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Update: Like Gaboogie, Foonz Losing Its Voice Too

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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 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.

30 Responses to “Update: Like Gaboogie, Foonz Losing Its Voice Too”

  1. You have a good service Nancy. I’m sure we are just marketing to people with different needs. We offer our conference recordings either on the phone or as a free downloadable WAV file for archiving.

    As for Desktop Sharing, we have a full WebConference solution that can be seen here:

    This is as low as 39.99 per month for unlimited usage and is a lot more than just desktop sharing. Again, I believe we are targeting different markets.

    Anthony Russo
    Conferencing Consultant
    Great America Networks Conferencing
    [email protected]
    Phone: 312-432-5377
    Fax: 312-492-2577
    Skype: anth.russo

  2. FreeConference offers FREE conferencing for just the cost of a regular long distance call which as “Common Sense” pointed out is hard to beat. As I mentioned, with flat rate plans, this makes using our service virtually free for most people.

    We also offer Toll-Free 800 Service which bundles FREE recoding and FREE Desktop sharing for only 10 cents/minute. Desktop Sharing is very expensive at other companies and has limited seats. FreeConference lets you share your desktop for up to 150 users with unlimted use!

    Recordings can be downloaded and shared for free as well as letting others call in and listen to the recording for free. (regular long-distance number) Listen with your flat rate plan, mobile minutes, or VoIP connections. Some other companies charge you for playback with a Toll-Free number.

    We’ve also just launched a new Outlook Conferencing Add-in to make scheduling conferences even easier. You can get it right from the homepage

    Check back to our website soon for great new feature additions.

  3. Just for correct information:

    Great America Networks Conferencing is NOT 12 cents per minute with recording as stated above.

    As FreeConference is 10 cents per minute for each and every person on the line (5 people being 50 cents total), Great America Networks Conferencing is 5 cents per minute for each person on the line, and only one connection at 7 cents per minute for recording (5 people being 25 cents + one 7 cent recording connection for a total of 32 cents per minute total).

    Unless you are recording a call with only yourself on the line, then the call on Great America Networks Conferencing, with recording, will be cheaper. And the quality and service are top notch.

    Anthony Russo
    Conferencing Consultant
    Great America Networks Conferencing
    [email protected]
    Phone: 312-432-5377
    Fax: 312-492-2577
    Skype: anth.russo

  4. Happy New Year to All!

    Since FreeConference was given a spontaneous endorsement by Common Sense, I thought I would help back this up with a couple of facts.

    1) FreeConference offers both Toll and Toll-Free service

    2) Recording is Free with Toll-Free service at 10 cents/min vs. Great America’s 12 cents-(5 cents for toll free and 7 cents for recording)- Oh- and did I mention that also includes unlimited desktop sharing?

    3)People use flat rate plans at work and home making the costs virtually free. (or at least a sunk cost)

    4)All of Global Conference Partners’ services for both toll and toll free meets industry standards of reliability. We have state-of-the-art 100% digital-crystal clear connections.

    The hundreds of thousands of users who use our service day-in and day- out will attest to this.

    Nancy King
    VP Marketing
    Global Conference Partners
    [email protected]

  5. Thanks for the mention Om. I thought I would chime in here (albeit late) and provide some details on our upcoming re-launch of the Gaboogie services that will be known as Lypp for Business. Without getting into a long-winded sales pitch, Lypp for Business will deliver all of what Gaboogie was (business teleconferencing on steroids) and then some. It will combine both traditional conferencing plus the mobile features that we offer today. All of which ill also be available in our RAD API that developers can leverage to integrate VoIP and conferencing into their own apps.

  6. Dear Mr. Common Sense

    I appreciate your opinion and you are correct that our toll-free service is not for everyone. The biggest difference between our service, and the free services you mentioned is the toll-free aspect. Companies that have their employees submit expense reports on their phone usage benefit from our service because the 5 cent rate is cheaper than most long distance calls would be charged. Also people having seminars that want high attendance, have a better chance of having a higher attendance if it is toll-free. Some of them charge for the seminar and that covers the cost for the conference call and then some.

    The free services are good if you require no guarantee of service and the toll charges are alright with you. For those that want a guarantee, or someone to work with, or toll-free access for their attendees, then our service is geared towards them.

    Every person, every business, every situation has different needs.

    Anthony Russo
    Conferencing Consultant
    Great America Networks Conferencing
    [email protected]
    Phone: 312-432-5377
    Fax: 312-492-2577
    Skype: anth.russo

  7. We deliver a differentiated voice calling / conference calling service at

    We use wideband/high definition voice formats and most of the callers use Skype since this is the most widely distributed wideband end-point.

    While this is a small plug for the service which we charge for (no free lunch), my main point is that differentiated services (unlike gaboogie or Foonz) actually can and do get traction in a commoditized, me-too segment of the market.

  8. Common sense

    Dear Mr. Anthony Russo

    Nice plug for your service. Although it is not all that attractive to small startup business and non profits. Your service requires one person to pay the bill. These days that model does not sound as attractive. Why should one person pay 5 cents a minute for every participant on the call? A 500 person call for 1 hour would cost 1,500 dollars. Those numbers don’t sound that attractive to me. Your service does not offer anything more than you can get from, or, or, or… should I keep going?
    Sense for the common man!

  9. 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
    [email protected]