'WhatsApp For the Workplace' Cotap Adds Universal Chat Feature Accessible Via URLs

Cotap, the enterprise messaging app founded by ex-Yammer execs that bills itself as a 'WhatsApp for the workplace', has launched a new feature to expand the circle of people who use the app: it now lets others send messages to those users via a URL on Cotap.me, without having to download the app itself. It comes on the heels of a desktop app launch for the product in October that used some of the same functionality for Cotap-using work colleagues to communicate with each other when they were not on their mobile devices but at computers. Today's launch effectively lets anyone use the chat functionality of the app, by way of the custom URLs that individuals give out. Adding a web component to the app means that those who are Cotap users for work can now share their Cotap IDs with other people -- as they would, say, a Skype or email address or mobile number in their email signatures or business cards -- as a contact ID for anyone. While there are a number of apps in the market that are built around the principle of using a web interface to let people interact with native chat clients, a lot of these have been focused more on consumer rather than enterprise users. Part of Cotap's mission as a startup has been to tap into the trend for consumerization in business apps -- that is, taking features that are more common in consumer applications and bring them into its enterprise-focused application. This is one of those cases. Cotap says it has built the functionality itself. The idea behind the URL functionality is that while you may have set networks and ongoing conversations with work colleagues on Cotap, Cotap.me lets you bring in third parties into conversations, or simply use the platform as a place where others can chat with you as well if you are already spending a lot of time in the app. Giving out a Cotap URL instead of a phone number could also help people protect some of their privacy when it comes to interacting with non-work colleagues -- for example if the employee is working in customer service and doesn't want to share a phone number but wants to remain accessible to a customer, akin to how people use services like Dropbox or Google Drive to share documents with third parties. “Cotap.me is an easy way to make yourself instantly accessible to all of your business contacts, without needing to share your personal phone number or ask anyone to download a separate app. It’s a fast, convenient way to start a conversation or expedite an issue that is stuck in email,” said Jim Patterson, CEO and co-founder, Cotap, in a statement. “Today, you can share documents with your coworkers via URL with Box, Dropbox and Google Drive -- now, with Cotap.me, you can share conversations the same way.” In that regard, Cotap sits alongside services like Twilio as another alternative for how an enterprise might give customer service reps the ability to use their mobiles to communicate with customers without disclosing their own personal details. (Twilio achieves a similar end through different means: it provides enterprises with unique phone numbers that they can use to make calls or send texts to business relations.) Cotap has raised $15.5 million from CRV and Emergence Capital Partners. Patterson says that it's not disclosing the number of users it has yet but will have news on that soon.
Ingrid Lunden

Ingrid Lunden is a Writer at Gigabuzz, focused on covering early-stage startups, especially those with a technology focus and great perks.

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