LinkedIn vet turns VC to link Berlin and the Valley

Konstantin Guericke, a co-founder of LinkedIn, has become a Silicon Valley-based venture partner for the Berlin firm Earlybird, giving its investments a direct link to Californian capital and business networks. Is this a turning point for German startups?

Jive Software Wants to Be Facebook for the Enterprise

Jive Software today launched what it hopes will become a Facebook-style social networking platform for businesses, complete with an activity stream, an open API and an application store. But whether Jive’s new offering can make social networking more palatable to business users remains to be seen.

Sharp Mebius NJ With Optical Trackpad at Dynamism

Kevin told us about the Sharp Mebius NJ when word first came out about this cool notebook with an optical screen for a trackpad. The Mebius uses a multi-touch display for the trackpad which functions as a secondary display that can do a lot of things in addition to working as a standard trackpad. The Mebius NJ is a notebook for the Asian market but our friends at Dynamism have already got this baby for sale. It starts at $999, so you’ll pay for the cool factor; but you’ll be the only kid on the block with one, so you may find it worth the price. The NJ is expected to hit the ground in June, according to Dynamism, so you have time to think about it.

VoIP: Dead or Alive?

wantedposterFor the past few days, the VoIP community has been indulging in a bit of soul-searching. The debate: Is VoIP dead? To pragmatists such as Alec Saunders, the answer is yes. In his well-reasoned polemic, “2008: The Year VoIP Died,” he succinctly writes, “Voice over IP is just a transport and signaling technology. It’s plumbing.” Harsh, but true!

Of course, on the other side of the debate are folks such as Jeff Pulver and Jon Arnold, both with deep interests in the success of VoIP, who seem to think that VoIP is in for a renaissance. Pulver argues that we are going through Internet Communications Continuum, or “the continued evolution of the IP Communications Industry. In my case, this continuum represents all forms of IP Communications, including: VoIP, Instant Messaging, Presence, IP Signaling, Internet TV, Unified Communications, Social Media and more.”

They continue to think of VoIP as a revolution. The reality, however, is more mundane and as Alec said, boring. Where do we come out on this debate? On the side of realism. About two months ago, Ian Bell on our behalf analyzed the state of VoIP and why it was “dead.” We were egged on by some comments made by Skype’s general manager of voice and video, Jonathan Christensen, at an industry conference a few weeks ago.

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Jaxtr Launches Free Calling Service. Why?

[qi:004] Updated: A few years ago we saw a gaggle of VoIP start-ups pop-up, each claiming to have their unique twist on cheap phone calls. Some offered anonymous calling services as their signature feature. Others labeled themselves as social voice apps. Some of them tried both and other features. Most jumped on the social networking bandwagon. And many of them – Jangl, TalkPlus and EQO for example — went bust, because they learned the harsh lesson — selling cheap minutes or offering free calls isn’t really a business. One such company – Menlo Park, Calif.-based Jaxtr – apparently hasn’t learnt that lesson. Read More about Jaxtr Launches Free Calling Service. Why?

Another VoIP Startup in Trouble

fringlogoRegardless of however you spin it, if you are firing 20 percent of your work force and have no real business model to speak of, you are in trouble. That certainly is true of Fring, an Israeli Mobile VoIP startup, which has cut 10 of its 50 employees. CEO Avi Shechter told TechCrunch that his company is doing well. In addition to $13 million it raised in the past, Avi says the company has raised an undisclosed amount of money in its Series C financing.
By doing well, I guess he means Fring’s deal with Mobilkom Austria and an increase in the number of monthly downloads from 100,000 a year ago to 400,000. Mobile advertising is one way it hopes to make money, but it seems like a long shot. Like many of its peers, Fring is going to have a tough time in the future. Jangl and TalkPlus have already shut down, while EQO recently fired 65 percent of its workforce. Jaxtr, another VoIP startup, recently had a management shakeup and has its own set of issues. Other Fring competitors would include iSkoot and Nimbuzz.
Related Post: 7 Ways To VoIP From Your Mobile Phone

Jaxtr Gets $10 Million, Offers Out of Network Calls

The business of providing voice services to users of social networks is a tough one – you need huge volume to basically make money off what is essentially a new age call-back/calling card business. That is why many companies that aimed at this market have either retrenched or gone out of business.

Jaxtr, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, on the other hand, is ready to double down and stay in the game. Helping it do so is $10 million in Series B funding from Lehman Brothers Venture Partners, announced this morning.

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