Wednesday , September 1 2021

Macro relaunches its Zoom skin to focus on self-expression and inclusion

Productivity has been a focal point for many enterprise businesses since before the pandemic hit, and even more so since its onset. But Macro founders Ankith Harathi and John Keck are taking a different tack.

The startup’s Zoom SDK-powered product has been reimagined by its team, and is relaunching today.

When Macro first launched into beta, with $4.3 million in seed capital led by FirstMark, the idea was that Zoom calls lacked the infrastructure to be truly useful (and equitable). As a solution, the company created a Zoom overlay that allowed users to type in action items, takeaways, etc. right in the call. Macro would then transfer all that information into a Google Doc and send it to attendees.

The product also gave users the option to choose their layout, including a skin that would just show thumbnails of attendees over the browser or application of choice, rather than taking up the whole screen. It even had a feature called Airtime that showed how much each individual was talking during a meeting, ensuring that everyone’s voices are heard.

It’s that final feature, and the feedback of Macro users, that culminated in this relaunch. Shifting away from its early productivity bend, Macro is now focusing on self-expression.

“We believe that the future of video communications, one of our most intimate forms of communication, will be super personalized. You and I are fundamentally very different people,” Harathi said to me over Zoom. “But we are in the Zoom era, and we’re all using the same really generic interface regardless of how different we are.”

The new Macro allows users to personalize their interface and express themselves, using shapes, colors, filters and more. In fact, the company is working alongside some big-name artists (TBA) to offer users special reactions within their Zoom calls. Whether or not other members of the call are using Macro, they’ll still see you the way you present yourself using the service.

Some features from the original iteration of Macro remain, such as Airtime. Harathi and Keck explained to TechCrunch that the main feedback they received on the product at launch, back in July of 2020, was that its features around self-expression and inclusivity were resonating the most with users, and that few folks were actually making use of the service’s productivity suite.

Macro is also reintroducing the skin that allowed users to hang out (and see each other in Zoom) while working collaboratively in some other application, calling it Rooms. Macro currently works with MacOS.

The company is keeping its bottoms-up approach to growth, offering the product for free to anyone who wants to use it, without having to get an entire organization on board.

Macro is riding the Zoom wave as the video conferencing behemoth shifts focus to its app ecosystem. Harathi and Keck believe that Macro is to video conferencing what Superhuman is to email, with the main caveat being that Macro is doubling down on self-expression over productivity.

They believe that the UI winner has a lot to gain as the protocol of video meetings continues to prosper, and the company is aiming to be that winner.

This Article was first published on https://techcrunch.com/

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