15 Years After We Predicted, Voice Communities Arrive Thanks to Twitter but Really Twilio

Fifteen years ago we were sure voice communities would flourish. The purchase of Skype by eBay in 2005 made it obvious that voice integration in online communities was coming. We saw it natural that Skype would be the bridge between buyers and sellers and they would communicate when they had questions.

We thought all media sites such as newspapers, etc., would allow these communities so people could share recordings, etc.

Andrew Sviridenko the Chairman of Spirit DSP had a similar vision and mentioned to me that in a restaurant at the time that you have a lot of people but they are broken into groups of 2-5 people having conversations. The same will happen online.

For fifteen years, we thought we just made a huge mistake.

We realize now Twilio did allow voice-enablement in the Uber community a few years ago… Allowing anonymous calls between users and drivers turned out to be a game-changer.

Now, Twitter will allow 140-second voice recordings in the place of written tweets. We thought this would have happened back in 2005 but better late than never.

Maya Patterson and Rémy Bourgoin explain on the Twitter blog that voice is needed because 280 characters arent always enough. They think this new feature will lead to a more human experience and we agree. We love it and think it is great.

In case you are wondering – it is currently only available to select users on iOS devices. Thankfully we were among the lucky people selected as you can see (and hear) above.

We elaborated on our prediction in 2005 and said:

I guarantee that if FIFA, the World Cup organization was to have voice debates on topics like “is Brazil the team that will win the cup this year?” people will listen and try to get in on the conversation. Will people pay for the privilege? Possibly but I see voice communities as being ad sponsored on sites that don’t already have transact ecommerce.

Sadly, this never happened. Perhaps it will now.

Reading old posts can be quite humbling – we are often thought of as contrarian and this has proven to be right the vast majority of the time. This prediction below however was embarrassingly wrong. We still stand by the idea the merger made sense – the execution was another story.

Amazingly, I am the only person I know who thinks the eBay/Skype deal was smart. Others are telling me that eBay has money to burn and isn’t sure of what it’s doing. I have probably spoken with 20 people on this topic so I am really amazed that no one agrees with me.


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