The much-talked about voice-to-text firm SpinVox is trying to pay staff in stock instead of salary this summer to save money, we have learne…

Spinvox mobster
photo: masochismtango

The much-talked about voice-to-text firm SpinVox is trying to pay staff in stock instead of salary this summer to save money, we have learned and confirmed – despite getting $100 million funding only last year. The company said: “We are offering all of our employees the opportunity to exchange all, part or none of their salary in July and August for share options, according to their wishes … It’s part of reacting to the global credit crunch. We’ve seen other companies take other kinds of measures.”

The spokesperson said the move is voluntary and “in keeping with SpinVox’s approach of being as flexible as possible and widening share ownership”. Stock is given routinely on occasions like anniversaries of service, she said, and: “There’s total freedom to opt in or take salary as normal.”

The invitation will raise an eyebrow, coming after SpinVox raised $100 million in March 2008 from Goldman Sachs, along with *GLG* Partners, Blue Mountain Capital Management and Toscafund Asset Management. That was one of the biggest venture fundings we saw in Europe last year, and took SpinVox’s total venture funding to $200 million since it was founded in 2003. CEO Christina Domecq said it valued SpinVox at “in excess of $500 million”.

Co-founder Daniel Doulton last week told paidContent:UK the company would need more funding to scale the business if it wins two or three more clients like Telefonica (NYSE: TEF), with which it inked a Latin America deal last month.

The Cambridge firm enables voicemail-to-text and spoken SMS services for carriers, plus powers dictation of blog posts, social network updates etc. Though the company has been aggressively pursuing carrier deals, its eventual goal is to provide a hosted voice messaging service, in which particular words could be hyperlinked to advertising.

The company last filed accounts in December 2007, when SpinVox said it made an annual loss of £36.3 million, up from £11.6 million; revenues rose from £436,000 to £2 million. It has since then signed on 12 additional carriers, including Alltel (NYSE: AT) in the US. Previous reports have said the company has considered an IPO. SpinVox is often said to be one of the UK’s leading tech prospects, but one insider told us stock was “worthless”.

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  1. Tip of the iceberg, dig deeper.

    Months of unpaid travel expenses, unpaid insurance premiums, employees slow paid, unpaid vendors including outsourced (Pakistan) transcription provider.

    Poorly run company whose management team is well represented by the "block head" dolls. This one is going down, yard sale forthcoming.

  2. I guess it could be OK if you have faith in the company and you can get a deal worth considering. The problem is obviously the underlying reason for the offer. very interesting idea though have some of the voice text linked to advertising. It is far fetched but in this day and age anything is possible. Lets hope the employees involved can make the right educated move that benefits them most. Everyone would find themselves in different situations, its difficult to say waht I would do, but cash is cash at the end of the day!

    Scott from the <a >wind powered generators</a> hub.

  3. Jack & Jill have climbed the hill to pour some truth in the SpinVox "wishing well".

    Fellow "voxers" near and far tell your stories on this blog.

    Detail the extent of this management fraud and expose the founders for who they are!

  4. Jill,

    If what you said is true, particulary about Goldman Sachs involvement, please contact Brian Ross at ABC or other news outlet about this.

    Most of these tech media are in some sort of wink-wink collusion with these startup/VC cronies and will never expose this kind of behavior. I think you should expose this outrageous stuff to mainstream media news if it is true.

  5. Sr Account Exec Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    This company is being run by imcompetents, starting with CD. It looks like she is taking a play out of the California handbook. No IOU's/worthless stock.
    Usless management = useless stock…
    If they never go public and go out of business the stock is not worth the paper it is printed on. Somebody must have pictures of Goldman Sachs execs.

  6. James Whatley Tuesday, July 14, 2009


    An *actual* SpinVox employee here.

    My name's James Whatley and I head up Social Media here at SpinVox HQ.

    I'd really like to clarify some things:

    1) Headline of piece:

    "SpinVox Paying Staff In Stock To Save On Costs"

    Well, no.
    Not really.

    "SpinVox Offers Staff *Opportunity* To Be Paid In Stock"

    …is closer to the truth, i.e.: it's the truth.

    Remember, the important parts here are 'offers' & 'opportunity'.

    While this may well be part of a longer term to save money – it's actually a bloody good offer (one that I've taken up myself).

    Obviously the above doesn't make such a good story on its own and headline grabbing linkbait is much more useful..

    (Hell, I've done it myself – http://blog.spinvox.com/2009/05/22/spinvox-palm-a-pre-announcement )

    “There’s total freedom to opt in or take salary as normal.”


    I'm really not one to fight like this. But it's kind of annoying when we're all working so hard to get things right. Yes times are hard, they are for all of us.

    But come on…


    James Whatley
    Digital & Social Media

  7. Wow….how's the Kool-Aid James?

    Seriously, why don't you read the article where moco says it's "voluntary" and "total freedom" to opt for stock in place of salary.

    But, now that a company spokesman is addressing the article, why don't you address all of the claims instead of the easy ones. Such as the bigger claim: SpinVox is running out of cash and looking to employees to help because they've raised $200 million and the VC community has said that's enough.

  8. Mr. Whatley…let's start out with an easy one:

    Can you enlighten us on how much of the company's funding Ms. Domecq spent on her latest excursion (Race Across America) in support of the Spinvox Adventurers team (and on a side note please explain Mr. Rolls position at the company and on-going responsibilities) compared to the outstanding expenses that are currently owed to its employees many of whom have been carrying this financial burden on the company's behalf since the first quarter of this year. Should be pretty straightforward math.

    To paraphrase Ms. Domecq's often quoted mantra it sounds like the employees "clipped in, climbed on" and are now being taken for a ride…

  9. I have personally witnessed the waste by the leadership in this company for long enough. What no one has mentioned is the lavish spending by CD on business contacts and internally. How many summer and Christmas parties did she fly every employee from all over the world to London, spending hundreds of thousands on airfare, more on hotels, expensive venues such as Kylie Minogue concerts at the O2 Arena, a private boat cruising the Thames, meals, drinks… it goes on.

    Over the past 9 months after aggressive hiring of top talent globally, people who left great jobs for the promises by SpinVox, the company began an even more aggressive firing spree that continues today. Many of these employees, myself included, have been left with thousands of dollars of unpaid work expenses.

    This "opportunity" that James also referenced doesn't touch on one key point. The communique by CD also points out that if enough employees don't sign up to the is program (to save money) then the company will be forced to continue with further cuts to the workforce. Doesn't sound like much of an opportunity to me. If this company was so concerned with giving employees an opportunity to earn options, why didn't they simply extend the SAYE (Save As You Earn) plan?

    The doors will get blown open soon enough, especially with strong competition entering the market with automated conversion technology vs. the agents in 3rd world countries SpinVox employs to listen to every message.

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