After two-and-a-half years, former Microsoft chief architect Ray Ozzie and his team are finally ready to reveal what they’ve been working on. Called Talko, their new mobile app is designed to change the way consumers and enterprises collaborate with each other through a mix of live and asynchronous voice communications.
While there are any number of new messaging apps that have emerged to make it easier to share via text while sharing images and videos, Talko is taking the decidedly retro approach of bringing back voice communications. But in doing so, the app hopes to give users tools that will help them and their teams keep better track of what’s been discussed and decided, whether that happened during a live call or added to the discussion later.
Talko, which has been in development since early 2012, replaces your usual conference line with VOIP, cloud-based calls between team members. The app records the entire live conversation to make it accessible to those who can’t tune in while it’s going on. It also enables users to create bookmarks within the conversation and tag other users with action items.
Perhaps most importantly, the conversation doesn’t end when a particular call is over. Any member of the team can start a new call or add voice-based follow ups to the conversation, and they will be shared asynchronously with the rest of the participants. By doing so, it makes certain that everyone is on the same page, whether they were able to call in or not. Users in a group can also add text and photos in line with the conversation, which get shared with all participants.
All the data is stored on Talko’s servers and cached to the device in a smart way to ensure that the app isn’t overrun with audio recordings or media that a user isn’t going to access.
Talko is aimed at the enterprise market, but it follows the trend toward consumerization of apps that people end up using for work. Like other user-centric enterprise apps, it’s targeting a bottom-up approach to user acquisition — that is, it’s hoping to get a few users hooked, who will invite their coworkers and team members to use the same group of features in an effort to get their whole organization hooked.
Along those lines, the company is planning a business model where the Talko app will be free to use, but users will have to pay a monthly subscription fee to access any calls or data that was recorded a certain number of days earlier. It has yet to decide on how long data will be accessible before the company charges for it, or how much it will charge per month for the service. However, it’s likely that Talko’s premium set will cost less than $10 a month for access to any data older than a week or 10 days.
Talko was founded by Ozzie, who is joined by some folks he worked with while at Microsoft and before that Groove Networks (which was bought by Microsoft in 2005). The other co-founders include Pope, who heads up product, and Eric Patey, who heads up engineering. The company has a total of ten employees.
Funding was provided by Ozzie and other investors that include Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, and Kapor Capital. The company won’t disclose how much has been raised to date, but an SEC filing from late 2012 pegged its initial funding at about $4 million.