Dear Grain Community,
Since we launched Grain publicly six months ago, thousands of teams — including ClickUp, Pitch, and Zapier — have embraced Grain as an essential productivity tool to capture and share knowledge from Zoom calls. We hear them say:
Teams use Grain to capture key moments from Zoom meetings and compress hours of recordings into just minutes of clips others will actually watch. They're unlocking a better way to organize unstructured data from conversations, keep everyone in sync, and align around recorded reality that would have otherwise disappeared by default.
And today, we're excited to announce a new set of functionality for Grain 2.0!
You can now record and clip the most important moments in real-time, even when you're not the host.
No more waiting until the meeting is over to share. You can now caption, clip, and share in real-time.
With Stories in Grain , you can compress a 60-min meeting to 3-min video summary others will actually watch.
Or you can remix and combine clips into powerful video narratives from multiple recordings.
With Zapier, you can now create thousands of custom workflows to automatically push recordings, clips, & stories from Grain in your favorite tools like @SlackHQ, @NotionHQ, @Miro, @Linear and more.
Simply add the new Grain recorder to capture your next call with Grain, even when you’re not the host.
Put other participants at ease by customizing your Grain Recorder to let others know why you're recording.
Never forget to record another critical conversation, just tell the Grain recorder which types of meetings you want to capture and it will join automatically.
Every major version release of Grain is an opportunity to publicly document the milestones in our journey, the details of how our thinking is evolving over time, and provide a glimpse into our vision for future where we better understand and connect with each other.
We first discovered the opportunity behind Grain while building an online school in 2015. As an experiment we moved every activity from our in-person campus to an online Zoom classroom.
To our surprise — it worked flawlessly as students learned just as well online as in person. But even still, our team and our students suffered from the same problems of information loss that we had during in-person work. Every conversation was now digitally transcoded, but we were not any smarter than when our conversations were analog.
So we decided to record and manage access to every lecture, interview, and team meeting that took place on Zoom and see what happened. We embraced a record-by-default culture.
And that changed everything.
Suddenly we could leverage all our recorded data to improve learning outcomes, reduce bias in admissions decisions, understand our customers, and keep our teams in sync. We made recorded video a first-class data source in nearly every workflow and decision.
Like adopting Slack, it unlocked new powers for our team's communication. I knew I could never return to a world of the status quo where spoken conversations would disappear-by-default.
At the same time, my brother Jake was struggling with the same knowledge transfer problem at his start-up. As the first non-founder employee, he was frequently the first out of the loop. Too often the critical information he needed to do his job disappeared inside a conference room. We shared a belief that the content of spoken conversations should become more accessible and useful — so in late 2018 we teamed up to build Grain.
Over the past two years of experimentation and learning, our burgeoning community of users that have been "living on Grain" helped us uncover something bigger than we had ever imagined at the start. Much bigger.
He and others in the Grain community discovered what having a time machine means:
Consultant Guillaume uses Grain to capture and share the literal voice of the customer as it originally happened — helping his team to empathize with the customer's joy or pain as if they too were "in the room" at the time.
Communication coach Kara has experienced how Grain helps teams connect, share ideas, and promote inclusion by democratizing access to important information normally unavailable to those who need it to do their job.
Executives like Taylor use Grain to help their team get the most value of their meetings — re-imagining the way teams choose to spend their time as they can seamlessly flow between sync (video meetings) and async (messaging and documents).
Distributed team leaders like Christine use Grain to save time and keep their team connected — leveraging the most important moments from hiring interviews and team meetings to getting up to speed without even being part of the original conversation.
These are just a few of the "new ways of knowing" we've seen our community members discover on Grain. It's what happens when you begin to capture moments in Zoom and unlock the value of the conversation data.
On their own, recorded conversations do little to solve the problem of what some are now calling Zoom amnesia.
After a typical day of video meetings all we're left with is a foggy set of memories, sparse notes, or sometimes a 60 minute recording that — let's be honest — nobody has the time to go back and watch. Even when transcribed, recordings of full meetings have been, for the most part, useless. They're too noisy. Too hard to work with. The effort just hasn't been worth the reward.
But Grain makes it simple for anyone in the meeting to capture and share the moments worth remembering by creating highlight clips that form the foundation of a team's spoken knowledge.
Finally, with a simple and easy way to capture and share moments from a conversation with Grain, a new opportunity to work directly with speech has arrived. Just as you might with any text-based document — the audio, video, and text of a moment-in-time can now be bottled up and be shared as easily as copy/paste.
And when clipped moments from conversation are freed from the constraints of their source recording, they become LEGO-style building blocks that can compress 60-min meetings into 3-min video summaries. Or be quickly re-packaged together as highlight reels from multiple recordings to tell emotionally rich stories that would have otherwise taken days or weeks to create.
As simple as it may sound, capturing high-signal moments from conversation is the foundation for all future systems for what we call spoken knowledge.
You know it when you feel it. That special sense of “we get each other". It comes from listening with intent and speaking your truth. Flowing back and forth until understanding is shared – that moment when we really hear each other. Speaking and listening is the most basic way we learn, empathize, and understand each other's truth. That is when great things happen. Projects completed. Milestones reached. Mountains moved.
While speech is our first language — older, simpler, and more emotionally powerful than writing — it was the written word that accelerated civilization exponentially.
With the written word we were finally able to keep a tangible record of what was said or done. And who said it. Written text as a medium of communication naturally became the method of documentation. We could create a history that outlived any individual.
Because the format of text was so much easier to work with — the technology to leverage the power of speech became, for the most part, an afterthought. Humans and their ancestors have been resigned to play a two million year game of telephone.
But this is beginning to change as more of the words we speak are being saved. Previously unstructured and ephemeral recording data is being added to the cloud, indexed for meaning, preserved for history, and most importantly, shared with others. History is repeating itself again — much like Gmail creating a searchable email archive or Slack doing the same for team messaging — but this time with the best parts of every video meeting.
Teams are already embracing systems of spoken knowledge as their most valuable new source of qualitative data to streamline communication and drive better decisions.
Gartner predicts that 75% of conversations at work will be recorded and analyzed by 2025. The ability to capture moments from spoken conversation in real-time and turn this media into systems of knowledge and intelligence is inevitable. But with great power comes great responsibility.
Capturing spoken knowledge can have the power to change the way teams interact. But it's still a vulnerable act to record. The free-flowing nature of spoken conversation carries with it the risk of being seen or heard in ways that we didn't intend. We need to feel safe that we can trust the person who is recording and that we can understand how the recording is being used.
That's why Grain has been designed to ensure that recorded content is secure by default — with only meeting participants from your team getting initial access to it. You — the collective members of the meeting — should be the ones to choose what gets published (if anything) and what doesn't.
We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the tools we use to leverage spoken knowledge value the end user's privacy and security first and foremost. At Grain, this will always come before top-down buyer needs for visibility and surveillance — often disguised as performance coaching in other tools. Our tools must help us be more connected, not less.
At Grain, we believe recorded conversations — and the spoken knowledge they generate — expand our ability to listen, empathize, and connect with each other. And this leads to more shared understanding – the mission of our company.
Our pledge to you, our community living on Grain, is that we will continue to build the most private, secure, and powerful platform for you to unlock the power of your team's spoken knowledge.
— Mike and Jake
P.P.S. - This is only the beginning. We have a lot more to say and share on these topics than could possibly be said in one letter. To follow along on this journey, as we share what we are collectively learning, be sure to join our Community Slack Group.
Try out our ready-made and tested Zapier templates using Grain. Click the “Use this Zap” to get started.
Record, transcribe, clip, and share video from Zoom in real-time.