My Social (Business) Year in Review

This year has been the year of social networks. Since my social networking is mostly business based , I thought it would be a great idea to review the past year from a social (business) networking view

JANUARY – The year started off for me with a trip to sunny FT. Lauderdale for the ITexpo the Internet Telephony show produced by TMC. The highlights of the show for me, were meeting Jon Arnold and being introduced to the world of VoIP Peering by people like Gary Kim, Eli Katz of Xconnect and Hunter Newby of Telx. Jon has been a great friend since then, introducing me to many of his contacts and sharing valuable insight. Here is a picture that Jon took at ITexpo moshe-itexpo.jpg

FEBRUARY – Was probably the most important month this year for me. The adventure started with an email from Surj Patel, notifying me that we are one of the 7 companies selected by him and Om Malik to present at the Etel Launchpad scheduled for 2 weeks later, and by the way “we need an answer in 24 hours”. Though worried that I was not yet ready to present, after some thought we gave a positive answer. That was one of the best decisions I have made. Etel was a great conference, unbelievable content and people. For me it was just one long interesting conversation. Besides, I made more friends and contacts than I can remember. Here is a partial list — Om Malik and Surj Patel who invited me, my fellow Launchpad presenters – Marcus Dantus, Sean O’ Sullivan, Craig Walker of Grandcentral. Andy Abramson the PR Man, Pat Phelan, a fast speaking Irishman who moves even faster, Thomas Howe (read his blog), Ken Camp, Frederik Hermann of Jajah, Brian McDonnel, Moshe Yudkowsky and many others. I am truly grateful to all of them, for teaching me so much about the IP world around us.

MARCH – Started out with a dinner with the man who defies Newton’s laws of motion (Jeff Pulver). Kfir Pravda was also there and he has since become a good friend. Later on I took part (virtually) in 2 conferences. The Com.vention in Tel Aviv and Von Spring in San Jose. Both were broadcast online and I blogged them live from afar… Towards the end of the month, we were selected as one of the 10 most promising startups for 2007, but more about that in April!

APRIL – April’s highlight was the TWS2007 in Tel Aviv, where we were selected as one of the 10 most promising startups. Yaron Orenstein and his partner Yami organized a nice event which had close to 500 participants. At the reception I met for the first time the legendary Yossi Vardi, who although as I later learned is a standard part of every internet event in Israel, his presentations are still funny!tws2007.JPG

MAY – was a hardworking month, but socially was pretty slow

JUNE – was another trip this time to Von Europe in Stockholm. More of Jeff Pulver and Pat Phelan, always fun to be around them.von_stockholm.jpg A lively “voip-user” dinner meeting with Daniel from OpenSer, Tjardick Van der Kraan otherwise known as TJ, Martyn Davies, Carmelo our man from the Agence Wallonee des Telecommunications of Belgium (whatever that is…, Pat Phelan, the two James (Body and Tagg) from Truphone, Ed Guy (also currently from Truphone) and of course Dean Elwood the voip-user founder who has meanwhile also joined Truphone… A bunch of new friends! The month ended with the facebook revolution hitting our community thanks to Jeff Pulver

JULY – started out with the great blogference at the IDC in Herzeliya. Conference organizer and IDC School of Communications dean Noam Lemelshtrich Latar brought in some of the leading bloggers such as Om Malik, Garret Graff, the guys from askninja.com, Joanne Colan, Justin Kownacki and others. It was great meeting up again with Om and of course my Israeli friends such as Kfir Pravda and Yaron Orenstien. 2 days of interesting lectures and workshops, great location. July was also the month that facebook became the social network for me. Goodbye Linkedin!

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AUGUST – was another slow month socially, but will be remembered as the month the iPhone was unlocked!

SEPTEMBER – was the month we made facebook history and took part in the first “free conference call” on facebook, courtesy of Howard Thaw and Alec Saunders of iotum. A number of important bloggers took part. , so we had various view points. Gary Kim spoke about how applications like pocket conferencing will change the face of traditional media, Dan York discussed the implications for the enterprise (and was cut off in the middle…), Jim Courtney compared Skype conferencing with the iotum app, and Marcelo wondered how this will tie into Voice over IP.

OCTOBER – was the month of VON Israel. Although Jeff’s opening keynote about facebook was greeted with stares, facebook took off in Israel, from 18,000 in July to over 315,000 by year end. There was some good networking at VON Israel, Old friends and contacts such as Jeff Pulver , Yossi Vardi, Kfir Pravda, Yaron Orenstein, and new ones such as Schyler Deerman the young (19) European rep for Digium, Christian Stredicke the young (well not as young as Schyler Deerman..) CEO of Snom, the IP phone manufacturer. I even had the chance to be a translator between Jeff Pulver who doesn’t speak Hebrew and the Israeli Minister of Communications who doesn’t speak English… October was also the month that Surj Patel joined GigaOm and facebook removed my flyers without explanations, since they did not like my advertisements …vardi-jeff-moshe.jpg

NOVEMBER – was the month that Plaxo Pulse came on the scene with the first platform using Google’s Open Social, Xavier Casajoana the CEO of Voz Telecom joined the blogsphere, and Dean Elwood the lawyer and VoIP enthusiast traded in the lawyers garb for the Truphone t-shirt.

DECEMBER – is the month of changes such as Matt Snyder leaving Nokia, The Flat Planet Phone Company reached 1st place on Google for “voip reseller”, and Ribbit launched the “first Silicon Valley phone company”. Year end also seems to be the end of most the patent ligitation for Vonage. Hopefully we will see more inovation and less ligitation next year!

Thank you to all my friends, real and virtual, mentioned and unmentioned for such an exciting social (business) year!

How much are you willing to spend for “free calls”

I am always surprised anew, when I see how much effort people are willing to spend to make a few free calls. Jajah was running a promotion of free 60 minutes of calls up to a value of $2.10. The problem is you have to be in US, Italy, Germany, UK, Austria or Israel to be able to use the promotion.

Well what do you do if you do not live in one of those countries? How do you take advantage of this “unbelievable, once in a lifetime” promotion?? Between you and me, I wouldn’t care. After all, there are many VoIP services that you can use to call for 2 cents a minute, so why would I worry about spending a few cents? Is it really worth the effort to find a “free” alternative, when I can talk for an hour to many countries for less than $1.20??

Not everyone is of the same mind. Today I stumbled accross a post by Roopa, where he explains at length, how you can take advantage of the Jajah offer even if you do not live in one of these countries. While I applaud his resourcefulness, is it really worthwhile to spend so much time and effort just to save $2 ???

First, register a GrandCentral number and a Jajah account. Then add the GrandCentral virtual number as a registered phone into Jajah account. After that, choose the virtual number as Callser ID in GrandCentral setting, because Jajah Direct identifies users via Caller ID.

Second, add the Jajah Direct access number as into GrandCentral contacts list. But when I was using GrandCentral to call this access number, the voice promot said the Caller ID cannot be identified and required credit card information. However, now in you Jajah account information, you can find virtual numbers corresponding to each contact. Add this virtual number to contacts list of GrandCentral and call it, then it will be connected.
Run VoIPBusterPro binding with GrandCentral virtual number and dial the Jajah Direct virtual number, your call will be connected.

The reason to use GrandCentral is that the virutal number from GrandCentral can be used as Caller ID and it provides free callback VoIP calls within US

Om Malik is not on vacation

My superblogger friend Om Malik, the editor and chief whatever of GigaOM had 2 interesting posts today.

The first a guest post by Brian McDonnell explains why he left the telecom world. Brian is a serial entrepreneur who was smart enough and in the right place to bootstrap and launch a number of profitable companies in the voip/telecom space. In this post titled “Take This Job And Shove It..”, Brian explains why he left telecom and never looked back. While I have a lot of respect for Brian, I disagree with him and you can read my comments under his post.

Another Om post is abut my friends the fringers, and the fringing freedom  you get with their applications. Fring is different than many of the so called Voice 2.0 companies since their proposal goes way beyound cheap calls. Todays news is about adding Yahoo! and AOL messengers to their interface, and enhancements to their Wifi roaming capibilities. Check them out!

Facebook Growth Slowing Down?

As you may have noticed, I have been actively following the phenomenal growth of Facebook in Israel as exemplified by the “Israel Network” on Facebook. Today at 9:20am  the Israel Network hit 300,000 members (see graphic at the bottom). As the table below shows while in absolute numbers, the network is still growing, percentage wise monthly growth is down from 50% to 33%. …

Nov 4th – 130,000 (25% a week!)

Nov 10th – 150,000 (50% in 2 weeks)

Nov 20th – 187,000 (on track to hit 200,000 this week, double in one month)

Nov 23rd – 200,000 (double in less than a month!)

Dec 24th  – 300,000 (growth is slowing down…)

As in the past months, we can still see that the base of Facebook users continue to grow beyond  the 16-21 age crowd. As I have commented a few times, facebook is  the  place to network for business.

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Ribbit – Whats in it for us??

There has been a lot of excitement this week over the launch of the Ribbit platform .Ribbit did a very good PR buildup and they do have a great concept.

While a number of bloggers such as Alec Saunders, Thomas Howe and Tom Keating have reviewed the technical aspects much better than I could, lets look a little at the commercial aspects.

The idea of enabling developers to easily embed voice functions in web applications is not new. Companies like Lypp and others have been offering APIs that allow VoIP Resellers and VARs to do exactly that. Ribbit has taken this a step further.

A few comments –

  • Ribbit named themselves “The First Silicon Valley Phone Company”. What do they mean by that? First chronologically, or First as in best? Either way the slogan needs explaining… guys come up with a better one!
  • From what I understand from the diagrams on Tom Keating’s review, Ribbit supplies the VoIP developer and reseller with a full development kit, softswitch and billing engine. Great!  Once the application is deployed and calls are being made – who bills the customer? who owns the customer? From their mentioning of “revenue share” I assume that Ribbit owns the customer. Now why would I as a VoIP Reseller want Ribbit to own my customers?
  • Does the Ribbit switch include all the PBX functions? Can my customer work with it as they would with a PBX?
  • USA Centric. Forcing customers to go through the Ribbit servers limit their potential customer base to the USA for a number of reasons. Billing, currency, language are issues. So is latency. Does Ribbit have intentions of launching switches in other countries? Or maybe launching a application generator where you do no need to use the Ribbit billing platform?
  • Termination, do you have to terminate the call via Ribbit? Are their rates competitive?

These are just a few of the business questions that the Ribbit launch raises. A cool platform for sure, but how can I as a reseller make money from it on an ongoing basis??

Save $300 for a limited time

EcommTen months ago, I was lucky to be selected to present at the Etel 2007 conference. It was the most exciting conference that I took part in 25 years of conference going. Smart people, mind blowing presentations and great networking. None of the marketing blah blah, tons of knowledge sharing.
Unfortunately, O’Reilly shelved this years edition. Fortunately, Lee Dryburgh decided that it was too important for the community and decided to build a replacement. Ecomm 2008 is now open for registration and you can save $300 by signing up now. Don’t delay, since due to the constraints of the new venue, space is limited!

Same excitement, new name. Hope to see you there!