An early YouTube employee just launched an app that lets you call complete strangers

Brent hurley David Huynh saymoreBrent HurleySayMore co-founders Brent Hurley and David Huynh

Brent Hurley, one of YouTube’s original founding members, first got the idea for his new app, SayMore, when he was on a flight to Boston.

“I was seated next to an older gentleman. We kind of struck up a conversation and then talked for the entire flight — I learned all about his life, talked about all these interesting things, and then kind of went our separate ways after the plane landed,” he says.

“I think a lot of people have had similar experiences, but they’re very spontaneous and kind of few and far between, so I was wondering if we could use technology to make that accessible, more on-demand.”

Hurley’s new app, SayMore, is what Hurley calls a “talking network.” The app lets you talk to strangers who you’re connected to by mutual interests — things like parenting or tech, for example — on the phone, through the app. Previous attempts at real-time anonymous communication, like ChatRoulette and Omegle, lost their flair with users; SayMore attempts to pair up users based on mutual interests to keep conversations flowing.

Instead of using your phone number, conversations are conducted through the app. You make a profile, select your interests, and calls use either your data plan or WiFi, but not your cell plan’s talk time minutes.

Hurley says he’s raised a small friends and family round of funding for the app, and its backers include a bunch of early YouTubers like Brent’s brother, co-founder Chad Hurley, early YouTube CFO Gideon Yu, and Chris Maxcy, the company’s first business hire.

To combat abuse, Hurley says SayMore lets you decline calls, block specific users, and flag users for the app’s moderators to review as well.

Hurley says he anticipates three main demographics using his app: stay-at-home mums who are looking for intelligent conversation during the day, daily commuters who have time to kill on their way to and from the office, and digital natives. “Even though consensus says people don’t talk on their phones anymore and text has killed the phone call, we do believe that if they try the app and they have their first phone call, based on testing people say it’s a refreshing, cool experience and we think this will just give them a new outlet to share,” Hurley says.

Instead of having your social interactions “indexed in perpetuity” like they are on existing social networks, Hurley says, he sees SayMore as part of an anti-social network trend. SayMore is ephemeral; after you finish your conversation with someone, you hang up, rate the person you talked to, and then it’s on to the next conversation. Hurley says that in the future, he’s looking to add the ability to friend people you’ve spoken to on the app. You’ll only be able to friend people after you have a conversation with them, he says.

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