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Ex-Googlers are bringing Google-y best practices with them to Silicon Valley startups. Latest example: Imo.im, a new company started by some former Google employees showcases how to launch early, then iterate often in a product launch with one — or in this case, two — killer features.
Until last Friday, the Palo Alto, Calif., company has offered an instant-messager aggregator, similar to sites like Meebo or eBuddy. It has added a way to easily start chatting with your IM frieds via a web camera, a one-click way for web cam owners to video-chat with each other that’s directly connected to your IM networks. One person starts video-chatting, they invite another friend via an invite button on the imo.im site and the invitee receives a link to join. You can also paste in a link. The invitee sees an option to start video-chatting, with no download. The only requirement is that you have Flash 8.
If you want to do three-way video chat, the first two chatters need to each open a separate window with the third person — a triangular conversation, with each person having two chat screens open (see screenshot).
There are a number of other startups working on video chat services. Most recently, we’ve covered video chat service Tokbox.
The second killer feature: Imo.im has been testing out a way to let you have a group conversation across multiple IM networks. Meebo, for example, needs you to create a separate Meebo site ID to chat with people. Imo.im has taken this feature offline while they improve it.
The company’s site has been up for around six months and has more than 70,000 active users. The interface is simple and gets the job done, but is headed for more iterations. The audio and video breaks up at some points during conversations, although that problem can also be related to the quality of your internet connection.
It also has a Facebook application.
The early-launch tactic can also be seen in another Google-y startup, Mogad, a social bookmarking site built around the concept of a well-designed feed of popular news, somewhat similar to Facebook’s news feed.
The company has received angel funding from co-founder Georges Harik, one of the first ten Google employees.