On Unmute

A few days ago we announced our investment in Unmute, a new app for making calls. Nothing groundbreaking there, right? Yeah, except Unmute has a twist: anyone can listen in on the calls. In fact, having a conversation in public is the whole point of Unmute, which is why we find it so compelling as a product. At betaworks we’re not just big believers in audio as a new (old) medium, we also love the idea of anyone being able to broadcast their lives and get their users to participate — surprising there have been so few options for doing this via audio.

This is especially true now that voice calling has begun to decline as we move much of our communication on smartphones over to text-based messaging. What Unmute does is to make voice calls special by making them shareable with the rest of the world, effectively turning calls into events. Plus Unmute goes beyond just letting you have a call that anyone else can listen to, you can also pull someone who’s tuning into the call by “unmuting” them and making them part of the conversation. After the call is done you get an MP3 recording that you can share later or use as a podcast.

You can listen to a replay of an Unmute call Matt Hartman and I had on Friday where we talked about his new podcast, my recent blog post on virtual reality, and The Intern, an excellent new podcast produced by betaworks intern Allison Behringer. Towards the end of the call we were able to bring her into the discussion, which was awesome.