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Sidecar App Re-Imagines Mobile Phone Calls With a Flurry of Clever Features

•, By Steven Levy
 You start over, of course. It’s also known as “the pivot.” The overheated Internet space is based on catching lightning, and if the skies aren’t tossing bolts, you pick up your rod and head for another field. In a tech environment where you can go from pivot to a billion dollars in barely a year, perseverance is lunacy.

That was the reality facing Socialeyes, a startup co-founded by Rob Glaser (former CEO of Real Networks) and Rob Williams (the one-time Microsoft wizard involved in numerous startups, including Avogadro). The company’s idea to deliver persistent video connections between friends and workers wasn’t breaking out. “A VC looks for home runs,” says Williams. “We didn’t have that.”

“We’d raised $5 million [from Ignition Ventures],” says Glaser. “We could stick it out, or hard pivot.”

They chose to seek the lightning. Glaser came up with a new idea: Putting muscle into the phone call, or “reimagining telephony,” as he puts it. And Socialeyes adopted a new name, too — Sidecar.
Along with the new idea, embodied in a free app available today for iOS and Android, comes a compelling pitch: “In smartphones, all the innovation so far has been in data,” says Williams. “We want to let you use the capabilities of your phone into the calling experience.”

Sidecar actually offers two kinds of service to its users. First of all, it’s an alternative to actually paying for phone calls. Sidecar VOIP calls are free. This works not only when Sidecar users call others signed up for the no-cost service, but when they use Sidecar to call anyone in the United States or Canada

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