Critique idea: collaborative screen sharing


I am thinking about creating a collaborative screen sharing application with dual cursors. This is similar to ScreenHero which is no longer available standalone after acquisition by Slack.

Does this sound like something you would want to use and would pay for? If you are interested please register at


You don’t need to ask.

ScreenHero validated this idea and now that the stand-alone app is gone and, as far as I know, there’s no alternative, the market is yours for the taking.

The only problem here is execution.

You’ll find out that this is hard to do and you’ll have to dig deep into both Windows and Mac OS internals to implement dual cursors etc.

FYI: ScreenHero was made by 4 people: a designer and 3 programmers (I interviewed there for a job before Slack acquisition).

I think it’s a stretch, but doable project for a really good C++ programmer willing to work hard.

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@kjk, thanks a lot.

I am sure I can lift this off from technical perspective (I am a C++ dev, experience with internals, etc).

I am a lot less confident about the size of the market and my ability to reach it.

What makes me worry is that I cannot find people complaining about the pain that this is addressing. When there is a problem I expect to see it mentioned in blogs, forums, etc. This is usually my starting point to start building an audience and the initial marketing campaign for a new product. I cannot see much talk about screen sharing as a pain, everybody seems to be happy about traditional Teamviewer, Skype, etc screen casting.

It may be the case that people don’t even know that a better approach is possible. This will make it so much harder for me to sell it, I will also need to educate about the problem.

Since you mentioned interviewing at ScreenHero, do you have any sense about how many customers they had before they were acquired?

I don’t know how much money the made. They had enough users to be VC funded and get bought by Slack.

I’m not usually an optimist (see my other posts) and there are no guarantees in life but I have no doubt that in this particular case if you build it, they’ll come.

With intelligent pricing (free for limited use for individuals to get them to try it and get hooked; $29/mo/user for company accounts) this is swimming-in-cach business for whoever gets there first.

This is a recent HN thread “Ask HN: Does a viable alternative to ScreenHero exist?”

People are asking for this product. As far as validation, it doesn’t get better than this.

Those are mentions of screenhero on HN:

You don’t even have to market it too much. Once it’s out people will be recommending it to each other like this:

can you explain the “dual-cursors” feature. What made it special?

You mentioned Slack bought it out. Does that mean its available through Slack’s screen-sharing feature?

A traditional screen-sharing is: you have a screen, you allow other people to see it but only you can make changes i.e. there is only one mouse cursor and its yours.

ScreenHero was collaborative i.e. you were also able to allow the other person to control the screen i.e. each of you had independent mouse cursor/keyboard and could make changes at the same time.

I don’t know of ScreenHero is the only program that could do that, but it’s certainly rare.

It’s also why implementing this is hard. Neither Windows nor Mac have notion of two cursor operating on windows at the same time, so I’m sure they had a lot of fun figuring out how to handle focus between two users.

I believe Slack bought ScreenHero team to implement screen-sharing functionality, although I don’t think Slack’s screen-sharing works the same way as ScreenHero. Haven’t used it though, so might be wrong.

Either way, I think ScreenHero was differentiated enough to become very successful and now that it doesn’t exist, there’s a clear opportunity in essentially writing a clone.

That actually sounds really cool! The first thing that comes to mind is remote online tutors for students. It’s a bit of a niche market, and I’m sure there are plenty of other applications. I would definitely try it out.

Would you be able to do other inputs besides just a second cursor? E.g. could you type things from your keyboard where ever you’re cursor was?

Yes, I believe keyboard of the other person was also working.

I’ve used both GoToMeeting and WebEx that has this feature (both people can use mouse keyboard to interact with the presentation pc)

I think that TeamViewer and also allows this (and are free for personal use)

If so then it doesn’t really seem to be an undeserved niche. Have I misunderstood?

(As an aside it would be fantastic to be able to ‘mute’ the other persons mouse movements - I’ve been on many support sessions where the other person just can’t resist fiddling with the mouse whilst you’re trying to do something - mouse tourettes!)


Maybe it’s a matter of positioning.

Both GoToMeeting and WebEx are marketed as “online meetings”.

ScreenHero was all about collaborating on a shared screen.

Although reading, they talk about “keyboard & mouse sharing”.

In ScreenHero, you didn’t “share” the mouse. You can think of it as having 2 independent keyboards and mouses connected, both being able to do work at the same time.

That’s the tricky part to implement.

Isn’t VNC something like it? It is definitively not packaged nicely, but it works across linux, macos, windows.

VNC is for accessing a remote display yourself.

ScreenHero was about sharing your display with someone else and working together.

There are superficial similarities but the use cases and feature set make ScreenHero a separate app category.