The discussion in startup space has switched from creating in public to, OK, let's work things out inside before broadcasting to the people.
At least, this is what we can gather from the growth narrative of Murmur, a company that aims to simplify decision-making for private businesses. Murmur, founded by entrepreneur Aaron Dignan, debuted its closed beta in 2021, intending to create a public forum of private work agreements so that companies may rapidly deploy remote policies.
Now, over two years later, Dignan is back to announce that early-stage entrepreneurs on Murmur's beta have a second but similar product requirement that has gained precedence: they want a better approach to making collaborative choices without the need for a meeting.
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How Murmur Works
Murmur is actively developing a collaborative platform that assists businesses in making available feedback-driven choices. Employees and executives may suggest a change, create a work agreement around it, and then request approvals as a timer ticks away.
It's a smarter Google Doc, designed with a decision-making framework in mind — whether that's finding a method to productize the back-and-forth of a compromise or optimizing for more eyeballs before an agreement is finalized. Fundamentally, the product is a wager that businesses want a more intelligent approach to operating in a remote-first environment that considers time zones more than an annoyance.
"People do not want to read, and they do not like to write — you must consider this when designing a product, and this implies that people are searching for easier ways to make choices," Dignan added. While Murmur continues to prioritize openness and public agreements, it is also developing an artificial intelligence writer that will enable workers to draft proposals for a four-day workweek quickly.
Dignan also alluded to a Slack tool that would listen to talks and, if someone types "should" or "what if" in a channel, will pop up a bot in a direct message asking if they want to create a proposal based on the concept. While this created some privacy concerns for me, Dignan emphasized that users could choose which channels the functionality appears on and train it to become more considerate over time. To clarify, the Slack functionality is not yet accessible to regular users; only alpha members have access.
The Mission of Murmur
Murmur's objective and greatest obstacle is determining the optimal entrance point for its product. Should it sell to independent decentralized organizations? Universities? Big Tech? Initial-stage startups? Each prospective consumer has a unique decision-making objective and incentive structure. According to Dignan, fewer than a fifth of Murmur's 100 most active accounts are now deemed IT enterprises. The top clients are Adidas, Bitly, and the Philippine Space Agency.
Dignan believes that a company's interest in a technology like Murmur is proportional to its commitment to incorporating inclusivity and openness into its remote work rules.
"It's a strange cross-section where certain individuals in the startup game have this mentality, but the majority do not," he said. "In general, when we have tech entrepreneurs on Murmur, they're second-time founders because they've experienced how things go wrong at scale and how blitzscaling makes matters worse." Dignan stated that when he speaks with entrepreneurs, he tells them, "This may sound excessive, but I assure you it's not"
Dignan seems unconcerned with his industry's complacency while he waits for technology to reach a stage where remote work is too burdensome. Nor do his investors, either.
Murmur has closed an $8 million round co-led by Asymmetric and Greenfield, with participation from all investors in its previous round, including Lerer Hippeau, SemperVirens, Human Ventures, and Vitalize, thanks to its larger product ambition. For a whisper, that's a rather loud expression of approval.
Featured image: Murmur
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