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Summary:

In the world of startups, having founders leave the company after it gets big is rarely a surprise. Entrepreneurs, after all, typically don’t do well once processes become more important than innovation, so when the adult supervision is in place, they either move into the chairman […]

In the world of startups, having founders leave the company after it gets big is rarely a surprise. Entrepreneurs, after all, typically don’t do well once processes become more important than innovation, so when the adult supervision is in place, they either move into the chairman chair or depart entirely.

But news earlier this week of the departure of Joyce Dorris and Paul Erickson, the remaining co-founders at VoIP service provider SunRocket may be a sign of something else, since it’s a stretch to call the company a success. Fiscally they may be OK since SunRocket scored a $33 million C round last Fall (bringing total investment to $80 million), but you wonder who is steering the ship now that the original minds behind it have hit the ejector seat.

Since we don’t know SunRocket all that well, we will reserve judgement about how much the departures of the MCI veterans Dorris and Erickson may or may not harm the company’s future. Most research numbers give SunRocket a small (~4 percent) share of the independent VoIP market, with 128,000 subscribers according to ISP Planet. We have a message in to the company, and will add more if we hear more.

  1. Goooo SunRocket! :) I’ve been a customer for the last 8 months and I’m signed up with a prepaid plan for 2 years. I can’t complain at all and I hope they stay afloat for a long time.

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  2. This is an interesting development as you’ve described very well in your article.

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  3. They may be small, but they are still number 2 or 3 with a loyal following, innovative business model (compared to Vonage).

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  4. Hope you have better luck with your call into them than I did after they botched porting my parents home number (which they’ve yet to fix after several months).

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  5. Knowing Paul from working with him at MCI on the creation of 800-Collect and 10-321 in the 90’s, I’m not surprised to see him leave. He is a innovation and strategy guy.

    As for Joyce, she’s a pure consumer marketer. Perhaps she and Lisa Hook could not exist in the same space.

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  6. Isn’t SunRockets CEO the one that drove AOL broadband into the ground? For a national service I don’t see how they can survive with just 128 thousand customers when the market is growing like gangbusters. I think they will run out of cash. Their best deal is to hope somone will buy them out for more than they paid all that VC$$ to get those subscribers. 128k loyal customers means jack if they are not profitable.

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  7. UPDATE: SunRocket PR did contact us to claim that their subscriber count is closer to 198,000 than the 128K we cited above.

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  8. [...] or not such easy-to-use gear — or the convenience of a bundled service — will help lift troubled SunRocket out of the bottom of the VoIP provider pool is another story. In the latest VoIP market statistics [...]

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  9. 198K customers is pretty bad. That means they are netting 300 customers a day on average given their earlier 2005/2006 #s. Not stellar. How can a company like this stay in business given that they serve a national footprint??? thats like 1 net person per day per city. How is that a business model???

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  10. Joyce Vickers Sunday, March 18, 2007

    I have been a customer for over a year. There have been some rough times, but I am only seeing great improvement. Although the representatives could be trained better. Will use them as long as they continue to get better.

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