Blog Post

Like Jangl, TalkPlus Losing Its Voice As Well

Jangl, a Pleasanton, Calif-based startup that launched with much fanfare and lot of promise, ran out of time, and is headed towards an ignominious end. Venturebeat had first reported that Jangl was looking to sell itself earlier this week.

Jangl is not the only VoIP company to nosedive. We have heard from reliable sources that TalkPlus, San Mateo, Calif., company, is going nowhere fast. Michael Toepel, who was the CEO, recently left after the company failed to get new investment to keep it going.

Jeff Black, the founder, is overseeing the operations but there is little hope for this company, which wants to sell its intellectual property. The company had raised about $5.5 million from Menlo Ventures back in 2006. I left Jeff a voice mail but so far no word from him. John Todd, CTO of the company, is still with TalkPlus.

Back to Jangl! Cerda along with Jangl co-founder Ben Dean and three other Jangl employees is joining Jajah, one company that seems to be defying the odds, mostly because it changed its overall strategy. “Jangl will sell its assets and there are people who are interested in this,” Cerda said. “The company was finding its groove in the marketplace, but our investors thought it wasn’t enough for us to keep going, and decided not to fund us.” Jangl had raised about $9 million in VC funding from Storm Ventures, Labrador Ventures and Cardinal Ventures.

Jangl had started out by creating a bidirectional number that kept the privacy of the caller and call recipient intact. It later changed its tactics and tried to use social networking widgets to grow its customer base, in the hope that it could make up the cost of free calling on advertising. The only place where it found success was amongst the online dating sites, where it allowed people to make anonymous voice calls to each other.

Cerda explains the rise and fall of Jangl on his blog.

And in our opinion it needed another 18-24 months worth of runway to realize its fullest potential; but at the end of the day every venture capitalist has their own coefficient of venture. To that end, we took company forward into an M&A process. Unfortunately with much bigger things happening in the marketplace it turned out to be the worst time in a few years to be selling.

That last line should send a shudder down the spine of Web 2.0/Voice 2.0 entrepreneurs who are looking to sell and get out of Dodge.

22 Responses to “Like Jangl, TalkPlus Losing Its Voice As Well”

  1. My TalkPlus numbers have been out of service for the month of September and I can’t access my web account. In addition, there haven’t been any response to my emails and the phone numbers have been disconnected. Talk about a bad omen! If the case is that they’ve shut down, so be it. It would’ve been nice of them to announce it to their subscribers.

  2. Do you guys know if talkplus is definetely out of business? The virtual numbers I have with them are no longer working. I tried to get support via email and telephone and nobody answers. Not even their website is working today.

  3. @ Sameer,

    I think they pretty quickly realized that the social voice experiment was a bit ahead of time, and in addition they have raised so much capital that they can correct course. They are not out of the woods mind you, but their wholesale model works for now.

  4. sameer


    I am kinda curious why Jangl and TalkPlus had to close/sell out while Jajah seems to be doing well. What’s the difference between their business models?

  5. Jajah is one company which is doing well in this VoIP based technology business. They recently partnered with Yahoo to offer their service for users of yahoo messenger. They acquire millions of users overnight from this Yahoo deal. Perhaps Jangl and other competitors where just too focussed on technology without realizing the importance of partnerships in business development.

  6. Bill T

    Those loooking to replace the private call functionality should look at the dukaLINK widget from Jaduka. Its one of the featured apps on their free Jaduka Labs widget site and allows you to create private click and call HTML links. Not a true private number per se, but allows people to call you without you ever sharing your real number, so its close enough. Give it a look–I use it for Craigslist posts and it works great.

  7. Lloyd Dobler

    @ Mike P

    Haven’t read “The Future of AT&T,” but I was at an ad-supported telephony conference this week hosted by VooDoo Vox and they showed some early 90s videos that AT&T put out about the future. Amazingly accurate.

    Of course, they were wrong about the company that would deliver that future. ;)

  8. Mike P

    Maybe we’re finally seeing what I expected all along. Only the “real” telecommunications providers with lots of real experience and know-how can succeed in this market. The Jangl’s and Ooma’s and all the other crazy mnemonics play around the edges with the small set of people who are willing to experiment with new “nifty” things for communications, and one-by-one go bust. Meanwhile, the experienced and legitimate telecommunications companies are able to figure out how to do things right, even with the use of VoIP for real telephone service.

    Funny thing, I have a book on my shelf, published in 1976, called “The Future of AT&T”. I suspect that most everything said didn’t happen – who could have predicted Judge Green and divestiture. And in the late 1980’s, who would have thought that within 20 years that AT&T would be getting back together. The sooner the better, I say.

  9. Another company that tried to make money with free private phone numbers was I really liked their service. Alas, their free private number thing is gone (it cost them $.05 a minute, so no surprise) but the company is hanging in, doing enterprise level phone stuff.

    Nice guys, I hope they make it work. Maybe one day the free private numbers will return.