• Mon. May 27th, 2024

a16z-backed Rewind pivots to build AI-powered pendant to record your conversations

a16z-backed Rewind pivots to build AI-powered pendant to record your conversations


In 2022, Rewind had just raised $10 million from a16z and was building a personal data recording service that promised to privately record your activity and let you search through your own history. But that was before OpenAI launched ChatGPT.

Today, generative AI can make what Rewind had built previously — a searchable record of your activity — far more useful. It’s not so surprising, then, to see the startup pivoting to integrate AI more deeply into its product. The company has rebranded to “Limitless,” and is now offering an AI-powered meeting suite and a hardware pendant that can record your conversations.

Company co-founder Dan Siroker first posted the idea of a conversation-recording pendant last October and started accepting orders at $59. In January, he posted that the company had finalized a design and aims to ship the product in Q4 2024.

Siroker posted the final design this week, along with the news of the company’s pivot. The $99 pendant was posted on X earlier this week. The company is accepting preorders and aims to ship the first batch in August. Siroker said that the company plans to honor the initial preorders at $59. Earlier on Wednesday, he posted that the startup has already received more than 10,000 preorders for the product.

Product features and the pivot

The Limitless pendant can easily attach to your shirt like a wireless mic, or tie it like a necklace with a string and record conversations. The primary use case is recording and transcribing meetings, so you don’t have to take notes. The company claims that the device is weather-proof, has a 100-hour battery life and can be charged easily through a USB-C port.

The hardware also has a “consent mode,” which doesn’t record the other person in the conversation unless they expressly agree to be recorded. It’s not clear if this mode would be on by default.

While the company is a few months away from shipping the hardware product, it has already released an app — available on the web, Mac and Windows — to record meetings. The app uses system audio and a microphone to record, so there is no need for a bot to join these meetings.

The app has features we have seen in meeting tools like Otter, Zoom, TimeOS and TLDV. Siroker told TechCrunch that the company aims to differentiate with tools like real-time automated notes and automatically generated meeting briefs based on the participants and previous meetings.

The app is free and comes with unlimited audio storage and 10 hours per month of AI features like transcription, summary and notes. Unlimited AI features are $29 per month, or $19 per month if paid annually.

Meeting summary

Image Credits: Limitless

Siroker said one of the major differentiators is the company’s new confidential cloud product that stores data in an encrypted format. While Rewind was largely a local product, the new cloud feature allows users to access data anywhere.

Siroker said the company had Leviathan Security Group perform a third-party audit on its solution to measure security.

“Confidential Cloud might sound like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. It is private by design. Unlike the traditional cloud, your employer, us as a software provider and the government cannot decrypt your data without your permission, even if given a subpoena. Only you control the decryption of your data,” he told TechCrunch.

The way ahead

On its website, Rewind says it has raised more than $33 million in funding from backers, including a16z, First Round Capital and NEA. The company said it hadn’t used any money from last year’s unusual Series A round — where it called for investors by posting a video on X — so it doesn’t plan to raise any new money.

The company said it will continue to support Rewind in its current state but will not actively add new features. This means the startup won’t ship the Windows app it had promised to build last year.

“We don’t have any plans to shut down or merge Rewind into Limitless. We plan to reimplement many of our users’ favorite Rewind features directly into Limitless,” Siroker said.

“Users can even use both products side-by-side and decide which one they like better. We hope that over time, they will agree with us that the Limitless approach is better and that they will use that exclusively.”

The company has said that the hardware product will answer questions through an AI-powered bot based on meeting recordings, connections with personal accounts and information on the web. It will also offer a platform for developers to build apps or experiences surrounding the product.

But Limitless’ larger vision is to build AI agents to do things on your behalf. This seems to be the trend for startups working with AI. Hardware startups like Humane and Rabbit are trying to make devices with AI tools in them that promise to be powerful enough to take care of some tasks for you.

Browsers like The Browser Company’s Arc and YC-backed SigmaOS are also building agents to browse the web for you. However, there are a lot of unknowns as output by AI bots is still full of errors, and at times, it is hard to make AI understand the context and intentions of your query. AI-powered agents doing some work on behalf of you sure sounds dreamy, but we might have to wait for a while to get there.





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