This week, more people downloaded the Marco Polo app from the Apple iOS app store than such long-established household names as Google Chrome, WhatsApp, Skype or Twitter, according to market tracker Apptopia.  

This is a big deal for a small app run by a mom and pop who fled Poland and Ukraine to find a better life in the United States. They created the app as a way to better communicate with the folks back home.

The video messaging app was first released in 2014, so it’s been around for some time and has always had its fans. But the effect of being homebound during the coronavirus shutdown has had folks looking for novel ways to stay in touch with other people, and word has spread fast about Marco Polo.  

“Chat apps are great if you have lots of free time,” says Vlada Bortnik, who co-founded Marco Polo with husband Michal and serves as the CEO. “But if you’re like most of us – moms who are homeschooling, running a business and cooking dinner – it’s hard to find the time.”

Marco Polo co-founder Vlada Bortnik

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Marco Polo’s twist on video communication is as simple as the old swimming pool game with the same name. It’s a walkie-talkie video message app. You shoot a “Marco” video message and send it to your friend who then responds with a “Polo” response video. 

Thus, you’ve made contact, but you don’t have to both be ready to connect live at the same time.  

Instead, you respond when you have free time.

If you do want to talk live, you do it differently from a live video app like Skype or Zoom. You Marco Polo back and forth, but in real time, like video texting.



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