Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 .

UberConference and Enplug: using visual displays to connect in a new way.

Enplug digital signage is one of the youngest and fastest growing startups in Silicon Beach. They were founded in 2012 and are currently in over 100 cities with around 35 employees. They are in over 400 venues with clients including Audi, Porsche, Marriott, Supperclub, WeWork and Amoeba music.

Enplug’s Plug and Play mini device turns any TV or digital display into an interactive and real-time marketing tool for businesses. After plugging the device into a TV, businesses choose from a wide-array of apps to display including live social media walls, live weather, live news and more.

Their most popular app is the Live Social Wall, which allows businesses to display a real-time feed of any hashtag or username from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Foursquare, and Yelp.

Businesses can control their Enplug displays from the ‘Enplug Control’ app, available on any smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

Their company, with employees all over the world traveling to onboard new systems, is constantly on the go. They needed a solution that would help them maintain efficiency and was in tune with their focus on design.

“One of the coolest things we do is turn our Enplug displays around the office — which we have about 30 of — into UberConference displays for sales, marketing, engineering, and operations meetings,” said Ryan Gushue, Director of Marketing at Enplug. “We attach a camera to them so people calling in can feel like they are here, in the meeting. With Enplug displays on every major continent, and only 35 employees, the ability to effectively communicate regardless of distance is essential for our growth.”

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 .

Back in October, Firespotter Labs became Switch Communications, and we launched our second voice product, Switch—the cloud-based phone system for Google Apps users.

With a team deeply-rooted in telecommunications (our CEO Craig Walker founded both Google Voice and Yahoo! Voice), we launched Switch Communications to get back to what we love doing: building scalable voice products for the the modern worker.

Starting today, we’re moving our UberConference content over to the Switch Communications blog. Don’t worry, UberConference isn’t going anywhere, we just think it makes sense to talk about Switch and UberConference together as two amazing unified communications products that help us better connect when and where we work best.

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We look forward to sharing more awesome updates— from customer stories, product news, and helpful tips on how to make the most of Switch and UberConference.

Head on over and check out our first UberConference post about our customer, Mapbox.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 .

How to Network Like a Boss – Cass Phillips, San Francisco’s event queen, gives us some great tips on how to command a crowd on the first UberCast

So we’ve gone and started an UberConference podcast. We call it the UberCast. Using the power of our technology, we’ll interview some of the best and brightest minds in business to help you go about yours. First up is a name widely known in any Silicon Valley startup circle, Cass Phillips. 

You wouldn’t know it if you saw her in action, but Cass Phillips, owner of the popular event blog Web Wallflower, is actually an introvert. This can be a crippling trait for any business owner who needs to reach the right people at networking conferences. Lucky for you, she shares all her insider secrets on how to talk to anyone, become an influencer and connect with the crowd at any event.

Key Networking Tips:

  • People love to talk so really try to listen.
  • Add to the conversation with insight. Challenge the person you are having a conversation with. Be authentic!
  • Learn to be excited for others.
  • Carry an empty glass with you in case you need to duck out of a stale or unproductive convo.
  • Be honest, but only if you feel brave. If you are not truly interested in what the person has to say it’s okay to let them know you are not the right person to talk to. You can also politely offer to keep your eyes and ears open for someone they would want to connect to.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Monday, May 21st, 2012 .

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Firespotter Labs today announced from TechCrunch Disrupt NYC the launch of its game-changing audio conferencing service,ÜberConference. A free audio conferencing service with a visual interface, ÜberConference solves the most common problems faced in teleconferencing including making a conference easy to join, knowing who is participating, knowing who is speaking, and making advanced features easy to use.

“Everyone’s experienced the pain of teleconferencing issues ranging from forgetting the PIN to not knowing who’s on a call to noise in the background, yet there’s been virtually no innovation in audio conferencing – a $3 billion market – in the last 30 years,” said Craig Walker, CEO and founder of Firespotter Labs. “ÜberConference changes the experience entirely, doing away with all the pain points and adding value by incorporating public information on each participant from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, making it easy to know who’s on a call and to quickly gather information about the caller. With ÜberConference, not only have we simplified teleconferencing but we’ve significantly improved it.”

Previously CEO of Dialpad, which became Yahoo! Voice and founder and CEO of GrandCentral, which became Google Voice, Walker together with his team focuses on making complex telephony services easy to use.

With ÜberConference, joining a conference call is simplified. As long as participants’ numbers are in the organizer’s contacts, a PIN is no longer required and people are automatically joined to the conference on dialing in. The call organizer and participants all have access to a dashboard where they see images of the participants, know who is speaking at any given moment, and can quickly see participants’ public social media information. The organizer can also easily use advanced features such as mute, earmuffs and social media research with a click of a button.

iPad and iPhone apps are under development and will launch in the coming weeks. To sign up for the ÜberConference beta go to www.uberconference.com.

Friday, April 11th, 2014 .

Last week, we began our analysis of the eleven types of people who can ruin a perfectly good teleconference.  We looked at the Repeating Everything Everyone Else Already Said Guy and the Irrelevant Topic Gal.  These are about two of eleven types Conference Call Ruiners have identified in my academic research.  (Please note my credentials: I am ABD (all but dissertation) at the University of Duluth (France) in Human Behavior, so I think I can confidently state I AM an expert.

Today we’re going to look at the Completely Unrelated Anecdote Guy and the Hello? Is This Thing Working? Gal.

First up: the Completely Unrelated Anecdote Guy. At first, this type can be charming.  He’s got a million great stories: his life on the high seas as a crab fisherman, the years he spent in minor league hockey, cutthroat tales on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  Oh, I could go on and on.  And so could he.

Here’s how this thing sort of plays out:

CALLER 1: Now as far as the language in Hold Harmless sections here.

CALLER 2: It’s fairly standard language.

CALLER 1: And that’s our problem —

COMPLETELY UNRELATED ANECDOTE GUY: Did I ever tell you guys about the wrestling match I was in in the Phillipines back in 1979?

CALLER 1: What?!  What does that have to do with what we’re talking about?

COMPLETELY UNRELATED ANECDOTE GUY: Well, we’re talking about holds here, right?  Let me tell you, I was working the professional circuit in those days.  Very popular character: Uncle Sam the Hammer.  Patriotic type.  Striped pants.  Red, white and blue outfit.  Top hat.  Although in the Phillipines, the Uncle Sam the Hammer character was a villain.  Anyway, one particularly steamy night in Manila —

CALLER 2: Excuse me, but what does this have to do with the Hold Harmless language?

COMPLETELY UNRELATED ANECDOTE GUY: I’m talking about a hold that wasn’t harmless.  In fact, I’ve problems with regular urination since then.

CALLER 1: Eeeeww!  Get out you.  Hang up on him.

COMPLETELY UNRELATED ANECDOTE GUY: I was at a hanging once.

The Completely Unrelated Anecdote basically is a narcissist. They are staring into every situation and seeing themselves. In the Greek myth of Narcissus, Narcissus was so enamoured of themselves as he stared into his reflection in a pond and then fell in and drown.

Similarly, the best way to manage this person on a conference call is to let them know two things:

1. If they tell one more anecdote, they will be hung up on.
2. You’re not kidding.

They will respond thusly: “Sorry. You know, I worked in the merchant marine once with a guy who had a million stories.”

Once this happens, you will hang up on the person. When they call back in, remind them you weren’t kidding. And that you have one finger on the hangup button on their line.

We now come to the Hello? Is Thing Working? Hello? Gal.

The answer is: Yes. Yes, it’s working. Stop asking that question. We all know you can hear us. Stop pretending. It goes like this:

CALLER 1: Okay, as far as Thursday’s agenda,

HELLO GAL: Hello? Hello?

CALLER 2: Yeah, Denise. We hear you.

HELLO GAL: Is this thing working?

CALLER 1: Yes, it’s working. Now, as far as Thursday–

HELLO GAL: Can you all hear me?

CALLER 2: Yes, we can hear you.

HELLO GAL: I can hear you guys. But can you hear me? Hello?

CALLER 1: YES!  WE CAN HEAR YOU!

HELLO GAL: Gosh, Bob, you don’t have to yell.

CALLER 1: Good. Thursday’s agenda will have–

HELLO GAL: Hello? I think I just lost the connection. Are you all there?

At this point, things are about to turn ugly. What all of you could do is start yelling at her. But what does that get you? Nothing, my friends. Here’s what you all do. Sit perfectly still for a minute, all of you. Nobody moves or makes a sound.

She’ll keep asking if you’re and when you don’t respond, she’ll think she’s lost the call. She’ll hang up and you’re in the clear. You can finish the call without her.