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Messaging apps are having a moment

Sure, you know about WhatsApp and Zoom. But have you tried the video messaging app called Marco Polo? You should.

DALLAS — Messaging and video apps are having a moment in this time of social distancing. 

According to market research company Apptopia, WhatsApp has been downloaded 59 million times, Zoom 37 million, Microsoft Teams 12 million and Skype 9.3 million times. 

But I want to focus on a smaller one called Marco Polo, with one million downloads this month.

During this pandemic, I was invited to join a Marco Polo group of old college friends. I had so much fun reconnecting there that I created my own groups and had even more fun. The one for my family ranges in age from 8 to 80.

Vlada Bortnik is the CEO and co-founder of Marco Polo, which says its downloads have exploded by more than 1,100%.

“Yeah, it's been amazing to see how it's been so multi-generational. It's been such a great way for grandparents and grandkids to connect directly with each other. And really feel the love that comes from seeing someone's face,” she said.

Here's how it works. 

Unlike a video call, when you must be there to pick up, on Marco Polo you just leave a video message and the other person can get back to you whenever it works for them.

So, video chats don’t have to happen in real-time. But they feel like they’re happening in real-time.

“My observation is it's almost like the opposite of Instagram which is you're always posing. Making a duck face or something. This is so real. People are in bed, just got out of the shower, walking their dog. It doesn't matter how you look,” I said to Bortnik.

“Marco Polo is authentic. It's the real-life, it's the real you. With all this in mind that this is not for the world. This is just for people that you really care about that you really want to connect with and see,” Bortnik said.      

In an uncertain time, where time is something we have a lot of, technology gives us lots of ways to stay connected. 

For me, Marco Polo's been a pleasant surprise. And I thought you'd want to know about it.

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