Tribe video chat transcribes speech into subtitles and suggested links

Tribe video chat transcribes speech into subtitles and suggested links

Posted 16 seconds ago by Josh Constine (@joshconstine)
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Tribe’s voice recognition video chat technology could make Snapchat and Facebook Messenger look outdated. That tech also attracted a $3 million seed round led by prestigious VC Sequoia, its first seed investment of the year.

Today, Tribe’s one-touch video walkie talkie app launches a huge Version 2 update on iOS and Android powered by access to some unreleased Google voice APIs. You still hold down on a friend or group’s tile to send them a short, asynchronous video message. But no Tribe automatically adds subtitles to your video chats. And if it recognizes you’ve said a “Magic Word”, Tribe will offer a helpful related link.


Say “coffee” and Tribe offers a button to send a calendar request overlaid on your video chat. Say a celebrity’s name and it will link to their social media accounts. Products link to Amazon, locations link to maps, and songs playing in the background link to Spotify.

Cyril Paglino, CEO and Founder of Tribe, calls this “augmented messaging”. He built the features because “I want Tribe to be the most convenient app for me and my friends.”


Now the question is whether these features are enough to pull people away from the standard messaging apps they use like iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat. Those all do video, but Tribe wants to make the format the default way people communicate, with text just for when you have to be quiet or share details people need to copy down.

Tribe already has 500,000 downloads since launching in May, and now has 40,000 daily users. It built that community on a meager $500,000 seed round from Ludlow Ventures raised last October. But with the new cash from Sequoia, plus Ludlow, Partech Ventures, and Kima Ventures, Tribe is ready to challenge the world’s most powerful chat apps.

Tribe, Don’t Text

tribe-iphone-6-screenshot-5“Professional breakdancer” isn’t on the résumé of most startup founders, but that was actually how Paglino got the idea for Tribe. While signed with Redbull’s dance team, he traveled all over Europe making friends. But trying to keep up with them all over text messengers like WhatsApp was too slow. You can’t type as fast as you can think on mobile. But you can talk.

After building and selling a startup called Wizee in his home of France, Paglino realized he could build an app to solve his typing problem. With Tribe, instead of mashing out long text messages, you simply hold down on the screen, record a video message, and it’s instantly sent to friends.

Tribe is still video first, but it’s also adding a text option just in case you need to send someone something they’ll want to copy and paste, like a phone number or address. Tribe is also branching out from just being for personal contacts to allow Telegram-style public rooms. For now you’ll have to watch every video left in the room in order, but the startup is building feedback and ranking features to algorithmically show you the best ones first.

Tribe is betting that the shift to video will upend the chat apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp that are essentially desktop IRC programs ported to mobile. And with Snapchat’s increased focus on broadcasting of Stories, there’s a huge open space that Tribe and Sequoia think can be filled with a video walkie talkie that understands what you’re saying.

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