The Vancouver technology scene is populated by a small number of entrepreneurs and leaders. Imagine my joy, when I moved back here, to discover another guy who was interested in SIP and wanted to create a company to monetize the many opportunities within that arena. Erik Lagerway (a good friend, so my opinion of his product is immediately biased) has been literally toiling away in his basement working on a product called Gaboogie. As is reported on GigaOM, and Erik’s own column SipThat, he just soft-launched the service last week and is whipping up a storm of support.
What’s awkward about telecom these days is that because it’s dominated by big unwieldy companies with big unwieldy infrastructure and a heavy and misguided emphasis on (often faulty) reliability, there’s virtually no innovation. Companies like Comverse and OpenWave, which dominate the highly limited enhanced services market, have stumbled due to stock scandals and executive fleecing. Newer startups like Sylantro, Broadsoft, and Longboard are stuck in a cycle of selling through service providers — an ages old model which once sustained nerd farms like Bellcore and Nortel, but which no longer works in these accelerated capital markets.
Indeed, the telecommunications arena these days is looking like a terrible investment.
Oh, wait. Didn’t Skype sell for .. $2.6 Billion? Doh. Oh well, there goes that theory.
So .. what’s the difference?
Simple. Successfully monetizing a new technology requires a new approach. It means a different business model, a different market approach, and a different kind of brand-building strategy. Thus Gaboogie. When Lags built his internet-scale conferencing server he didn’t begin nipping at the heels of Bell Canada or Telus, or lesser evils like AllStream. In other words, he didn’t set out to create an equipment vendor. Instead, he understands that he has a service with intrinsic value that is easy for a target customer group (ie. you and me) to understand, and that he doesn’t need the permission or support of big slow unwieldy service providers to get to you and me. And conference calling, as a business, happens to be one with big fat margins ripe for the picking that are catered to by slow, lumbering, highly proprietary companies.
The key features of Gaboogie are appealing: aAfter-the-fact publishing of your calls via RSS, and the fact that Gaboogie calls you versus you having to dial in and remember an obscure password and conference identity. These are huge features which you’d think would be simple to implement, that is, until you look into the architectures (designed in the mid 1990s) that drive many of the conferencing services out there. Bellheads, it turns out, will not save the earth with $2000 4GB hard drives that are ISO certified.
How come Gaboogie doesn’t have any competition, you say? Well actually… they do. But sizing up the field of other market entrants, I’m really not worried.