Voxer

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Voxer
Voxer logo.png
Web address Voxer.com
Type of site Mobile voice communication
Owner VoxerNet LLC
Created by Tom Katis, Matt Ranney
Launched 2007
Current status Active

Voxer is a San Francisco based mobile app development company most well known for its free Voxer Walkie Talkie app for smartphones.

Founded by Tom Katis and Matt Ranney, Voxer Walkie Talkie is both a live "push-to-talk" system and a voice messaging system. Messages on Voxer are delivered live as they’re being recorded and then delivered as a voice message as well. The app works on Android, Windows Phone and the iOS operating systems. In April 2012, the company raised $30 million in venture financing from Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), Intel Capital and other angel investors.[1][2]

Early History[edit]

Tom Katis co-founded Voxer (originally called RebelVox) in 2007 after a tour of duty in Afghanistan as a Special Forces communications sergeant. He got the idea for the company when he needed better technology to talk to other soldiers on the battlefield.[3]

In an interview with TechCrunch, Katis explained that during an ambush in Afghanistan, he attempted to coordinate reinforcements and help from a medical team in the middle of a firefight. He sought a way to talk to all parties at the same time, but the government-issued walkie talkies didn't have the functionality.[1]

Voxer Walkie Talkie[edit]

In May 2011, the company launched Voxer Walkie Talkie on Apple's iOS operating system. The free app utilizes a number of patents[4] and technology around its live streaming voice service to create a "push-to-talk" product that makes all communication live.[5]

The app has been described "as being similar to the Nextel walkie talkie phones, except it lets users listen to messages at their convenience and talk one-to-one with other users."[5] The app also allows users to send text messages and photos and has a location feature that allows users to see on a map where other users are located when they send a message.[6]

In November 2011, after launching a version of the app on the Android operating system, Voxer Walkie Talkie began to experience viral success.[2]

In an interview with TechCrunch, Gustaf Alstromer, the company's head of growth, explained that users in Cleveland adopted the technology first, followed by users in other cities in the Midwestern United States. The company attributes its viral success to word of mouth and "a variety of best practices going for tracking clickthroughs, conversions, and overall usage, using third parties like Mixpanel as well as its in-house systems."[1] As of April 2012, monthly, unique users numbered in the double-digit millions.[2][7]

In a video interview with the Wall Street Journal and All Things Digital, Katis also claimed Voxer's widespread adoption was in part due to the company's cross platform roll out on iOS and Android. This cross platform functionality allows users on different operating systems to communicate using the app which created a viral loop.[7]

Today, the company has users across the world with an especially high user base in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Germany, England, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Asia.[3] Voxer Walkie Talkie was among the top 25 social networking apps in more than 60 markets, according to the app tracking website App Annie. The service works over WiFi, 3G, 4G, and EDGE.[8]

As of April 2012, the company has 35 employees and is headquartered in downtown San Francisco. The company's employees comes from a variety of backgrounds and companies including Danger, Android, Twitter, and Apple.[7]

Katis said that the next steps for Voxer are to continue to improve the app, roll out functionality on other platforms and to create an enterprise-level product with additional features and administrative rights that can be used for governments, hospitals, corporations and other large organizations.[3][7]

Node.js[edit]

Voxer was built using Node.js, Riak and Redis. According to TechCrunch, the company is possibly the largest user of Node.js in the world.[2]

Matt Ranney, co-founder and chief technology officer of Voxer, said in an interview with The Register that his team first coded Voxer in C++ and then Python but each proved too rigid or slow for a VoIP app. Later the team switched to Node.js because Voxer Walkie Talkie requires low latency with a large number of open connections."If you want to make something where the user gets a real-time update stream of some kind, you need to keep open a bunch of connections to the server. That's very expensive in, say, a PHP architecture. But in Node, it's nearly free. You can keep the connections open for a very long time, and the incremental cost per connection is very low."[9]

Venture Financing[edit]

Voxer raised its first external capital round in April 2012. Led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), Intel Capital, and angel investors including SV Angel, CrunchFund, Chris Dixon, Roger McNamee and other friends of Katis', Voxer raised over $30 million in financing.[2][7] Katis said Voxer will use the new funding to continue to build out its engineering team.[7]

Popular Culture[edit]

Hip-hop artist Soulja Boy and basketball player Kevin Durant have recently talked about using the Voxer Walkie Talkie app. Additionally, users have written songs about the app on YouTube. Additionally, singer Harry Styles has tweeted about the app.[6][10]

In a 2012 New York Times article, columnist and TV host David Pogue noted that Voxer is "an ingenious crossbreed of text messages and phone calls".[11]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Eldon, Eric. "Walkie Talkie App Voxer Is Going Viral On iPhones And Androids, Trending On Twitter". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Eldon, Eric. "Walkie Talkie App Voxer Goes Big, IVP And Intel Lead $30 Million Round". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  3. ^ a b c "App turns phone into walkie talkie". CNN. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  4. ^ "Voxer Patents". Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  5. ^ a b Eldon, Eric. "Walkie-Talkie App Voxer Popular With Investors, Too, Raising $15M to $20M At Up To $300M Valuation". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  6. ^ a b "Voxer Walkie-Talkie PTT speeds up messages". San Francisco Chronicle. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Voxer's Long Road to Raising $30M". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  8. ^ "Voxer Walkie Talkie PPT". App Annie. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  9. ^ Metz, Cade. "The Node Ahead: JavaScript leaps from browser into future". The Register. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  10. ^ Eldon, Eric. "Popular Like Voxer". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  11. ^ Pogue, David (5 September 2012). "Smartphone? Presto! 2-Way Radio". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2012.