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Summary:

Earlier this year we wrote about Gaboogie, a web-based conference call service started by Erik Lagerway. The service didn’t quite work out, and the company reconfigured its business focus to offering instant group calls from mobiles, and is now called Lypp. Another web-based conferencing service, Foonz […]

old_phone.jpgEarlier this year we wrote about Gaboogie, a web-based conference call service started by Erik Lagerway. The service didn’t quite work out, and the company reconfigured its business focus to offering instant group calls from mobiles, and is now called Lypp.

Another web-based conferencing service, Foonz might be going down that route. Randy Corke, President & CMO of Foonz’s parent company, RPM Communications was in town last week to bring me upto speed on their new offering, Utterz, which is sort of like blogging-via-voice-calls from your cellphone. The Maynard, MA-based, RPM recently raised $4 million in Series A funding from Morgenthaler Ventures.

During our chat, Corke said he was focusing all his energies on their recently launched service, Utterz. he pointed out that the audio-centric advertising has been a bit of a non-starter. On top of that the opportunity to make money from terminating calls is dwindling fast, and that is why he has shifted focus from Foonz to Utterz.

Of course, there is also this little fact: the pre-Web 2.0 conference call services such as FreeConference.com are good enough for people to not muck around with new concepts.

Update: Randy got in touch this morning, and wanted to point out that Foonz isn’t ready for the next world just yet.

Based on your posting, I’m concerned that I didn’t articulate a couple of points very well. First, with regards to audio-centric advertising, my point was that it is still a nascent market, while online advertising is well established. I did not mean to in any way insinuate that audio advertising is a non-starter – in fact we are quite bullish about it.

The other point I obviously wasn’t clear about was foonz. While you are right that we are focusing our marketing on Utterz right now, foonz continues to grow at an average of 50% per month over the past six months, and people love the unique ability to start a group call on-the-fly and group messaging capabilities of foonz. In particular, we have seen strong growth and use by faith based groups, small businesses and families.

That last comment prompted me to ask him how can he not focus on a service that is growing 50% every month? (Of course, not knowing what is the Foonz user base, the 50% monthly growth is a meaningless metric, at lease from my perspective.)

As a startup, we like to focus to make an impact. Since foonz is able to grow now on its own without a lot of effort from us and we believe Utterz has tremendous upside, it’s a simple matter of focusing our efforts and resources on Utterz now to make sure it gets off to a good start.

Much as I would like to buy into that argument, I can’t. As I had said earlier, the so called group calling and conference services are a bit of a non starter. Consumers’ have to be completely fed-up and experience extreme frustration before embracing a new technology. Anyway, Corke’s point about focus is well taken.

Related Article: 27 tips for teleconferencing.

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By Om Malik
  1. [...] Not everything can be generic, and a brand is one of the most important things to nail down when launching a product or service. If you’re still thinking of removing vowels from words to make up a 2.0-ey name, stop because you’re clearly doing it wrong. Here’s an example of how naming is a zoo these days. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from a post by Om Malik: [...]

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  2. [...] CEO of Foonz’s parent company, RPM Communications, tells GigaOm that he has “shifted focus” to a new service called Utterz that lets people post voice [...]

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  3. [...] Original post by Based Conferencing Web » Blog Archive » Like Gaboogie, Foonz Losing Its Vo… [...]

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  4. The Utterz service sounds very similar to a Spinvox service.

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  5. I represent Great America Networks Conferencing, so as a disclosure, this comment will have a sales spin to it favoring my company, but it also will only hold true information.

    I never bash another competitor and wouldn’t do so here, but there are downsides to using a free service. The first and most obvious reason is that is a long distance toll call and for higher attendance to your event, toll-free is always going to be appreciated by your participants. Another limit (as mentioned right on their website) is that there is a chance some of your callers might get a busy signal, or locked out. A risk you have to take. For recording, it seems to work well, but it is only 1 recording at a time. If these are factors that don’t impact your business, then this might be the best way for you to go.

    As for pay services, the things to look for (outside of price) is quality and service. We have a full Compunetrix audio bridge with redundant ports and fully scalable. Crystal clear and without drops. If someone gets dropped, or your audio isn’t clear, we will pay for the call. Full guarantee of service. This is a solid state service and not VOIP which is shaky at best.

    As for customer service, we utilize a dedicated account manager. If there is anything needed, you can always, within reason ( I am human), get a hold of me or whoever your manager would be. the same person you deal with instead of 1 of 1000 people. New services or access codes, technical problems, scheduling operator assisted calls, help with recording or any training, all run through your account manager. Few other companies can offer that level of personalized service.

    We offer as many recordings as needed. Accessible from any phone or as a free downloadable wav file. Only charge is 7 cents per minute you are recording, or listening on a phone.

    Pricewise, I offer our lowest price of 5 cents per minute/connection for toll-free service to anyone that contacts me through any mention on LinkedIn. We also offer WebConferencing and VideoConferencing capabilities as you might need them. No long contracts. No credit card required, (we will invoice you). No minimums (if you bill $1.50 in conferencing usage, that would be the invoice you receive). No hidden fees. No tricks. Just great service as a good rate.

    Anyone can contact me for any further information.

    Anthony Russo
    Great America Networks Conferencing
    arusso@ganconference.com
    http://www.ganconference.com
    312-432-5377

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  6. [...] Original post by Based Conferencing Web » Blog Archive » Comment on Like Gaboogie, Foonz Lo… [...]

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  7. [...] CMO of Foonz’s parent company, RPM Communications, tells GigaOm that he has “shifted focus” to a new service called Utterz that lets people post voice [...]

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  8. [...] actual headline from Om Malik at GigaOm today: “Like Gaboogie, Foonz Losing Its Voice Too.” The extra “too” really clears things up, doesn’t it? TechCrunch picked up [...]

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  9. [...] actual headline from Om Malik at GigaOm today: “Like Gaboogie, Foonz Losing Its Voice Too.” The extra “too” really clears things up, doesn’t it? TechCrunch picked up [...]

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