Interview with Harry Kim
Harry Kim is a straightforward, solutions-focused entrepreneur. He is the CTO of SendBird, a company that adds richly featured chat and messaging to web, mobile, and consumer applications. Harry and his team at SendBird is on a mission to improve how people interact digitally. Clients can add chat to their app easily and with a wide array of features — such as bot integration, rich content, moderation tools, and everything consumers expect from today’s messenger apps. We spoke to the man behind SendBird’s technology to find out how digitizing human interactions will change the world.
Can you tell us about any big SendBird innovations that are in-development right now?
We have been successfully tested for one million current users, we put "more weight" on the development of new features. Some features are available and some others are still in preliminary stages. One feature in development right now is a kind of chat, it transfer messages from one device to the next, but the messages are only stored on users devices. This is a very unique and useful feature for a customer who takes users' privacy and security very seriously.
What’s the key to making software that’s easy to integrate into lots of different contexts?
We keep in mind a couple of things when we build features for our customers. First: the customers’ needs are central, we try to think hard to provide a solution for specific user cases and sometimes it is difficult to convert that specific solution to a more general one, but this strategy has been working for us. Second thing: the features we provide need to find a middle way, which means not too specific and not too general. We try to provide the solution that is easy to use and focused on doing a single job at the time.
Hi Harry! What is it about SendBird’s software that sets it apart from its competitors?
We are different from our competitors because our system design emphasizes on performance and scalability. My cofounders and I come from the gaming industry, so we built our system from Day 1 with system performance and massive concurrent user support in mind. With such a high-scalability system design, two things are possible: first, we can support various use cases from massive chats to 1-on-1 chats like Facebook Messenger. Second, it allows us to build features faster and more easily. None of these could be possible without our team, we are very well aligned with the company's goals to provide a great product for our customers.
Your chat solutions range from one-on-one messaging to open channels with thousands of users. What’s easier to support: 5,000 private messaging conversations, or an open channel with 10,000 users?
They are both challenging in different ways. Private messaging requires some more advanced features than an open channel, so consumers have higher expectations. The market is major with the messaging, the consumers usually expect private messaging to include all of the feature for the app or web and for open chat channels. I think it's more important to support a massive number of current users, for most use cases. For example, one of our e-commerce customer wants to host 10,000 users in a single channel, because they want to increase their conversion ratio during shopping live streaming. It is difficult to decide which one is easier to support, because they both have different requirements, one is more is more rich in features and one depends more on scale.
On the SendBird homepage, visitors can sign in with two types of account: Google or GitHub. Is it important for you to market towards technical and less-technical audiences at the same time?
We have a wide range of customers’ demographics. Sometimes they are engineers from Unicon or CEOs of statups or from Fortune 500 companies. Key decision makers are not always tech-related to people, so a not technical audience is very important to us.
What will chat technology be like in 2028?
As messaging keyboards I think that it will start to disappear the text messaging, video and audio and it will ultimately become abstract radio datar, so any sort of these daters will be transferred in real time to a different system, platform or device. Whatever screen you are looking at - that could be your smartphone, your smartwatch, on television, or any sort of IoT device - the messaging will follow you around and you will be the centre of messaging.