Friday, May 9th, 2014 .

We’ve worked our way through four of the irritating conference call types you’ll inevitably meet.  Let’s do a quick review:

1. The Repeating Everything Everyone Else Already Said Guy

2. The Irrelevant Topics Gal

3.  The Completely Unrelated Anecdote Guy

4.  The Hello?  Is Thing Working?  Hello? Gal

Pretty annoying bunch, aren’t they?  Well, I’ve got a couple more subspecies to go into today.

First up, The Wait, I Didn’t Get That Document Gal.  This subspecies also goes by another name: The Big Fat Liar.  This woman never seems to receive that one key document you need to come to a decision in this conference call.

Does this sound familiar?

CALLER #1: Okay, now let’s take a look at what we’re proposing for pricing.

WAIT, I DIDN’T GET THAT DOCUMENT GAL: I’m sorry. I didn’t seem to get that document.

CALLER #1: We emailed it to you last week.

WIDGTDG: I’ve been having problems with my email server.  I don’t think arrived.

CALLER #1: But we had an “Acknowledge receipt before opening” routine on the email.

WIDGTDG: My assistant must have opened it.  I just don’t have a copy.

CALLER #1: Well, we also FedExed it.  And you signed for it.

WIDGTDG: Not my signature.

CALLER #1: And then we had it messangered to you.

WIDGTDG: I’m sorry, but I don’t remember signing for it.

CALLER #1: That’s why we had a photo taken of you signing for it.

WIDGTDG: That’s my twin sister.

CALLER #1: You’re just a big fat liar, aren’t you?

(Long silence.)

WIDGTDG: Perhaps.

As we have seen, the lengths this person will go to to deny having the document in question are extraordinary and constantly defeat your best efforts.  And now, finally, there is a solution: Screen sharing. You click the screen sharing button on your UberConference call menu. Voila, there it is. Right there staring her in the face. She can’t deny she got it or blame someone else for losing it. All she can do at this point is hang up and go away.  And then you’ve won.

We now move on to one of the most irritating Conference Call types: The Youth Sports Fanatic Dad.  First of all, let me be clear: I think that women athletes are tremendous.  One of my favorite sports to watch is the NCAA Women’s Softball Championships.  Incredibly exciting and fascinating contests played at very high level of athleticism and skill and intrigue.

On the other hand, there is only thing duller and more painful than watching nine year-old girls play softball: listening to one of the dads talk about it. There you on a conference call trying to get some business done and this guy is describing in excruiating detail a sequence of pitches that his daughter, Bethany, fouled off until she hit “this rocket just over the second base girls’ head” and drove home three runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Your brain is searing from the pain of listening to this, isn’t it? You’ve heard this guy go on and on, as if the game between the Pink Cheetahs (Bethany’s team) and the Blue Girlie Girls on Saturday was a battle between the very forces of good and evil in the universe.

The basic question to pose to this guy: Could you please, in the name of all that is holy, stop talking about Bethany’s softball team?

Fortunately, UberConference provides a solution: Mute. You can mute this guy. Just tell him if says one more word about nine year-old girls softball, you’re going to mute him.

“But the ump–

Mute is hit and the conference call goes forward.

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 .

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Craig Walker appeared in the Wall Street Journal Accelerators blog today giving his opinion on the topic of net neutrality. The Accelerators is run with contributed content from mentors in the startup community discussing the challenges of creating new businesses.

About Craig Walker, CEO UberConference

Craig Walker has a broad background as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, executive and corporate attorney. He co-founded  UberConference in 2012 with $18 million from Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures.

Craig’s career in telecommunications began in 2001 when he ran Dialpad Communications, which he sold to Yahoo! in 2005.  He then co-founded and ran GrandCentral Communications, which he sold to Google in July 2007. It became Google Voice.

Craig is a graduate of UC Berkeley (BA), Georgetown University (MBA) and Boalt Hall School of Law (JD). He was presented with the Georgetown Entrepreneurial Excellence Award as an Outstanding Alumni Entrepreneur in April 2014.

 

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 .

So, what is Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC), anyway? The idea isn’t new but people who use voice and video conferencing are beginning to hear it every day. At UberConference we use it to make it easy to join conference calls over the Internet from anywhere.

WebRTC allows real-time voice, video, and data to stream between two people using a web browser. There’s no need for plugins or third-party software, only the latest Chrome or Firefox.

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Until recently, web browsers were where you did pretty much everything except conferencing – web surfing, email, watching videos. However, the biggest disadvantage of the web browser was that it was lousy at two-way voice and video calls.

That kind of real-time communication had been challenging for companies for many years because the voice and video compression-decompression algorithms (called codecs) were really expensive. Only a few companies owned them, and they charged pricey licensing fees. In addition, browsers could only request data or send it upon request, not send and receive it in real time, as video chat requires.

To understand this, consider that browsers have been evolving ever since their creation to allow us to do more and more on the web. Plugins were introduced in the mid-late ’90s, which allowed developers to play videos with flash, facilitating a move toward the beginning of video communication. Then, in 2004, the browser language HTML5 developed the <audio> and <video> tags to allow this multimedia content to live in your browser without the need of a plugin. However, real time communication (RTC) remained a challenge because browsers lacked a method to send and receive data in real time, and often the stumbling block were the expensive codecs used to interpret the media communications between users.

For WebRTC to be truly effective, everyone needed access to the high quality codecs. In 2010 Google took on the challenge and purchased two companies: GIPS and On2. This turned the VoIP market on its head.

Here’s why: GIPS was a leading provider of VoIP codecs, On2 had a video codec that rivaled the H.26 standard. And Google open sourced them both, giving the RTC industry a giant push forward.

To solve the media transmission problem, the WebRTC collation created a set of open protocols for browsers to expose to developers. As browsers adopt this standard and implement them, developers can quickly write RTC applications with a few lines of JavaScript code.

That’s why WebRTC has been a big deal for UberConference and for all Internet users. It lets them conference in real-time without having to mess around with applications or phones or leave their web browser.

This is a huge benefit for emerging companies, who, ten years ago, would have paid significantly higher costs for  hardware and services to set everything up. They can now build their companies with a much lighter – and cheaper- footprint. Now that’s something to call your CEO about.

Monday, April 29th, 2013 .

It’s always a pleasure to speak at local events hosted by prestigious organizations such as Silicon Valley Bank, so we were pleased when Craig was invited to present at their 2013 CEO Summit on the topic: BE BOLD. Craig’s own experiences at Dialpad, Yahoo, GrandCentral and Google certainly informed his presentation but he reached further back in history to examples that resonate with us today from the likes of Helen Keller and Teddy Roosevelt.