There’s nothing more cringe worthy than realizing that you sent a text message to the wrong person or that you’ve made an embarrassing typo.
Every day, Americans send about 6 million text messages, so mishaps are bound to happen. But what’s at stake in our messaging ecosystem goes beyond that. People don’t only use messaging platforms to keep in touch with friends, they also use it to send money and exchange sensitive information.
Maci Peterson is on a mission to turn back the hands of time and give people the chance to take back that message you didn’t think twice about before sending.
Peterson is the founder of On Second Thought, a tool that lets users unsend text messages. She came up with the idea after sending an embarrassing text to an ex-boyfriend years ago. She explained the story, in detail, to NPR’s 1A.
”So I wanted to text him: ‘Hey, for some reason I keep missing your calls,’” she explains. “But Auto-correct changed it to ‘Hey, for reason I keep missing’ that part of the male anatomy that rhymes with ‘calls’!”
Since then, Peterson knew she wanted to stop people from making the same mistake she did. She came up with the idea in 2014 and brought it to SXSW’s pitch competition, not thinking it would shake the table with the judges. She ended up winning and from there just ran with it, dedicating time to building the product out to what it is now.
On Second Thought’s genesis as a company has been interesting. It was originally an app that let users set a timer on their messages before they were officially sent. The timer could be set for as short as a few seconds and as long as an entire day.
Since then, the company has grown beyond just un-sending texts to something that’s monetized and scalable. The company rebranded as a business-to-business tool, implementing all of On Second Thought’s original features and technology, but for individual clients.
The company now targets call centers, internal chat platforms and mobile transactions. It’s also expanded the scope of its technology. Now, users of mobile payment services can use it to prevent sending money to the wrong people. The product, On Second Thought Money, is aimed at stopping people from making major financial blunders.
“Tailoring our existing On Second Thought Undo software to On Second Thought Money was not difficult,” Peterson said. “We just had to rethink where our technology would sit in our clients’ application flow.”
Peterson says the company’s newest product could potentially save clients millions of dollars per year.
Peer-to-peer platforms have become increasingly popular over the years with the success of PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and Square Cash. Social media platforms like SnapChat and Facebook, and Google’s Gmail now have peer-to-peer payment features. However, each payment option comes with the risk of sending money to the wrong person and never having it returned.
Early Warning Services, the operator of Zelle, said that $39 billion was sent through the platform during the first quarter of 2019. The volume of payments increased by 72 percent compared to last year at the same time, marking a trend in the growing popularity in peer-to-peer payment platforms.
Peterson started her company in San Francisco and has since moved to Morocco.
“We’ve been able to expand and network in ways I would not have imagined,” Peterson said.
Peterson said the company is branching out to other parts of Africa and Europe, and that On Second Thought’s next goal “is to be a standard feature in every [peer-to-peer] payments platform” in those regions.
If successful, Peterson’s vision for the company could make major waves in the way we send, or unsend, all types of messages, making platforms safer and more secure.