Around: Reinventing Communication for the New Hybrid Workplace

Zach DeWitt | March 2, 2021

When COVID arrived last March, millions of people suddenly needed a way to collaborate at a distance. They reached for familiar tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and BlueJeans. But they quickly discovered that being on camera all day made them feel tired and anxious — the infamous ‘Zoom fatigue’ we’ve come to know all too well.

It turns out, there’s a scientific basis for that feeling. Research suggests humans aren’t built to be so close up and present, in each other’s faces all day the way they are in traditional video calls.

Yet eye contact and non-verbal communication have real value. And remote work isn’t going anywhere, with companies like Salesforce giving employees the option to work from home, the office, or a mix of the two.

Over the past year, we’ve seen the emergence of a go-to “remote stack”: products like Miro, Figma and Google Docs. But we still need a more human-centric way to communicate as we get things done—tools that make us feel energized and creative the entire day, no matter where we happen to be.

Enter Around.

Around is video calling designed from the ground-up for the new hybrid workplace, where people are just as likely to work from home as they are from the office. Instead of taking up an entire screen, Around creates a communications layer that effervescently floats atop open applications, minimizing visual distractions and automatically filtering out audio clutter like sirens, laptop fans and barking dogs, so you and your teammates can focus on what needs doing.

There’s a joyous and almost magical quality to Around that you only see in products made by companies obsessed with getting the details right. A great example is Around’s proprietary EchoTerminator technology, which enables multiple people to be on the same Around session while sitting in the same room — no squalls of feedback, no huddling around a single laptop with an open mic. It solves a problem so ingrained in conference calls, most people don’t even think about it. But Around did. And it just works.

Similarly, while Around’s anti-fatigue filters add a fun splash of color to conversations, they also serve a more serious purpose. They are carefully calibrated to reduce the sense of presence just enough to avoid tiring callers out, while also making them feel less self-conscious about their appearance — a persistent problem with traditional video-calling products.

When we first met Dominik Zane (CEO) and Pavel Serbajlo (CTO), we were blown away by the team’s deep and nuanced understanding of remote work. Dominik and Pavel are not only product-obsessed and accomplished second-time founders, but they are mission-driven as they have worked remotely for 15+ years. Around has always been a fully distributed and remote team and lives and breathes their product every day.

I am proud to announce that Wing has led Around’s Series A. On behalf of Wing, I will be joining Around’s board of directors. We are thrilled to be working with our friends Mike Maples (Floodgate), Garry Tan (Initialized), Jason Spinell (Slack Fund), Brian O'Malley (Forerunner) and many talented angels who believe in Around’s mission, including Naval Ravikant and Ryan Hoover (Weekend Fund). Consistent with our firm’s thesis, we believe that the Modern Enterprise will be powered on Around.

The early interest in Around has been incredible, with over 10,000 teams using the product so far, and countless more ready to pour in now that the product is available in public beta.

If you’re feeling uninspired and burnt out with today’s collaboration tools, don’t waste a second. Sign up for Around here and follow the team’s progress on Twitter. And if you’re interested in joining this truly remarkable and talented team, please apply here.

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