Your friend sends you a video message asking you to go to a Drake concert that night.
The moment the word “Drake” is said, the Canadian rapper’s name appears to the left of the video with a link to check out his music on Spotify. Another link appears with directions to the concert venue.
That’s the experience a new app called Tribe describes as “augmented messaging.”
The new Tribe 2.0 app, which was released in the App Store and on Google Play Wednesday, lets you send 15-second video clips and video chat in groups. Its augmented messaging feature then surfaces relevant information next to video messages whenever a celebrity, brand, or location is said aloud.
Tribe founder Cyril Paglino talked to Business Insider about why his startup, fresh off a $3 million seed round investment led by Sequoia Capital, will succeed in a crowded market already dominated by apps like Snapchat, Musical.ly, and Instagram.
From France to San Francisco
Paglino came up with the idea for Tribe last year after creating a failed photo messaging app called Pleek and a small ad tech company that was acquired in 2013.
The French native then moved to San Francisco in September 2015 to live and work on Tribe with eight other guys out of a large house in the posh Noe Valley neighbourhood.
“We’re really lucky to be there,” Paglino said during a recent interview. “It’s really cool.”
He thinks that Tribe, which has around 500,000 users who are mostly between the ages of 12 and 25, could be for video messaging what Snapchat originally was for sharing disappearing photos.
“I think video will be the main medium [of communication] really soon,” he said. “It will be more and more convenient to use video to talk.”
He argues that, thanks to its Story functionality, Snapchat has evolved into much more than an app for communicating directly with friends. Tribe wants to fill that perceived hole again.
“Snapchat is no longer a messaging app,” he said. “It’s a broadcasting platform for user content.”
Besides group messaging (a feature many Snapchat users have wanted for years), Tribe also sets itself apart with what it calls augmented messaging, or the ability to integrate outside information into a video message.
To power the feature, Tribe uses Google’s TensorFlow machine learning API and natural language processing techniques to scan the audio in video messages and look for keywords. Once the video is viewed by its intended recipient, the message is deleted from Tribe’s servers.
Bringing in outside information gives Tribe the ability to creatively integrate all kinds of other apps into video chatting. Uber, for example, can be accessed within Tribe whenever someone mentions a location.
Paglino said he could one day start charging a company like Yelp to become the official provider for information about places in Tribe. But for now, he said his team is heads down on creating an app that people want to use.
“We like to call it an experiment,” he said.
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