw it...