I actually get asked this a lot. I don’t find it offensive really, because I don’t think the people who ask are trying to offend me, they’re genuinely interested.
"Don’t you live on the web?"
"Why an app?"
Well it runs way deeper than that, so I thought I’d share.
I’m a communicator, it’s in my DNA. I love to talk to people, see what they’re up to, ask how they’re doing. It’s just who I am. I like using tools that let me do that, such as Twitter and Facebook. A lot of these things cause me to take extra steps in my day to day and hey, that’s ok because the return on my time is worth it and then some.
Quick history, I worked as an intern at Digital City Philly (AOL) when I was 16. I had the bug for communicating via any means necessary. I lived in chatrooms, used them to meet folks and you know, actually go outside and do real fun things. Scary eh? ;)
Anyways, how does that apply to textPlus? Well, I firmly believe that the best social network you have is the one you have in your pocket. Your cell phone. It gets no better than that. Sure, a late night at a bar and a random number later you’re scratching your head, but for the most part that contact list on whatever phone you have in your pocket is golden. And real. And means something.
When I saw what GOGII was doing with textPlus I saw it, maybe saw something they didn’t even see. I saw that building tools on top of the best social network I have ever had was something nobody else was doing. And I kind of have a thing for doing stuff nobody else is doing. Not because I think I know everything, not even close, but because I like challenges, and I want technology to work for me, and not the other way around. It’s kinda the holy grail for me.
Now if you’re still reading this, thank you. If not, you’re lying because you’re reading this.
Anyways, long story short, I love what I do. My title is “Director of Community” which means jack squat. The community directs me. It’s my job to help people, and listen. And put their ideas and thoughts into action. My mentors Micki Krimmel and Robert Scoble did this way before there were titles. Ask Guy Kawasaki. It’s just what we do. I listen, and I take that back to GOGII and I fight like hell to make it happen. Sometimes it’s stuff that goes against “conventional wisdom”, but honestly there is no such thing. Especially when you’re building something from scratch.
What we realized early on was that people thought textPlus was just a free texting utility. Looked like one, acted like one. But the social feature that was missed was the group texting. Like Reply all in email. Simple right? Yup. TOO SIMPLE. So simple, the value was almost ignored. No biggy, everyone who has tried it, loves it and gets it. Our millions of users dig it.
But that wasn’t enough. What if you could create a chatroom on the fly. Give it a name and a description. Invite your friends, even if they don’t have the app. All through SMS/Text. Always on, always connected and mostly on topic.
Surely someone has done that! Nope. So we did it. It’s called Communities in textPlus.
AOL did 2 things great. Chatrooms and IM. I’m going after both using the most native popular and efficient way of communicating today…text messaging.
I didn’t want to live in LA, I wasn’t looking for a dare to be great situation, GOGII found me, and I went after GOGII.
When I work for a company, I make the company work for me. Meaning, I HAVE to have the product make sense for me and the people I talk to, my friends family and community of users.
Is it challenging? Sure. We take technology for granted. Myself included. I bark at Ev and Biz about Twitter being down, but the fact is nobody really understands how difficult it is to do most things. This stuff is hard. Expectations are crazily high. But I want to win. For the company and for our users.
That’s my job. That’s why I work for textPlus.
A/S/L anyone? Prepare to be dazzled.