The Universal Communication Bus

Chat Woes

Network Proliferation

XKCD on chat
  1. Siloed — People who only use one chat network (eg iMessage) and force other people to use their preferred network in order to get in touch with them.
  2. Ambi-social — These folks use many chat networks, have 5+ chat apps on their phone, need to keep track of which friends are on which network so they know how to contact them.

Slow-to-no innovation

WhatsApp is fine, but how come you still can’t make a voice or video call from the desktop client? Signal may finally let you sign up without a phone number as the main identifier…5 years after the ecosystem got its move on?

Enter the Matrix

A year ago I discovered Matrix. It’s an open-source federated, encrypted and decentralized database protocol. The main use for Matrix is chat, but theoretically it could be used to synchronize any bits of data across a network of federated servers.

Life on the UCB

Cool, we’ve started using Matrix and bridged all our chat networks into one client. Now what’s possible?

  • Glorious productivity and time-saving. One desktop client that contains all your chats — no more alt-tabbing between apps and switching slack workspaces. Search across all networks instantly
  • Sort your chats into ‘work’, ‘friends’, ‘family’ regardless of which network they are on. Avoid context switching during the workday, and switch off all work notifications when you need a break.
  • Merge all communication with an individual person into one continuous timeline. I’m excited about this feature. My mom still hasn’t mastered the art of using one communication channel, she prefers to sprinkle messages throughout the week across Whatsapp, SMS and email.
  • Hackable interface on which to experiment and build new chat features. It’s much easier to prototype new features if all your chat messages are in one database. We’re envisioning a plug-in framework allowing Gmail addon-like extensions.
  • Escape Sauron’s eye. Matrix itself is a fantastic chat network. It’s end-to-end encrypted and federated, making it hard to block. The Matrix team is even working on portable identities — don’t like your host? Switch to a different provider. They even have a prototype of a p2p server that runs entirely in your browser.
  • Communicate beyond the display. Networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter rely on ad impressions to make money, so there’s little incentive for them to work on devices without a display. Matrix can easily support new platforms like AirPods, Google Assistant and Alexa.



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Eric Migicovsky

Eric Migicovsky

Cofounder @onbeeper Previously: Partner @YCombinator, Founder @Pebble