In This Great Future, You Can’t Forget Your Past

I’m proud to announce today that one of our portfolio companies, Cord has closed a $1.8 million seed round that we led along with Google Ventures, Slow Ventures, Vayner/RSE, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Greycroft, Carmelo Anthony’s M7 Tech Partners Ricky Van Veen, and Xavier Niel.

Cord is about using our phones as phones again. Since the advent of the iPhone our phones have gotten “too smart” and many of us have forgotten they were phones in the first place. When Sergey first came up for the idea for Glass he had been walking around the streets of both San Francisco and New York and noticed everybody walked around with their heads down looking at their phones, ignoring everything going on around them. Cord’s founders Thomas Gayno and Jeff Baxter both worked on Glass for several years at Google (in fact Thomas makes a cameo in the first Glass promo video as “Monsieur Gayno”) and will continue their mission to allow technology not to get in the way of our daily lives with Cord.

Cord is a voice communication app that makes it very easy to send a quick voice message. It’s faster to speak than to type and is also safer as you can speak while driving or crossing the street. Multi-tasking also becomes easier when you aren’t glued to your phone’s keyboard. It’s also flexible as voice messages are lighter than both photos and videos.

Voice can live anywhere and isn’t dependent on a keyboard or a screen big enough for a keyboard. It’s flexible and can live in any device, beyond messaging in notifications and communication. Applications are endless from gaming (voice can be used on existing consoles like Xbox and Playstation, but also in future consoles like the Oculus Rift or Morpheus), to automotive where texting is not only illegal but extremely dangerous.

Cord is much more than a mobile app. It’s bigger communication language operating system, beginning by inserting humanity back into messaging. I talk a lot about the human API. Voice, context, and emotion all fall into this concept. Everything is digital but digital isn’t everything. Messaging is a crowded space and there are a lot of different angles. At Cord, ours is about communication, elegance, and getting people to participate in communication. From there we can stitch together something much larger.

Thomas and Jeff worked together at Google for 5 years before starting Cord. They built amazing products like Glass, Android, Chrome, The Wilderness Downtown, Hangouts, Coder for Raspberry Pi and YouTube Play. Communication apps aren’t a new concept, but bringing product-minded folks from Google who understand how to allow technology to get out of our way is new. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Googlers and X-Googlers recently (our last two announced deals, Voyat and Fuisz and 5 of our next 7 unannounced deals also had co-founders who spun out) and am thrilled to have met Thomas and Jeff.

There’s no substitute to voice. Context is everything and much of that is lost in text communication. The nuance, emotion and spontaneity of voice is the most expressive form of communication. Anyone who knows me knows how often I get “auto-corrected” and my message is misinterpreted because of how fast I’m always moving. I can’t tell you the number of fights I’ve gotten into with friend and family members because of a word that was autocorrected wrong or because they misinterpreted by tone of voice on text or email. Cord fixes this problem and while voice isn’t new, its been lost in recent years to technology advances.

We believe that audio is the new display. As more devices come online (billions as I mentioned in myTechcrunch guest post), most won’t have a keyboard for communication and rather voice will need to act as the operating system. Many that are already coming online (like Nest, smartwatches, Glass and cars like Tesla) don’t have easy-to-use keyboards and rather voice can act as an operating system. Wearables will also need a universal communication channel which Cord can help provide. Cord is about building the future by leveraging what worked in the past: people talking to each other and I couldn’t be more excited and proud to be apart of it.

Download the Cord app here and let us know what you think!