business messaging blog
Silicon Valley startup aims to make text messages retractable
Scott Navratil

Everyone has experienced the horror of sending a text message to the wrong person before. Perhaps you addressed your mom or dad by a pet name you intended for your significant other. Maybe your boss knows a lot more about your weekend plans than you would have liked. Even innocent text messages sent to the wrong recipient are embarrassing. But a mistaken text, like misspoken words, can’t be taken back. Well one entrepreneur is hoping to change that.

Maci Peterson knows all too well the frustration (and panic) of not being able to “unsend” a text once it’s been sent. She’s still too embarrassed to share the details but she once sent a text to her boyfriend that was auto-“corrected” to hilarious effect. When she realized how badly she wanted to unsend it, she thought of a service that would have a lot of demand and On Second Thought was born. On Second Thought is a mobile messaging app that allows users to recall a text message so long as the recipient hasn’t opened it up and read it yet. Since most texting faux pas are noticed almost immediately, the majority of disaster could be averted if everyone used this app to text.

Taking retractable texts to the next level

On Second Thought was a big hit. Peterson first won a pitch competition with the idea. She used sponsor money to launch her company and mobile app. Three years later, the app already has more than 100,000 users from countries all around the world.

But it didn’t take long for Peterson to discover that there were even more applications for her idea. Users wanted to know if they could use the text message recall feature in their favorite messaging Apps like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. So Peterson has recently decided to switch On Second Thought from a B2C model to a B2B model. She is now promoting her text message recall service to popular messaging platforms that have a much wider user base than her own messaging app. The On Second Thought App will be discontinued as soon as a major telecommunications company pays to license her patent for text message delay and recall. Since her patent will be available on a per-license basis, every major messaging app and cell phone service provider could eventually incorporate it.

SMS marketing and retractable texts

The delay and recall patent that Peterson now owns has possible implications for SMS marketers as well. Bulk SMS services that manage SMS campaigns for businesses already allow users to compose messages in advance and set a time for them to be released but even with this, mistaken text messages are still occasionally sent. Businesses that segment their audience and send different texts to different groups of their audience might accidentally mix up their audiences. If bulk SMS service providers were to pay for a license to use Peterson’s patent, businesses may soon have the ability to retract text messages with incorrect information or mistaken text messages by the thousands.

Chantel Fullilove

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