Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes App Wants to Be a Switchboard Operator for All Your Messaging Needs

Many of us now have phones loaded up with mobile messaging apps, photo-sharing apps, social network apps, email and SMS and private journal or note-taking apps. is a new product that wants to tie all those different things into one place.

Keith Teare

Keith Teare has been in development for two years now, and starting today it will be released in small batches to the thousands of people who have signed up to try the beta. But because anyone who receives a message from someone using the product can download the app (for iPhone now and Android in the coming months), the beta process will be mostly out of the company’s control.

Well-connected founder Keith Teare previously helped found companies like TechCrunch and RealNames, and he has raised $2.75 million for from Khosla Ventures, Google Ventures, True Ventures, Betaworks, SV Angel, CrunchFund and others.

The basic notion of is that users can send photos and messages to whomever they choose: 1) only themselves, 2) address book recipients, or 3) lots of people via Twitter or Facebook or the public feed.

Instead of creating its own centralized social network, is riding on top of users’ existing phone address book and email contacts.

“We think the center of gravity about choice in sharing is moving to the individual,” Teare explained today. “It’s not about the individual as an isolated atom; it’s about the center of gravity being an individual and their phone, not a cloud and a service.”, of course, is indeed a service that connects all these messages, but it doesn’t necessarily control their end points. In a way, it’s kind of like the original Circles concept of Google+, but without a whole additional new social network that users have to manually configure.

My take? This could perhaps be a radical re-imagining of how we communicate, but it will also be just another ambitious app that many people will ignore and be totally fine without.

Teare cautioned that because includes so many features, “there will inevitably be bugs” during beta testing.

One thing Teare thinks he does have figured out is how will make money. Users will be able to choose to add participating brands to their contacts, in order to be alerted to various offers. So it’s sort of like a Twitter follow, except brands and users will be able to more directly communicate back and forth. Teare’s team has filed for a patent on this idea.


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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