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May 14, 2014

Featured Team of the Week: Glide

Screenshot 2014-05-14 at 6.50.15 AM

In the first of an ongoing series of interviews, Jon Caras, Glide‘s CTO, sits down with Jason Naparstek from Zula to chat about his experience with Glide and the future of communication.

Zula: For those of us unfamiliar with your product, give us an overview of Glide and how it’s creation came about.

Caras: I got here to Israel about ten years ago, having always been involved in technology.

A little over two years ago, childhood friend Ari Roisman approached me with the idea of working on our own project involving video, social, and mobile. I had produced about 50 mobile apps prior to that. We teamed up with a third co-founder, Adam Korbl, who brought together our talents and focused us on a pain point we all felt: that there was no good way to communicate through video.

We moved into our current offices about two years ago, after which we quickly built for iOS and, eventually, Android. Soon afterwards, we won Techcrunch Audience Choice Award and we’ve since been adapting to user feedback, trying to make a product that is a delight to use and makes users happy.

From the get go, we knew that we wanted to make something that was easy to use. Why is it that SMS dwarfs the amount of communication done through traditional phones? People far prefer to text then to pick up the phone and call…it’s just alot more convenient, but it lacks personality. So, we decided that we wanted to make a really fast way to send video messages. We knew it had to be messages because calling is passe and doesn’t really fit in with the modern digital lifestyle. I found that the lag between the kind of “store and forward” concept of video messaging that others were doing was prohibitive to conversations. In short, our goal was to build a video walkie-talkie.

What are the hardest challenges that you have faced?

The concept of video calling has alot of organizational challenges. In addition, the entire project was a very difficult technical feat. It’s hard to maintain quality of service as you gain more and more users. Glide users send about 10% of video content uploaded to YouTube everyday. That amount may be trivial for a large company like them to manage, but it’s a challenge for us.

As a startup, you always have struggles and problems to solve, but not enough resources. So it’s a balance of priorities, but I think we’re doing a pretty good job.

What’s next for you guys?

We look forward to continue listening to user’s feedback and making them happy with the product.

What tools do you use for communication?

Glide! We have a couple of our own group chats and it makes it easy for us to have an ongoing product and business discussion. Unlike a conference call where everyone has to be there at the same time and if you show up ten minutes late you miss that much of the meeting, Glide allows you to never miss a thing. If I go to sleep an hour or two before my co-founders and they have a conversation, I can catch up the next morning as I’m having my morning coffee, like watching a movie, and chime in where relevant. It’s just part of an ongoing conversation, you never say goodbye, there’s always a continuous flow of conversation. Because of that element, it also adds an extra level of personality to the company in that we get to see each other’s kid’s during conversations, etc..

Apart from that, we use Gmail, Google apps, and Google docs & spreadsheets. I have found that seeing others typing in real-time is essential to project planning.

Hipchat is nice for messaging because it combines with task management bug reporting. We can tie in the chat to previously set-up triggers that allow everyone to share a stream of development, tickets, and whatever else we are working on.

We also use the Atlassian suite of software development tools- JIRA, Confluence, Greenhopper, Gliffy, etc…These types of tools help organize a massive engineering project such as Glide. And, of course, we use the telephone.

Within the company for conference calling, we use our phones. Outside of the company we use Skype. The team was using Facebook groups for company interaction but I closed that recently because I found that using Facebook was more distracting then anything.

Do you find that using so many tools impedes on productivity?

No, because each tool is hyper-optimised for it’s particular use, we always get a high quality of service for whatever it is we are doing.

Friction is probably the biggest challenge in a communication platform, we see that with our users and we see that internally. That’s why I prefer to use these separate tools. If I need to conference call, share a document, whatever it may be, I will go to the tool that I know the other parties are familiar with and have access to.

Do you ever try to convince other companies that you work with to use Glide for communication?

We love showing off our product, but when it really comes down to doing business, it’s very difficult to convince the other party to do something new, regardless of how awesome it is. I will leave them subtle hints, but nothing more then that.

Who are your competitors?

If you want to go broad, I would say anybody that does video and messaging- Skype, Snapchat, Whatsapp, etc…though, nobody delivers the exact user experience as we do.

How do you differentiate yourself from them?

We’re not a call, we deliver a unique communication paradigm, we’re the only ones on the market delivering live streaming video messaging. Just like SMS is not email, and a phonecall is not a voicemail, Glide is a new paradigm that has not previously existed: real-time video messaging.


Battle of the beards: Glide CTO, Jon Caras, with Zula's Jason Naparstek

Battle of the beards: Glide CTO, Jon Caras (r), with Zula’s Jason Naparstek (l)