If you think you’ve got your messaging app needs covered, try a “walkie talkie for videos” on for size. Tribe is an alternative to text messaging and live video chat – users can chat via 15-second ephemeral video messages that can be picked up at their convenience, and disappear after viewing. Messages can be sent either to anyone in your phonebook, or to contacts added by their unique user pincodes – which, among other benefits, exists to “Keep some privacy when you meet people in a bar or on Tinder”. Brownie points for being super-current.
And no, apparently, it’s not the same thing as Snapchat. Founder Cyril Paglino sees Snapchat as having departed the messaging space, and he is emphatic that Tribe exists purely to facilitate simple, accessible communication. “It’s so simple to use and beautifully designed that it allows you to save time and enjoy more real, fun, and natural conversations.” He uses the term “walkie talkie” to describe the app’s value prop – based on my communication with him via the app, where he was frequently using it on the fly (I think he may have been on a boat one time), it’s clear it fits his lifestyle perfectly.
Creating a global tribe
Acquiring 200,000 users with 25% week-on-week growth is a clear indicator that he’s onto something. From app store, where users are treated to the bright, friendly interface and super-tight branding, to mobile, which offers easy-to-grasp UX, bug-free messaging and high quality videos, Tribe is pretty irresistible.
End-to-end, great communication and accessibility are of primary importance for Paglino. A key attribute is that Tribe can be used anywhere, by anyone, from frequent travelers to users in “VOiP-blocked countries where they can’t have regular live video conversations”. He also ensures that he is easily reachable by all Tribe users directly from the home screen, much like Tom from MySpace. While Tribe clearly succeeds on its own merits by being a slick, easy-to-use app, Paglino’s high social media profile coupled with the “Chat with the CEO” feature can’t have hurt their marketing, either. They’re clearly doing a lot of things right. Tribe’s appeal is global – it was featured by Apple in their app store only one week post-launch, and it recently shot to the top of India’s charts.
Though they’ve been in the Valley since the start, Tribe’s team is decidedly French, and proud of it. They’ve only made one local hire since arriving in the US, and the app has been created entirely by their French devs. The whole team live and work together in exactly the kind of sprawling house you’d picture in San Francisco, and Paglino is frequently seen on social media checking into numerous Unicorn HQs such as Facebook and YouTube. Speaking to Paglino, it’s clear that Tribe is very much reppin’ the French scene out in the US – and, clearly, having a blast while they’re doing it. Who can blame them?
Experiencing experiental messaging
Coordinating an interview across timezones proved tricky at first, until in a lightbulb moment of epically “duh” proportions I realized I was talking to the founder of an asynchronous messaging app that was created precisely to address this kind of problem. When I proposed interviewing him via his own app, Cyril was more than game – and the 15-second rapid fire Q&A proved to be a pretty fun way to get down to brass tacks.
After our chat, Paglino took us on a tour round the Tribe house to show us where they live and work. Lucky for us we’re in the most beautiful city in the world, otherwise we might feel just a bit jealous.
American dream, anyone?