To be or not to be a platform? Loom, the asynchronous video tool, is facing the same identity crisis that so many apps before it have faced. Right now Loom thrives as a supplement to other communication platforms, for those moments when you need to record a quick video to send to another co-worker. But as remote work lingers, more and more people are Looming and it looks like a productivity hack that’s here to stay. Loom is the go-to tool for VCs making deals, and just look at all the other players who have entered the async video space.
But what happens to all those Looms once you make and send them? The more Looms a company makes, the more a company needs an organized Loom library. Loom today launched a redesign of its website platform, Loom HQ. CEO Joe Thomas said he doesn’t necessarily want Loom to be a company’s main communication platform. Rather, he wants the new HQ to be a place of respite, where employees go to watch videos and connect with their co-workers. To do this, employees need to more easily access and search through Looms. The HQ’s updates include an algorithmic homepage with “trending” Looms, video indexing based on #tags and the ability to follow individual profiles. The new Loom HQ will roll out to customers over the next few weeks.
Protocol spoke with Thomas about the new Loom HQ, how prerecorded videos can help build company culture and how to make recording your own videos feel natural.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What’s new with Loom HQ? What will look different after today?
Going back to the earliest days, we saw how much video was used in the consumer landscape. And it’s just not quite there at work.
We have organizations that went from 1,000 videos prior to using Loom to over 200,000 videos because they’re using it to communicate on a day-to-day basis. How do we take that institutional knowledge that you built up and make it a really rich knowledge center for you? And then how do we also take that and then build and leverage a new tool set that has largely been proven in the consumer landscape and apply it to work?
The job of Loom HQ is to make sure you get the information that you need in order to be more effective at your job. And so we built new organizational mechanisms. First, we had a folder structure. We now actually built a tagging structure because it's much more flexible and fluid and allows for more organic discovery and indexing of the knowledge.
We built this concept of posting and then profiles. All of this feeds into a new home experience. So if you land on home, what sort of engagement is happening on the Loom? Who's viewing it? Who's emoji reacting? Who's commenting? Can we just show what moments are happening across your entire organization? So that way, in a remote and hybrid world, those organic cultural moments that maybe used to happen in the office or used to happen at off-sites or company dinners, you can still facilitate them in asynchronous remote ways. We built this home feed that has a trending algorithm, and it allows you to organically discover content that is important to the rest of the company.
What is the key to building this kind of office camaraderie in an asynchronous context?
In the earliest days of Loom, we were like, okay, video is incredibly powerful in the consumer landscape and humans gravitate towards that content. Which is why TikTok was the No. 1 site in the world last year, above Google.
Video helps you feel something in a way that text doesn't. You open your email inbox, maybe you open whatever chat app you use, and you usually don't feel something like joy, or an energy transfer of somebody else's emotion. But video can do that.
As more of Gen Z enters the workplace, will people want their enterprise communication to look more like video-based consumer apps?
It’s less about what it looks like, and more about this draw towards authenticity. The younger generations want more authenticity in work communication. They don't care as much about being super polished. They want to empower themselves with freedom and flexibility, because it's been proven that we can do work that way.
What is the most common way people react to Looms? Do people follow up on Loom itself?
From a product strategy perspective, it has been one of the most important questions for us. Are we another inbox for people to check where there's an entire conversation that happens in Loom? Or is it that you record a video and then you distribute it through another channel?
It’s very team and organizational dependent. For the vast majority of folks — and this is what we've always tried to build in our product — we make it an invisible window that sits on top of any app that you use to communicate, and then we give you a link that you can share anywhere. You should keep the conversation where it already exists. You can still leave comments. You can leave emoji reactions along the timeline. But we try and empower folks to leave the conversation where it's already at.
So Loom HQ is trying to make it easier to keep track of all of your Looms, but it’s not trying to keep you in the product at all times.
We're not trying to keep conversations in Loom. But there are windows throughout your day where you're like, hey, I could just use a shot of connection or a shot of inspiration. I'm actually open to discovering what's going on across the company. Then it creates these cultural moments.
So I'll just give an internal example. A Loom that was trending in our workspace was somebody doing a plant tour of their apartment, and then the next person was like, oh, I'll do a plant tour of my apartment. And then the next thing you know, we have over 35 tours of plants around their home, and they got increasingly creative.
We built a system that hopefully facilitates that connection, that camaraderie, that communication.
I know Looms tend to be rather short. But are you thinking about segmenting them to make them easier to consume?
We are in the very, very early days of video being purpose-built for work. We're a few years into: How do you unlock the full potential of the information that is available in one workspace? We need to make that infinitely easier for them.
When we think about Loom HQ, like the internal branding that we had for it is an intelligent system of record. That intelligent component is automated insights and the most important components of the video, and then the system of record is the critical information set that your company currently has.
The average length of a Loom is about 2.5 minutes. So they're relatively brief. But if you think about the hundreds or thousands of videos that are being communicated on a daily basis, you could imagine there being an automated, like, end-of-day wrap-up.
(After the interview, Thomas sent a Loom to clarify whether the tool supports automated insights at this time. Not yet, he said. The Loom HQ home has an algorithm indicating which videos are important to people, but Loom isn’t yet going into individual videos and automatically highlighting important components.)
Some might feel an implicit pressure to put more effort into their Loom videos. How does Loom work to balance ease and effort?
Every time that we ask the community: As a power user, what’s your No. 1 recommendation for somebody who's just starting to use it? Never watch your own Loom. We’re our own hardest critics. We hate hearing our own voice. When you become a power user, you record once and you hit send, and that's it, right? You don't really think about it.
We believe Loom delivers the most value to the world when you're using it to communicate two, three, eight times a day. You're not going back and watching your own three-minute Loom over and over again. That’s not the most efficient way to communicate. We’re trying to make it feel like, maybe you fell into this skill set of async video. We're not quite there yet, but I think that will ultimately be Loom’s biggest problem statement, but also biggest opportunity. How do you make more people more comfortable with async video faster?
The video revolution at work is coming. It’s inevitable.