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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