I'm Ricky, the founder of Water Cooler. I built Water Cooler to help bridge the gap between async written communication (Slack, email, etc) and live meetings.
As many companies suddenly shifted to remote work, I noticed a growing trend of leaving a Zoom meeting on in the background all day. In other cases, teams are scheduling constant back to back meetings. The reason for this is because teams suddenly needed to find a way to recreate the more informal, spontaneous conversation that you normally get from people being in the same physical location. The issue with this is they were using software designed for meetings to recreate something that happens almost exclusively outside of meetings.
The hope is that Water Cooler's always available rooms will offer distributed teams a more natural way to communicate. And all are voice only by default, so there's less of a draw to stare at our app all day (we want people to work, not stare at Water Cooler non-stop).
A bit about our security in light of everything happening with Zoom: All voice and video data is transmitted via WebRTC and is encrypted on the wire. We use Janus for our SFU (https://janus.conf.meetecho.com/index.html) which is open source and plan on enabling end to end encryption (for everyone, not just the paid users) later this year/early next year via insertable streams. Obviously, we'll be limited to offering this in our desktop app and newer versions of Chrome for the time being, but hopefully that won't be the case for long.
We opened up Water Cooler to anyone without an invite two weeks ago and currently have about 35 teams using it. Would love to know what you guys think!
Overall though, I think the amount of satisfaction (or frustration) you get out of any work place communication app is largely dependent on your management and work environment. If they’re that concerned about you needing to stay logged into an app all day (be it Slack, Water Cooler, etc.) and not about your work output, then it might be time to reconsider your options.
It’s not like making Nukes kind of tech where the harm is very obvious and people restrain themselves from making it in general.
It’s like farming/industrial revolution/social media kind of irreversible change where people actually welcome it and realize the evils a few (or a few hundred) years later.
That said, power to you if it catches on because If this succeeds and you make a ton of money, you will not be needing to be part of any room while you will be enjoying the money you earned by making the few productive office workers’ day less productive and more annoying while making countless believe-anything office workers‘ “feel” they are more productive.
With that said, we're actually still finishing up the billing system so anyone signing up right now gets an extended free trial until then. I'll make a note to further advertise the initial free trial though because it's easy to miss at the moment.
However, even at the current $8/month price it's still highly profitable as far as the infrastructure goes. The voice/video servers run on Digital Ocean, so the servers themselves are pretty affordable and the bandwidth is dirt cheap. Additionally, most of our users have kept it audio only (the default setting) so far which obviously requires less resources to process.
What would you say are the advantages of Water Cooler over Discord?
Long term, we'll be adding in more enterprise features like user permissions, multiple teams within an organization, SSO, and a live broadcast feature that lets you do an all-hands with your entire organization.
If no encryption is present then why wouldn't I use Discord which also has features like screen sharing?
Congrats on launch!
Essentially, we use WebRTC for the voice/video and everything is encrypted on the wire. Goal is to roll out E2E later this year/early next year via insertable streams. That will be available to everyone, not just the paying customers.
I would note though that currently none of the big meeting software offers E2E encryption, except Webex I believe. Discord included, they only offer encryption on the wire.
I think the long term answer to the Discord question though is that many large organizations are 1) not going to trust a consumer product and 2) we’ll eventually offer the user administration you need to really handle 100’s if employees that Discord doesn’t have. Discord could be great for small teams here and there, but it’s still a consumer product first.
Remote Hour looks really cool for the freelancer use case. Nice job on winning Pioneer! I was able to crack the top 25 with my last project but was always passed over on the review.