Jonathan Caras is a technologist, futurist, Shakespearean actor, magician and drone enthusiast. For more than 18 years, he has passionately designed and developed technology solutions to enhance, entertain and delight.
Jonathan co-founded Glide in 2012 and has served in both the CTO and COO role. He currently leads Glide’s Jerusalem-based team of seventy, with the goal of achieving the company’s mission to transcend the boundaries of human communication through the power and personality of live video messaging. He is also responsible for embedding a healthy, productive culture in the workplace. His experience in product vision, growth and execution has resulted in Glide being installed on over 20 million devices and millions of active Glide users around the world sending billions of messages using the app.
In 2008, he founded appSTUDIO, one of Israel’s first mobile-focused software design and development studios, which specialized in creating engaging, interactive, and intuitive apps for Android and iOS. There, he led the engineering team to create more than fifty mobile applications.
A skillful presenter, Jonathan has spoken about technology and culture at events around the world, in cities such as Jerusalem, New York, Dublin, Hong Kong and San Francisco.
Jonathan regularly gives back to the startup community through his participation with local accelerators, startup hackathons and meetups. He also spends time mentoring those with an interest in the high tech sector.
He studied software engineering at the Jerusalem College of Technology.
1) How did you come up with the idea of Glide?
In 2003, I moved from Maryland in the United States to Israel. Living thousands of miles and numerous time zones away from my family and friends, I found it too impersonal to keep in touch with them using text messaging and too cumbersome to arrange regular video calls. I discussed my frustrations with 2 friends who had also moved from the U.S. and Australia and they shared similar communications challenges with me.
So, the three of us decided to do something about it and set out to develop Glide. From the outset, our goal was to create a lighting-fast form of personal communication that combined the flexibility of texting with the richness of video. Glide’s asynchronous video messaging transends time and distance, so nothing stands in the way of real communication with the people in our lives who count the most.
The super-fast cloud-based video streaming technology we developed and patented — we call it live video messaging — enables spontaneous, back-and-forth video conversations that can be sent and received instantly. The recipient can watch your message live or later. Once viewed, they can respond to it now or later. And it takes less than a second to see their response. Lightning-fast exchanges between two people or among groups can take place without waiting for videos to download. More importantly, all the messages are saved in the cloud, which means they take up no space on your device.
The resulting in-the-moment video captures the true depth of life and essence of live, authentic communication, adds intimacy, warmth and connection to already strong relationships and makes digital messaging more human.
2) Do you think that the messaging market is too full for any more services?
Think about it, the people in our contact lists are not the same in our lives. Family and close friends are different than business relationships or acquaintances. While other messaging platforms are built for everyone, Glide is for communicating with those closest to you.
Glide enables husbands and wives to chat while apart. Families or close friends can create a group chat to stay in touch. Grandparents can keep up with their grandchildren. Those in long distance relationships can further build their love for one another. Military spouses and kids can communicate with their loved ones who are deployed far from home.
Glide has also become a hit with the deaf and hard of hearing community around the world. For many in the deaf community, sign language is their first language — not English. As visual communicators, Glide enables them to quickly and easily have conversations with other deaf users.
3) What has made Israel the “Start-up Nation”?
Talented residents of Israel, the “Start-up Nation,” excel at thinking unconventionally and taking risks.
In their book, “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle,” authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer, cite the culture of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a major factor for Israel’s economic growth. The authors believe that IDF service, which is mandatory for most young Israelis, provides potential entrepreneurs with opportunities to develop a wide array of skills and contacts. They also believe that IDF service provides experience taking responsibility in a relatively un-hierarchical environment where creativity and intelligence are highly valued.
Further, they also believe that immigration plays a major role in Israel’s economic growth, since immigrants are not averse to start from scratch. They are by definition risk-takers. A nation of immigrants is a nation of entrepreneurs.
I learned entrepreneurship from my father, who ran his own business. He taught me that you change the world by creating something new that is inherently valuable and makes a meaningful change in people’s lives. So that personal lesson, plus the environment of innovation and the startup community here in Israel, is a big part of what drives the team of seventy Glide employees to transcend the boundaries of human communication through the power and personality of live video messaging.
4) Is the app market still a lucrative market to go into?
This is a tricky question. An app is simply a way to reach out to a customer and engage with them. I don’t see the software market, especially the mobile market, as a unified entity. The first-person shooter game and the spreadsheet viewer target completely different end-users and each of these markets has their own respective challenges. What’s important for new entrepreneurs is to focus on building a business, and to view the app as just one storefront they are opening to reach their target customers.
5) What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start a business?
Read Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of the Start.” I read this book when starting Glide and found that it was an excellent handbook for guiding a young entrepreneur through the steps of validating their idea and getting their project up and running.
We would like thank Jonathan Caras for speaking with us.