Ex-Googlers Get Seed Funding, Launch Cord App to Make Gadgets Chatty

Sure, smartphones let people make calls, but text messages often dominate communication these days.

A duo who previously worked at Google Creative Lab in New York developed an app they believe will inject voice back into the conversation.

Brooklyn-based Cord Project released its Cord app last week for iOS devices, which lets people quickly record and send voice messages to one or more friends. The startup also last week announced it raised $1.8 million in a seed round co-led by Metamorphic Ventures and Lerer Ventures, with Google Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Slow Ventures, and others participating.

CEO Thomas Gayno says he and co-founder Jeff Baxter started Cord Project in April with the hopes of changing the way we communicate through gadgets. “The big mission is to get people to talk to each other again,” Gayno says.

If he has his way, Cord’s software will make its way into wearable devices, connected homes, the automotive world, and most any computing gadget that does not have a convenient keyboard.

The idea is to use audio as the new interface for devices, Gayno says. Some of the inspiration, he says, came from working alongside engineers during the development of Google Glass wearable technology. Gayno was senior marketing manager at Google Creative Lab, and Baxter was a creative lead. That experience, Gayno says, broached the idea of wearing a computer that has no keyboard.

On the one hand, Gayno sees a concentration of e-mail and text messages happening. On the other hand, more devices, such as smartwatches and Google Glass, are coming to market with limited space for manual controls. He sees a way for voice to become a means to transmit information, and not just as voicemail or Skype chats. “We think that audio is the new display,” Gayno says.

An Android version of Cord is in the works, he says, and the startup is looking to hire software engineers as it develops updates and new app launches.

David Hirsch, partner with Metamorphic Ventures, says Cord could cut down some of the static currently in the communication space. “If you think about messaging, there’s been so much velocity and noise,” he says. Also an ex-Googler, Hirsch says sharing a common work ethic with Gayno and Baxter helped make investing in Cord an easier decision for him.

Hirsch believes the many options for texting and sending multimedia such as video have cluttered what used to be a simple means of messaging. “The human nature of communication has gotten lost,” he says.

Hirsch says an audio product such as Cord is a refreshing addition to the technology scene, especially as connected devices make their way into more aspects of people’s lives. A long-term goal, he says, is to get Cord incorporated by manufacturers into their devices before they come to market. “We believe that audio and voice will be the stitching for an operating system of communication,” Hirsch says.

Trending on Xconomy