Send voice messages without calling, and listen to them from a phone–or a laptop.
By Larry Aragon
Founding date: 2005
Funding amount: $11 million
Worldwide, people sent 1.9 trillion text messages last year. That’s a lot of tedious triple-tapping on mobile phones, and it’s not free. Pinger, a startup in San Jose, CA, is giving us a voice version of text messaging that’s Web accessible, so picking up messages need not trigger mobile-phone charges.
Pinger lets you send voice messages without calling (and interrupting) the recipient. Instead, you speak a name or phone number into your cell phone and then leave your message, which sits on Pinger’s servers. A text notification lets the recipient know that a voice message can be picked up by phone or on Pinger’s website. Pinger cofounder Joe Sipher, a former executive at smart-phone maker Palm, describes the service as “noninterruptive voice mail.”
Sipher and cofounder Greg Woock conceived of Pinger as a quick, practical way for businesspeople to leave messages. But its biggest fans are turning out to be women between 15 and 25–a possible sign that it could become an important Web 2.0 tool. And since these eager voice messagers provide personal information upon sign-up, Pinger can make money by selling that information to companies that do targeted mobile-phone advertising. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have launched similar offerings.
Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, which incubated and funded Pinger, says that because Pinger built its service with free or low-cost open-source software, it can quickly add or change features. In Komisar’s view, that flexibility could allow Pinger to adjust more nimbly than larger competitors.