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TalkPlus, VoIP 2.0 Startup raises $5.5 million

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The good news is that VoIP has moved away from its PSTN-replacement phase to a more experimental phase, where start-ups are combining presence, personality management, unified messaging and mobility and coming up with new applications. The bad news is that none of them have hit a home run, yet. TalkPlus, a San Mateo, Calif., based start-up hopes it is the one to hit it out of the park.

The company has been in business since 2004, and is finally getting ready to announce its first beta, perhaps as early as the first week of November. On Monday, October 30th, the company is going to announce that it has received a $5.5 million in Series A financing from Menlo Ventures.

We met with Jeff Black, the chief executive and the founder of the company over the weekend, and he gave us a demo of the service, which is essentially a “virtual number” on your mobile phone. The service needs a tiny application that is downloaded onto your phone and becomes your virtual mobile number, which can make and receive phone calls.

Here is how it works: the service gives you a TalkPlus number that you can pass around freely. The service connects to a TalkPlus server over the data network, and allows you to authenticate your number. All out bound calls from your phone can be made via any of the two phone numbers you have – your cell phone, or this virtual number.

Outbound and inbound calls use the voice channel, and connect to the PSTN network. There is no voice quality degradation, typically a problem with mobile VoIP offerings. Those who are receiving your call can only see your virtual phone ID.

When they want to return your phone call, they can hit call and the call is returned to the virtual number. When they hit send, the call is then routed to the TalkPlus softswitch and then onto your mobile phone. The original cell phone number can stay anonymous, if you so desire, a feature that can come in handy if you are looking for love online or in the bars.

No surprise, TalkPlus is about to hook-up with one of the top five dating sites on the Internet. The service will be free while in beta, but will cost about $10 a month and will come with a slew of features. TalkPlus will share the revenues with its partners, Black told us.

The new service has shades of Jangl, Grand Central, iotum, and several other Voice 2.0 companies. We find the concept intriguing, and once we get our hands on the beta software (which currently runs on most regular phones, but not smart phones,) we will bring you a review. We will look at their business model at that point as well.

What we do love about the service – ability to add a second phone number to your mobile phone. A few European carriers tried to do that with dual SIMs, but to have a work and personal number on the same handset – that alone is a reason to check out TalkPlus.

16 Responses to “TalkPlus, VoIP 2.0 Startup raises $5.5 million”

  1. I agree with Dan’s comments: what the hell do they need $5.5MM for? Technically this is a simple combination of an asterix platform and getting a bunch of local numbers from multiple providers.

    The service itself is not even new: I have been running multiple businesses this way for 2 years using Lingo and more recently Vonage: I get a VOIP account (Vonage, Lingo etc…) which becomes my main line and I route all my VOIP calles to my cell phone so I’m always reachable- that’s it. On the outbound, if the number is blocked, why not call directly from your cell phone? why use a J2ME client?

    I hope there is more to this than what they have so far. After raising the money from a “reputable” VC almost 6 months, it doesn’t look that they have made much progress, even getting international routes is not available. What are they doing with the cash?

    Anyway, good luck with this idea but this currently looks like another one of the 70% of VC funded companies that won’t make it.

  2. I’m just wondering, how exactl is this okring. Is ther a java peice you’re suppose to install on thephone? Is it over WiFi…is it route through wap internet how is this thing working, and how does it get implimented inthe phone? What type of number do youget? Only a us number or is not like that or only english how does thi work? If you can pleae reply to this that would be awsome.

    Cheers Mates.

  3. Having used VoIP on my Nokia E60 for the last 75 days I must say I am the happiest customer ever. I have made 65 hours of mobile VoIP calls using the (( truphone )) client to basically every country on the globe. My average per minute charge with all the free stuff they are giving away was 4.7 pence. WOW!!!! I used to be at 25 pence with my mobile network operator! What a saving… This stuff works, VoIP on mobile when in WiFi range is just the best thing happening ever!!! I can only recommend to try

  4. I dont get it, WTF are they doing with $5.5 million dollars?

    It uses your voice minutes to make these calls guys, it’s not new it’s not even innovative.

    You could build exactly this service using asterisk and about a days worth of prgramming. All they are doing is placing callerid into the next session from an inbound call to your cell number and covering your cell number when you amke an outbound call.

    I’m sure there has to be more to this.

    If there isn’t then go check out and save yourself about $5.4m


  5. I hope you get to review the service soon enough and able to establish the initial glowing review. Some of the open questions are:
    1. Does the putbound calls using the TalkPlus number involve two stage dialing – dial the TalkPlus server and then dial the intended party (I mean this functionally; not literally).
    2. If it is a “virtual number service”, then why is there a need to download an application, tiny or otherwise? Possibly for outbound calls?
    3. They must be using the SMS link or data service to do authentication. Is this true?


  6. ken koizumi

    If I remember right Talkplus was one of the companies in 1995 that presented in the DEMO and I emailed Mr. Black right after the Demo that Im interested about his technology.but I thought they were gone under but now I realize they were just in stealth mode until they refined and tested their offerings.Im still interested for the Japan and asian market as Tokyotel a Type II Telecommunication Company in japan

  7. ken koizumi

    Mr.Son of Softbank always a maverick started a pricewar again in the 98 Billion dollar Mobile phone service in Japan by announcing a $20 dollar/month unlimited calling,SMS and MMS between vodafone to vodafone japan nationwide to take advantage of the start in japan of number portability.So Talkster and Talkplus will be a good Value added service for International calling