Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jajah, Yahoo, Jahoo, Whoohoo....

I made a conscious decision to take most of yesterday off because of my birthday. I'm the boss, and what I say goes.

Invariably, something interesting always seems to happen when I do things like this. So, better late than never, but yesterday's news with Jajah and Yahoo sure is a goodie. It's been well covered by now, and for reference I'll steer you to the mainstream press - Business Week - and some blogs - Andy Abramson, Irv Shapiro, Gary Kim, Garrett Smith, Alec Saunders.

And if that won't keep you busy enough, Alec interviewed Jajah's co-founder Roman Scharf on his Squawk Box program yesterday.

Tons going on with this news, and it's one of the best examples I've seen about bringing telephony and the web together. To sum it up, I'd just use one word: SCALE.

This news validates web based calling for the masses like never before. Jajah has hit 10 million customers. Yahoo's IM base is 97 million users. They've basically outsourced the voice element to Jajah, who now has a turnkey hosted platform that could be used on a wholesale basis by any carrier/operator looking for someone to take LD voice off their hands. Plus, Jajah has opened their platform up to the developer community. I should also add that Jajah is more about using the phone to make calls than the PC, the latter of which is really Skype's domain. Oh, and let's not forget Jajah's relationship with Intel, which could make them the default voice service embedded into their chips. Etc., etc.

If this isn't Voice 2.0 and Web 2.0 all rolled up into one, I don't know what is. On the side of caution, Andy rightly notes that Yahoo is still potentially in play with Microsoft, and if that comes to fruition, Jajah may need to yield to Microsoft's voice technologies. That aside, this news is serious validation that the world is ready for 2.0, whether you call it voice, web or just applications. Scale is the final frontier for making these things mainstream, and with this news we sure have it now. Whoo hoo!

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Fonolo Wins Best New Product at eComm

Another interesting story I missed out on yesterday. Toronto-based Fonolo announced they won Best New Product at last month's eComm, an event that I blogged about quite a bit. The news was posted yesterday on eComm's website, along with a video of Shai Berger's presentation. It was one of the few presos I missed at eComm, but I'm close enough to the company as it is - Shai is on my blog roll as well.

Fonolo just re-named itself and are ramping up to become a successful startup. In a word, their application is deep dialing, and to learn more watch the video, or spend a few minutes at their website. I've liked what they're doing from the start, and they really do solve real world problems that you'll relate to as soon as you check them out.

I'll leave at it that for now - I'd rather pique your interest here than spell it all out. The main thing is to recognize their win, and say congrats. It's a good day to be a Canadian startup!

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Scott Wharton's New Venture

I've been wanting to post about this for a bit, and it's a good time now to do this.

Scott Wharton was the VP of Marketing at BroadSoft pretty much as long as I've been in this space, and he recently made a move to do his own thing. He's long been instrumental in BroadSoft's growth, and am sure they're sad to see him go. BroadSoft has evolved nicely into a strong company that I've been close to going back to my time at Frost & Sullivan. I think I even wrote my first white paper for them.

I've long considered Scott one of my go-to guys who I would always make a point of seeing at conferences. He's one of a handful of people I met when first starting out in this space who until a few weeks ago was with the same company. Not many of those around, and that counts for a lot in my books.

I'm not privy to the details, but Scott has been keen on the video telephony market for some time, and now he's taking the plunge. His new company is called Vidtel, and he's gone coastal, moving house and home from Maryland to Silicon Valley. That's quite a commitment, and he's convinced the time is right for a pureplay focused on consumer video calling. He's not alone in this space, so he must be seeing something most of us are not.

There's no doubt the market is more ready for this than ever before. Many flavors of video calling are gaining traction in the enterprise market, and I know of at least one BroadSoft customer who is doing very well with it in the consumer market. The technology is ready, the handsets are cheap enough, broadband is mainstream now, and mobile video calling is starting to happen. So, why not in the home? If anything, video calling can make landlines sexy again, and you can't tell me that's a message the telcos don't want to hear.

So, here's my shoutout to share the news about Scott's move and of course, to wish him all the success in the world. I haven't seen much about this on the blogs, and if you're looking for Scott, you need to know where to find him. For now, the Vidtel website is just a landing page, so that won't get you very far.

If you don't have his personal contact info, you can find him on LinkedIn. You can also find him in the blogosphere. He's been writing sporadically for some time, and it's all good, so you should try following him there. I'm glad I waited until today to post, actually, because Scott actually posted today. Lucky me - my post now has some up to the minute content! It's his first post since early February, but that's understandable given that he's probably been in stealth mode for a while.

Anyhow, he's not in stealth any more, so if video calling is on your radar, you should follow Scott's blog, and more importantly what he plans to do with Vidtel. I'll be watching.

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Posted by jonarnold at April 28, 2008 09:02 PM



Can you please fix the link "Scott actually posted today" since it it's empty and does not work.



Posted by: Pieter at April 29, 2008 08:05 AM

Hi John,

Thanks for the write up! If anyone wants to learn more about my new venture, please drop me a line at scott(at)


Posted by: Scott Wharton at April 29, 2008 02:13 PM

Hi Pieter - thanks for the comment. Not sure what happened there with the link. Just fixed it - seems to be working now.

Posted by: Jon Arnold at April 30, 2008 02:52 PM

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Orleans - the 2 Hour Tour

It's impossible to visit New Orleans and not play hooky at some point - that's why it's The Big Easy. Way too many diversions for all the senses - there's just no place like it in the U.S. So, I ducked out for 2 hours yesterday morning to wander about town and make sure I didn't come home empty-handed.

Always nice to start with a Canadian connection! Statue of Jean-Baptiste Bienville, the city's founder - who was born in Montreal. Learn something every day...


Street scene around the French Quarter, mostly Jackson Square - very familiar stuff, but just can't help taking a few photos on such a gorgeous day...



I had an Andy Abramson-inspired moment while walking about. I'm no globetrotter, but one of Andy's signature blog posts is a photo of the coffee cup he's enjoying at the various cafes and bistros he frequents overseas. So, here's my homage d'Andy, New Orleans style. Cafe du Monde is the obligatory place to do this in the Quarter, but even at 9:30 there was a lineup, so I made do a few blocks down at another cafe. It's a bit like having your Montreal deli at The Main, which is a very good Plan B when the lineup at Schwartz's right across the street is too long...


From this angle, the spoon makes a pretty good sundial in my cup...


Check this out. I love to rant about oversize SUVs, but y'know, before compact cars came along, everyday cars were pretty big too. Here's a big black Caddy, and it's as long as anything on the market today. Look a little closer and you'll see why. It's got THREE side doors! I did a huge double take when I saw this - never seen that before...


Ok, enough of the Quarter. Time to head over to the river walk. Here we go again - the river, the bridge, the train - all staples of life here and Southern folklore. You just can't escape it here, and now I can't get Proud Mary out of my head. Rollin' on the river...



Rip Rap - sounds like a good name for a rap song, but this is the stuff that saves live in this part of the world. I'm no Army Engineer, but something tells me you need a whole lot more than this to stay dry when the river swells up and crests over the banks and levees.



The river walk is a great public space, and there's no better place to walk about on a day like this. Quite a few monuments along the way, and I came across the Holocaust Memorial. Really nice to see this, and was another reminder of the contrasts and contradictions of New Orleans and the South in general. You don't generally associate the Jewish community with New Orleans, but there's a strong presence here, and the Jews actually have a very long and important history in the city's economic development. The same is true, actually for other important Southern cities like Charleston, which in fact is the first place that Jews settled in the U.S. Believe it or not, there were Jewish slaveowners before Emancipation - the world was a very different place then. Given that it's Passover now, I couldn't help but think how this is yet another quirk of Southern culture that could not have existed anywhere else.


The Canal Street ferry, making its way to Algiers on the other side. Can't help but try and channel Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn here, wondering what this must have looked like 150 years ago.


Wrapping up my walk at the foot of Canal Street, which is truly the great divide in New Orleans - another contrast in cultures, attitudes, religions, etc. Historically, the roots of the city lie on the right, which is where you find the French Quarter and the early heritage of both the French and the Spaniards. No business is done here other than tourism, but this is definitely where the good times roll. On the left is the "American" side, which is more recent and where you find most of city's commerce and nicer residential areas.


So, there you go. N'awlins in 2 hours, and I got back just in time to pack, check out, and get on my way home. Can't wait til next time...

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Posted by jonarnold at April 25, 2008 11:01 AM


Thanks for a fantastic morning tour of New Orleans!

(my morning, not necessarily your morning)

The balcony photos always make me want to visit and see it for myself!



Posted by: jules at April 28, 2008 08:00 AM

Thanks Jules - much appreciated. I'm no longer getting email alerts for blog comments, so sorry about being late on this. It sure is a fun place!

Pulvermedia News

I've been away from the blogs most all week, and am just getting a chance to see a few this afternoon. Here's a big one, and at this point, I no doubt am late to the party, but it cannot pass without mention.

In short, yesterday Jeff Pulver announced his resignation from Pulvermedia, which speaks volumes about the state of things since their investors made some drastic moves just after Spring VON.

As far as I know, Jeff still maintains control over, which is a distinct entity, but at this point I can't add anything to the mix. This kind of news takes a life of its own, especially in the blogosphere, and I'm just going to let you draw your own conclusions.

There are too many unknowns and variables to speculate further, and I just hope there's a silver lining in this somewhere. Like you, I'll be watching for news, but whatever comes along, always consider the source. Am sure there's more that we don't know than what we do know, and we may just need to be patient and see what unfolds.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

MetaSwitch Forum - Day 2

Just wanted to share a few highlights from today. More good sessions here, and I was a speaker on the "Drumming Up Business' session, which was fun and well attended.

David Axam's keynote about BT's 21CN plans...


Archie Manning - yes, local hero of NFL fame - gave a great lunch time motivational speech. He's not in my good books, since his kids have knocked out my Patriots 2 years running, but hey - they've also won the last 2 Super Bowls, so you gotta tip yer hat there!!! Boy, was he great, and the buzz about his talk was everywhere after lunch. Aastra was the sponsor of the lunch, so Yves Laliberte had the honors of introducing Mr. Manning.....


The session border controller panel...


The show floor, which was pretty hopping...


Aastra doing a demo in the presentation theater....


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mardis Gras World - a Little Fun, N'awlins Style

Not only does MetaSwitch put on a great customer event, but they know how to have fun, and there's no better place for that than New Orleans. Last year's Harley-Davidson party was a blast, and this was even better and way more colorful. If there's one word to describe New Orleans, esp at night, it's colorful. Here's a taste of what I mean....
Crossing the Mississippi River Bridge from Riverside to Algiers, where Mardis Gras World is located. It's quite a bridge and really dominates the local skyline.

Mardi Gras World - site of the party. Having never been there before, I had no idea what to expect - I don't think anybody did. Nothing prepares you for how colorful, fun and so N'awlins this place really is.

Mardis Gras World is actually a 3rd generation family business that's world famous for designing props and floats for parades. Before getting too caught up in the good times, though, we were just a stones throw from where the locals live. This is actually quite a respectable house, but I can tell you it's much nicer than most of the houses we saw as the bus meandered through the sidestreets once we got off the bridge enroute to the venue. I don't hold any morbid fascination looking for remnants of Katrina, and no doubt, with a few detours we would have found much worse. This house is a very plain reminder that New Orleans is a huge bundle of contradictions and constrasts, with race and income being right up at the top. It was literally on the other side of the tracks from where we were, and you don't have to look far to see how our party is not their party. I'm being both figurative and literal here, as there is a live set of train tracks embedded in the road running right by the front door of Mardis Gras World, and this house was on the other side of the street.

Once inside Mardis Gras World, this kind of goes away, and you're immediately overwhelmed by an endless stream of garish, oversized heads and figures - some more famous than others. Call it what you like - macabre, tawdry, honky-tonk, folk art, surreal, circus-like - once you see it, the spirit of New Orleans make so much more sense. Reminds me of the chase scene in Broadway Danny Rose which takes place in an abandoned old movie studio on Coney Island, I think. While that was in B&W, this stuff is what color photography was invented for...

Not quite done yet. This is N'awlins right? What party wouldn't be complete down here without a parade? We got one, alright - never seen an INDOOR parade before. What a riot - complete with a police escort motorcade, blaring police sirens, kings and queens, festive floats, and of course, a local high school marching band...

Thanks to all the folks at MetaSwitch who worked so hard, no doubt, to put this together. Not sure how you're going to top this one next year, so we'll just have to wait and see!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MetaSwitch Forum - Day 1

The MetaSwitch customer forum kicked off today in New Orleans. They really put on a great event, and it works so well because they have such a great customer base and partner ecosystem. Everyone is very friendly and seems real glad to be there.

Much of the day featured keynotes by MetaSwitch executives and then some breakouts later in the afternoon. Being a vendor event, the focus is very much about MetaSwitch's roadmap, both as a company and their ever-evolving technologies. Being a relatively private event (as best I can tell, there are only 2 other people here from the analyst or journalist world, and in total there are more than 500 people here), I'm not going to share the details here, but suffice to say, they are heavily committed to R&D and innovation, and have moved well beyond the Class 5 switch replacements that are pushing out legacy switches from the likes of Nortel and Lucent across the Tier 2/3 sector. In addition to the standard fare of VoIP and hosted services, they are enabling the full gamut of IP for their customers, including SIP apps, mobility, unified communications, IPTV and mashups.



View from my hotel room, overlooking the mighty Mississippi. It's quintessential New Orleans - the bridge, the river, the boat and in the foreground, the train tracks.


Andy Randall


Graeme MacArthur


Chris Mairs


AT&T's Joe Weinman


Gary Kim's mashup panel


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Posted by jonarnold at April 22, 2008 10:13 PM



So glad you could be here. Hope you had a good time!


Posted by: Andy Randall at April 24, 2008 04:24 AM

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yankee Stadium Visit - First and Only Time

As mentioned in earlier posts, the Dialogic analyst event last week included a guided tour through Yankee Stadium, and I've finally been able to post my photos. I've never been to this ballpark, and don't expect I'll ever have a chance to see it again. The Yankees were on the road, so this was a full tour, and we got to see a lot of the ballpark. Pretty inspiring for any baseball fan, even a life-long BoSox fan like me.

Up until last week, my Nokia N81 had been quite reliable, but all of a sudden it's got a mind of its own, and most of my photos are scrambled, and probably beyond recovery. I was able to salvage what's here, but had so many other good ones, and it's going to take a while to get over this meltdown. Perhaps it was the ghost of Babe Ruth who didn't want a Sox fan getting too close and cozy on his holy ground. Whatever --- here's what I got - enjoy.....

As they say in this part of the world, "it's hard to be humble"...


Any 7 year American kid has this image etched in his memory forever. Your first visit to a ballpark, and you're walking up the ramp that will momentarily reveal the hallowed ground of the field in brilliant green and the vastness of the stadium itself. You never forget it...


Can you imagine sitting here to watch a game? There's a great story that I learned on the tour about the origins of the Yankees logo, which I never knew, but am sure is first nature to any Yankee fan.


Views from the Press Box...


Monument Park


Lou Gehrig, Miller Huggins, the Babe


View from the third base line in shallow left field, looking home...


Right place, right time. The Sox were playing here the next night. Gotta love this - Sox glory in the belly of the beast. I can die happy now...


Don't get to do this everyday - sit in the Yankees dugout. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. We analysts may be smart people, but I don't think we'd do to well in this ballpark...


The bullpen phone in the dugout. I wasn't able to determine if it's VoIP, but at least this lets me work in a telecom angle for my post...


All the key extensions, including Brian Cashman's. I'm sure there are lots of clever Red Sox fans who would love to try hacking their phone system and making a few prank calls to the GM...


Thanks for tour, Dialogic - see ya........


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