There is no dearth of chat apps out there. From WhatsApp to Viber to Skype, you can’t walk a mile in Palo Alto without tripping over an emoji. That said, ChatCenter, a new service from TechCrunch co-founder Keith Teare and two engineers, Alex Komarov and Sergey Zhukov, is an interesting addition to the glut.
To use it you simply register an identity – I’m www.chatcenter.me/johnbiggs – and give out the link to people who might like to chat with you. The service is primarily HTTP based but they have just launched their iOS app with an Android app forthcoming.
Because each URL is unique and the chat works well in the browser, people can chat with you from anywhere. Notifications are sent to your iOS apps or to your email address.
The company has raised $370,000 so far to build the app and web presence, mostly from Teare’s own fund as well as from Greg Kidd and Innovalley.
“We believe that Chat is siloed in various mobile apps. To chat with me you need to know which app I run and what my ID is in that app,” said Teare (who is keith on ChatCenter). “If voice worked this way (needing to know the platform and id of the user before calling them) it wouldn’t work. Voice and Text are universal communications tools in that sense, with universal addressing schemes (numbers or email addresses) but until now Chat was not.”
“You can put you Universal Chat Address in your email signature, a social profile, on a blog or a post, in a Tweet or an Instagram message. Indeed anywhere,” he said.
The goal is to add alerts to all platforms and to streamline the universal chatting system. However, it works quite well right now. “We will later have open and free API and SDKs for developers to build us in – even other chat apps. But especially apps that need chat and do not want to reinvent it,” said Teare.
Teare and his partners based much of their work on their previous startups, Just.me and Chance. While building out those platforms, Teare realized that many of the users were just using one chat app to ask for account info for other chat apps. By making everything work together, he said, especially in the browser, you can streamline that interaction.
“Chat Center is an attempt to promote Chat to be a human scale communications medium like Voice and Text. By creating a Universal address system and placing it in an http cloud we make it open and accessible to all,” he said. While the product is still too new to call a success, it definitely seems like a compelling alternative to an email signature full of various chat handles or all the various chat apps out there.