Pesto Blog

The Pesto Pitch

Doug Safreno
Doug Safreno
Mar 10, 2020 - 6 min read
The Pesto Pitch

Since Pesto is free, you can just sign up and get started with your team. Some people understand it best when they poke around (note that Pesto doesn't have a useful "single-player" mode - it needs a group of people to be effective).

However, if you or your teammates want a pitch first, here's what we'd tell you in a demo call.

This is a long post (~5 min) - if you want a shorter version, scroll through our homepage. However, if you read this whole article, you'll have a much better understanding of the product. We definitely recommend it if you're seriously considering trying Pesto.

The two big issues of remote work

Pesto exists because Vivek and I experienced two big problems when working remotely ourselves: communication friction and loneliness.

As it turns out, these two problems are also the biggest problems that most remote workers feel. Here's a graphic from Buffer and AngelList's State of Remote Work 2020.

Let's look at how Pesto solves these two main issues.

Pesto reduces communication friction

Pesto helps reduce communication friction by solving the Slack / Teams "back-and-forth" problem.

You've probably experienced it before.

  1. You message someone
  2. After 2 minutes, they get back to you
  3. You ask for clarification
  4. They reply

Before you know it, 15 minutes have gone by typing away to figure something out that could've been done in person in 2 minutes. 50+ messages later, you decide to schedule a time to talk it out for the next day. You context switch onto some other work in the interim.

This is a communication disaster.

Instead, in Pesto, you can see if someone's available and, if so, immediately talk it out.

Pesto provides availability via manual and automatic social signals.

First, Pesto integrates with your calendar(s) to automatically show your availability.

Second, Pesto has quick, manual status updates.

Third, if you choose to open your door, Pesto will automatically show your availability via your computer's idle time.

Finally, Pesto supports numerous other integrations to show social signals, like weather and Spotify.

Once you know that someone is available, Pesto provides rooms for speaking with teammates.

Think of rooms like virtual conference rooms or private offices. You can make rooms like #team-infra, #stand-up, #water-cooler, or #office-doug.

One of the cool features of rooms is you can see who is inside and, if the door isn't locked, jump right into the conversation.

If you want to speak with someone and their door is closed, you can send them a "request," which will ring them (like a phone call). They will need to accept this, and then the two of you will be placed into a temporary room.

If their door is open, you'll immediately be able to speak to them, like a walkie-talkie. To protect their privacy, they will join with audio and video off by default.

Pesto helps teammates build closeness / culture and feel less lonely

People who work remotely get lonely. When Vivek and I did our initial survey, we found that the remote software engineers on average have less than one unscheduled audio/video conversation with teammates per week. Compare that to the number of conversations you'd have in a day in an office!

Pesto helps remote teammates build closeness in four main ways.

First, via expressive avatars

Avatars give teammates a way of expressing themselves, building a sense of presence and camaraderie. We've heard many times from managers that normally reserved, distant teammates create awesome, unique avatars to display themselves to their team. Avatars allow teammates to present their best, most quirky selves.

Second, by encouraging audio & video communication

By speaking rather than typing, teammates naturally build closeness. Typing is impersonal and leaves room for ambiguity. Speaking is higher fidelity and more personal.

Third, with spaces for remote teammates to have non-work fun

This includes via dedicated channels like the #water-cooler, as well as our built-in trivia game. We also have spatial rooms that allow you to navigate around a map and join conversations. Or you can passively hang out with your teammates in the Lofi rooms that play chill lofi music.

Fourth, with fun celebrations

This allows you to celebrate your teammates' successes. You can also send GIFs as well!

Managing privacy

Pesto helps employees manage their interactions with bosses and employers with all kinds of privacy toggles. Here are a few ways to manage privacy.

Closed door vs open door

Pesto defaults to closed door communication. If you're not comfortable with presence detection or walkie-talkie style communication, you can just leave it that way. When your door is closed, Pesto does not detect presence, and anyone who wants to reach you will need to request you (like a phone call).

Open door: join / pull defaults

If you'd prefer to open your door, one of the key things to understand in Pesto is the idea of join and pull defaults. These are the default states of your audio and video when intentionally choosing to join a conversation / channel vs when someone pulls you into a conversation / channel.

Pull - by default, when someone starts a conversation with you, or pulls you into a channel, your audio is off and your video is off. This is to protect your privacy.

Join - by default, when you start a conversation with someone or click to join a channel, your audio is on and your video is off.

Here's what starting a conversation looks like by default:

In the top image, Jack starts a conversation with Doug. Jack "joins" with his audio on, but Doug is "pulled" so his audio is off (muted).

Both can be configured under preferences.


Both manual and automatic (calendar) statuses can be used to prevent people from starting conversations with you manually. For example, if you want to focus for 2 hours without interruption, you can set a manual status with either "warn" or "block" behavior.

Here's how to configure a manual status:

Here's how to configure a calendar:


Let's say you work in HR, and need to have a very private conversation with a teammate. You don't want anyone to drop in.

Rooms can be locked to prevent drop ins. Instead, teammates will have to knock to get in.

Here's what locking a room and receiving a knock looks like:

What's next?

More questions? Check out our FAQ. Even more? Navigate to our homepage and reach out to us through the blue bubble in the bottom right. We're happy to chat there or schedule a conversation.

Also, Pesto is currently free and we plan to have a free offering forever. Sign up and try it out with your team here.

Asynchronous communication is also distracting

Asynchronous communication is also distracting

Doug Safreno
Doug Safreno
Feb 27, 2020 - 6 min read