Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 .

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” –Aristotle, “The Politics”

When you sit down and think about it, many of the greatest accomplishments of the human race are collaborative efforts. The cathedrals of medieval France. MGM musicals like “Singing in the Rain” or “Royal Wedding”. Democracy. The Renaissance. A double double cheeseburger with fries from In ‘N Out Burger.

These are things that could only have been created by a group effort – human beings working together.

Why?  Because we are, as Aristotle observed more than 2,300 years ago, social animals. We live a common life together.

So if we live a common life together and are, at heart, social animals; why do so many teleconferences not work? What, exactly, causes them to be disappointing? I think I can confidently state that it is not because we are either beasts nor gods.

What causes many teleconferences to fail is a combination of inefficient technology and basic human politeness. These are what I call “the pain points of teleconferencing.” And they are solvable problems.

1. Set an agenda. Stick to it.

Unless the teleconference is between NFL owners, nobody gets to talk about the Super Bowl.

Before your next teleconference, send out an agenda to everyone. These are the items we will be discussing, and this is the order in which we’ll be discussing them. People are busy, and while your teleconference may in fact be the most important part of their work day, it is not the only part of their work day. Nothing kills a teleconference quicker than desultory talk about the weather, the latest flu outbreak or last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. We all have other things to do today besides chit-chat right now. Stay on point, stick to the agenda, finish the call.

2. People are going to arrive late. Deal with it.

It’s just going to happen: people are going to show up late. They’ll have a million good reasons. We don’t need to hear them. We also don’t need to recap what’s been discussed already.

Think of it this way: somebody shows up late to Mass. The priest doesn’t stop the proceedings, introduce everyone, and then recap what’s happened so far. No. If you show up late, you check where in the liturgy (agenda) we are, listen in and catch up on your own.

There’s no reason a teleconference can’t operate that way either.

3. Use technology that works.

Teleconferencing technology should do the following:

— allow automatic sharing of documents during the call

— visual identification of who is speaking and participating

— late entrants can join without interrupting — or stopping — the call

If your teleconferencing system can’t do these things, your calls are going to be less effective, more painful for the callers, and, ultimately less collaborative.

We’re human beings. We’re social animals. We’re working on a problem together. Any technology you are using that disrupts collaborative work is anti-social and goes counter to who we are in our essence.

Monday, May 21st, 2012 .

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.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 .

It was great sponsoring the Startup Grind event last night that featured the fireside chat with Matt Rogers, co-founder of Nest. The event was packed, and it was nice to see the big turn out and have the opportunity to meet a bunch of new people. It was also cool to be back in Google Start Up Labs, where the event was hosted, which was also the first office for Firespotter, though in those early days we were in the building across the street. The new building is even nicer.

Matt shared a number of interesting learnings and experiences from his career starting from getting his dream job at Apple as an intern on the early iPod team through his success founding Nest.  It was interesting to hear about the secrecy and corporate culture inside of Apple and how that translated into successful PR for the company.  Matt talked about how many of the things he learned and people he met at Apple evolved into the strategies he used and people he hired at Nest. He also shared several insightful tips on founding a company, creating great products, working with VCs, and building a rock star team.

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 .

ITExcell_logo_07

UberConference is excited to accept TMC’s 2014 Internet Telephony Excellence Award. This is the third year UberConference has won this award and we are honored to be recognized as an innovator in the telephony industry. The award came after a successful week at the ITEXPO West event where our CEO, Craig Walker, was a featured guest on the OTT and UC: The Future of the Telephone Number panel.

Walker also had the opportunity to sit down with Erik Linask, the Group Editorial Director of TMC to discuss UberConference’s role in disrupting the traditional conferencing space. “The funny thing is the things that are frustrating to users haven’t changed in 30 years. It’s dialing some ridiculous access code to get into your call and not knowing who’s in the room when you’re on the call,” said Walker.

“A lot of conference call providers used to give you a wallet card to remember their features. The truth is nobody used these features because nobody remembered to pull out the card. At UberConference, we wanted to change all that. No PINs. No access codes. You just dial a number and you’re on the call. We give you a web address where you can see who’s on the call.”

Another important topic of discussion was catering to the remote workforce with more robust telephony tools. UberConference’s audio heavy interface addresses that challenge with great ease. “Even though conference calling has been around forever, 80% of conference minutes are audio only. If you’re going to have more and more remote people doing it, it’s got to be easier for the remote worker.”

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 .

unnamedLinda Beltran is UberConference’s very own Customer Support Representative. She is an asset to our entire company and her spunk and personality is legendary to our customers and team. Last week, Linda posted a video of her son (also a big personality) and it went viral.

 

Q: Please introduce yourself to the UberConference blogosphere.

 A. My name is Linda and I am the mother of 3-year-old Matthew and his little brother Kevin (aka PaPas).

Q: You posted a video last week that’s gone a little viral. Tell us about it.

A. Like all my other videos, I initially posted this one to share with friends and family. Well, they happened to share it, and the people they shared it with shared it, and so on.  I’ve always said Mateo is an old soul. The kid definitely keeps us on our toes, and this video depicts him, well, accurately.

If Mateo feels the need and has a valid argument, he will be sure to voice it. He felt he didn’t need to eat dinner since he already had lunch, and that cupcakes were a suitable compromise.

Q: Mateo wanted a cupcake? Throw down the scenario.

A. On this particular night, I went to Gramma’s house to pick him up. Gramma told me he didn’t want to eat his dinner. I let Matthew know that we would not be having a fun night unless he ate his dinner. He found some hidden cupcakes and was on a mission to have them. After a back-and-forth of “Mommy pleassseee can I have them?” and me telling him not until he had dinner, he decided to wait until I wasn’t paying attention to use those cute eyes of his on Gramma, which was not-so-secretly hilarious.

Mommy’s spidey-sense kicked in, I grabbed my phone and thought, “Let’s see where this goes.” Gramma and I had to keep a straight face. The end result was the video. He was unaware the camera was on as I was pretending to ignore him and be busy with the phone.

Q: Why does Mateo call you Linda?

A. This summer we went on a family trip to a theme park.  We came across a lost boy, who could not for the life of him tell us his name or parents’ names. We felt horrible, and as we handed him over to park staff we realized we’d never really told our boys what our names were–they only knew us as Mommy and Daddy. We didn’t want them to ever be in the same situation and not know our names, so we taught them, and they quickly learned. This made Mateo feel a little empowered.

For the most part we are still Mommy and Daddy,  but when he is serious and wants to make sure we are paying attention, we quickly become Linda and Kenneth.

 Q: When is Mateo going to visit the UberConference office?

A. Funny you mention that. Since the video has been out, we’ve been asked by numerous friends and family members if he can stop by their offices, as requested by co-workers who saw the video. They even offered to bake him cupcakes.

Let me check his busy schedule and I will get back to you on that!

Q: If  Mateo was going to be on a conference call, who would it be with?

A. If it were up to mom, Ellen DeGeneres. If we ask Mateo, he could have a pretty serious conversation with Batman, Spiderman AND Superman. Wait, I can’t forget Ironman and the guy with the ice that goes sswwooossshhh. That would be good.

Mateo is quite a tough cookie.

He is, but I want everyone to know that he isn’t disrespectful. In an effort to raise independent young adults, we let our children have a voice. I’m a new parent and I’m learning as much from my kids as they are learning from me. The arguing started way before Mateo could talk–he would let us know he didn’t like certain shoes or clothes with his baby blabber. I love seeing a little more of their personalities as they grow. Mateo has his own spunk and is becoming his own little person. I love that about him. The boys know when mom is serious and when they can engage in some healthy debate. In an effort to raise my kids with a voice, I pick my battles and sometimes let them feel like they’ve won…or at least give them the chance to try. 🙂