It’s funny how life works sometimes. Something can be just a topic of conversation one day. And perhaps much more than that the next day.
Something like this (though not exactly) happened around the topic of super apps.
In Episode 32 of Localogy’s “This Week in Local” podcast, Mike Boland and I spent a good portion of our discussion batting around the merits and limitations of super apps.
This discussion was spurred on by Twitter’s rather abrupt rebranding as “X’. And this was connected to X (née Twitter) owner Elon Musk’s previously stated ambition to transform Twitter into “X the Everything App”.
Different Takes on Super Apps
On the Episode, Mike and I had a pretty vigorous debate on whether super apps have a future in an environment in which, as Mike points out, “the iPhone home screen is the super app.”
I took the view that super apps by and large have been an emerging market phenomenon, where high data costs make consumers very reluctant to cram their home screens with multiple best-of-breed apps. A single “everything” app is arguably preferable under these conditions.
Mike agreed that the demand signals for super apps in North America are not very clear. Yet he also noted that the business model appeal of super apps is very apparent, as business pundits like Scott Galloway are fond of pointing out.
“If you can pull off a super app, you have a few things. You have scale. You have stickiness. And you have sustainability,” Mike said on the episode. “We’ll call it the three S’s.”
So in this context, it quickly got our attention when Thryv Chief Product Officer Ryan Cantor made this announcement via LinkedIn on Thursday.
“After years of work, the Thryv team designed, built, and launched a super app for all small businesses,” Cantor said.
The new super app, called Command Center (a very B2B-sounding name) appears to be very communications focused. It seems to be designed as a place for businesses to synthesize the communications they receive across multiple channels.
According to Cantor, the new app “centralizes your phone calls, video meetings, your text messages, emails, Facebook messages, Instagram messages, incoming webchats, voicemails, and more not only into a single inbox. But into a single linear conversation. Read that again. For each customer, your emails, followed by your text message, followed by a voicemail (even transcribed for you)…all in line, in order.”
One App Replaces Many
A good question to ask right now is why do SMBs need this. Cantor says the new app does for SMBs in one place what they currently use several apps for now.
“Zoom is great, but doesn’t have email or text. Slack is great, but doesn’t have voicemails, phone calls, email or text. Gmail is awesome, but you can’t text and it will never connect to competitor messaging apps.”
Having one app do the work of several is kind of the whole point of a super app.
Cantor also says that Thryv “decided to give it away for free. Forever.”
“Why? Because championing small businesses can’t just be about celebrating those who have already made it with the financial resources available to buy services and products. We have to champion the dreamers, the entrepreneurs who have a dream and need all the help they can get to achieve it. Burnout is real, and this is our way of preventing the small business dream from becoming a small business nightmare.”
On Brand for Thryv
It’s also worth noting that a super app for SMBs is thematically consistent with Thryv’s mission to provide an all-in-one SaaS solution for SMBs to use to run every aspect of their business – from customer acquisition to revenue collection.
So in that sense, Thryv rolling out a B2B super app is not only consistent. Perhaps it was inevitable.