Pace x Pace

Posted on December 15, 2021. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In 2009 a website hacked together by two teenagers in Russia took the world by storm. The premise was simple: you could visit the site, enable your webcam, and the service would drop you and a random stranger into a live video conversation. It was a phenomenon. Venture capitalists salivated…and then came…the male nudity…I was going to write that that was the end of the story, but after a quick google, it turns out this site is still live and connects over 1 million people a month…it’s called Chatroulette.

Chatroulette struck a chord because it spoke to something fundamental in all human beings: we seek connection. While the webcams sucked, and the internet was too slow, the live video based primitive, when paired with a very simple discovery mechanic (the random function), ignited the possibility in people’s minds that they could have rich, live conversations with strangers on the internet. They could find a friend, romantic partner, thought partner, shared laugh…whatever…they could connect.

Without sufficient guard rails to prevent nudity, abuse, etc., Chatroulette devolved into what the internet is very good at. But in its wake, Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning emerged with a new service called Airtime. Airtime’s premise was that if they could overlay Facebook data atop Chatroulette’s core live video primitive, they could address two important issues and deliver on Chatroulette’s promise of connecting strangers through live video. First, they could expose shared FB interests to the strangers in a conversation. Maybe that would solve the “what do we talk about” question. Second, by layering FB identity atop the network, they could create a safer environment for people to converse. Also didn’t work. Right idea, just not enough to get people “there.”

So where is “there?” “There” is where you go from sitting on your living room couch alone to immersion in a substantive live conversation with someone you didn’t know before while never changing out of your sweatpants. “There” is where you truly connect with strangers. “There” is an incremental relationship. A new friend. An inspiring conversation. An educational moment. A vulnerable moment. “There” is real relationships…forming online…with people you didn’t know before. It’s telepresence. It’s connectedness on demand. It’s the live video based antidote to isolation.

This year we led the Series A and I serve on the board of a company called Pace Groups (no relation) that I believe is “there.” I didn’t know it was going to be “there” when I joined my first group…I thought Pace Groups is about mental health…this must be like therapy…or therapy light…or something like that. I knew it was live video based, facilitated conversations, but the vibe isn’t therapy at all. Is Pace Groups good for my mental health? Totally…but primarily because it’s been a place to meet and form real connection with strangers on the internet. They did it…I went from putting in a credit card to making a real friend in a matter of weeks…and that friend happens to be a 75 year old widower in Northern California…to me that’s just amazing.

Jack and Cat are exceptional entrepreneurs and I am so glad to have a front row seat as they work to scale “there” to hundreds of millions of people. If you are looking to join an awesome team, Jack ran product and Pinterest and Affirm and Cat ran growth at Pinterest…they’re kind people and super super experienced and sharp. Happy to intro: jordan@pacecapital.com.

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Jordon — the thing I love most is how your curiosity remains undiminished, g


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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)

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