Goodbye Rich

Rich Buchanan, former chief marketing officer at Ooma and former vice president of marketing at Sling Media, passed away yesterday due to health complications. He was a fixture at many of our events and had become a dear friend to me and our company.

Ooma Raises $18.3 Million, Resets Valuation

Ooma, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup that specializes in VoIP hardware and complimentary voice services, has raised a total of $18.3 million in new funding — of which $3.5 million came as a bridge loan from the investors. TechCrunch had previously reported that the company raised $14 million in the new round, which was led by World View Technology Partners. Ooma says it’s looking to raise another $5 million from key strategic investors.

I spoke with Rich Buchanan, chief marketing officer at Ooma, who said that with the new round of funding, the company reset its valuation down from previous levels. The company has had a tumultuous history so far. It made a number of mistakes early on, especially on the marketing front, the biggest one being hiring Ashton Kutcher. Earlier this year, it eased out founder Andrew Frame from the CEO role, replacing him with Eric Stang. Read More about Ooma Raises $18.3 Million, Resets Valuation

Meet Me Today at Coffee Groundz in Houston

coffee_man_2Just a reminder that I will be hanging out at Coffee Groundz today from around 2 – 4 pm. Drop by and say hi if you are in the area, who knows what cool gear you’ll see. Here’s what you’ll almost certainly see in person:

  • Viliv S5 Premium
  • Sony VAIO P
  • Intel Classmate Convertible
  • Lenovo w700ds (if I can figure out how to get this behemoth there)

Coffee Groundz has free WiFi and is located at:
2503 Bagby, Houston, TX, 77006
Hope to see you there!

At CES 2009, Ooma Hopes For a Second Act

oomateloOoma, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based VoIP phone hardware and services platform that has been struggling to live up to its initial hype is going to take a second run at mainstream success. At CES 2009, the company is launching the Ooma Telo, a wireless handset that wraps the original Ooma phone system in a mobile unit. Ooma has raised a total of $43 million.

ooma-handset1If you frequented Amazon.com this holiday season, then you might have noticed that Amazon was pushing the original Ooma device hard, though it’s not clear how that impacted sales. I am looking forward to the launch of this new wireless version, to see how the platform has actually evolved.

The company previously made some strategic mistakes, including an ill-conceived marketing strategy with actor Ashton Kutcher, and the initial product launch was fraught with problems. The biggest problem was that Ooma was too expensive for VoIP’s market segment, which includes penny pinchers. Since then, Ooma has tried to mend its reputation. It brought in new management that has focused on the consumer electronics channels and slashed prices. Ooma Founder Andrew Frame was recently replaced as the CEO by Rich Buchanan, but he remains with the company as its chairman.

Ooma Not Dead Yet

Ooma, a Palo Alto, Calif-based company that launched with much fanfare last year had run into a wall in recent months. It lost some key executives and failed to live upto its promise. Ooma promised free voice calls for life married to slick hardware was a classic case of too much sizzle, very little steak. Lately there were signs that the company was staring down a dark abyss.

Ooma is not dead, yet. In a bid to try and regain some of its lost momentum, Ooma is cutting the price of its Hub and Scout package by $150 dollars to $250. The company is going to sell a premier service package that is going to cost $12.95 a month or $99 a year. The company is refocusing on the consumer electronics retail channel, said Rich Buchanan, a former Sling Media executive who just joined Ooma as chief marketing officer.

Read More about Ooma Not Dead Yet