Tim Campos thinks calendars are broken. As Facebook’s former chief information officer, he would know; for six years, he coordinated countless conference calls and boardroom meetings across calendar platforms that were woefully “inflexible” and “stagnant.”
“There’s a bunch of things calendars don’t do,” Campos told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “They actually don’t coordinate, which is surprising because we think of calendaring as an activity, but coordination is actually done over email and text. … We surprisingly don’t use calendars to prep and follow up from meetings — we use other tools for that. And you can’t even go to the calendar to ask questions about how you’re spending [your time].”
Those and other grievances led Campos and Burc Arpat, a former engineering lead at Facebook and Google, to create Woven, an “intelligent” calendar for knowledge workers. Their Mountain View startup company of the same name today announced a $4.8 million seed funding round led by Battery Ventures, with participation from Amplify Partners, Felicis Ventures, and other undisclosed individual investors.
“Tim and Burc are among the smartest minds in tech. At Facebook and Google, they both were intimately involved in driving workplace productivity to best-in-class levels — now, they’re doing the same thing for all of us by tackling time management more broadly,” Dharmesh Thakker, general partner at Battery Ventures, said. “Today’s launch of the Woven app is just the beginning of a complete re-think around scheduling, and using AI to dramatically improve productivity.”
Toward that end, the Woven Calendar app, which is available for free starting this week on the web and iOS, connects G Suite (and soon Office 365) to a proprietary graph technology that can be “easily connected” to other entities, Campos said — even other calendars. The Woven Calendar enables users to attach things like emails, agendas, and documents to a calendar event, either through a conversational bot that recognizes natural language requests or manually, guided by Woven’s artificially intelligent (AI) suggestions engine.
“The area that we’re focused on is time as an information asset,” Campos said. “[Our] solution starts with a premise that calendars aren’t going away — that what Microsoft and Google have built with their calendar products … are likely here to stay.”
Woven Calendar behaves like a plugin at first blush, and that impression is not entirely inaccurate. On the web, a sidebar with a handful of shortcut icons extends from the left of the screen, partially obscuring the Calendar adjacent to it. But it’s a lot more sophisticated than meets the eye.
Proposed meetings between two people — kicked off either from within the Woven Calendar app or with an email forward to the aforementioned chatbot (email@example.com) — show up in Draft Events, an ongoing list of agenda items that have yet to be formally scheduled. Each entry contains timestamped email threads regarding the meeting brought in from Gmail, which can be acted upon at will.
Woven suggests dates and meeting lengths based on mutual availability and learned preferences (thanks to AI), but unlike X.ai and other automated meeting schedulers, it doesn’t periodically ping parties who haven’t settled on a time. That was a conscious design decision, Campos explained.
“We believe that calendaring is a social activity,” he said. “We think it’s important to maintain the relationship between people and not necessarily introduce technology between us, but more alongside us.”
The minute a meeting is penciled in, all folks involved get a notification via the Woven Calendar app, text, and/or email. And from those meetings, Woven creates a geographical view on top of Google maps, highlighting each physical meeting place and the optimal routes among them.
Phone numbers or videoconferencing bridges in the location field get automatically picked out and turned into a link, and in the future, Woven’s bot will gain the ability to add conference bridges to calendar entries.
“I can see what the impact will be from a travel perspective,” Campos said. “I know what my day is going to look like.”
So what about last-minute cancellations? Woven has those covered, too. Unscheduling an event through the Woven Calendar removes it from all calendars and reinstates it as a draft event, preserving the associated information — including attachments, the original time suggestions, and even the email threads.
Woven will always offer a free tier, Campos said, but a few future capabilities — like integrations with third-party systems and apps — will be put behind a paywall. One in the works are analytics: Woven one day might serve up historical and actional insights about meeting participants, such as how many times they’ve met with each other before.
And eventually, Campos hopes to offer custom variants of its graph technology to enterprises.
“[Our] long-term [business] model is to … use the Woven Calendar as sort of a lead-in that gives people the opportunity to play around with some of the features,” he said. “You can imagine giving something like this to companies that are very constrained when it comes to conference room or facilities. Finding a room is very difficult for people without admins, and a technology like this can make that really, really simple.”