The truth about Truecaller

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“This is my world my name is a llama me a ceo and co founder founder of two color let s find out the truth about two color drupada. I as you watch the show. I m sure most of you if i ask the question will have a yes to this. It is india s biggest market and the question is do you have true caller in your phone and can you live without it once you ve got it.

But is that all there is do you truly know how it functions. How does it know that your information. Contacts unrecognized numbers. Numbers that are calling.

You for the first time. It can put a name a designation and a company to it how does it do that how their privacy and security issues and can this app really grow further and become something else well today. We re going to find out all so first thank you so much for coming. India being one of your biggest markets or the biggest market right the biggest mortgage.

But let s just start this story from the beginning. Why did you think of true cola that very first time that you said. I wish something like this could happen. That s the eureka moment.

There s a lot more that goes into finally coming up with an app. They just because so quickly the start of this yeah sure so me and my co founder nami back in 2009. We were both getting tons of phone calls from different parts of the world and you know today. We re living in a world where it s very hectic you give tons of phone calls how do you prioritize them and so forth.

And it s not only about you know where is this where in the world is this number coming from it s also what s the name of this person. How do i know that person and so forth and we re looking into this and we re thinking like let s try to build something for our own needs to save time. But also in some way to be able to choose how do i want to live my daily life and so we built this as our own service. Okay so that s that s typical of a very successful app.

That has had very humble beginnings. But there s another part of the story that i really want to find out about and that is to have the confidence to do something i mean a lot of people of course or use truecaller may not be aware that you are actually relying a lot on crowdsourcing. It s each users contact and data based on the name that we save against a phone. Number that becomes your nerve.


Center your. Core is that right right in. The beginning when you had. 10000 people or 5000.

People obviously we re not that efficient information and knowledge not that good out of calls that people were getting at that time maybe one out of three were tracked. But the other 2 was still unrecognized that in issue phase was that a novice time for you no not at all. I mean just as any kind of service. There s a network effect around it like whatsapp.

If no one is on whatsapp. Then it s useless just as facebook you have to start somewhere. And i think what we looked at was what other services can we offer to our users. Which is not that dependent on the data quality that where such as the call blocking and so forth and over time we built a much stronger data database of information but what s also important which is also a misconception is that we don t crowdsource people s phone books and make them publicly searchable.

The data is actually coming from people tagging information like after a phone call you might we might not have that information. So we ask it who was this and with different algorithms we can make sure that ok. This person is you know reggie because 50. Other people said so i get that part but the part that surprises.

Me is you re saying that you don t necessarily have to get my contacts and my information and my numbers from my database. But that is primarily the first thing that happens when you install true caller is that it does ask me for permission to take my contacts access to my contacts and my names in my database. And does upload it on to your servers now the security of those and everything else we ll get into later. But that is the primary business.

The business model because without that you couldn t be this efficient right so am i right or wrong you re partly right so what part is wrong. So the part that is wrong is that we take your contacts and make them searchable. We don t do that ok so there is a secret sauce around this how do we make this better. And i would say the strongest part is actually the community tagging information and we built advanced crawlers that goes to the web tries to find ok we couldn t find a match on this number.

Now. Let s try to find it on the internet ok so you re saying that it s not a searchable database that is available in most people but you went through a bit of a controversy with one time. Where i think there were some small time hack that happened and then there was also your website which actually had some searchable database. Which once you became aware you took it away and while of course it s great to talk about controversies.


I m not really going to dwell too much in it. Because you seem to have done a good job with it. But you do stand with an incredible amount of power i mean today big data and especially customizable data tag data data about who has what phone number and what does he do a very powerful species so do you take this responsibility seriously because you are in a very powerful position to abuse. It of course of course.

We do and also once you become a true coiour user. It s up to you you can decide what information should be visible. What should my name be if i don t want to be a linear true color. Even though the community might say my name is alan.

I can still decide as long as i own that number i can decide it my name is not alan today it s batman okay but the difference is if i write batman. I won t get the truecaller badge the true badge that says okay this he said. I didn t exactly. He says who you know the name is as is correct and and you know so we try to use the technology to verify the information in a better way.

But you re still in control of you information. If i m not a true corner user my name is still on the database. And it seems to be fairly accurate now if i m not a true collar user. I do not have a tag.

Which is stick marked i have not sat down and corrected my database. You still seem to get my name pretty accurately right how does that happen so if you think about it we have over 60 million users in india our users are so engaged that you know the data they contribute with is makes our algorithms or nlp systems to actually always not always. But very often pick the correct ones. So i would say in a new country where we start to grow.

The the accuracy might be slightly less good as in india. But over time it always becomes better no company today can it s not us at all you need to do more and truecaller also seems to be doing that so first take us through all the new things that you re adding on and then of course. My question would be aren t you going away from your core. No but honestly if you look at true color.

If you compare it today with you know four years ago. There s actually a lot of things we have removed. We ve been very data driven from day one okay we need to make sure that whatever we do whatever we remove or whatever we add we need to make sure that you know it makes sense. What we have added over time are details that we believe or that our users has been asking for that makes the service even better like the verified match as i mentioned you know two years ago.


Our users were screaming like we want to be able to search by name and we were thinking like okay. There might be i don t know say 100 million defects. In india. I m just throwing at it figure out sure how do you find the right deepak.

And we were thinking okay number lookup you enter a number you get deepak that s easy. But how do you find the right deepak. So we started to work on our own social graph and this took us six months of engineering to figure out how do we make sure that when you search for deepak you get the right deepak in the top five. So these are the kind of things is what does it take into consideration connections between me and deepak based on basically the people you have in your phonebook.

Who do you have in common with other people as it does on any social network. But in this case you don t have to go in and say. This is my friend this is my friend this is my friend your phone book that s your real friends. Now let s get down to some of the other features one of them of course is almost artificial intelligence predictive and that is true caller wants to tell me about the fact that i actually need to contact or should be contacting or usually will contact so and so person because it s looking at frequency.

My usage patterns and everything else is that necessary. I mean isn t that kind of very big brother a little hawkish. We recently launched you a caller five one of the big things into caught fire was actually replacing your contact book. Because we saw that our uses over time they stopped saving contacts to their phone books because they were just relying on that the contacts were in the true kali cloud.

So that was one of the big things in trucco that we we manage your contacts that you have locally and we make sure that you don t need to care about the contacts. You don t have because they are already in a true color cloud. They are always updated when it comes to suggest that this was one of the features that people were screaming for they were like we want to we want an even easier way to call people what s interesting. And what s what s good to know is that the prediction is happening locally on your device based on your call history.

There s nothing to do with the server. What is it they re trying to achieve so i mean i understand what you re doing i m not understanding the final destination of this we want to make sure that your whole communication experience is excellent and we think that over time people will not want to actually enter something their phone should be doing things for them. And that s why we think that this is a very exciting area. How we can help people to save time absolute final question.

This is called my crystal ball gazing question and that is three years from now because in the app. Word to say five or seven is impossible three years from now. Where do you think true color will be well in three years. I really hope that trigger will be on every single device.


I want it to be a standard i want to call it to be the de facto platform for every kind of communication. I think it s important for a company to continue to innovate otherwise you will die. But you don t necessarily need to innovate with new features. If i think what s up is a great you know example where their innovation is actually making it better on the backend.

Okay. Fantastic now how about leaving everybody with the teeth. So we have a one new product coming out this year in a couple of months. I can t give you more about that one.

But we re really looking forward to that one okay. So do you wanted us the name of it or what it does anyone i mean they say the true tease is when you tease enough right so do you want to tease enough on that or it will be named through something. The other part will reveal own palette. So all right great.

So is thank you so much for coming. All the way here isn t fantastic having you here and of course. We d love to have you back after the true something is released. Thank you so sure being on the show thanks a lot so that then is true caller.

If you ve always been thinking. The mystery. The aura. The magic of true caller and how it does it all plus.

All the other little little bugs that keep going off in your head is my contact and database safe what about my privacy security. But i think we got almost all the answers we ll see you next week. Right here on the contrary. Thank you so much i the country this is my world.

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