The News: Yac Inc., an online voice message and asynchronous communications platform, announced it had recently raised $7.5 million in venture funding led by GGV Capital with additional investment from the Slack Fund, who also invested in 2020. Yac is currently developing one of the most efficient audio communication platforms for remote teams. Yac will use the investment for product development and growth. The company expects to continue scaling its distributed teams across go-to-market, product, engineering, and operations functions. Read the press release from Yac here.
Yac Inc. Raises $7.5M from GGV Capital & Slack for Voice-based Collaboration
Analyst Take: It seems that voice is hot again. From the meteoric hype (and risky nature) of Clubhouse to the myriad of pandemic-fueled video and voice communications apps, people want to hear the sound of another’s voice. But Yac (which stands for Yelling Across Cubicles) is a little different. It’s a voice-based messaging platform that has built its way into the workgroup collaboration space by leading with the one thing many collaboration tools lack — asynchronous voice.
Launched in 2018, the company has a fairly decent suite to offer, from mobile and desktop apps to its integration into Slack’s collaboration tools. From a feature perspective it offers the essential file/link/screen sharing and speech-to-text features that make voice messages easily consumed and searchable — all the types of features that voice mail has lacked forever. This investment round will certainly help it expand its development efforts.
Why Does Asynchronous Voice Make Sense?
So, why does asynchronous voice make sense? We are asynchronous communicators. Even in a hyper-connected, real-time world we still communicate asynchronously with a passion. We email, we text, we post, we read, we ponder, and we reply. And there’s context in your voice — text-based messaging found in most collaboration tools often lacks the nuances that a voice can convey (sure, you can go ALL CAPS or emoji, but there are times when voice is more efficient, appropriate, and just makes sense).
Despite the rise of digital collaboration and communications tools, we still make phone calls and we still leave voice mail — it’s natural, and it’s missing in many collaboration tools.
The Slack Effect
As an investor, GGV Capital is an impressive lead, with prior investments in firms like Peloton, Pandora, Giphy, Zendesk, Agora.io, and, of course, Slack. But it’s the Slack connection that we find compelling.
As deals go (and compared to its pending acquisition by Salesforce), Slack’s investment in Yac is a small one, listed as “an additional investment from the Slack Fund” (Slack also previously invested $500,000 in late 2020). But the Slack Fund is more than just money, it’s a vehicle for Slack to expand its R&D efforts into emerging companies that are pushing the boundaries of collaboration in ways that are potentially synergistic with Slack’s future.
More of a potential partnership, Slack’s investment provides Yac access to a larger market, one that could be amplified when the Salesforce deal closes later this year (pending review from the Antitrust Division of the DOJ).
We are Diverse and Collaborate in Our Own Ways
As we’ve written previously, collaboration is hot with over three-quarters of enterprises increasing their use of collaboration tools (above plan) during the past year — and we anticipate that trend to continue to accelerate as hybrid/remote teams continue to dominate the workforce in the post-pandemic world. But when it comes to voice, those collaboration tools largely focus on integrating voice (or video) calling features, overlooking the use of voice as a way to offer a richer, asynchronous type of messaging. and completely ignoring the value of using embedded voice/text in interesting ways to improve the speed of collaboration and idea exchanges.
We all collaborate in different ways and integrating voice-based messaging may not be right for all organizations. And for those that do, asynchronous voice messaging may be more of a feature than a stand-alone app. That said, there’s some real potential in Yac — they’ve managed to bring some simplicity and attention to the opportunity with the backing of solid venture capital and investment partners.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
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We explored collaboration trends and UCC platforms in a recently published research report done in partnership with Cisco. You can find that here: Research Report: Unified Communications and Collaboration: the Essential Differentiators for 2020 and Beyond