Kleiner spots Spot Meetings $5M to modernize walk-and-talks for the Zoom generation

Trees, those deciduous entities you can occasionally see outdoors when not locked down or strapped down at a desktop ruminating on a video call, have long been the inspiration for fresh new ideas. Stories abound of how founders built companies while walking the foothills in Silicon Valley or around parks in San Francisco, and yet, we’ve managed over the past year to take movement mostly out of our remote work lives.

Chicago-based Spot Meetings wants to reinvigorate our meetings — and displace Zoom as the default meeting medium at the same time.

The product and company are just a few months old and remain in closed beta (albeit opening up a bit shortly here), and today the company is announcing $5 million in seed funding led by Ilya Fushman at Kleiner Perkins. That follows a $1.9 million pre-seed round led by Chapter One earlier this year.

CEO and co-founder Greg Caplan said that the team is looking to rebuild the meeting from the ground up for an audio-only environment. “On mobile, it needs to be abundantly simple to be very functional and understood for users so that they can actually use it on the go,” he described. In practice, that requires product development across a wide range of layers.

The product’s most notable feature today is that it has an assistant, aptly named Spot, which listens in on the call and which participants can direct commands to while speaking. For instance, saying “Spot Fetch” will pull the last 40 seconds of conversation, transcribe it, create a note in the meeting and save it for follow-up. That prevents the multi-hand tapping required to save a note or to-do list for follow-up with our current meeting products. You “don’t even need to take your phone out,” Caplan points out.

What gets more interesting is the collaboration layer the company has built into the product. Every audio meeting has a text-based scratch pad shared with all participants, allowing users to copy and paste snippets into the meeting as needed. Those notes and any information that Spot pulls in are saved into workspaces that can be referenced later. Spot also sends out emails to participants with follow-ups from these notes. If the same participants join another audio meeting later, Spot will pull in the notes from their last meeting so there is a running timeline of what’s been happening.

Spot’s product design emphasizes collaboration within an audio-focused experience. Image Credits: Spot Meetings

Obviously, transcription features are built-in, but Spot sees opportunities in offering edited transcripts of long calls where only a few minutes of snippets might be worth specifically following up on. So the product is a bit more deliberate in encouraging users to select the parts of a conversation that are relevant for their needs, rather than delivering a whole bolus of text that no one is ever actually going to read.

“Collaboration from now and the future is going to be primarily digital … in-person is forever going to be the exception and not the rule,” Caplan explained. Longer term, the company wants to add additional voice commands to the product and continue building an audio-first (and really, an audio-only) environment. Audio “very uniquely helps people focus on the conversation at hand,” he said, noting that video fatigue is a very real phenomenon today for workers. To that end, more audio features like smarter muting are coming. When a participant isn’t talking, their background noise will automatically melt away.

Before Spot Meetings, Caplan was the CEO and co-founder of Remote Year, a startup that was designing a service for company employees to take working trips overseas. I first covered it back in 2015, and it went on to raise some serious venture dollars before the pandemic hit last year and the company laid off 50% of its workforce. Caplan left as CEO in April last year, and the company was ultimately sold to Selina, which offers co-working spaces to travelers, in October.

Caplan’s co-founder who leads product and engineering at Spot Meetings is Hans Petter “HP” Eikemo. The duo met during the very first Remote Year cohort. “He has been a software engineer for two decades [and was] literally the first person I called,” Caplan said. The team will grow further with the new funding, and the company hopes to start opening its beta to its 6,000 waitlist users over the next 3-4 weeks.


Linda Mitchell: It’s cool to be an outcast

Today, my guest poster is Linda Mitchell, spec-fic author of Sitawan and upcoming sequels. As well as being a member of my weekly writer’s group, Linda used to teach literature at college. Now she’s retired and living the dream as a full-time writer. Over to you, Linda:


Part I—Outcast as college professor

“Why do you read fantasy and science fiction? It isn’t literature.”

I’ve heard this from people who’ve never read either genre, people who should know that an uninformed opinion is shallow, lazy thinking. These people are my colleagues, college professors, many of whom are fiction writers themselves.

What did I do? I ignored them of course.

In the mid 1990s when my coordinator learned that I was teaching The Hobbit in my English classes, she wasn’t pleased. A coordinator supervises a program but has little control over another professor’s teaching methods as long as the students exit the class with certain predetermined writing and reading skills. She said The Hobbit wasn’t literature and was inappropriate in a college classroom. Because I was newly hired at the time and admired this strong-minded woman that had recently helped me get the much coveted tenure track position, I might have gone along and stopped using any speculative fiction. However, there were two other colleagues: the department chair who taught the scifi/fantasy literature course, and another professor who had been a Tolkien scholar since the 60s who I have always suspected is secretly in love with Galadriel.

So I wasn’t a lone wolf, but that was just the beginning of my colleagues’ resistance.

English professors believe that students should read stories that are good examples of fine writing, that expose them to challenging ideas that improve their critical thinking skills, and that have characters that will be positive role models. As a result, students become literate, enlightened, and improved persons. Most of my colleagues fail to see those qualities in science fiction and fantasy (mostly because they have never read the good stuff, I suspect).

And The Hobbit, along with the best science fiction and fantasy books are all of that—stunningly thoughtful stories about the human condition. Bilbo Baggins transforms from being a self-centered xenophobe into one with a deep sense of responsibility to all of Middle Earth, so much so that that he betrays his misguided friends in order to try and stop the battle of five armies.

Part 2—Outcast as reader

I belong to the coolest book club on the planet: readers of scifi/fantasy. We don’t have meetings or pay dues and aren’t organized in the traditional way, but we talk about what we read and love (Yes, I know there are formal groups but I am talking about something much more viral here). We share with one another the awesome new story we just finished or have read for the 17th time. We are scifi/fantasy geeks. And it doesn’t take us long to spot one another.

For example, a few days ago, I made reservations for the Bracebridge dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. I tried to do it online, but ended up calling the reservation line and talking to a real person. Bracebridge is a formal medieval dinner complete with actors performing in period dress. The reservation clerk told me it was black tie formal, so I asked did some diners wear costumes? When he sounded startled by my question, I quickly explained that I attend ComiCon. He immediately knew where I was coming from with the costume question because…he had attended ComiCon and was a fan of science fiction and fantasy! With excitement in his voice, for the next five minutes he asked me what were my favorite novels and I know he was busily writing them down while I did the same from his suggestions. Just like that the best book club on the planet connected us.

We hide our love of those stories like a guilty pleasure, or we boldly announce to our parents, family, co-workers, friends, and random strangers that we are scifi/fantasy lovers, luxuriating in the knowledge that we know what they don’t. We may want them to join us so we can share and discuss remarkable storytelling that can help us view our world and the human condition through a different lens. We may simply want them to enjoy fascinating and fun reads.

In the end, whether they approve or not, we don’t have time to worry about it because we’re spending every spare minute in the world of our next story.





Most humans wake up to mice in their kitchens, Sitawan wakes up to Werewolves in hers. Pack Leader Lavaka pursues Sitawan’s talent for dream prophecy like he’s stalking an elk on a full moon hunt, her environmental consulting firm remains solvent mostly because of Werewolf business connections, and she dates a human cop at a time when Werewolves are no longer shot on sight as long as they live in the Texas Relocation Camp. All that is business as usual until another pack wants her dead.



The Author

linda_redwoodsLinda M. Mitchell is putting the finishing touches on her much-anticipated prequel to Sitawan: A Humboldt Pack Story. In Nightmare at Angeles Crest a terrifying vision of Michael being tortured sends sixteen-year-old Sitawan on a 1200-mile rescue with more than twenty angry Werewolves. She’s frantic their methodical preparations won’t save him in time and her agitation fuels their aggression. Available May 2014 at

Linda’s second Humboldt Pack novel is 50% complete. For her entire 30 years, Sitawan has successfully avoided Humboldt County’s arrogant, vengeful Witches. She’s relieved they’ve always seen her dream prophecies as “a little gift, more nuisance than a helpful predictable tool.” When the nastiest of them demands her help, she can’t refuse. Even with two Alpha Werewolves, Lavaka and Michael, watching her back, she fears not only for her life but also her sanity.

Visit her at and Facebook

Listen to this fascinating 30-minute interview with Linda on Through the Eyes of Women Radio where she talks about Sitawan, being an author and self-publishing.


Audiobook of “Ocean of Dust” – In Production

oceanofdustaudiobook250 I talked all last year about an audiobook version of Ocean of Dust, and it is finally in production! At left is the cover art, a little different to the book versions because audiobook covers are square.

Below is a sample to whet your appetite, but first a little bit about the production. The narrator is the wonderful Becky Doughty. She and her husband recently started an audiobook production service called BraveHearts. I love what I’ve heard of her narration so far – very expressive and fun, and I can’t imagine how she keeps all the different voices in her head. Pop over to her site if you want to hear samples of her reading from other books.

We’re collaborating using Amazon’s awesome ACX service, and the audiobook will be available on Amazon (obviously), and iTunes.

We’re shooting for a release in April this year. Watch this space!

BraveHeartsAnd as promised, here’s a sample from near the beginning of Chapter 2 where Lissa and the snobby boy Lyndon are chained on a boat dock:


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