Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Quick-Growing MightyText Wants to Sync More Than SMS

Sometimes a simple tweak to the most mundane thing makes the biggest difference.

The tiny start-up MightyText syncs text messages across devices. So, when a normal text is received by an Android phone while the MightyText app is listening in, it gets simultaneously pushed to apps and plugins on the user’s other devices, such as computers or tablets.

Say your phone happens to be in your bag, or you’re traveling internationally or you’re in a place where it would be inappropriate to text. MightyText allows you to keep up with the conversation from your computer. And … that’s it!

MightyText is very much like an Android version of Apple’s iMessage, and it’s a subset of what Google Voice offers. But just that narrow slice of functionality is useful for many people. Since launching late last year, MightyText has been installed more than 600,000 times, and it’s on pace to sync 2.3 billion messages per year.

Those numbers are still relatively small — consider the hit messaging app WhatsApp now sends and receives as many as 10 billion messages per day — but MightyText is already much loved. Ninety percent of its app ratings are five-star.

MightyText hasn’t had any trouble raising money from venture capitalists and angels, in large part due to its two founders’ pedigrees. Both Maneesh Arora and Amit Sangani were longtime Googlers, working in product and engineering on AdSense and mobile ads. They raised $650,000 last year from investors including Charles River Ventures, First Round Capital and 500 Startups, and are in the midst of raising another seed-style round on AngelList.

But it’s not like Arora and Sangani are big spenders; the company employs only three people total, and it doesn’t pay carrier SMS or Twilio fees since the listening app basically treats the phone as a proxy server for the text transmissions. (Users continue to pay their own normal SMS fees.)

And wouldn’t you know it, MightyText has bigger ambitions than texting. I’ve gotten to know Arora a bit in recent weeks, and he won’t publicly spill the whole product roadmap, but there could be lots of possibilities for a little bug on your phone that listens to various activities — photos, videos, locations — and automatically syncs them elsewhere. (That is, if you trust MightyText to spy on you at your own request!)

For instance, Arora told me the company built a prototype that tunes in for alerts that a phone battery is low, and sends them to the same user’s computer.

Similar to texting, Arora wants to tweak things that are very basic — things that people use all the time — to make them more accessible.

“There’s lots of stuff on your phone that’s trapped, and texting is just the beginning,” Arora said.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald