Frustration was the impetus for Tom Katis to co-found Voxer in 2007. While he was serving in the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, he experienced the limitations of communication via military walkie-talkie firsthand. Now his push-to-talk app is looking to be the Nextel of the future, with free Voxer Pro and Voxer Pro for Business versions available on iOS and Android. He sat down recently to answer some of our questions about what interests and drives him.
What qualities do you like in a person?
The qualities I find appealing are simple: Courage, intellect, enthusiasm.
Name one thing you will regret never having done (if you never do it).
Having kids. I love my life, but I feel like I’m missing out on something if I never have kids.
Name one thing you will never regret having done.
Challenging myself. Attempting something hard. Even if I fail.
Do you still buy CDs or rent DVDs?
No. I get everything off the Internet all the time. Sometimes I use a thumb drive to move media around, but even that seems counter to where things are going.
What would you be doing if you were not in your current job?
I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. I pay myself nothing and have given myself no stock options. It doesn’t feel like work. I built Voxer for myself. I want Voxer to exist in the world, and it’s exciting to make it happen.
iPhone, Android or BlackBerry?
iPhone. Android keeps getting better, but iPhones are still the best devices out there.
If you could meet any historical or fictional person, who would it be?
George Washington. President of the most important startup in the history of the world.
What site/app do you check first when you wake up?
Voxer, then email, then Techmeme.
What was the last thing you fixed?
Push-to-talk communication. Live-only communication is so 1930s.
What was your first computer?
TRS-80. I suppose that dates me, since most of the people I work with weren’t even born when it first launched.
Do you have a dog or cat or other pet?
No. I’ll get a pet when I have kids.
If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
To fly. Not that it would be useful in any particular way, but it just seems cool.