Mar 9, 2021 - Economy & Business

Spot raises $1.9 million to bring back conference calls

Illustration of person holding a phone with an uber-like app with an office chair

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Spot, a new startup born after nearly a year of incessant Zoom video calls, has raised $1.9 million in new funding led by Chapter One for a voice conference call alternative with some bells and whistles.

Why it matters: When the pandemic sent everyone to work from home, many workers seemed to forget that phone calls exist, opting instead to turn every work conversation into a videoconference.

The idea behind Spot is to make it possible for users to take "walking meetings" instead of being glued to computer screens all day, co-founder Greg Caplan tells Axios.

  • Recent research from Stanford University showed that decreased mobility, prolonged self-monitoring and increased cognitive load from video make Zoom calls significantly more exhausting for workers.

How it works: Spot, which launches in beta Tuesday with a free app for iOS (you can also dial in from the web), is similar to the familiar conference call. But it includes a clever feature that lets users quickly request a transcript of the last 30 seconds by saying: “Spot, fetch!”

  • To do this, Spot records every phone call, though participants can turn that off. (However, once recording is turned off, the transcription feature won't work.)
  • Spot is using Google's voice transcription software for the transcripts, with data saved securely in the cloud, which users can access later to grab notes from their calls, for example.
  • The company plans to generate revenue eventually by charging for premium options, and aims its product at business users.

The bottom line: Conference calls are nothing new. But after a year of never-ending video chats, workers might be eager to bring them back.

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