Unified communications has long been touted as the future, but being able to provide access to all of one’s calls and messages on multiple devices is an idea that has just barely come to fruition. Now, the folks at Firespotter Labs think they’ve built a solution — a cloud-based platform for enterprise communications called Switch.
Firespotter Labs was probably best known for building UberConference, a cloud-based phone conferencing system that won TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield a couple of years ago. (It also built a few lesser-known apps, which included Nosh, NoshList, and Jotly, but has been mostly focused on solving this communications problem.)
Over the years, Uberconference continued to add features like Screen Sharing, integration with Google Hangouts, Box and Evernote. But in the background, the team has been working on a whole new communications platform for enterprise users.
This isn’t the first time it’s worked to solve this type of problem: Much of the team has been working with Switch co-founder and CEO Craig Walker during his various other efforts at building communications tools. Prior to Firespotter, Walker founded GrandCentral, which was acquired by Google and became the backbone of Google Voice. And before that, Walker led voice-over-IP company Dialpad, which was acquired by Yahoo and became the basis for Yahoo Voice.
Now he and team are once again building a telephony solution that will allow users to make or receive calls from any number of devices — from the desktop to their mobile phones to even the phones placed on their desks at work. The new company, called Switch Communications, provides a cloud-based platform designed to give users access to their voice communications wherever they are or on whichever device they prefer or have handy.
Things have changed since Google Voice, and the folks at Switch hope that means they are getting better. In addition to having a single number that rings on all their devices, Switch users also get features like call transfer, company directory, visual voicemail, and switching between devices. It’s able to provide many of those features thanks to a series of mobile apps that it’s built out for Android and iPhone devices, as well as desktop apps.
For companies that use Google Apps, Switch is positioned to take the cloud-based productivity suite that Google provides and offer voice communications on top of it. On the back end, Switch integrates with Google Apps to give enterprise users access to company directories, contacts, and calendaring.
It also integrates with Hangouts to enable video conferencing, and, since it knows the people in your organization, can show the presence of your coworkers — you know, whether they are online or off.
Being built on top of Google’s infrastructure also means it’s ultra-easy for businesses to get signed up. Switch needs only connect with a company’s Google Apps admin to get set up. Once that’s done, admins can provision accounts and numbers to employees, as well as set up a virtual receptionist system, dial-by-name directory, custom greetings, and office hours.
Google Apps is huge, and Switch is hoping to grab some customers who are looking for improved telephony services. The company is charging $15 per employee per month, which includes a free number and unlimited text messages from within its platform.
Switch has raised a total of $18 million since being founded, with investors that include Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures. The company now has about 60 employees and is headquartered in San Francisco.