Vonage IPO and other VoN 2005 Reflections

Its not a question of if, but when. Not since Google has there been so much excitement generated by an initial public offering that is still a gleam in some greedy investment banker’s eyes. Last couple of days at VoN in San Jose, all most could titter about was when Vonage is going to go public. With the company on target to signing up a total of million customers by end of 2005, many believe that the $200 million plus in sales will be enough to take New Jersey-based company public. In fact, pretty much everyone is betting that Vonage IPO will happen this year, and will open a gusher of VoIP-Os.

Apart from all the chatter about Vonage IPO, there were a few things I realized at the VoN. For instance, Stuart Henshall is really tall and really nice, despite the fact he and I cannot agree on anything. James Seng loves his Sharp Zaurus and well, Jeff Pulver is looking fit and tanned. And that’s before the vacation. Why do I talk about all these folks when there were hundred odd companies at the show? Because there was nothing I was impressed with. Lots of me-too products, tons of ATAs and many black IP phones, that do pretty much everything in pretty much the same manner.

What I realized was the most of the industry is obsessing over VoIP the service, while it is nothing more than a product. A feature to be hidden and embedded in everything else. Surprisingly the so called dinosaur, Microsoft seems to get it. (Maybe that’s why they choose to have the launch of their collaboration software/IP assault at a venue not VoN.) I hope five years from now, I would not have to obsess about session border controller and gateway software. VoIP would be invisible, and everywhere.