Bonjour app for Zoom
By Ben Bronsther

Q&A with Read’s David Shim

David Shim is the Co-founder and CEO of Read, a Zoom App that uses AI, computer vision, and natural language processing to analyze voice and facial movements during your video calls.

Before Co-founding Read, David founded Placed, a location-analytics company that was acquired by Snap and later sold to Foursquare, where David became President and CEO.  

David envisions Read as the“Waze of videoconferencing” and, given his background, I think he and his fellow Co-founders are perhaps the most qualified team in the world to realize this vision.

Last month, David and I connected for a recorded interview where, in answer to my questions, he shared his thoughts on:

  • Why he’s excited about Zoom Apps as an ecosystem
  • What inspired him and his team to create Read Dashboard
  • The benefits that Read provides to salespeople and people in other roles

What inspired you to create the product?  What is the origin story of the idea?

“When I left Foursquare at the end of 2020, I was on a lot of calls… I’d realize within the first couple minutes is this interesting… but you also don’t want to be rude and jump off the call if it isn’t… I started to notice, oh, I’m on ESPN, and I noticed somebody had glasses on that had a reflection, and they were on ESPN as well, cause it was the exact same kind of reflection that I could see on my screen… I was like, this is really interesting, I wonder if you can actually take things like computer vision and, in real-time, figure out are people paying attention or not… If you’re in a theatre and the actors are going through a play, they see the response from the audience.  When you’re a singer, you can see the response from the audience.  But when you’re in a Zoom meeting, when you’re in a videoconference, you’re limited to the people that are on the top of your bar, and it’s very small where you can’t pick up certain things versus if you’re able to use computer vision theoretically you could actually see everybody who’s in the meeting… that got me digging a little bit further”

🔊🔊 Click here to listen to David's full response 🔊🔊

Did you have a target demographic or persona in mind when creating the product?  Who would you say your Zoom App is most for?

“Sellers typically work very hard to get leads, they work very hard to get meetings in place, and that meeting might be three weeks out and you’ve got 15 to 30 minutes. You’re not going to get a second meeting to come back and say like I wish I said this, I should have addressed it this way, I’ve got a better slide for this, I should have done a demo but I ran out of time… where Read comes into play, we’re not trying to tell you like these are step 1, step 2, step 3, step 4… we’re more like a car dashboard, you’ve got to be a great driver, you’ve got to have situational awareness. You’re doing the heavy lifting but occasionally you want a guide point to say like, ‘am I going in the right direction?’... the other that came up was around Client Services… it’s hard to get a pulse of like, ‘how is the client feeling overall?’... if I’m a manager, I want to know… if there’s a trend that I start to see where engagement drops off, where sentiment gets lower, satisfaction is lower, I want to know that so I can correct that… what we’re finding is a lot of interesting use cases that we didn’t expect. One was for students where coding academies have started to reach out to us and say, ‘hey, we’ve got this problem, we know half of our students don’t pay attention’... the professor or the teacher wants to be able to actually bring someone back into the conversation, they want their students to pass… so if you can identify those things, again, in the moment, you can correct it.”

🔊🔊 Click here to listen to David's full response 🔊🔊

Knowing that our audience is predominantly salespeople, how does Read most help people in that role?

“Having that anecdotal data, information, is good, having the actual quantified data is better.  Where you can go in and say ‘here’s the trend that I’m seeing at the end of the day.’... and just measuring, so if you think about the salesperson as an athlete… you’re training your body and mind to actually close a bunch of deals, just like an athlete does.  Well, an athlete has a WHOOP, an athlete has a FitBit… the best sellers in the world don’t have those tools today. So really, you need to be able to measure, to get better”

🔊🔊 Click here to listen to David's full response 🔊🔊

What exciting things might we expect from Read in the coming months and years?

“Months to come you’re going to see more iterations of the platform… we’re going to create customized views of the dashboard, so a salesperson is going to be very different from a teacher is going to be very different from someone who is speaking at a webinar… longer term where we’re excited about the vision is measuring all interactions and helping them become better… there’s a really unique opportunity, wherever interactions occur, to make them better… you can imagine, this is one example that came in... if you have autism and you’re not able to pick up certain social cues, the ability to actually have a little nudge, when you’re wearing an Apple Glass, to say ‘hey, let’s go to the next topic, you’ve been kind of going a little bit long’... that’s where we’re really excited… helping interactions become better across the board not just for videoconferencing”

🔊🔊 Click here to listen to David's full response 🔊🔊


Click here to listen to the full recording of the conversation, including David's thoughts on how sellers can use Read to command attention, how CS leaders might use Read to track customer happiness, and how Zoom causes people to constantly be in a state of 'Date or Fight.'

You can use Read for yourself!  Get started here ➡️

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Main InterfaceQ&A with Read’s David Shim