Wednesday, December 12, 2007

“Look Mom, No Jacks”… jaxtr

More disruptive telephony...

Described as a “social communications startup” jaxtr launched in March 2007 and is based in downtown Menlo Park. Co-founders Phillip Mobin and Touraj Parang’s vision was to bring voice to social networks and blogs.

As a free service (in beta), jaxtr links existing phones to the web. Registered users bypass international mobile fees as they receive calls worldwide while keeping their existing phone number private.

Work, home or mobile numbers, can be added or updated on the jaxtr interface allowing incoming calls to get routed to the phone of their choice. Callers can be blocked all together or users are able to specify on a per-caller basis which callers can reach them live and which get routed to voice mail.

The service is not limited to those potential callers who visit a user's profile or blog. A jaxtr link can be added to an email signature so that global friends can call users on their phone with a simple click. Outside callers do not require any software downloads, avoid incurring international phone charges and don’t require user registration for jaxtr.

The service is obviously in demand as their user base has doubled every month since the launch of their public beta in March. jaxtr currently has over 5 million registered users who have added a jaxtr link for their phone. There are another estimated 2 million users of the service that are unregistered inbound callers.

As for their business model, jaxtr plans to offer premium services for jaxtr power users, but the basic service will remain free. Megan Zoback, spokesperson for jaxtr was unable to disclose what the premium services will consist of but she did mention that outbound calling was part of the new version to be released in the next few months.

Rather than focusing on partnerships, the company is focusing heavily on their own product offering and working to maintain leadership with its unique user experience.

While the audiences that are naturally drawn to the service come from the social networking sphere (including bloggers), Megan alluded to a trend emerging among small business users. jaxtr allows small businesses to reach out internationally by placing the widget on their websites. Users of the service are given full reporting on incoming calls complete with visual voice mail. Interestingly, the real estate sector seems to have picked up on it as a leader with realtors jumping on the opportunity to capture calls in conjunction to their listings.

What I find particularly interesting about jaxtr is its unique ability to protect privacy. One can only imagine the applications for the use of anonymity for voice. The system acts like a vocal spam filter that has obvious potential in the online world with possible wings in offline.

The company is financially backed by August Capital, Mayfield, Draper Richards, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Founders Fund and other top-tier venture investors.

I’m looking forward to their full launch in the new year and will post more then.

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