The problem: it’s really tedious and stressful to text a bunch of friends, to see who’s free or has a plan, to coordinate with them, and to update as plans evolve. We’re swimming in a sea of social messaging apps trying to solve this, but nothing has hit the mark yet. As the number of social messaging apps rise, we’re actually becoming more dependent — not less — on texting for social communication. Most people still default to texting because there’s simply nothing better.
Spend more time with people you like.
A few years ago, I found myself unexpectedly free on a long weekend. Most people I texted were out of town or busy. As I sat there unsuccessfully trying to make plans, I wondered: what if there was a fast and better way to see who was available? Steve Jobs once said the computer is like a “bicycle for our minds” — what if there was a social bicycle too? I joked it would be like “the Horn of Gondor for my friends”… which inspired me to watch all of the Lord of The Rings movies for the best solo weekend ever☺.
Fast forward to today, I’m proud to announce our team is building that social bicycle: a tool to make the most of your free time, and make seeing people you like fast, fun, and easy. We call it Free and you should download it on the App Store here.
The best ships are friendships
Making plans with friends is like a theatre play with many acts. The first act is often the hardest — when you choose who to reach out to. You do social calculations: who would be around? Who would respond? How broadly should I go? We all have that friend who starts massive group chats about hanging out: no thanks. Or that friend who posts on their feed publicly asking if anyone has plans tonight: awkward.
It’s a shame those friends of ours seem lonely, since absolutely everyone seeks companionship. It’s a core piece of the human condition, yet we have few ways to signal that desire without feeling vulnerable. Loneliness does not perform well in success theater. Our mission is to change that — to inspire and promote stronger friendships.
Free, at its simplest, is a light way to share how available you are. We’ve picked three modes you set for yourself: Going Out, Flexible, or Busy. If these remind you of the instant messaging buddy list statuses of yesteryear, you’ve got great taste because that’s exactly what we were going for!
We missed the days when you could see a green dot next to someone’s name and that really meant they were free. Consider these statuses the modern, real world way to say you’re available: you choose who can see them, friends can join in on them, and you decide how long they last for.
On the weekend, Free becomes even more fun. We send a silent notification (our “roll call”) asking to share your status with friends. If you’re busy, no sweat — it’s one swipe on that notification to set yourself as busy and mute any updates from friends. It’s magical to watch and discover plans your friends may not share anywhere else.
If you’ve ever felt the pain of getting a group together, you’re going to love Free. Groups form organically from statuses, and we’ve built a ton of great, new ways to have better conversations about hanging out.
You can send any friend’s message as much love as you want just by tapping it a bunch. Tag a place organically as you type. Send the fastest photos or small looping gifs while dropping a pin. Invite any friend to a Free with a simple @-mention. There’s so much more, but don’t take our word for it! We made trying it out with any of your friends really easy. Free lets you add any of your contacts as a friend, regardless if they have the app. Did I mention we have a pretty sweet url for sharing? ☺
Testing Free has been a hit with our friends and family, so we’re excited to open it up to the world. Speaking of friends and family, we’re fortunate to be backed by some incredible people, including The Social + Capital Partnership, True Ventures, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Google Ventures, SVAngel, Horizons Ventures, the Upside Partnership, Slow Ventures, Homebrew Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Hugo Barra, and Bobby Goodlatte. We’re grateful to them for giving us a shot at making something special here.
We’re constantly experimenting and have an ambitious roadmap for how we can make the most of your free time. Have fun and please tell us how we can make Free hit the mark for you.
Download Free! and here’s one parting thought that inspires our work:
— from Danny, Kelvin, Siong, Zachary, & Nick