Asynchronous Voice is my new BFF

I’ve been saying for years that I hate the phone. I keep wondering why people keep calling me on my mobile computer (which for some reason they still insist on calling a phone even though that is by far the most poorly executed capability it has). Lately, I’ve made good progress on cutting down on phone calls, so I thought I’d share so that together we can eventually eliminate most phone calls.

Internally at Techstars, we’ve been using Voxer for about a year now. It’s completely changed our ability to communicate easily and we love it. We use it for leaving “instant voicemail” for each other. You still get all the nuance of voice communications for important subjects, but everyone gets to listen and reply when they want to. It has cut way down on both email and the number of internal meetings we used to need. As a company, we now treat the various communication channels with the following priorities:

  • Phone call – very urgent or scheduled in advance
  • Text Message – very time sensitive (now) but less urgent than a phone call
  • Voxer – important but any time today or ASAP for you is OK.  <– New!
  • Email – it can wait a few days, it’s not a big deal.

Of course we communicate in lots of other ways (Jive, chat, twitter, etc). But most of our important internal communications are one of the four methods above, and we have a conscious prioritization of them internally so everyone is on the same page about expectations.

By adding in this new third priority (Voxer in our case), it’s massively cut down on the need for scheduled phone calls internally while also decreasing email which has the drawback of having no tone. Given that we’re 50 or so people spread out over many geographies, it’s had an even larger impact. I can’t recommend it highly enough for distributed teams.

Lately I’ve been using WhatsApp as well, and it’s also excellent. I’ve decided to use both. I’m using Voxer for “internal” Techstars work and I’m using WhatsApp for my investments.

So, if I’m an investor in your company via Techstars or my angel or venture funds, please use WhatsApp any time you want to chat! You’ll need my cell number to do that – just add me to your address book and you’ll see me inside WhatsApp automatically. 

Please don’t use Voxer or Whatsapp to reach out to me if I don’t already know you. We need an existing personal or business relationship for this channel to work for me. If you do reach out to me anyway, I’ll direct you to email as politely as I can (probably by linking to this post).

It’s important to understand that in both Voxer and Whatsapp, the conversations often turn real time. I often go back and forth with someone if they happen to catch me between meetings or while I’m walking to my office. It’s just that the back and forth is ‘walkie talkie’ style, and there is no social contract that I have to keep it real time. If it works, it works, without any pre-planning.

I hope this post helps you get more out of asynchronous voice communication and helps you avoid some of your scheduled meetings and email backlog.

Friends! Coworkers! Business contacts! I’ll see you in async voice land!

Note: I’m not an investor in Voxer or Whatsapp, but I wish I was. 

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About David Cohen

Geek. Hacker. Investor. Founder and CEO of TechStars.

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  • Leith Stevens

    I really like async voice too, for anything that isn’t “now” and a text based communication won’t cut it for whatever reason.

    Mostly I’ve been using Voxer, which makes me wonder why you want two apps instead of one? Different capabilities? (I don’t use WhatsApp) Or just prioritization? i.e. check Voxer before WhatsApp because TechStars stuff is usually more important?

    • http://techstars.com/ DavidCohen

      voxer=internal, whatsapp=external – it just keeps me sane. if someone uses the other that’s fine, so it’s really just a preference.

  • Mike Smith

    Hi Dave
    I think you may like a site we put together recently:
    http://www.RateFacebook.com

  • James Brooks

    You might want to give HeyWire a try. It does Voice Chats like Voxer and allows OTT app-to-app communication like WhatsApp as well as letting you communicate with any smart phone in the world. (You get a real US phone number to use for unlimited SMS)

    • http://techstars.com/ DavidCohen

      thanks, i’ll take a look!