Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

One to Watch: Kibits Takes Mobile Group Chat to the Next Level

One of the bigger unlocked opportunities around, in my opinion, is to create social tools and networks that are mobile first — that is, built around the smartphone experience to make use of its immediacy and ever-presentness. Instagram is a good example of this, as are GroupMe and Beluga (now Facebook Messenger), Kik and WhatsApp for chat, and the up-and-coming Socialcam and Klip for video. But attracting users to a new social network is never easy, especially when we already have so many to choose from.

A new entrant in this category is Kibits, which yesterday posted a public tester version of its iPhone app, which helps users create groups on the fly to chat and collaborate.

For instance, users can create a “Kibit” with chosen Facebook friends to share photos and chat, and maintain that same group for months. Or they could start a Kibit that’s open to other Kibit users nearby within a specified distance. Or they could create a temporary Kibit to share Dropbox documents with the people they’re meeting that day based on their phone calendar.

Kibits is a bit hard to explain and a bit hard to navigate as well, because it’s built to do many different things.

Kibits CEO Matt Cutler acknowledged the difficulty of trying to do so much with a new tool. But, he argued, “We use the same phone in every context. Why can’t we use a common service to connect with others?”

The point of Kibits, he said, is “to help people connect naturally in the moment” and to “provide a real-time mobile experience that genuinely augments and enhances real-world experiences rather than replacing or interrupting them.”

Kibits has a small team working out of Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge, Mass. The Boston Globe reported earlier this year that the company had raised $1 million from Google Ventures, CommonAngels, Charles River Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Launch Capital and General Catalyst.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik