Talko is a combination of phone calling, text messaging, virtual conferencing and Instagram-ish photo sharing. In an era of dazzlingly accelerated communications, we are still stuck in the voice paradigm of a live conversation initiated by one person in hopes of dominating the attention of a recipient. (Telecom insiders have a name for this: “caller hegemony.”) No wonder we still cling to obsolete jargon like “dial,” “ring,” and “pick up the phone” when none of this exists in the actual technology any more. Meanwhile, mobile users increasingly eschew telephony for more flexible formats like email, texts, and photo apps; traditional phone calls themselves are somewhat of an endangered species.
“What’s striking is the fluid nature of going from synchronous [real time, like a phone call] to asynchronous [discrete, like text or email],” says former Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, whose VC firm has invested in Talko. “Synchronous communication is great but there are times when you want to drop into voice, or text. Talko is a big step forward in finding that balance.”
Talko is primarily designed to work with groups, in particular to boost the productivity of collaborative workplace teams. The Talko engineeers, who have been testing the product for over two years, use it for all of their stand ups, the regular meetings when they discuss progress, flag problems, and set short-time tasks. It’s not only invaluable to those who might miss a session, but also to people who are in the room together for the meeting, who can refer to key moments in a playback.