About Sidebar

๐Ÿ—ฟ Our Story

Video calls are exhausting. They work for formal business meetings, where one person speaks and everyone else listens, but they're terrible for informal get-togethers. The bigger the group, the worse it is. That meant that as we distanced during the pandemic, we lost our ability to socialize with colleagues, communities, and friends. We had to limit our calls to just a few people or be forced to endure awkward, unfulfilling interactions with large groups. At home during quarantine, wishing we had a better tool to connect with our own communities, we started to build Sidebar.

When people get together in real life, they divide into small groups to talk, disband and recombine. Sidebar recreates that experience. Users can hop in and out of conversations with a click, run into friends and strangers, and have real conversations, often unexpectedly.

Sidebar launched in January 2021. In beta, we were proud to host events for hundreds of schools, alumni associations, professional organizations, social clubs, companies, religious organizations, friend groups, and families.

๐Ÿ”ฌ How it Works

Create a call link and share it. Open the link in your browser, enter your name and....you're in! Start mingling and chatting.


How many people can join my event?

Sidebar events work for up to 300 participants. Events contain an unlimited number of rooms. As your group gets bigger, people will naturally add more rooms.

Not all 300 participants can fit in a standard room. Because of bandwidth limits it's best to limit standard rooms to 100. To fit 300 participants in one room you'll need to create an "auditorium" where ย hosts can bring up to 12 participants on stage at a time.

What devices can I use Sidebar on?

Sidebar can be used on any computer or tablet. It can't be used on mobile phones. Larger devices have the necessary screen real estate and processing power to show many video feeds simultaneously and navigate the event seamlessly. We are working on an app so that mobile users can connect to events with more limited functionality.

Is it secure?

Security and privacy are achieved through several means:

  1. Video calls are encrypted and secure. We use a trusted third party video provider, Daily.co. You can read about how they handle security here.

  2. Video chats are not recorded and we do not store any video on our servers.

  3. Events are accessed through a unique event link that's almost impossible to guess. Of course, it's only as secure as the people who have access to the link. In the future, we will implement an account-based verification system for organizers who need it.

Why does it cost money?

We would love to be able offer a free tier for friends, non-profits, communities etc. However, the bandwidth costs of video chat are high. We hope to bring those costs down over time and to find new ways to fund Sidebar's services. Until then, we thank you for your support by purchasing a subscription.

Can't I just use Zoom breakout rooms?

Zoom was designed for a formal professional setting and simply doesnโ€™t work for seamless interactions. Participants aren't free to create their own rooms, edit room names, invite others to chat, or easily switch conversations. Thatโ€™s not the autonomy people need in a social or networking setting.

Can I use Sidebar for a conference?

Sidebar is great for the socializing aspect of conferences, whether for pre-planned networking events or throughout the day. ย Use Sidebar as the default location for conference-goers to hang out and meet each other in between sessions.For presenting and panel discussions, we recommend a video chat service dedicated to those uses. Simply give conference-goers a link to Sidebar when it's time to hang out and meet other people.

๐Ÿš’ Help & Support

Email support@sidebar.vc and we'll be in touch.

๐Ÿ“ซ Connect

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