CloudTalk raises $5 million for social voice

Ronny Kerr · January 20, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1623
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With a focus on asynchronous conversations, Twitter for voice conversations gets funded

CloudTalkCloudTalk, a free text and voice messaging service, has raised $3.8 million in equity and $1.2 million in debt financing, according to two SEC filings. The company has not yet responded to comment.

Persons involved in the deals include chairman and CEO David Hayden as well as three directors: Kenneth Leonard, Mark Brandin and David Holtzman. 

Formerly known as Pana.ma, CloudTalk is based on the idea that a lot of people, especially teenagers, prefer asynchronous conversations via text to actual phone conversations. CloudTalk takes the asynchronous principle of text a step further by allowing users to send each other voicemail-like messages. Its platform also aggregates SMS, IM and voice all in one place.

The service supports both one-to-one and group conversations, either public or private, and it is available on the Web as well as on iPhone and Android. I’ve embedded a screenshot of the basic service below:

Beyond these fundamental features, CloudTalk is working on building a widget for websites so that publishers can easily add an element of community. Businesses too have their own version of CloudTalk on the way.

Probably the most interesting thing about CloudTalk is CEO David Hayden’s long history in the tech industry. He co-founded Magellan, one of many search engines that cropped up in the early to mid-1990s and one that sold to Excite in 1996. A year later, he was the founding chairman and CEO of Critical Path, an early SaaS and hosted email service that went public in 1999. 

Fellow team members John Schneider (CTO), John Linney (CMO) and Remi Vespa (EVP, business development) have histories in the industry as great as Hayden's. Full bios are available on the CloudTalk site.

Still, CloudTalk won’t be able to survive just on the experience of its team alone. After all, it’s not the only startup offering this sort of thing. One I remember off the top of my head is Shoutomatic, a service that can be best described as Twitter plus voice. Beyond that, there’s Twilio, an incredibly powerful telephony API that a developer could probably use to build something just like CloudTalk. 

It’s going to come down whether or not there is a demand for the voice service.

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ShoutOmatic

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ShoutOmatic allows you to Record and Broadcast  "audible status updates" (Shouts) so your actual voice can be heard within your Twitter and Facebook feeds.   Using ShoutOmatic adds authenticity, emotion and tonality that is not possible with 140 characters of text alone.

 

CloudTalk.me

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CloudTalk is a mobile broadcast service platform that integrates sms, IM and voice into a single platform. CloudTalk provides a suite of communication services such as phone casting, audio blogging, micro blogging, instant and large scale group communication (calling, texting, voicemail, sms voicemail).

Twitter

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.

 

What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.