WebEX Hunting (PC Forum presenting startup: Convoq)

Convoq is a enhanced, online conference call software and service provider. Their Flash-based application allows people to do a) instant messenger, b) audio/video conferencing and c) application sharing (i.e. we all edit a WORD document live on my machine).

Of course these features have existed stand-alone, and many instant messengers do two out of the three features above, but I’m not sure I know of a program that has pulled all these features togethercertainly not in non-download, web format.

If I were to invite someone to a web conference they would get an instant message with a URL. Clicking on the URL that would take them to a webpage that automatically loads the Flash application and dumps you into the application. This, of course, is predicated on them having Flash which most people do.

Jeremy Allaire is and investor and on the board of the company (Allaire was formerly the CTO of Macromedia, the makers of Flash. He joined Macromedia when they bought his company). Allaire being involved is a major stamp of approval.

The company aspires to be a WebEX killer. Of course, if this is to replace WebEX the customers involved have to a) have very high-speed connections (low speed DSL wouldn’t be fun, dialup is out of the question), b) very stable and strong machines that can handle a heavy Flash application and c) have a headset (have you ever tried VOIP with someone using a stick microphone and speakers? It’s horrible).

They are trying to undercut WebEX by charging people $149.95 a year for almost unlimited calling up to 25 people per web-conference call. Bulk pricing is available.

Additionally, they are putting people’s presence on their blogs/website. Imagine a box/link that says “talk to me” on the menu bar of your blog that let people either a) contract you immediately or b) send you a note when you get back on that lets you click to talk (i.e. someone could come to your blog, IM you in the middle of the night when you’re offline and when you turn on your computer in the morning you get a message that says “Jeremy IMed you at 3:24AM and would like to talk to you. Click here to IM him.”

Another clever idea is having “lifelines” which are basically groups of people that can help you with something (i.e. 100 customer support reps would answer one IM link on an ecommerce site). Of course, this has existed for years and years (check: LivePerson, 1998).

At the demo they showed integrating their software with LinkedIn, blogs and Orkut. Under each person’s name there is an “ASAP” link that lets you IM them instantly.

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